SEO Mistakes: Not checking your site

Gwen of faucetandsinkconnection.com writes in a comment:

november we had our best month ever! december we were dropped flat by google.. after speaking to someone they said we were link/google bombed! now we have no page rank (it was never above a 4 but at least we were ranked) and are not coming up in any of the google searches. we have never paid for links, we did searches for similar sites to link to & didn’t have a ton of them! suddenly we have 14,000 links! now down to 4,000 but most are things we’ve never heard about. this is our livlihood, not coming up in google can pretty much put us out of business so the question is… how do you convey to google (and get them to listen) when someone link bombs your site? how do we get reinstated? we were coming up on the first of second page for all of our major/base products until googles last spider. we need help and we need it fast!
it’s a bit frustrating to be dropped, to send multiple emails and never get an answer as to what we may have done wrong. the link bombing is the only answer we’ve gotten from anyone (not from google).
any help would be greatly appreciated.

Gwen, your problem wasn’t link bombing or anything else. Your problem was hidden text. Here’s what your site looked like before:

hidden text

See the yellowish text on the yellowish background that I’ve highlighted? (The dark blue text on a blue background isn’t great, either.) The text is visible now, so at least someone knew what was going on.

Just to review, here’s the life cycle of a spam penalty:

1. Spam
2. Get caught
3. Fix the spam.
4. File a reinclusion request.
5. Possibly get reincluded in our index. You need to convince us that we won’t see any spam in the future.

Gwen, you’re in the middle of step 3. Before you try a reinclusion request, check out the links you have over the text “Thank you for shopping with us, we look forward to your order.” Urls like http://www.faucetandsinkconnection.com/bathroom_faucets.html would look just like keyword stuffing to one of your competitors. And urls like http://www.faucetandsinkconnection.com/shower_heads.html
and

http://www.faucetandsinkconnection.com/pedestal_sinks.html

have the exact same content, except with a “click here to view” link to different pages. Those pages move from keyword stuffing into doorway pages: the same content is posted to attract searchers, with a single link to different pages.

Finally, it looks like you might also run hardwareandlighting.com too? That site has serious problems too. First off, on http://www.hardwareandlighting.com/bathroom_vanities2.html how does text like

Remodel or build your new kitchen sink sink kitchen faucet bathroom bathroom sink Jacuzzi room tub bathroom faucet lavatory faucet vessel bowl tempered glass mirror kitchen shelf bathroom shelf laminated sink double layers sink glass sink bowl iron cast wrought stainless steel faucet stainless steel vanity oak vanity table stainless steel pedestal wall bracket pop up drain p-trap above or over counter sink tile mount faucet wall mount sink granite sink marble onyx sink dark wood vanity table marble sink or stone sink here at faucetandsinkconnection.com

not count as keyword stuffing? And why are you dropping links on http://www.hardwareandlighting.com/bathroom_vanities2.html to sites like http://www.best-buy-and-sell.biz/ and http://www.cheap-buy-sell.com/ and http://www.smart-buy-sell.com/ in miniscule links? smart-buy-sell.com isn’t even registered any more–it’s dead. And on pages like http://www.hardwareandlighting.com/door_knobs.html there’s still hidden text links (e.g. “sinks faucets and more”).

To summarize, your problem is not that someone “linkbombed” you. The good news is that you have the power to fix your problems yourself. The bad news is that it’s going to take a lot of scrubbing before your site(s) are ready for a reinclusion request.

The SEO mistake I want to communicate here is to check your own site before assuming that someone else is hurting your site or that Google is making a mistake.

295 Responses to SEO Mistakes: Not checking your site (Leave a comment)

  1. Wow, busted. :)

    I think a lot of people claim ignorance once they get caught or they don’t keep up with the trends and think that keyword stuffing still works.

    In fact, it’s almost infuriating reading her “request” that something by the mystical powers of Google is so drastically wrong that her site is so badly affected. I think for all of us trying to run legitimate sites, not necessarily for profit, but for intrinsic purposes, seeing these whiny requests makes me very happy I am not Matt Cutts, SEO guru and personal punching bag of webmasters everywhere.

    “I had hidden text? I must have been hacked by 530 h@x0rz.”

  2. Matt, you missed a huge opportunity here. You should have pasted the HTML from her site rather than an image…think of how well your blog would have ranked for plumbing queries on MSN and Yahoo!
    :-D

  3. do people even order anything from sites like that?

    All these sites may show up in google, but they look so un-professional that they’d never get my money.

    From your doorknob page, I can’t even figure out how to add a doorknob to my cart. All I see are spammy keywords. If I wanted to buy, you confused me.

    Remember the goal of an e-commerce site is to sell. To sell you need users, and the sie needs to be useable. Search is one of many methods of getting users.

    Congratulations. You have a site with great search results, that nobody can figure out how to use.

    100,000 visitors / day are useless if only .0005 % of them buy something.

    I’d rather have 10 visitors / day and 1 sale.

  4. Google Lover

    Well said matt, I agree with you, I see a lot of people just whine simply thinking that someone is hurting their site, especially the 302 redirect theories, If they see something different then they start saying google is evil, they cant handle redirects, MSN please rule the search world blah; blah;

    I bet 95% people who are complaining about 302 hijacking theories are people who dont know how to make their site rank and just whine at google, simple fact they want to complain about something so that they can hide their incapabilities and mistakes,

  5. Wow, the owners of faucetandsinkconnection.com should be happy, a detailed SEO review from Matt Cutts, and for Free !!

    This happen very often, some clients assume that some one is “hijacking” (now a popular term) their rankings when they cause the problem, include some hidden text, play with the robots.txt file of buy links from unknows sources, but they try to blame some one else !!…

    Another Traffic Equalizer web site ?? looks like

    BTW Happy New Year !!

