The BBC gets an unnatural link warning message – what does this mean for your site?

Your website might have received an unnatural link warning message from Google. Does this mean that your website has been penalized? What do you have to do if you receive such a message?

Some days ago, the BBC has received an unnatural link warning message. Google’s response to that message shows how to deal with these notifications.

Don't panic and carry a towel

What exactly has happened?

Last week, a representative of the BBC posted a question in Google’s help forum:

“I am a representative of the BBC site [] and on Saturday we got a ‘notice of detected unnatural links’. Given the BBC site is so huge, with so many independently run sub sections, with literally thousands or agents and authors, can you give us a little clue as to where we might look for these ‘unnatural links’.”

What has Google replied?

Google’s John Mueller posted an offial reply to this question:

“Looking into the details here, what happened was that we found unnatural links to an individual article, and took a granular action based on that. This is not negatively affecting the rest of your website on a whole.”

What does this mean in detail?

If you don’t know it yet: the BBC is the biggest news website in the United Kingdom. Thousands of websites use BBC RSS feeds on their websites and thousands of websites link to BBC websites every day.

The website is the perfect example of a website that gets natural links. They get so many links without asking for them that they do not have to involve in any kind of link building activities.

Google obviously found some links from dubious websites but, as John Mueller said, these links are not negatively affecting the rest of the BBC website. This confirms a previous statement of Google’s Matt Cutts (which is the boss of Google’s webspam team):

“If you received a message about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. […] We took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While it’s possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons.

For example, we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.

What should you do when you get a link warning message?

A link warning message from Google is only a reminder that they are able to find low quality links. These links won’t have a positive influence on the rankings of your website.

If you used tools that automatically created backlinks to your website, stop using these tools. Google can detect these links. If you purchased links to your site, stop doing that. Google can detect these links, too. That’s what Google is telling you with the unnatural link warning message.

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If you want to get high rankings that last, you should try to get backlinks that Google likes. Use the link building tools in SEOprofiler to get high quality backlinks that will have a positive influence on the Google rankings of your website.

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