Have you received an email notification from Google alerting you to “unnatural” links to your site and wondered what that was all about? It’s pretty simple, actually. Someone has set up inbound links to your site that don’t make sense to Google and they don’t trust the links for ranking. But instead of being so cryptic, Google is trying to help you identify and remove them. Search Engine Land, a leading media voice on search, recently reported on it, including a video by Google’s Matt Cutts.
The first step has been to send you an email notice of the problem, including some samples of the unnatural links. Also coming through Google’s Webmaster Tools are downloadable lists of the most recent links to your site, which will allow you to identify more unnatural links if more exist. They provide downloadable lists of domains that have links to your pages, more sample links, and the most recent links. This may become easier to find as it is rolled out, but here is how I found it:
Webmaster Tools > Website Dashboard > Traffic > Links to Your Site > Who Links to You Most (then More)
Unnatural links may affect the ranking of only a specific page or, if the unnatural links are more common throughout your site, they may affect the ranking of the whole site. So it is important that you pay attention if you receive an email notification from Google and try to eliminate as many problem inbound links as possible. Some examples of types of links that Google doesn’t trust include widget links, paid links, spam links from reputation management firms, and aggressive article back links (examples).
You may not even be aware of the inbound links others are creating to your site, which is another reason the most recent links list is valuable. They may be others in your organization conducting marketing you are unaware of, outside groups hired by others in your organization to do link marketing, or even competitors purposely trying to lower your ranking (so called “negative SEO“). Email notifications and Webmaster Tools can help you manage it to help you protect your ranking.