  6. As I am tried to ask you privately before but have got no response (i know your super busy and understand) what do you do when its obvious you have been penalized but you cant and other “seo experts” cant see why you are being penalized? Ive contacted google several times including a few to you via comments and email but never got a solid response.

    I have hired a few seo “experts” to check out my sites that google has penalized and they all just say… “thats google” ….. frustrating

  7. What’s your proccess for penalizing these sites? Do you have a team that searches the net all day for sites like this? Are you part of that team? Where do I apply? Or do you just wait until someone reports a site, then the team analyzes it? It doesn’t seem like it’s an automatic process that the googlebot would do. If it isn’t, I think it would solve the complaints that people have about sites not being penalized. But then again people say they report sites like this and nothing ever happens. I don’t know, the whole thing just seems random to me.

  8. Google Lover

    >>.I have hired a few seo “experts” to check out my sites that google has penalized and they all just say… “thats google” ….. frustrating

    I had never seen google impose a manual penalty for a site without genuine reasons, If you have automated penalities check your link network and possible spam on onpage stuff,

    Also remember affiliate sites dont add much value to google users, hope your sites are not affiliate sites, if I were to run a search engine my first thing is to ban all the aggressive affiliate sites, they add ZERO value to search users,

  9. Hey Matt I upgraded to Firefox 1.5 which isn’t compatible with PREFBAR, which was a really cool extension you reccomended that could see this stuff really easy with. You still one version behind or are you using something else?

  10. Ben

    Google made a mistake on one of my sites and I had to email twice to get it fixed.

    There was something screwy going on where I’d registered a domain that had previously been someone else’s and banned/penalised. This is a more and more likely occurance each year, especially in 2006 a lot of domain squatters’ holdings are coming up for expiry.

    The saddest thing about this faucetandsinkconnection site is that it looks like it was done in about 1998. Archive.org puts it up in 2004 heh.

    Matt – why does a site like that take a year and a half to catch when it contains such obvious spam and violates most of the webmaster/quality guidelines?

  11. Matt, Make yourself a firefox plugin for people to download that detects hidden text, spammy stuff, keyword stuffing etc…

    Then when it finds, have it hit a database and log it for you.

    Put it on the google toolbar.

    Boom! each morning you get a fresh list of spam sites to review and delete.

  12. Kris Farmer

    Unbelievable. I would like to know this “someone” who suggested their problem was a “link bomb”. If this is in fact their livelyhood, it is a shame they would go to a snake charmer for SEO advice.

  13. Matt

    Michael, I have no desire to rank for plumbing queries. :) Hagrin, I don’t mind being a webmaster punching bag at times. The thing I wanted to remind people of is that there are often two sides to a story.

    Shoemoney, the site that you mentioned in your other comment looked like it had been involved in a lot of co-operative link networks and such? If you’re not involved in that stuff any more, I’d file a reinclusion request for the site. It was also a little strange that you had sites for each wireless provider.

    graywolf, I’m sticking with 1.0.7 until everything is available on 1.5. Call me selfish, but I can’t afford to have an unstable browser for my job. :)

  14. Harith

    Hi Matt

    “The SEO mistake I want to communicate here is to check your own site before assuming that someone else is hurting your site or that Google is making a mistake.”

    I don’t know Gwen, but it seems that he/she writing in good faith. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gwen doesn’t know much about SEO or Google Webmaster Guidelines. Some “SEO specialist” might have told Gwen; I can get your site on top of Google serps for $$$$, and Gwen agreed, again in good faith.
    That senario is very typical; unsavvy site owner in the hand of unscrupulous SEO shark.

    Gwen mightbe a typical case for your pilot program Alerting site owners to problems

    Have a great day.

  15. ok… before everyone goes off on me here.. i was told that we were link bombed by someone who is supposed to know! the text was light in color because our competitors kept stealing it so they would come up in searches and it was working! in fact one of them has the text completely cloaked on their site and they are still coming up in the searches! i left it visible so we wouldn’t be penalized but… just in case, i changed all of that and made it darker.. .getting rid of the links is no problem either… actually googlebot did hit us last night for the first time in a long time.. hopefully it will come back.. all of this happened right when our host moved us to another server changing our IP address so we really weren’t sure what was going on…
    we are learning as we go here… trying to get input from people who say they know as well as seeing what other sites who are coming up in the searches are doing.
    If we own both sites is it wrong to link back and forth to one another? actually one site is enough to handle so hardware and lighting is being incorporated in to faucet and sink connection.
    Matt… thanks for all of your input.. seems like anyone we have hired to help us knows less than we do, and what we know is all through trial and error. would love to know if you have any suggestions for a good seo for hire LOL
    thanks again…
    Happy New Year!
    gwen

  16. Nate

    You go, Matt!

    Some people’s children…sheesh!

  17. cornwall

    graywolf

    Bit odd corresponding with you here, but PREFBAR is compatable with FF1.5 – they did the upgrade, I think, yesterday

    cornwall

  18. Matt: Could we get a clear yes/no answer on whether users of Digital Point’s and Link Vault’s “advertising” networks risk getting banned?

    I think a ton of people would be extremely interested in hearing your views on both of those programs.

    Thank you!

    Nathan Malone
    Austin, Texas

  19. SpamHound

    So then is subdomain spam like this site http://www.communitymusician.com/ is using OK by Google now?

    This nicely buried at the bottom of the page.

    The subs used to have a bunch of links to http://www.redbricksmedia.com/ client sites but it’s look like they dumped the links after the read a post I made a while back on Matt’s blog.

