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No Change to Report for Unnatural Link Penalties Says Google

There’s no funny business going on according to Google, who is squashing rumours that it rolled out a campaign to target guest blogs that resulted in a supposed spike in unnatural link penalties.

While there isn’t any evidence to suggest that there has been a spike in penalties over unnatural links, buzz began circulating on Twitter last week about a potential campaign against unnatural links after people began reporting that they had been penalized. This caught the eye of Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, Gary Illyes who seemed confused by the suggestion that anything was out of the ordinary.

In fact, Illyes described the mere suggestion that something was out of sorts as “beating a dead eggplant. With a cucumber,” and added that “maybe we could do a reminder blog post about how either Santa or the Easter Bunny doesn’t bring presents for the naughty.”

Oh Gary, you really do have a way with words.

Essentially, in his own colourful way, what Gary is trying to say is that these penalties aren’t really anything new. In fact, Google began penalizing sites for unnatural outbound linking all the way back in 2016.

What this means is that for the past four years, the Google manual actions team has been issuing penalties to sites that are linking out to other sites in an effort to manipulate the Google search results.

Here’s what this looks like:

As for why people had the impression that Google was amping up its efforts to penalize people, it doesn’t appear that there has been a spike in these penalties over the past week, so it’s unknown what prompted the rumour in the first place.

Either way, Google’s take is that no, it has not increased its efforts around manual actions for unnatural link manual actions. End of story.