Google has silently updated its Webmaster Tools Unnatural Links and Link Schemes document recently, which actually throws up more questions rather than providing answers in the fight against unnatural links. Google has tried to better define terms of what is acceptable and what is not, but confusion continues in the minds of webmasters and SEOs since Google has used wording that actually confuses rather than corrects earlier content.
For instance, Google has mentioned that links that were used to manipulate site rankings of PageRank “may be considered” as violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This sentence has evoked strong responses since it seems that Google has indicated that the company’s word will be final in deciding if there was any manipulation or not in boosting rankings. An innocent website can get punished just because Google’s new algorithm decided that their tactics were “manipulative”.
In other words, you seriously need to analyze each pursued link and should not only think about organic ranking, but instead use links that help your website in several other ways. You can certainly locate problems with your backlinks strategy by going far inside your backlink profile.
Google has specified that it is against buying and selling links. However, most webmasters and web owners may not have clarity on selling or buying links that pass PageRank and could end up unintentionally violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If you wish to buy links then you also need to indicate that you are only doing so because it is relevant to your audience and not because you only want to boost rankings.
Another point of contention is Google’s decision to punish those that indulge in “excessive” link exchanges or those that partner pages “exclusively” for the sake of cross-linking. Again, Google has not defined how it determines excessive and exclusive. Webmasters will need to figure it out on their own as to whether they have gone overboard or are still adhering to Google Webmaster guidelines thanks to such confusing terms used by Google.
Google carries on by stating that it will punish those that indulge in “large-scale” marketing of articles or using anchor links rich in keywords in their guest-posting campaigns. There is no explanation provided as to what is considered large-scale by Google. You certainly need to consider the credibility of the guest post author as well as the blog site and can still end up being punished if the blog follows a guest post with a site that has been red-flagged by Google.
Google has also stated in the document that it will punish those that utilize automated programs to create links to their website. However, it has not specified as to which programs are considered as bad since you may be using a perfectly legitimate tool such as the Send Later scheduler from Thunderbird to send personalized emails at a specific time and still get punished for it.
While Google is trying to bring in more transparency in its actions, it seems to have a tough time explaining its motives and methods to webmasters as well as SEOs. You may need to follow a trial-and-error method rather than trying to comprehend the changes made in the Google Webmasters Unnatural Links document.