How can a site recover from a period of spamming links?
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How can a site recover from a period of spamming links?

Today we have a
question from Manchester in the United Kingdom. Adeel asks– How did Interflora
turn their ban in 11 days? Can you explain
what kind of penalty they had, how did they
fix it, as some of us have spent months trying to
clean things up after a Google Webmaster Tools notification? So this is an
interesting question. And rather than talking about
a specific company, because we typically don’t call out
specific companies very often, we prefer to talk about
things in more general terms. Let me answer in a
more general way. So Google tends to look
at buying and selling links that pass page rank as
a violation of our guidelines. And if we see that
happening multiple times, repeated times, then
the actions that we take get more and more severe. So we’re more willing to
take stronger action whenever we see repeat violations. If a company were to
be caught buying links, it would be interesting
if, for example, you knew that it started
in the middle of 2012 and ended in March 2013
or something like that. If a company were to go back
and disavow every single link that they had gotten
in 2012, that’s a pretty monumentally
epic, large action. So that’s the sort
of thing where a company is willing
to say, you know what? We might have had good
links for a number of years, and then we just had
really bad advice and someone did everything
wrong for a few months, maybe up to a year. So just to be safe, let’s
just disavow everything in that time frame. That’s a pretty radical action. And that’s the sort
of thing where, if we heard back in a
reconsideration request that someone had taken that
kind of a strong action, then we could look and
say, OK, this is something that people are
taking seriously. So it’s not something
that I would typically recommend for everybody to
disavow every link that you’ve gotten for a period of years. But certainly when
people start over with completely new
websites that they bought, we have seen a few
cases where people will disavow every single
link, because they truly want to get a fresh start. It’s a nice-looking domain,
but the previous owners had just burned it to a crisp in
terms of the amount of web spam that they’ve done. So typically what we see
from a reconsideration request is, people
starting out and just trying to prune a few links. A good reconsideration request
is often using the domain query, domain colon,
and taking out large amounts of domains
which have bad links. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend
going and removing everything for the last year or everything
for the last year and a half. But that sort of large
scale action, if taken, can have an impact
whenever we’re assessing a domain within
a reconsideration request.


  • Robert Hall

    This says a lot in a short time, is precise and concise. Here Matt Cutts is prepared to talk about the big issues in simple language. Look after your content, look after your customers, and you will look after your website.

  • Patrick Coombe

    Fresh Matt Cutts video hot off the press.

    Matt talking about what happens when you have a "period" of spammy links built  over a fixed period of time, and what to do about it.

    Simple answer: disavow! Of course he says don't just disavow an entire years worth of links, find the ones that are bad.

    Really, nothing new to see here.

  • Joshua Geary

    What website would start buying links in the middle of 2012 after the angry bird (Penguin) launch?

    Obviously, Interflora could easily remove their links after their penalty.

  • Mohammed ALAMI

    Year or year and a half before : that's pretty interesting indicator as first roll out was on April 2012 so does that mean that we should look to our link profile since that date ?! Also I would like to have a clear statement from @Matt Cutts about nofollow links, do they count for penalties ? 

  • Adam Barger

    Seriously Matt. Can you have someone look at our URL www. webstarts .com ? We've had a penalty and taken extreme action and haven't even heard back after nearly three months. 

  • Kevin Anchi

    Hey Matt are PressRelease links considered as paid links cause the do a news blast in their network and thus generate links for the domain, and of course we pay them for the same, so can this be treated as paid links???

  • Aaron Wallace

    Matt, I have seen many websites that are indulged in paid links and are still ranking so well.  I reported such websites to Google however, nothing happened. Further, genuine websites got hurt by Penguin update.

  • Ken U

    MATT, I recently took the EXACT action you mentioned in this video after three months of reconsideration requests and awaiting the verdict on worldofwatches. We had the problem of a previous vendor doing these link buying practices and have since removed them as well as disavowed EVERY crappy domain we were on over the past 12 months. MAN, this had better work. 🙂

  • Irene Essien-Akpan

    If Google continues to insist on going after spammers at all cot every other person will be compelled to follow the guideline with hope that Google Itself will  be true to  their words and allow sites to rak organically without replacing ads for organic searches

  • George Feelgood

    Manual website reviews from google only serve as a witch hunt for affected webmasters and site owners to snitch on the source of backlinks one is receiving.
    Hint – Anglo Blog Network.

    Interflora is BIG fish… there's no evidence that small business websites affected by the "unnatural" link building have regained their standing in the SERPs pursuant to disavowing their backlinks..

    Just saying..

  • Marco Varela

    Actualmente Google tarda más de un mes en responder las reconsideraciones de penalización por enlaces no naturales.Por lo menos para las Pymes. En casos especiales posiblemente tarden menos en contestar.

  • Hossam Tameem

    I have a similar problem in my website, I can't really determine what the bad links are, I could find some links posted be some body containing the anchor text "PORN" referring to my website homepage, I disavowed them a few months ago but nothing improved, I wonder If something else could cause the problem or if Google response to disavow requests may take some more time, or even more bad links exists and can't be retrieved by Google Webmaster Tools, I'm worried if I decided later to disavow other nofollow links that are in related blogs or forums, that they might not be really harming my website!

  • Fred Showker

    I notice you're wearing a Tshirt that says "Report Spam"  . . . but when we check your links while reporting this vicious spam, well … take a look at the actual DNS record reports for Google  . . . . . . we've reported dozens of these and each time we see Google refuses spam reports, and actually bounces their "abuse" addresses published in the web site.   ????  We work hard tracking down and reporting cybercrime.   See this one too . . . . . . here's a malware spoof that's located on Google IP addresses, but Google refused the report?   Yet you have a "Report Spam" shirt on.  Doesn't make you seem very credible, does it????
       Perhaps you could share a link or address at GOOGLE that actually accepts cybercrime alerts using GOOGLE so we can start getting some of these phishing and malware cyber criminals shut down ?????

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