Are Your Links Unnatural?

For those webmasters and SEOs that stay close to their Webmaster Tools account may have noticed that Google has somehow figured out how to identify links that were paid for. Inside of Webmaster Tools, any of these detections are now highlighted for the site owner with an action item to get the incoming link removed to avoid any ranking penalties.

As someone that has operated on both sides of similar transactions in the past (as an advertiser and a publisher), this is a game changing announcement. Now, a business like Izea with sites such as Pay Per Post and Social Spark are not going to get nearly as many advertiser requests. This is going to impact their revenue immensely. As a publisher on those sites, I've already noticed a significant decrease in incoming requests. The funny part about all of this is that these sites have always only offered "nofollow" links. To a lot of advertisers and ignorant SEOs, this may have been overlooked and/or misunderstood in the past. I guess it takes a personal threat from Google to get people's attention.

Additionally, I used to receive a ton of guest post proposals for this blog. You may have noticed that I consistently would post one here every Monday from a different blogger. A lot of those were proposed as a "sponsored post" with a dollar amount attached (full disclosure). I predict that I won't be seeing many of those anymore either.

Finally, I heard about this "disavow" feature from Google several months back. It was this piece of information that halted the completion of our "EndaNetwork" project. It's still not complete because of this change and now we are trying to figure out how to best move forward with it. The most obvious route to take would be to just configure it as a banner or text ad network, but a part of me is telling me to not risk the potential harm it can cause to the brand.

We'll just have to see what happens with all of this...