Oct 25, 2013
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Probably isn't going to apply to people here directly, but just the same, haven't heard it mentioned yet so I figured I'd post this.

Last month, Google posted a warning to bloggers not to take free product in exchange for reviews.

yesterday, Google made good on their threat and sent out a ton of manual penalties to sites they thought were violating this warning. The solution is to no follow your outbound links that Google thought you were making for the wrong reasons.

So if you haven't yet, check your search console and make sure you haven't been hit. This is also an interesting warning on how Google works. There was a lot of talk last month when that warning went out about how it was just arm waving, since Google couldn't possibly know which links were bribed and which were legitimate... well. Google's not the ones waving their arm now. Good to keep an eye on the warnings they put out there, I'm sure a lot of people were caught by surprise on this.

Anyone actually get hit by this?


Mar 7, 2016
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Haven't seen any myself, but Tommy McDonald who guest posts on Ahref posted a nice brief guide on what to do if this happens.

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Thanks so much for raising the issue here and the Pro Community James!


Nov 19, 2012
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Thanks for the update. We had sites hit by earlier penalties. It was a function of very old links. The penalties are excruciating. They absolutely kill traffic.

We also went through a corrective process not unlike that described by Tommy McDonald described above in a link in post #2. Once we eliminated the links we determined were "crappy" the penalties disappeared our SERPS climbed to where they had been. Traffic returned. These penalties are correctable.

Really interesting on how he described that many of these penalties arise because competitors report them. Isn't that the way business works? Ha ha.:D
Oct 25, 2013
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Yep, definitely how it works with the GMB side at least. Keeping an eye out for competitor's spam is something I always do for clients now.


Jan 4, 2013
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Didn't have any of our sites get hit. We also pulled a handful of sites that were recently hacked out of the box in time to miss these messages.

Knock on wood

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