Unnatural Links: What is the Purpose of the Google FUD Campaign?

Very rusty huge links, probably from a ship anchor*

Google has been sending out “unnatural links” warnings for quite some time now. At first the messages meant that you got penalized on Google search and thus you potentially lost your rankings and traffic. Then

Google started sending out even more of the cryptic messages.

Then one day they were telling webmasters on Google Search Console that they have “unnatural links”.

There was no way to detect those and Google also did not offer any help to determine the culprits. Google was simply scaring people – on purpose.

Then they seemingly backtracked a few days later to say that these messages do not mean you have been penalized. They even explained they don’t matter. Of course this was also just a temporary excuse.

Confusing People for Fun or Profit?

Then Google spokespeople apparently again changed their mind to say that of course such a message can mean a penalty and that they can’t be ignored.

Given the fact that all of this happened in July while many people were on vacation there is only one logical reason for making webmasters panic in such a way.

It’s a so called FUD campaign by Google to discourage people from practicing SEO.

FUD stands for “fear, uncertainty and doubt” and is an unethical business tactic to make your competition appear untrustworthy by spreading disinformation.

Google calls that “transparency” but the corporation is known for its bizarre Orwellian newspeak. By now Google does not even compete with Bing anymore. They are effectively a monopoly controlling online traffic.

Google, the Advertising Corporation

Google’s business model is selling ads and so called paid inclusion (hidden ads that can’t be distinguished as such) not search itself. In short:

Google gets paid by advertisers so that they show up on top of so called organic search results.

These organic search results by now almost disappeared in most lucrative niches like ecommerce or travel. There Google dominates most if not all of the visible screen real estate.

You have to scroll to even see the so called natural search results. These in turn will most likely show either Wikipedia on top or other corporations you can’t compete with.

Most business owners have to pay to get included on Google.

Despite this over the years demand for SEO has grown steadily as much as the demand for Google Ads the Internet giant shows above the real search results.

In early 2012 Google also enabled so called “negative SEO by announcing that “it’s not impossible” to hurt a competing site by pointing bad links towards it.

Google Makes SEO Negative

After Google allowed sabotaging of third party websites in their search index a huge wave of “negative SEO” ensued due to campaigns by many rogue businesses.

They either tried to hurt their competition by buying unnatural links to link to them or by blackmailing webmasters so that they pay them to get unnatural links pointing to them removed.

In case studies that tested the impact of Google sabotage aka so called “negative SEO” Google has been sending out unnatural links warnings quickly to the victim sites.

Let’s make this clear: a criminal can hurt your site by simply paying 10$ to some hacker who will then spam thousands of blogs and forums so that they link to your legit site.

Then Google will penalize you (or take manual action as they call it in Google-speak). Then the same person can extort you so that you pay them to get those harmful links removed.

Google could easily end this insanity by simply discounting all “unnatural” links.

They could stop counting them altogether – neither as positive nor as positive links. Instead Google wants to offer a so called disavow tool. They also added to Google Search Console.

There you have to manually check all the links pointing to your site and then mark those you don’t trust as “unnatural”.

This way Google gets an army of unpaid workers to clean up the Web.

That’s not the reason why Google first created the problem to later provide the solution though. It’s just a means to an end:

Danger, Danger! It’s the Internet!

Google is trying to convince people that links, the foundation of the Web are dangerous! Instead they want people to stay on Google and inform themselves inside their walled garden ad hoc “search” portals.

Link building – the most important SEO technique – becomes high risk and costly. What are webmasters left to do? They have to pay Google to get found. They need to buy Google ads.

In the meantime SEO practitioners have to adapt to the new Web owned by Google.

Google also pushes AMP code and other proprietary Google technologies by promising a more visible placement in so called search results.

You have to create a separate site for Google using the AMP coding language and you will be rewarded by showing up on top in some specialized Google features like “carousels” e.g.

Once most people are afraid of links Google can easily take over the Web with their proprietary technology.

The SEO industry has to adapt by offering Google Ads and creating content to displayed on Google itself or get wiped out. What is the purpose of this Google FUD campaign?

The “unnatural links” scare is not meant to improve SEO or the quality of organic search results. Google wants to sell more ads and replace links with proprietary features.

* (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons image by Steve Lodefink