Last weekend Google penalised thousands of blogs for an attempt to stop unnatural gain of rankings through spammy backlinking. This is a penalty issued by the Google manual action team which believes certain outgoing links were able to manipulate the Google search results as well as the Page Rank algorithm.
Here is the message which thousands of webmasters received last week.
If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.
Google also warned webmasters in this regards a week earlier, mentioning that if you have received free or paid products and services to review make sure that all the outgoing links are set to be No Follow so no link juice will be passed on. However, apparently those who ignored this warning has now left scratching their heads over penalties.
Although providing Do Follow links in blogs on products or services reviews is still allowed and even promoted by Google however, apparently according to John Mueller from Google, if the only purpose of the post is to promote certain free or paid products and services then every given links on that post should be set to No Follow.
This is considered to be a surprise move by Google which makes things a lot harder for digital marketers in this ever expanding world of competitive markets and industries and perhaps a better move to push all of us to invest more on Adwords rather than SEO.
Here is the exact remarks on this from John Mueller,
In particular, if a post was made because of a free product (or free service, or just paid, etc.), then any links placed there because of that need to have a rel=nofollow attached to them. This includes links to the product itself, any sales pages (such as on Amazon), affiliate links, social media profiles, etc. that are associated with that post. Additionally, I imagine your readers would also appreciate it if those posts were labeled appropriately. It’s fine to keep these kinds of posts up, sometimes there’s a lot of useful information in them! However, the links in those posts specifically need to be modified so that they don’t pass PageRank (by using the rel=nofollow).
Once these links are cleaned up appropriately, feel free to submit a reconsideration request, so that the webspam team can double-check and remove the manual action.