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So obviously link building is encouraged as long as it is natural, organic and has meaningful links with content relevant to your site. Obviously with the constant release of new updates to algorithms, Google is flagging sites for unnatural links to their sites.

My Question is:

  • Can this be caused by templating systems? With WordPress for example, where you can add a link on the footer and it is repeated throughout the entire website generating thousands of links?
  • If we don't add any links, Good Content will be re-posted and linked to, surely if your content is constantly linked to this will flag your site for "unnatural" content as it's difficult to see if someone has been paid to write an article on your content.
  • Or does Google just simply want us to audit some of the links to show we are making an effort?

As you can tell we have had a Manual action for: Unnatural links to your site—impacts links. However, this seems to impact our website as well.

Edit:

To clarify the question:

Can you get penalised for paying for advertising on a site that uses a templated sidebar. So when they create a new blog/page ect your link is also added onto the page hence resulting in 1000's of links to one page on our site. I know that one effect maybe a 0 pagerank web page linking to your page dilutes the PR of our page. However the links are only inbound not reciprocal

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I assume you believe the links that have been flagged as "unnatural" on your site are entirely natural and Google is wrong in its analysis? –  w3d Feb 11 at 12:27
    
not necessarily, We beleive that the links them selves are automatically generated from other sites, but are links we haven't added ourselves –  Liam Sorsby Feb 11 at 12:46
    
@LiamSorsby Can you clarify the last paragraph a bit (i.e., as to what occurred and what you think it resulted from)? –  dan Feb 11 at 19:15
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@dan Hi dan, as I am guessing, I'm not entirely sure but i think it is being caused by template like systems i.e with sidebars so a link on the sidebar being added onto every new page so the incoming link may be duplicated to a stage where our page has 60,000+ links coming in from a specific domain –  Liam Sorsby Feb 12 at 9:24
    
I'm sure I have read something about this sort of thing before with respect to blogrolls? –  w3d Feb 12 at 23:44
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3 Answers 3

http://moz.com/blog/how-wpmuorg-recovered-from-the-penguin-update

This is exactly how to be hit by G.Penguin. Better to nofollow those links. It also depends on your backlinks profile too (i.e. do you just have a few backlinks and then 60'000+links from 1 website?).

Website design companies and others have been penalized for follwed footer links in client's projects with redundant keyword exact match.

Paid links are against G. policy, so..... 60'000 paid links with exact keyword match... easy to spot.

Blogroll links do not necessary penalize, they are just too common. See Blogger.com.

In the end you had some sort of luck, meaning that at least you receveid a clear manual action from G. There are webmasters out there still wondering what happend to their rankings and why the "Manual action" section of GWT is a blank page.

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I have to admit being somewhat confused about your situation. However, to answer your question, it is not a good idea to create links in your footer any longer. This was tradition as a credit to those who have helped you in some way. However, so many link spam schemes used the footer to create links that something had to be done. In fact, J.C. Penny was de-listed by Google as well some other companies for links in the footers of many websites that created an un-natural rank for the company. It seemed that an SEO company was responsible for the links and Google reinstated J.C. Penny as a result once the problem was cleaned up. This was written about in (if I recall correctly) The New York Times. Since then Google has been wary. Having said that, I only recently (about a year ago) began removing links from my footers and have not seen a penalty. However, others have. I got a frantic call from a webmaster about this last winter asking for help. His problem was solved by removing links from footers. This is not limited to just the footer so I would think twice on this tactic in any form.

Hope this helps.

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Thank you for your input, however footer was an example, i was more hinting on the templates sort of basis. i.e alot of websites use a template with alternating content i.e sidebars with adverts in. So everytime they create a new page the link is then added onto the page resulting in 60,000+ links to our page –  Liam Sorsby Feb 12 at 9:22
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Paid links in templates can absolutely cause Google penalties for paid links. Google started cracking down on these in earnest in early 2012.

It used to be that some of the highest PageRank pages out there were the pages for software that powered websites. WordPress, templates, stats counters, etc. This was because this software always included links back to the software when the software was installed.

Some SEO folks started to notice this. Many people started to create WordPress themes just so that they could get a link back to their website.

Then some people that were creating this software started to sell the links in the templates. That is when Google started cracking down.

Today, if you include links to your site in software or templates that powers websites you should do one of the following:

  • Ensure the links are nofollow
  • Make sure the links go through a redirector that is listed in robots.txt

There may be some wiggle room if your primary business is creating this software and templates and the link has your brand or domain as the anchor text. Other than that, Google sees paid links in templates as pure spam and deals out penalties for them.

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