Help and Advice for Google’s latest manual action – unnatural outbound links.

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Bloggers and webmasters may have received manual action penalties as a result of Google’s latest guidelines on ‘unnatural outbound links’.

Did this happen to you? Don’t panic, we can help.

What is an ‘unnatural outbound link’ and what does it mean for your site?

This latest penalty has been issued against blog sites which provide ‘unnatural outbound link’  This means you’ve placed a link from your site to someone else’s when it does not make ‘organic’ sense to do so. Specifically, the penalty applies to bloggers who receive free products for review, in exchange for links.

The manual actions issued at the beginning of April, were explicitly confirmed by Google’s own John Mueller to be against blog sites that review free products in exchange for a link.

I’m a blogger, what do I do?

If you own a blog, you may have heard Google’s warning a few weeks back that told bloggers to adhere to their guidelines for bloggers receiving products. If you missed it,  here are some of the important things to bear in mind::

  • Use the nofollow tag where appropriate – which means including the following tag in your link <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>
  • Disclose the relationship – make sure you divulge the fact you’ve been provided products from a company for you to review.
  • Write compelling, unique content so that your blog offers real reasons to visit and read your content.

If you’ve had a penalty, don’t worry, they are fairly simple to remove!

All you have to do is log in to your search console there you will see if you’ve been issued a penalty. If you have, amend the links you think may be causing the problem and then submit a reconsideration request.

For more complicated penalty removals associated with other warnings, the folks at Moz have a fully comprehensive guide to removing a Google penalty.

A little more background

Over the years, Google has warned bloggers and webmasters about including non-organic links on their sites. Whether these are link partnership schemes or links bought from sites like; new algorithms and updates from Google have penalised and shown little tolerance for ‘spam links’.

For bloggers unsure of what constitutes an ‘unnatural outbound link’, Google has issued some official advice near the beginning of March 2016 that can help you stay in their good books:

“Bloggers should use the nofollow tag on all such links because these links didn’t come about organically (i.e., the links wouldn’t exist if the company hadn’t offered to provide a free good or service in exchange for a link).

Companies, or the marketing firms they’re working with, can do their part by reminding bloggers to use nofollow on these links.”


Of course, there is no official way to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ links. A blogger who offers a genuine review of a genuine product is adding value for their readership – so, as long as you stay within the guidelines, don’t be afraid to get your opinion across.

Where you affected by this announcement? Let us know in the comments and get advice by contacting us today.


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