    If subdomains like this is the way to go, then I think everybody should have subdomain for every state with exactly the same content on it, don you think?

    atlanta
    austin
    baltimore
    birmingham
    burlington
    charlotte
    chicago
    cincinnati
    cleveland
    columbus
    dallas
    dc
    denver
    detroit
    elpaso
    eugene
    honolulu
    houston
    kansas city
    los angeles
    boston
    memphis
    miami
    milwaukee
    minneapolis
    nashville
    new orleans
    new york city
    orlando
    philadelphia
    phoenix
    pittsburgh
    portland
    providence
    raleigh
    reno
    sacramento
    salt lake city
    san antonio
    san diego
    san francisco
    seattle
    st louis
    st paul
    tampa
    tucson
    tulsa
    vegas
    virginia beach

    Canada

    –Select–
    toronto
    vancouver
    alberta
    british columbia
    manitoba
    new brunswick
    newfoundland
    northwest territories
    nova scotia
    ontario
    prince edward island
    quebec
    saskatchewan
    yukon territory

  20. Speaking of hidden text…

    Greetings, Matt;

    Don’t mean to add to your workload, but I was wondering what Google does when the companies using the hidden text ploy are household names–Fortune 500 companies and the like.

    In order to get some on-topic inbound links for my new site (and maybe bust my way out of the sandbox early), I recently published an article and press release naming 12 A-list Web sites that use hidden text.

    One of them actually got PRWeb to drop the press release until I pulled their name from it. I took offense to that and filed a spam report against them.

    I would imagine that the site in question is a major advertiser, and I would be greatly interested to know how Google handles such delicate matters. I am not implying that anyone is entitled to know how Google conducts its business, but I didn’t think it would hurt to ask.

    Many thanks for your time and trouble.

    Happy New Year to all,
    Robert

  21. Ryan,

    Not only do we sell stuff, but we’ve been able to quit working for others, make a very respectable living and are in the process of opening a showroom all because of our site that nobody knows how to use! all in little over a year!

    i’m no web guru. had never built a website before starting on this project. we read and surfed other sites to see what they were doing to come up in searches. i wasn’t blaming google for dropping us, i was merely trying to figure out why so that we could fix it.

    Matt,
    thanks again for your response. i’ve already removed several of the links and will work on our pages this week-end.
    the sinksfaucetsandmore.com that you saw was from some time ago, i didn’t realize it was still there LOL they are a competitor (in fact it was their doorway pages that inspired us to do something similar) and we had some invisible sparring going on for a while. not professional but was amusing anyway!

    thanks again for taking the time to look at our site and respond to us.

    again.. Happy New Year!

    gwen

  22. just a bit miffed here – so Gwen gets a first class lesson in how to make her site better and why GG penalized it in the first place – something she could have done herself quite easily if she had spent the time to research SEO and why some sites disappear, as it was so glaringly obvious!!

    But the rest of us who are either pulling our hair out or hitting the bottle because we can’t figure out why our sites are suddenly wallowing in the depths of GG – not actually been banned – so we can’t go the reinclusion route, and WE’ve spent hours searching the internet in the hope of finding a solution – ‘cos we couldn’t afford to hire a SEO either good or bad anyway – get ‘nowt, nada, nothing. – no help, no visitors and no income.

    You know Matt I do enjoy reading your blog – and not just the GG bits – didn’t even know you could get Firefly things for bikes – and I’ve learnt stuff and been places I wouldn’t normally venture – but I wish I was in Gwen’s shoes tonight – at least she knows what she’s got to do to put things right – and call me bitter – but I don’t think she deserved it.

  23. Jon Wright

    Jesus! That is bad.

    I did start to feel a little sorry for you Gwen, at first believing that whoever built your site was perhaps naive. I mean there are a lot of “homebrew” looking sites out there, but what set’s most of these apart from yours is the age factor. Years ago people built sites like yours because it was the norm.

    A lot has changed in Google since those ‘heady’ days and sites like yours have played a major part in that.

    There’s a lot more going on than just hidden text that i can see and no way is that naive, innocent or accidental.

    I think the best advice any self respecting SEO would give you would be to rip it up and start again.

  24. Kelly Jones

    Matt, you said the following:

    > Urls like >http://www.faucetandsinkconnection.com/bathroom_faucets.html
    > would look just like keyword stuffing to one of your competitors

    While the site is definitely VERY spammy, your comment about the URL seems overly strict. Are you suggesting that failure to use an obscure URL like below means you’re keyword stuffing?
    http://www.faucetandsinkconnection.com/bf.html

    We like to keep our urls descriptive so that when we’re working on hundreds of pages at least we know what the page content is supposed to be. This is especially true when you’re working with regions like the following:
    http://www.domain.com/portland_maine.html

    Please clarify here as the last thing we want to do is be guilty of keyword stuffing our urls.

    Thanks!

    KJ

  25. Matt-

    Thank you very much for the response. I now have something to go on. I do have sites for each wireless provider because they require there own server farms/sites because of the way the media is delivered….

    Anyway hopefully I can explain that to your collegues….

    as I said in my email I dont care to rank for huge keyword phrases… but I have worked SUPER hard to brand myself and its very frustrating to see assclowns making warez and spam sites on my branded/copywrited name which google ranks over mine..

    anyway THANK YOU for the response!

  26. steve whitmore

    So Matt, if you particpate in “co-operative link networks” are you going to get penalized? Also I think the people call them co-operative advertising networks. Can you explain a lil about the “co-operative link networks” ?
    Please let us know

  27. Jon,

    it is a homebrew site built by yours truly who had never even had one of those home pages that people do for themselves LOL so if it looks that way… so be it! i did the best i could, learning as i went along. as far as anything that doesn’t look innocent, we looked at sites that were coming up in searches and tried to figure out what they were doing.. if it was wrong, we suffer. yes we are naive, maybe the sites we looked at were not! it’s all a learning process for us, this being one extremely big lesson. not everyone out there has years of experience building websites, or even working on computers for that matter. obviously i’ve made some huge mistakes, so rake me over the coals if that’s what you feel is necessary.
    it’s easy to be critical of others isn’t it?

    thank goodness for people like Matt who give constructive criticism and direction to dummies like me.
    now i need to get back to “scrubbing”

  28. Wayne

    Hey Matt, if you are interested would you mind viewing a couple of sites that you might find interesting. I had a couple of Seo’s / webmasters work on these sites since I am not an seo and to be honest dont know much about it, but both of these sites are penalized by google. One site is 4 years old and the other is 2 to 3 years old.

