Could Google penalty my site even if I haven’t bought a single link? Yes, it can

As an SEO consultant, I constantly hear SEO professionals and clients say that “they don’t care too much” about link building, so many of them don’t look at their web site links profile because they aren’t buying links. People believe that it’s enough, Google will never hit their site with a manual or algorithmic action because their SEO strategy is moving on the “white” side.


I have to be honest and say that, I hate link building. From my point of view, decide to make links part of Google core was an error, of course by many years since Larry and Sergey launched what we know today as Google, links play an important topic on the web search engine improvements, making Google provided better result to online users and taking investor and advertiser attention.

However, this must-have changed a long time ago. Even today links work really good to push up any garbage content on SERPs. Today you can buy DoFollow links in almost every single web site, including WSJ.


All these links trading has made that Google should take actions against links buyers because of looks like they can’t remove it as a ranking factor at Google Core.


Core update is needed
“If Google updates the way it evaluates websites, leaving out links as a ranking factor, we would stop seeing the title “link building” in SEO strategies.”


Why I’m telling you this?

Google indexing bots/methods are more intelligent/better today, true. However, it still depends on human actions, so errors could happen at any time.


Let’s suppose that you own an-new-and-great Boutique Hotel in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, rooms, food, and service are great, your TripAdvisor profile is pushing up because of great reviews, look like everybody is happy.


However, your competition could not be so happy as you and your guests. They could hire an SEO agency (many are not ethic) to create a negative SEO strategy against your online business.


If your hotel website is ranking for important terms such as: “Beach Hotels in Guanacaste” or “Boutique hotels Guanacaste” a Google penalty will affect your organic traffic and it translates to a low reservations number.


I know…It looks like a conspiration movie and you’re probably thinking… Nah it won’t ever happen to my business, this friki guy is just trying to sell me his services.


Unfortunately, negative SEO still working very good. Google employees are not stupid but sometimes they bite the hook.


A negative SEO strategy can start by creating a link for your business naturally. I have to highlight that in 2019 a negative SEO strategy isn’t related on spammy links only, the main goal is to create links with middle quality, good anchor text trying to make it look like real links created by you or your marketing agency.


After 2-3 months, your ranking could even improve, remember negative SEO today have to look like a real internal SEO strategy. Again, links created during the strategy are not software-made, at all. Most of the links rea manually-published


At this point, you don’t have an idea of your website links profile, most of the time it happens because of the main point of this article. “people think that Google will never ban their site because they are not buying links” but they don’t stop to think if someone else is making it.


Months pass and your website still on the top on Google searches, but one day something happens. Clients call you to let you know that, they can’t find your website even if they type the brand of it.


You quickly grab your phone and search for “Beach Hotels in Guanacaste” but your website isn’t there anymore, website leads move aggressively down from 5 a day to 0.


Here’s where most of the people decide to call that friend that “knows about Google” waiting for a magic button to fix everything, here’s where you hear about Google Manual Actions for the first time.


Manual Action can be explained as the way that Google decides to the penalty your site because of a “black hat SEO” this decision is taking by a Google employee. It doesn’t matter if someone else built those links, you can cry, jump and makes some tantrum, nothing will change.


You can ask for a reconsideration, but before that happen you have to make sure that those links are removed or disavowed and it has to be done by an expert.


I have dealt with manual actions since 2010, I can confirm that most-of-the-time the website will not recover 100% ranking. Yea it sucks but is true and that’s why you should start to care about your link building profile now.


Expedia 2014 Penalty:
It can happen to everybody with a website. Years ago Google hit Expedia because of a “black hat technique” reported on MarketWatch.


On August 22, 2019, Google hit a well-known SEO expert website. I’m talking about DeJean who owns on his twitter Dejean mentioned:


Someone at Google has just issued a manual action for the entire  domain for unnatural links. I haven’t built a single link in probably five years and if there was anything suspicious I added it to our disavow file.

So, if you haven’t validated your website links profile, run and do it now…