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The past couple of weeks have been pretty volatile in terms of Google organic search results rankings and now we are running into Thanksgiving – where we generally see a lot of of changes – even though Google has said in the past they won’t make changes around this shopping season. That being said, Google’s John Mueller spoke about these November updates in terms of links.
In any event, we know Google keeps working on making its search results better now, even if that means some businesses may have a negative outcome due to those changes.
That being said, John Mueller from Google talked about links around this update in yesterday’s video hangout.
Glenn Gabe asked John about the impact of links with these specific updates and John basically said it is probably a lot more than links that are impacting some sites. In general, he gave that core update advice and said yea, also clean up your links if they are very bad. What could have happened is that Google devalued a bunch of links with one update in November, also did some other baby algorithm tweaks, and a bunch of different stuff happened over the course of a couple weeks to really shake things up in the search results.
Here is Glenn’s question:
Hi John. You explained that there were several core algorithm changes released in early November. After those rolled out, there were many different types of sites impacted (so several updates make sense to me). But as a result of one (or several) of the updates, many smaller bloggers in certain niche categories were impacted heavily (like recipe sites). And when checking those specific sites, you could clearly see many unnatural links via recommendation widgets and other link building tactics. For those sites, is it even worth disavowing those links? It really looks like Google simply devalued the links… and if so, it seems like disavowing would be useless. Thanks for any information you can provide!
Here is how John read the question:
You explained there are several core algorithm changes released in early November. After those are rolled out there were many different types of sites impacted so several updates make sense to me. But as a result of one or of several updates many smaller bloggers and so niche categories were impacted heavily, like recipe sites, and when checking those specific sites you could clearly see many unnatural links via recommendation widgets and other link building tactics.
For those sites is it even worth disavowing those links? It really looks like Google just simply just devalue those links. And if so it seems disavowing would be useless. Thanks for any information.
Here is John’s answer:
So I didn’t take a look into any specific site there. So it’s kind of hard to say what exactly is happening there.
In general if you look at your site in the way that it’s embedded in the web and it seems like there’s really a clear pattern of unnatural links associated with your site. That could be because maybe you’ve been doing link building and so, I don’t know, in a weird way. If you’ve been using widgets to build links all of the usual kind of things. Then that’s generally something I’d recommend trying to clean up regardless of any updates that happened. And cleaning up link related issues usually involves either cleaning up those links so that they’re no longer out there. I in general that’s that’s the best approach. If these are widget links for example then sometimes it’s as simple as improving the widget so that it doesn’t have these these links that are in there. That’s really the ideal way it’s like removing those links if you think they’re problematic. If you can’t remove those links then using the disavow file is an option, that’s one way for us to kind of drop those links from being used. And essentially a third approach that you could also take depending on the type of link is to remove or block the page on your side from being being linked. So what what generally happens is when we
have links to to a website we associate them with individual pages. So we have kind of the source of the link and the destination of the link and with those two endpoints we know which which way these links go. So if any one of those sides is removed from our index if they’re not they no longer exist then essentially that link loses effectivity. So that could be another approach that you could take there. In general usually though people try to focus on either removing the links from the source site or using the disavow tool.
With regards to kind of this general situation where you assume that an update has been affecting your site based on the links to your site. That’s something where I would tend to be a little bit cautious before jumping to conclusions and really take a look at the links for your site to make sure that there’s really kind of a pattern of unnatural links there that is really problematic. It’s very easy to look at any website that’s been on the web for a longer period of time and to find a handful of kind of weird and unusual links. So that’s something where just because you find something weird doesn’t necessarily mean that those links are negatively affecting your site. It might just be that kind of usual kind of crusty links that get collected over the years.
But if you do find a pattern of really significant unnatural links to your site. Then that’s something I’d recommend cleaning up before maybe someone from the webspam team takes a look at it manually and then applies a manual action to clean it up for you.
He did this between the 54 second mark through about five minutes in. Here is the embed:
Here is how Glenn summed it up in his tweets:
Via @johnmu: First, don’t assume that links are the problem. Lots of sites have older crufty links. Weird doesn’t equal bad. But, if you find a clear pattern of significant unnatural links, then John recommends cleaning them up: https://t.co/qYIiHNfpD4 pic.twitter.com/jInPne1LAg
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) November 26, 2019
Again, there were several core ranking changes rolled out in early Nov & I def saw many types of sites impacted, & some seemed to have nothing to do with links… But certain niche categories (like smaller bloggers in recipes, travel, etc.) did have link issues. Tough to decipher pic.twitter.com/md4FIYFLeP
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) November 26, 2019
What do you think these November updates were about?
Some have asked if we had an update to Google Search last week. We did, actually several updates, just as we have several updates in any given week on a regular basis. In this thread, a reminder of when and why we give specific guidance about particular updates….
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) November 12, 2019
Forum discussion at Twitter.