    If you would like to I think it might be good knowledge for those who might have the same problems. I personally know nothing about spam tactics and other seo’s have not been able to figure out why the sites dropped. If you are interested please let me know and I can post the urls or you can shoot me an email if you like.

  29. Matt

    Search Engines Web, I was talking about the content at the url faucetandsinkconnection com/bathroom_faucets.html, not the url itself. That url is just fine.

    gwen, I wish you well. Chug away on the things I mentioned, and send us a reinclusion request when you’ve cleaned everything up..

  30. adam

    Matts post: “Shoemoney, the site that you mentioned in your other comment looked like it had been involved in a lot of co-operative link networks and such?”

    so if somebody points coop network to my site im doomed? there’s no protection against being “overlypromoted for free” :/

  31. Jon Wright

    Actually SEW there’s nothing wrong with dropping links to partner sites at all. I guess from Google’s point of view the trouble starts when it comes down to measuring the relevancy of those links when a customer visits the site.

    Take a look at the site again and click on the image that says “save a life adopt a pet”.

    Now i’m expecting to go to a dogs home or something, not a Hardware and Lighting site. You know you got to see it from Matts perspective. Google has customers too you know and those customers rely on the most relevant search. If the user don’t get it they move engines and quickly. They don’t give Matt or Google the benefit of telling him what’s wrong. So if i am Matt i am going to question this site straight away and take action.

    In the end it all may turn out innocent and if that’s the case, then Matt is advising Gwen the best way he see’s. I mean he comes across as cautious in his analysis of Gwen’s site anyway, hence the help and advice. It’s quite refreshing to see actually.

  32. Matt – thanks for another “case study” – I think this is the best way to get your points across.

    Sometime I hope you can address the issues with sites that are not penalized but are simply downranked very dramatically from prominence into obscurity. I think this is the most frustrating condition to be in, and it plagues a LOT of sites these days.

    PS – have you read “The Google Story” yet? I got it and looked you up and there I was in the picture from SES! Insider review needed !

  33. Well if that isn’t an old classic I’ll be damned. Tell you what, if Gwen didn’t do this herself then someone with a little knowledge of outdated ‘black hat tricks’ certainly did. They have either used an SEO or webmaster that has made the ‘old claim’ that they can get you to the top in a heartbeat. Yes they did for a while, now the client is busted… go figure.

    Unfortunately, the web is full of these sites, mostly the site owners are unaware of problems like this as they have believed and been suckered by the old email or telephone call that promises good search engine magic.

  34. Do these spammers ever learn??!! He still has dark text in the blue background!! If he wasn’t trying to spam, it would be…white, like the text under the images! Please don’t let him back in da index!!

  35. Jon Wright

    Hey Gwen,

    I just reading back through my post wondering where i was “hauling you over the coals.”

    I noticed i wrote this “There’s a lot more going on than just hidden text that i can see and no way is that naive, innocent or accidental”. Sorry if you misread that as being aimed at you, it wasn’t. I was generalising. I mean’t that it’s not just hidden text that’s causing Google to act, and the people who do these things know exactly what they are doing.

    I can see by some of your links in forums that you have been asking for advice all along the way so I wish you well and hopefully visiting here has helped. You can’t get better advice than Matt has given you can you?

    Also when i said “the best advice any self respecting SEO would give you would be to rip it up and start again” i put that in because you mentioned this “if you have any suggestions for a good seo for hire LOL” and i wasn’t sure if you were joking or not.

    Anyway i think you’ll be better for the experience and nobody is an expert in this industry. Google is littered with my disasters LOL :-)

    All the best and Happy New Year.

  36. Matt,

    I dropped from first page rankings to page 5-10 on the jagger #1 update. I scanned the site and found some hidden text in a layer with visibility=hidden. I corrected the problem and sent a reinclusion request about 2 weeks later.

    Any idea how long this penalty will last?

  37. Okay, I’m not going to try to flame here, but Matt, you have some amazing patience to put up with what people demand of you.

    “it is absolutely harmless to have dark blue text on a blue background – that point should NEVER have been brought up – it is COMPLETELY ridiculous for ANY search engine to even THINK of penalyzing anyone for that !!!!”

    Umm, what? I have never failed one of those little color-blindness tests, but I can barely read that text. If I’m viewing a website that has very hard to read text like that, I’m going to get suspicious and wonder why the contrast is so low. What are they hiding?

    Sure, the webmasters have every right to do sleazy stuff and put hidden text on their pages, but Google has every right to ignore them and block them from their search results. I’m glad Google does this.

    To all web masters: use common sense. If your tactic is suspicious or sleazy, expect it to get punished. Before doing something that doesn’t either make your page easier to navigate or add content, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer is to increase your search rankings, then you should probably not do it. A site optimized for a good user experience should, ideally, get good search rankings. Also, content is king.

    I’ve made some changes to my website/blog recently based on articles from http://www.useit.com/ . I’d recommend checking out that website for useful information about designing websites. If you follow their guidelines, it should make users happy and perhaps even increase your PageRank.

    Matt, thanks for another interesting post,
    Andrew

  38. Gwen,

    I just looked at your site and saw some of the corrections you made.

