What is Unnatural Links Manual Penalty by Google?

What is Unnatural Links Manual Penalty by Google?

One of the most common manual  SEO penalties by Google is for having “unnatural links to your site” or “unnatural links from your site”. This often happens when a site has been participating in poor linking building practices or receiving payment for links. Having one of these penalties enforced on a site can can cause some major headaches, fortunately, there’s some simple steps that can be done to get the site back on Google.

The first step is identifying what type of manual penalty the site has been hit with. By logging into the Search Console, find the appropriate site, and on the dashboard click search traffic, then manual actions. Here any manual actions against the site will be mentioned.

Unnatural Links to Your Site

If the site has been hit with a “Unnatural links to your site” penalty it’s clear there are poor links coming into your site from other sources. Typically, Google understands there will always be a few spammy links pointing to a site. What they hate to see is large quantities of these links coming in. This penalty is often assessed to sites that have been participating in buying links, artificial linking, or deceptive linking to try and trick the search engines. This is a clear violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

How to Remove Unnatural Links to Your Site Penalty

To rid a site of these poor links the first step is to review all backlinks pointing to the site. Depending on the size of the site this can be very time consuming, however it must be done to overcome the penalty. 

  • Log into Search Console, navigate to the site’s dashboard, then under Search Traffic drop down select ‘Links to Your Site’.
  • Download the complete list of links and upload them into Google Drive.
  • Review each and every link on the list. This is done by going to each site, checking their linking metrics, page/domain authority, etc. Make a rational decision if the link is hurting or benefiting the site.
  • Mark each spam site and begin contacting the sites that are marked spammy. Email the webmasters of these sites asking for them to remove the link. This process can take some time, but it’s important to contact the site multiple times to try and get the link removed.
  • If the link is not removed manually a disavow list will need to be created. Insert all domains that did not remove the links and submit the disavow list to Google through the Search Console dashboard.
  • After the disavow list has been submitted a reconsideration request will need to be sent to Google as well. This will show what links were removed manually and disavowed, showing Google the site is proactively trying to improve the site.

* Backlink checking Tools such as Majestic, Ahrefs, Moz’s OSE can be useful if you want to see not only the links from the Search Console but may be also the ones it missed.

Unnatural links from your site

Similar to the penalty above, however this penalty is dealt to sites that are sending out unnatural, paid, or spammy links. In more cases than not these are sites that have been offering links to sites for a fee, monetary exchange, or gift of some sort. Selling links is a big no no within Google’s Guidelines and will result in a penalty. Like any penalty there’s a way to remove it, yet it is a process.

How to Remove Unnatural Links From Your Site Suspension

There’s two approaches to removing this penalty.

  1. Review all outbound links going from the site. In most cases, a site will be able to pinpoint where these links are going out from. It may be a link exchange page that has a large quantity of outbound links, or an article that is oversaturated with outbound links. These links should be removed from the pages, or if it is a page like a link exchange it should be removed completely. Link exchanges are a thing of the past that add no value.
  2. Locate all the paid/spammy outbound links coming from the site and add a rel=”nofollow” tag to the link. This will block any link passing juice along with restrict Google bots from crawling the link. Now if there’s a reason to keep the links active, this is the best approach. The links will remain active and can still pass referral traffic to the sites, yet won’t add any SEO value.

Once the outbound links have been cleaned up a reconsideration request will need to be sent to Google. Keep in mind it may take some time for the request to go through and be implemented. In many cases the requests are processed in 30 days, but other circumstances may arise.