Bill Hartzer

Can Social Media Links Cause a Manual Action Google Penalty?

Can links from a social media website, such as Reddit, cause a website to get a manual action penalty from Google? Well, according to the example links provided to a site owner recently, they can. Links from the website Reddit.com were provided as examples of unnatural links to a website by Google, which apparently was at least partly responsible for the unnatural links penalty given.

In a recent Tweet, Twitter user @charles_seo provided a screenshot of the example links from Reddit. (Just for clarification, this was Rick Lomas’ screenshot that Charles tweeted.)

The title of the manual action notice from Google, provided in Google Search Console, says that unnatural links still persist on the domain name. In this case, Google gives examples of links from Reddit.com that are violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines based on a reconsideration request. Websites can have manual actions (search engine penalties) applied to them when a website violates Google’s acceptable Webmaster Guidelines. Google has specific guidelines that website owners must follow or the website could be given a “manual action”, which will cause the website’s visibility in the search engine results pages at Google to go down. The site will receive less traffic from Google’s organic, or natural search results.

Most Likely It’s Not Just Reddit Links

Most likely, the manual action given to this site because of unnatural links isn’t just because of the Reddit links. In fact, there is an IP address mentioned in the screen capture, as well, and it’s given as an example. When Google gives a website a manual action penalty for unnatural links, there is going to be a much larger issue involved. It’s not just a few links (although it can be). From what I suspect in this case, the website owner is responsible for a lot of unnatural links, and not just the Reddit ones.

One of the concerns I have, though, is that the example given is not necessarily a link (a Reddit link) that the website owner has control over. For example, a competitor could have created those links and pointed them to the website. But, we don’t know the actual link (I don’t know the actual link), so it could be a username that’s related to the site owner. The site owner could have a history of links from Reddit, and the Reddit links could be tied back to the Reddit links somehow, even if those links have the ‘nofollow’ link attribute added on them.

According to Chris Silver Smith, Google has a history of penalizing websites for unnatural links due to affiliate links. It’s possible that an affiliate of a website to create unnatural links and the website would get penalized. In a recent Tweet, Chris said:

What no one in this thread has referenced is: affiliate links are a form of paid link, so, on it’s own: not at all extraordinary that Google would penalize for those links. Affiliate link penalties date back to at least 2005.

So, we don’t really know the full story behind why Google is mentioning the Reddit links as being unnatural. As I mentioned, there could be a lot more going on here (and there usually is!), so the Reddit links could actually be part of the issue. We don’t know exactly where these links are pointing–and they could be pointing to another site that redirects to the site, or part of a bad network that’s pointing to the site that has been penalized.

I’ll skip any judgment I have towards these Reddit links being an issue, as I just don’t have enough information about the links and the actual manual action to decide. What I’m leaning towards, though, is the fact that those Reddit links might be pointing to a link network or other sites that are the part of the problem. Then, those links would be pointing to the site that’s penalized. If you have a lot of PBN (Private Blog Network) links that are unnatural and manipulative, and Reddit links are involved, it’s quite possible that this would be penalized by Google.

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