Google penalizes websites for unnatural links to other sites

Most people know that Google penalizes websites that have unnatural links from other sites. Last week, many webmasters were surprised because their websites were penalized by Google because of unnatural links to other sites.

outbound link penalty

What exactly has happened?

The webmasters with the unnatural links received this message from Google:

“If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.”

In other words, the website was penalized because Google did not like the links that were on the penalized pages.

Why did Google penalize these links?

Google’s John Mueller explained that this penalty is for blogs that accept payments for reviews and links without nofollowing the links:

“It looks like you’re getting some good advice here already (thanks, everyone!). Travler’s link is one you should really be going through (in addition to the more general webmaster guidelines).

There’s absolutely no need to nofollow every link on your site! However, those that are there because of an exchange (such as a product or service for a review) should have a rel=nofollow on links to the product, to their sales pages, and to any social media profiles that are linked because of the review.

Also, it’s always a good idea to clearly label these kinds of posts for your readers too.

Once you’ve cleaned up links like those, feel free to submit a reconsideration request through Search Console, so that the webspam team can review your changes and remove the manual action.”

What does this mean for your own website rankings?

If you have a website that posts reviews for which you accept money, do the following:

  • Use rel=nofollow on all links that are directly related to the payment
  • It is not necessary to nofollow all links on your page
  • Clearly mark paid review as paid reviews
Log in to Google Search Console and view the messages to find out if your website has been penalized. Remove the penalized links from your website (or nofollow them) and then file a reconsideration request.

The website audit tool in SEOprofiler analyzes the link on your pages. The Link Profiler tool in SEOprofiler helps you to analyze the links from other sites that point to your website. If you haven’t done it yet, try SEOprofiler now:

Try SEOprofiler risk-free!

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Johannes Selbach

Johannes Selbach is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at "".

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