Natural Links Are Not Safe From Google

These past couple of years we’ve seen a hard crackdown by Google on bad link building (SEO) practices, and that really should come as no surprise to anyone. Here at Luxury Branded we don’t do any link building but instead do content marketing that attracts natural links. This is the only marketing we do for ourselves and when it comes to our clients.

We’ve seen amazing growth this past year from just writing good content and while it’s slow, it certainly has provided us with stable organic traffic and ranking increases. This has also been reflected in our clients’ growth, and we couldn’t be happier.

With that being said, we’re also seeing an uptick in link removal requests from companies to this one specific industry site. Our client has received, as of today, seven link removal requests and not even a mention to apply the nofollow tag to get value from traffic.

Here’s the email they sent me today:

natural link removal request

The client site in question is an industry resource hub that’s the largest in its niche, it doesn’t allow any advertising ever, and it certainly doesn’t sell links or allow guest blogging. They have a team of writers that interview thought leaders, break current news and write about what’s going on in their industry.

Every single link they give is editorial, the anchor text just lists the site/brand name and is what you’d call natural.

This is really starting to ring the alarm bells in my head, as it goes to show that Google cannot determine what is or is not a natural link. I did take a look at the emailing company’s link profile and they certainly were involved in Myguestblog.com, buying links and article marketing. So that’s to be expected, however why are natural links getting listed in Google’s example links section of the report?

Google will penalize an entire site for one link!

We’ve recently seen a public case where Google applied a site-wide penalty for one single link. Imagine having that happen for a link you earned naturally just by being awesome. This really has me worried, and I think the webmaster community and Google need to work more closely together in the near future.

** Update

This is the response from them after I said I’d just slap a nofollow tag on there so they could still get valuable traffic. As you can see from the response, Google has “SEO’s” confused and some are even afraid of a nofollow link. What in the f$%! is the world coming to?

We’d prefer the deactivation. The fear being that sometime in the future Google may think people are abusing “nofollows”… Sad but likely- wouldn’t you say? I agree though, branded nofollow anchor should not be viewed as negative.

I of course had to follow up once more by disagreeing; usually I wouldn’t say anything and just get on with my day, but I’m quite perturbed over this. The notion of a nofollow link hurting them in the future is nonsense, but I complied with their request anyway and just removed any link code altogether. Here was my response to them:

I wouldn’t agree on the nofollow as it doesn’t pass PageRank but I will remove the post and this is a sad day for all of us marketers…good luck on all the removals and hopefully the manual penalty gets lifted.

A silly way to end the week but oh well, what can you do? I imagine Google is scrambling to move away from such a strong dependence on links in the coming decade, but for now they’re still going to play a strong role. This is why we put such a strong emphasis on building your brand traffic from all available and quality angles. Email, social media and face-to-face connections are a must in order to survive and thrive in this day and age.

Ryan Clark
ryan@luxurybranded.com

Ryan Clark is celebrating 10 years consulting for luxury brands across the globe helping them reach UHNW individuals online and off. He specializes in luxury digital marketing, SEO, PR and luxury viral marketing. Connect with me to talk about your luxury marketing strategy and how our services can help you achieve more this year. I offer a luxury gaps audit to determine where you're falling flat and where I see you can improve in your marketing efforts.   To connect with him online you can follow on Twitter @LuxuryBranded, connect on LinkedIn Ryan R Clark and read his column on Luxe Getaways Magazine where he covers the world of luxury.

3 Comments
  • Geoff
    Posted at 19:14h, 28 March Reply

    The link is dead. Google has killed the very thing that made it stand out from the other search engines of the time. Seems things have come full circle.

  • Marc
    Posted at 12:23h, 29 March Reply

    Thank you for this very interesting insight. Nowadays there seems really to happen a lot of false-positive penalties by Google’s link-spam department. I think, sooner or later, Google will just ignore possible spammy links and not penalize them anymore. Just to be clear, I don’t speak about absolutely doubtless spammy links, they will and shall be penalized further.
    Google’s search results and therewith their reputation will suffer if you can’t find a website because of a (wrongful) penalty. Furthermore, it will be very easy to discredit your competition with some Negativ-SEO. Let’s see how things will develop…

    • Ryan
      Posted at 18:15h, 29 March Reply

      It definitely is going to be an interesting year coming up and I wonder if they’re going to implement a “soft” penguin update like they’re doing with Panda currently.

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