Google Algorithm Updates (Revisited)

Google’s Matt Cutts has issued a warning (or is it transparency?*) about Google’s upcoming algorithm updates. Webmasters and website owners alike are scrambling to try to understand (or is it decipher) the cryptic warning about the potential SERPS (Search Engine Results Page Ranking) fallout (yet again) when the next update occurs. This next update will most likely encompass violations of Google’s Quality Guidelines which will target bad backlinking practices and continue targeting violations of the duplicate content policy which was started on past updates. 

Should you be concerned? Definitely. Even if you are not actively engaging in negative backlinking practices, when is the last time you checked the websites (urls) that are linked to your site? Not recently? If so, now is a good time to do so. 

Have you Received a “Dear Site Owner” Email About Backlinks?

If you have received a link warning message (A Dear site owner or webmaster email…about unnatural links) chances are good, your site is now NOT ranking for some keywords, or pages. 

In cases that are considered “severe” violations of the above (no definition I could find on what is considered severe when relating to artificially, spammy, or duplicate links other than the warning email sent from Google that contains the wording “our opinion –  your entire site is affected”) may drop your (SERPS) website page rank. This means you may loose the majority of your website traffic without even knowing it (in some cases overnight depending on when your site is set to be crawled).

A Positive Side to the Next Google Update?

If you do get a “Dear site owner email” and If your site is innocent of deceptive backlinking practices, your site may have had hacked links pointed to your site. You may not have known about a backlinking issue, however, this email will help you to recognize a problem and start fixing it before it affects your site to the point that your traffic is greatly reduced or practically nonexistent. 

For This Next Update:

1. Are you posting on other blogs with just your website link, with no real unique content? That may be considered blog spam and you may be penalized.

2. Did you create an article, post it on your website and link to an other article directory sites (such as Ezine)?This will also affect your page rank by creating backlinks to duplicate content.

3. Do you have two websites that are sharing the same links? Even if it is your original content and urls, it is still considered duplicate linking and will affect both website’s page ranking. Google has the ability to see which site had the original links/content posted, first, however, they have had problems with demoting both site’s SERPS. 

4. Are you using (WordPress) widgets that create links to commercial or paid-linking services? This will affect all pages that are listed on the widget. 

Quick Fixes:

1. If your site has been engaging in both short and long-term unnatural links, you can start to fix your website’s page rank by removing the links. Removing all may not be necessary as long as you take as many as you can off. In the case that you have two websites and have duplicate content, make sure that the pages that are duplicate are NOT crawled.

2. Disable any widgets (WordPress) that create links to commercial linking services.

3. Reconsideration Requests: Log into Google Webmaster Tools and click on Reconsideration Request once you have cleaned up your backlinks. Be patient when submitting a reconsideration request. It may take a couple of weeks to a month before you hear back.

4. Download your backlinks. Google Webmaster Tools has the ability for you to see and to download backlinks in a convenient Google Docs or CSV format. Note: Gmail email account is necessary to download to Google Docs. I prefer the Google docs option which easily gives you both the links and the dates discovered (the dates Google discovered the links when your site was crawled) without having to click on the CSV sorting options.

Go one step further. Actually go to each site that links to you. If the website is questionable, email the webmaster and ask for removal. Worse case scenario, you can report questionable websites and Google will look at and WILL demote them if they are found to be in the wrong.

While downloading and checking backlinks may seem like a lot of work, in short, better to be prepared (than not) when dealing with Google’s updates.


*Transparency is a term Google is marketing as giving Webmasters and site owners the head’s up of what could be/probably/possibly happening in the next update. Some Webmasters and site owners, think that transparency should be translated into getting more specific, targeted, and unique email messages, updates, and instructions, that are not so generic and overall more gentler in language that don’t induce a fear or panic-based reaction….


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