Mountain View, California–A manual Google penalty has been applied to thousands of link sellers, according to a tweet sent out by the search engine’s Chief Webspam Engineer, Matt Cutts.
The penalization seems to be part of what Cutts alluded to in a Webmaster Help video, which was uploaded this past Monday. Recently, Cutts also confirmed that Penguin 2.0 was ready to roll out.
Targets of the newly applied Google penalty were those who were engaging in pay-for link schemes, specifically designed to pass PageRank from one site to another.
Such schemes are in violation of the search engine’s webmaster guidelines, which clearly prohibit sites from participating in these types of algorithmic end-run tactics.
Other Google Penalty Actions on the Horizon
Though this action was done manually, it is probably the first of many, with automation soon to follow. In the wake of manual actions, sites struggle to gain any measure of a Google penalty recovery, taking months, even a year or more to right committed wrongs. In a related video, Cutts spoke about common mistakes made in SEO.
The move also signals part of a larger campaign the search engine is on to devalue links of a certain nature, including those which are paid. Webmasters should take notice and look at their Google penalty checker as well as do an in-depth audit of their current inbound links.
Cutts revealed in the aforementioned video, which can be seen below, that his team is moving forward on several different fronts. These include traditionally spammy query results, more action through Panda, and of course, an all-out assault against black hat techniques.
Lessons Being Learned
Webmasters are learning that the world’s largest search engine isn’t afraid to enforce its rules. It routinely catches sites with its automatic Google duplicate content penalty, and has had great success in demoting or removing sites which have gone against its Google keyword penalty.
Cutts has made several public warnings about such forthcoming actions, but also stated that sites which are abiding by the quality guidelines have nothing to worry about. Several changes have been underway at Google, including its replacing search previews with a drop down menu.