    Call me crazy but you might also run into a keyword stuffing problem on faucetandsinkconnection.com/bathroom_faucets.html

  39. Tim Price

    So what about the rest of us? I’ve got a site that is over 10 years old, ranks #3 in yahoo and #6 in MSN and after the jagger update the site was completely removed for my main keywords.. I haven’t been doing anything strange, I run a fan site, I’m not trying to sell anything I don’t need to resort to any tactics like Gwen, and yet I’m penalized for something and I’ve got no idea what it is. I look at the search results now and i see 404 errors, sites that havent been updated in 5 years or more all ranking highly and here Ive got a quality site 10 years full of great content updated regularly not even ranked in google..losing 70% of my traffic and really having nothing I can do about it. If you wrote a blog on people like us it would be more helpful than stating the damn obvious as you did in this post

  40. Jon,

    Actually the catahoula rescue that i’m involved in just started up and are working on putting up their own page. We had nowhere else to put the pics of the dogs. if you click on those dog pictures you will see that they take you to petfinder or dogster. trust me… that part is totally innocent and you won’t see any of our keywords referring to dogs etc…

    those pictures will be moved to the new website just as soon as i can finish cleaning up the one that pays me.

    i hate to admit it, i’m not as smart as some of you are giving me credit for… maybe that’s a good thing!

    gwen

  41. Harith

    gwen

    “i hate to admit it, i’m not as smart as some of you are giving me credit for… maybe that’s a good thing!”

    Don’t worry. You just keep on learning and one day you will be a great webmaster :-)

  42. Harith

    Hi Matt

    Ok. Back to some serious stuff :-)

    Where is that call for feedback of the test DC?

    Don’t tell me; next year :-)

  43. So Matt,

    Is the affiliate content on http://www.Heavymusic.com considered spam? I used to sell guitars for 7 years and I did some reviews on our page of those instruments. So of the material is very basic but some of it is very helpful to a novie that wants to buy a Les Paul. It is obviously SEOd so I am not sure if it is “over optimized”. However, we just went back into the sandbox for whatever reason and I would like to understand why. We have free mp3 music on the site and we are not intentionally trying to spam anyone but I have to admit that the $1000 a month we were making from musiciansfriend was helping to pay for our CD. So, before I file a reinclusion request, how do I fix my pages if in fact they need to be fixed. Your help and your humor is always appreciated.

    Catfish

  44. Back in 1995 I used to do that for the term music fifty or sixty times, submit to Alta Vista, go to lunch and be number one when we returned. Can’t believe anyone would even ask today. Google makes the results somuch better today.

  45. ddogg

    I can’t believe you waste your valuable time evaluating such obvious spam. There are only so many hours in the day, they would be better spent analyzing sites that are ranked poorly and/or banned but for much less obvious reasons. Post a blog entry about something like that. I mean I can tell this is spam without needing to know anything about seo.

    And gwen, quit playing dumb. Your site sucks, delete it and start over. Or better yet, never make another site again. Spare me the horror of accidentally clicking on it from the search results. I mean if you’re gonna spam at least have the balls to admit it, don’t act like you are clueless.

  46. Matt I’m VERY confused here.. query this: site:faucetandsinkconnection.com

    They have a huge number of listings. Support has said many times that if you show up with site:site.com command you _know_ you are _not_ penalized and reinclusion is a waste of time. Please clarify what a reinclusion can do in this case since they are already in the index!

  47. Hi Gwen

    I doubt you were running Adsense Ads on your site or a Google Adwords advertiser.

    The spam rules seem to apply only to those sites not involved in a Google monetary program.

    Happy New Year!

  48. rob

    Al Gore Riv Mick

    Just a wee Q Matt..Why can’t this stuff be caught via pattern matching and language recognition filters?

    Would be great to read an Uber geeky piece on the challenges, pitfalls and stop sign deterrants :D

    Happy New year all!

  49. Hi Matt,

    Great column, but what about those sites who aren’t doing anything wrong and are still penalized. My site is Alex’s Coupons (http://www.alexscoupons.com) and we’ve been riding the Google Rollercoaster for the last year or two. Here’s a short history:

    Pre-November 2004: Solid rankings for our site, nothing spectacular, but we ranked high for a few key terms.

    November 2004: Drop almost completely out of the rankings.

    February 2005: Rankings back to Pre-November 2004 levels + a little bit of boost.

    May 2005: Rankings go through the roof. Ranked high for dozens of key terms. Life is good.

    September 22, 2005: Drop almost completely out of the rankings.

    October 15, 2005: Rankings go through the roof again. In fact the best ever.

    December 27, 2005: Drop almost completely out of the rankings for the third time. Pages are still in the index, but very few are ranking high for key terms.

    I run a completely clean site and don’t use any blackhat SEO techniques, so I guess I’m wondering why the hell this keeps happening. The good thing is that these drops force me to work harder on alternate ways of promoting our site including newspapers (we were recently in USA Today), TV News (Site of the Day in Boston, St. Louis and Jacksonville recently) and blogs. The bad news is that these methods obviously aren’t as effective as Google at driving traffic and subsequently sales (and our donations to Childhood Cancer charities) suffer.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Google showed at least a little bit of stability in their ranking system? Oh well, I can dream, can’t I? 8-)

    Take care.

    – Todd Martini
    Alex’s Coupons

  50. actually we have and do use google adwords… although sparingly.
    we turn them on and off as needed.
    i know there are a LOT of other sites who are doing what we did.. i say did cuz i’m changing things as we speak LOL and those sites are still coming up in the top 5-10 for the same searches as our site. i guess eventually they will be caught too or not… who knows? i do know of one that actually copied our text and completely cloaked it on his site, he’s coming up on the first page for bunches of stuff.
    hey… it all comes around eventually. i’m happy to know what i need to fix so i can fix it! now i have to hope i’m fixing it correctly LOL

    back to work! guess my New Years will be spent right here in front of the ole computer :-(

  51. Hey Gwen to prevent competitors kept stealing your content
    check out HTML encryption software
    here is the google search for ya
    http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGGL,GGGL:2005-09,GGGL:en&q=+HTML+encryption+software
    and the first product result
    http://www.aerotags.com/products/tlp.php

    Might be worth checking out.
    cheers.

