Google unnatural links warning


When Trusted Dealers was founded, an agency was chosen to ‘do SEO’ on the basis of work they had previously done in the industry  – effectively for a competitor. When I took over the running of the site, it took me all of 4 weeks to decide that the work was of highly questionable worth.

When I finally extracted from them a list of links they had “built” it was clear that they had been fishing in the very bottom of the pool and we parted ways. In fact, apart from honouring a few pre-existing deals, we effectively stopped ‘linkbuilding’ as a discreet activity.

Despite that, I’ve known for a long time that we have a batch of bad historical links and have been waiting for notification from Google that they were “onto” us. Today we finally got the dread warning through Google Webmaster Tools.

Interestingly, it took a form I personally haven’t seen before – including this passage:

“We do realize that some links may be outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action to reduce trust in the unnatural links.”

I’m pleased about that. I’m 95% certain which links they’re referring to (there is no coincidence in timing) and also believe I’ll be able to get them removed.

What does it spell for an industry where I know for a FACT that several ‘top ranking sites’ are engaged in massive linkbuilding programs right this minute? Big change, I suspect. Having been courted by several companies offering their ‘expertise’ in this particular vertical, I expect to see some big smack-downs being delivered to people. All of which reminds me that I have a draft post about a typical industry experience, which I will finish soon so you can see under the hood of what actually happens.

Interesting times.


Another Google+ feature? Images on Brand Search

In my recent vein of doing the one thing I don’t want to have to do (namely: keep a G+ page up to date) I noticed this happen today for a brand search – showing images we posted to the G+ stream directly into the search results.


Nothing more than you’d expect, but it’s probably something you could misuse if you were so minded 😉

Google Plus Profiles: Muddying the Waters

As the administrator of Trusted Dealers’ Google+ page, I’ve been trained like one of Pavlov’s famous dogs to update it fairly regularly for branding reasons, despite my inherent dislike of G+ as a medium for, well, anything.

Despite my craven acceptance of the necessity of keeping it up to date, I’ve also noticed that Google are now making a correlation between my G+ profile and my ownership of the G+ page and the website itself. Here’s what I see when I search for ‘site:trusteddealers.co.uk’ right now – without being logged in or anything else.


It’s interesting in a minor way, as there are no rel author tags in the blog or other connections between it and my Google account – but buried away in my G+ profile is this, which I don’t even remember setting up:


Despite that, Google maintain that they won’t give you credit for a link between content and profile without you going round the houses and tagging up web properties.


This is something that patently I have never done. Instead, Google is inferring a connection between my profile and content because of other signals, such as my use of Webmaster Tools or the aforementioned ownership of the G+ page. In fact, the Google account I use for maintaining Trusted Dealers’ web properties is basically an empty shell and not even my ‘real’ Google profile anyway – just another login to maintain that allows me to keep my personal and ‘professional’ stuff in separate spheres.

I haven’t explored this is in any way, but if they’re being loose with it then it opens up scope for interesting things which you might fairly consider to be errors – like this example below, which credits David Whitehouse with authorship of Dave Naylor’s blog:


I know that Whitehouse works at Bronco with Dave and has probably been involved with setting up Webmaster Tools or G+ on his behalf, but it smacks a little of sloppiness for Google to then attribute Dave’s entire blog to Whitehouse!

As I said, I’ve not had chance to experiment further, but next up: can you claim credit for someone else’s work?