On Friday, I published the post about the BBC getting an unnatural links warning in Webmaster Tools and promised an update on the situation. It appears, after some speculation from surprised SEOs, that the warning wasn’t as big a deal after all.
In the Webmaster forum thread where the BBC representative posted his concern about the warning message, a ‘JohnMu’ from Google finally responded in the forum with the following post:
So there we have it – a pretty detailed response to the BBC that explains that they don’t have to worry about the site as a whole as we would’ve expected. What is interesting is the fact that this message does prove that Google do penalise individual pages for having unnatural inbound links without affecting the rest of the site, which may ease some site owners’ minds if they’ve received the same message.
The forum also has posts from others guessing how the one article on the BBC site may have received the ‘unnatural links’ with example scenarios. The general consensus in the forum thread is that a third party has deliberately built links to the specific article in order to move it up or down the rankings in Google due to said article either having an outbound link, or due to the story having a negative impact on the third party.
Another suggestion comes from Dave Naylor, who found an example of an article which had over 31,000 links on the same day it was published, showing that perhaps RSS scrapers are to blame.
However this came about, it just proves that even the big sites can be warned by Google, and perhaps site owners should be grateful of the messages, as it gives them the chance to clean up links and regain their rankings, whether the unnatural links were built by themselves or not.
In other news, Google are apparently not going to confirm if there was a Panda update last week (Panda 25) according to this article on Search Engine Land.
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