  52. cornwall is right update is out and works with 1.5, thanks mate

    http://prefbar.mozdev.org/installation.html

    Only reason I asked here is Matt was the only person I KNEW for certain was using it. Just gotta remember to keep my user agent legit when I visit some well know sites

  53. ben,

    i’m working on all of the pages right now! i have about 10 of them done but bathroom_faucets isn’t one of them.. yet! i’ll get them all done by this time tomorrow as i want to request reinclusion asap!
    i’ll hit that one next so if you check it out later you can see that i’m working as hard & fast as i can! LOL

    jon… thanks. yes we are looking for a good SEO person. it’s hard to run a business and keep up with all of this, but for now, that’s what we’ll have to do.

  54. Lew Amicone

    There is also something else to look at here. This thing also tends to happen when you let a “questionable” SEO optimization firm handle your site for you. I get questions all the time from associates about how to get their site to rank well, and I tell them to start by following the Google guidelines first and foremost. In the very next breathe I also tell them that if they are going to let someone else have control of their site from an SEO perspective that they need to do the “Due Diligence” on the firm to make sure that the other clients that they have are happy with the work and that they are getting the promised results and proper ROI. Since SEO optimization is a billion dollar industry in and of itself, it is my opinion that about 99.0% of the companies that say they know how to get your site into the top 10 do not.

    Sincerely,

    Lew

  55. Nedguy

    “The SEO mistake I want to communicate here is to check your own site before assuming that someone else is hurting your site or that Google is making a mistake.”

    And if you can’t find anything wrong, then what?

  56. Wayne

    I agree that people should get references when hiring an Seo company but people like myself dont know enough about Seo, dont understand how to go about checking companies out. As for talking with present clients this leads to another issue.

    As an example I know of an Seo company that I hired that got one of my real estate sites penalized / Ban from Google. This company now has several more clients that rank very well, but yet the company is still using bad Seo practices to get these sites ranked but just got smarter about it. Do you think that any of these present clients would have anything bad to say about this company..I wouldnt think they would, but there is still a chance that when google catches them that all these clients site will disappear from googles index.

    Im a Realtor I know a little about Seo but that has been a very expensive education. When I first hired a company to handle my sites LOL I didnt even know what PR was or backlinks. So a lot of consumers looking for Seo may see great results produced by some Seo Companies but without knowledge of Seo they are doomed to what they are being told.

  57. Joe

    Hello,

    I got what you meant by the URL keyword stuffing – that you meant the following page.
    But Search Engines Web has a good point I think on some things, specifically why not just make hidden text obsolete? If sites want to waste their time with hidden text then let them – just remove any and all benefit they would gain from hidden or tiny text.
    I must assume a multi billion dollar market cap search company has the technology to find and read the hidden text and just plain discount it altogether.
    I mean if meta keywords are obsolete why not make hidden keywords worthless to a site too?
    I don’t worry about hidden text or links on my site because I don’t and have never partaked in the practice. But other items that could actually be harmful to a sites rank could actually happen out of mistake or ignorance and it would be better to just make it so there is zero benefit from questionable items instead of penalty.
    For instance if a webmaster is stuffing alt tags then why not just limit the characters of the alt tag you read. Maybe only go 25 characters or 2 or 3 words into the alt description which would render alt tag keyword stuffing obsolete and a waste of time?
    In that respect I think Search Engines Web raises a valid point.

    Have a great weekend all and Happy New Year – Time to go get this weekend started.
    Joe

  58. Speaking of SEO companies, seoinc held the top position for “search engine optimization” for a long time but got penalized for buying too many links and now is a couple pages back.

    I wonder if Matt and his friends in the quality dept had anything to do with that…

    You definately should have some idea of the techniques they are going to use.

  59. Aaron Pratt

    Come on Graywolf, there is nothing wrong with admiting that you love visiting Matts blog!

    Has Matt seen the Search Engine Journal v7 Network contest thinger yet? There is talk about pointing backlinks to Matt’s non www, why would one do that?

    I agree with Weary.

  60. Gwen,

    As you embark on your journey to revamp your site, make http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html, then move on ahead to http://www.webmasterworld.com

    These two places will give you 99% of all the SEO knowledge you need. And the cardinal rule on the web is always, focus on your visitor and the rankings will follow.

    Write your sentences so that they have proper grammer and people reading them do not skip over them. The opening sentence (paragraph?) on your home page caused me to skip over it. Remove it and put the Browse your site para at the top and then take the first two para’s from below the category images and put them above it. This will define your site’s purpose clearly. Keep paragraphs small, web surfers tend to skim over a page, large blocks of text (with keywords stuffed) is a no-no.

  61. steve whitmore

    So Matt, if you particpate in “co-operative link networks” are you going to get penalized? Also I think the people call them co-operative advertising networks. Can you explain a lil about the “co-operative link networks” ?
    Please let us know
    THANK YOU ! :)

  62. Gwen, what great fortune you’ve had having Matt personally evaluate the issues with your site! I believe the errors you’ve made by studying what others in your target market have done to rank highly is repeated on a daily basis by many an inexperienced webmaster. Unfortunatley, as in a court of law, ignorance is not an acceptable defense.

    Best of luck ranking your site.

