A great story surfaced on Friday highlighting just why Google’s current approach to policing backlinks is so wrong. The story in Search Engine Land brought to light the fact that the BBC had been sent an ‘unnatural links’ notification, similar to the one no doubt experienced by Interflora a couple of weeks back.
Majestic SEO reckon that bbc.co.uk have 968,845,834 backlinks to their site so no wonder that the BBC member of staff posted “can you give us a little clue as to where we might look for these ‘unnatural links’.”
And this is very much why Google’s penalty approach is wrong. Where on earth would you start to look in a billion links to see which ones are bad? How can you possibly control these links and could you ever start to clear up those that might be bad? And what possible benefit can there be to Google in tweaking the tail of the BBC? This is an organisation that is regarded worldwide as one of the last bastions of free and independent broadcasting and despite its recent travails has a proud history that Google will do well to come close to at any point. It also has the ear of the public and can easily adopt a position to promote a particular agenda if it believes it is in the public good.
The BBC website is one of the best used sites in the UK and is a model of clarity and design excellence; it sets the standard. If Google decides to go the whole hog and penalise them for this ‘transgression’ (whatever it is) then what will they do? Drop their Page Rank? Drop them from the index? Push their search results down?
We argued last week that Google has the wrong approach to bad links and there are far better ways of dealing with this problem than turning on the sites that populate its index. With any luck they will pursue this bad link issue with the BBC and we really hope that they do apply a penalty. Google has operated with impunity for too long now and it’s about time it found out what happens to you when you ‘tweak the tiger’s tail’.