  63. Brian

    One of the great blog posts of our time. I have tears streaming down…

    Sigh, I just wish Search Engines Web would post his comments in white-on-white so I could skip them more easily ;)

    If it hasn’t been mentioned already, prefbar.mozdev.org has a new version from 12-28 which works in FF 1.5.

  64. Brian

    Also, speaking to Ben about his expired domain being a “mistake Google made” with regards to it…with expired domains, all bets are off. 100% buyer beware.

    There are things you can do to do due diligence on domains before you buy them. site: searches in search engines should be priority #1.

  65. Clint Dixon wrote:

    Hi Gwen

    I doubt you were running Adsense Ads on your site or a Google Adwords advertiser.

    The spam rules seem to apply only to those sites not involved in a Google monetary program.

    From personal experience, I can assure you that that is not true. At the time when one of my sites was penalised earlier this year (2005), it was earning a decent living for me from AdSense alone. It also earned another decent living from other things in the site, but the AdSense income made a reasonable living for me all by itself.

    Matt, I also misunderstood what you said about the URLs, and I was surprised because the underscores made the words in them unrecognisable for rankings by Google. Perhaps you can edit your original post to avoid people who don’t read the whole thread from getting the wrong idea?

    Gwen, I wish you well with the recovery. It’s easy for people (including me) to assume that other people know exactly what they are doing when they use obvious things like keyword stuffing in hidden text, and we are usually correct. We don’t always stop to think that some people can do it naively, and without fully realising what the result can be. You are very fortunate that Matt used your site as an example for something else, and I hope that you recover because he used it. Don’t expect the same rankings as you had, though. They were probably helped a lot by the stuff you are now removing, but you will be able to tackle the rankings in ways that are more acceptable to Google.

    Happy new year everyone.

  66. Looks around sees PhilC

    Waves happy new year mate

    Seems we’re both learning something new ;->

    Peace

  67. Brian,

    Ditto on Search Engines Web’s posts. I remember thinking that two months ago.

    He/she likes to write a lot and uses bold too much.

    I guess they want to be heard.

  68. Gwen,

    It might look a little like sour grapes, but if your competitors are using similar spamming tactics, I would not hesitate to report them to Google – http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html

    I don’t always see immediate results when I report spam, but I keep reporting it when I find it because if nothing else it helps Google adjust their algo to eventually eliminate the spam.

  69. Matt,

    Taking that last post a bit further, did any of faucetandsinkconnection.com’s competitors submit a spam report??

    You’re kind here to take one mom & pop site and really spell it out for them. I only wish there were more attention spent on the countless other sites that are left in limbo trying to figure out whether or not there was a penalty, whether it was actually competitor malfeasance, or the million other possibilities while spammers ahead of them in the SERP continue to thrive. Check this out:

    You & I met first at the Google Dance ’05 and I asked you how long it takes Google to find other sites doing this kind of stuff. I’ve seen some THRIVE in Google SERPs while a white hat friend of mine’s site has been dropped like a google rock after increasing the usability & plenty of quality content.

    You told me to “let us know about that kind of thing” by filing spam reports with keywords in them. Well done. Even though you’re Google and you should already know.

    I’ve since reported link farms, spammy text, keyphrase stuffing, and all of these other SEO contest winning strategies. Without your actual time, what else can I do to help those who deserve it?

    we looked at sites that were coming up in searches and tried to figure out what they were doing..

    MY POINT EXACTLY: There are still far too many spammers ranking highly. It’s not that difficult to spot link farms & keyphrase stuffers. With your super-duper-secret-investigative tools…what’s it going to take?

  70. Oops. Sorry for not closing that bold tag. Nothing after that first line should have been in bold. Won’t happen again.

  71. Brian

    “Even though you’re Google and you should already know.”

    Since you’re on a roll, why don’t you blame WordPress for not knowing to close your bold tag there?

  72. thanks to all who wished me well.
    trust me, i know how fortunate i am to have my site used as an example for whatever reason by Matt.
    i’ve been working on fixing my site since someone was kind enough to tell me that it was mentioned on Matts blog and i came here to read it, but it’s 2:20 here on the east coast so i’m off.
    i’ve actually been reading a lot of cool stuff in other sections of Matts blog and learning more all of the time. would never have found it if i hadn’t been searching for answers to what was happening in my little world.
    thanks again Matt…

  73. >> ok… before everyone goes off on me here.. i was told that we were link bombed by someone who is supposed to know!

    The question that comes to mind is “how would you know if they were supposed to know unless you know enough yourself?” In other words, just because someone claims to be an expert, that doesn’t mean they are. Hopefully, you’ve learned this lesson (because if you haven’t, you’re going to get burned countless more times online).

    As far as people stealing your code and/or copy, I’ll give you a free piece of advice that will solve that issue for you. Rework the site, following all the wonderful guidelines Google et. al provide. I can’t speak for Matt, but I figure since he opened up the thread and a subsequent can of worms, he’d be willing to let you repost your site on here to see if the rest of us could spot anything spammy.

    Note: if he’s not cool with that, try http://www.webproworld.com (it has a site submit and review feature) or, if you’re REALLY feeling confident in your site, http://www.hedir.com (mind you, this one’s a human edited directory so the standards are somewhat higher, I find.) Personally, I’d try WPW first until you cleaned it up, then go for the HEDir site.

    (Yes, I’m involved in the HEDir project, but it’s a volunteer project so no I don’t make millions of dollars…I just like the idea of a QUALITY human-edited directory.)

    Once you’ve done that, file your reinclusion request: if you’ve managed to pass through the filters of others (and HEDir editors especially are pretty picky), then Google should reinclude you.

    The second you discover you’re reincluded, drop absolutely everything and do this next part right away. This is the most important part.

    Take your entire site (databases, pictures, code, offline images, files, whatever was used) and burn it onto a CD. The whole thing. Do not leave out one BIT of information related to your site (especially your copy).

    From there, mail the CD to yourself via registered mail. DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE, HOWEVER. Leave it sealed, as the sealed envelope contains a postmark date.

    (Note: I’ve read in a few places that you should have a notary public sign as a witness saying it was done, but that costs $60. I’ve found that if you just put a letter in that’s witnessed by 3-4 people or more, that suffices.)

    If anyone should copy aspects of your site from this point onward, send them a polite cease and desist letter indicating that you have the entire site on CD in a sealed, postmarked envelope, including the aspect that was just copied.

    I’ve done this four times, and every time the offending section was dropped within 24 hours.

    Anyway, I’ll join the well-wishers, and hopefully my advice serves you in good stead as well.

  74. Glen

    Matt,

    Great post. Though it brings up a questions I have had regarding where you draw the line between what is considered keyword stuffing and the Google quality guidelines which state “Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.”

    If a list of words are included on the page — and they are visable — is that ok? How many before it is considered stuffing?

    Thanks!

  75. Jdogga

    I’m all for good search results and keeping things on the up and up…but instead of just axing people from the search results, why not send a warning? Not everyone is an expert and people do what they think might help unbeknownst to them they are breaking an international “google” law. If it’s an ecommerce site and/or selling products/service, this could be what pays their mortgage, feeds their children, provide formula or medicine for babies or even an elderly relative. For you to just turn it off with no warning or even no notice saying “we removed you for the following reason” really makes the Google name appear unethical and unprofessional. Again, I agree that people should not do the things that are against your rules, but understand that probably two thirds of the people that run their businesses online have no idea what their doing most of the time and a little courtesy warning or notice would give Google a better name.

    When your company is as big as it is and so many people rely on your product, you gotta give a little to get a little. Continue to piss people off and your quest to overtake the Bill Gates of the world might just fall short.

  76. Harith

    Good morning Matt

    This is to wish you, yours and Frank’s sister a Happy 2006!

    And many thanks for your generous contributions and help to the webmasters community during 2005.

    God bless.

  77. A couple questions I haven’t seen addressed here…If Jagger was done on November 18, why is my site still fluctuating from positions 1, 2 and 3 for my main key phrase. (Believe me, I’m not griping, just wondering why. Top 3 is acceptable!).

    Also, what would cause a site to disappear completely during the Jagger update only to be added back weeks later when absolutely no changes were made to the site?

    Thanks for all your valuable insight, and Happy New Year.

  78. Hi Matt,

    Met you very briefly at webmaster world. Actually, I asked you very quickly about my website http://www.2dplay.com and why it was not getting indexed by google – even when I search “2dplay”. What we do have is:

    1. Over 700 inbound links
    2. SEO optimized content
    3. We do come up first on MSN search
    4. A very cool site with awesome games.

    Why are we getting no PR at all? We are losing potentially 5,000 – 10,000 clicks a day to people who are capitalizing on our name (www.2dplay.co.uk & http://www.2dplay.net).

    Please helps us solve this problem. We are principled gamers and super ethical in our dealings. We bought the site early this year and relaunched it in July 2005. I am not sure if the previous owner commited any spam or any unorthodox activities.

    What do you think is wrong with it?

    Will look forward to your reply.

    Thanks and a happy new year to you and all reading this post.

  79. Hello Matt,

    Your a damn good investigator :D

  80. Well, then… Matt or anyone could give me a hint or advice about this search results:
    http://www.google.com.ar/search?hl=es&q=assisthome&btnG=B%C3%BAsqueda+en+Google&meta=cr%3DcountryAR

    I see my clients site heavily penalized, and it has only one inblink and one outblink.

    Any advice can be posted here or mailed at matiasATmicromediaargentina-com-ar

    Its just out of curiosity, cause i dont do seo services for this site, but seen it penalized really sucks…

    HEEEY !!!! YOU PEOPLE HAVE A BRILLANT 2006 : ))) !!!!

  81. EXCUSE MOI !! my clients page is http://www.assisthome.com.ar : ) hahaha

    thxs allota

  82. Matt, I see I little problem with your process description . I will put to whom action is belong in a [square brakets].

    1. Spam [webmstrer]
    2. Get caught [google]
    3. Fix the spam. [webmaster]
    4. File a reinclusion request. [webmaster]
    5. Possibly get reincluded in our index. You need to convince us that we won’t see any spam in the future. [google]

    I don’t see whats gaurantee that 2=>3 step. To go 3 webmster should know that he/she have been already penalized due to 1 (and 1 should exist at this point). Pointing to any abstract rules (official google position) or writing example(s) without facts to prove that this particluar example(s) is methodologically relevant (that is what you, Matt did in your blog) is not enough to obtain that knowledje.

    Untill there will be open to any involved part (better case is to all) procedure to check that (1),(2) ever have happened – all words from google will be counted “possibly biased” to me and nothing more.

    I don’t trust neither google nor any people in the world (including myself) untill all facts enough to verify statement will be shown. Peoples are biased by defenition (including googlers and me).

  83. Josh

    Hi Matt,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy and appreciate reading your entries when they concentrate on site mistakes like these. They really help reinforce decisions I have made over the years not to do certain things on my sites that others have recomended. And I can only hope that if I am doing something wrong something similar will come up in one of your posts so I can realize it and fix it.

    Happy New Year

  84. Max

    Hi Matt,

    thanks for the case study.

    I am aslo got confused about the URLs and the content that may be recognized as keyword stuffing. Would it be possible to clarify it for us? Are you suggesting not to put the same keywords in the anchor text and in the URLs? Even WordPress that you’re using doing the same for the post titles… Any specific suggestions?

    Happy New Year everyone!

  85. Aaron Pratt

    301 redirect

    It is obvious that Greg Boser is poking at you Matt with the backlinking of your non “www” idea correct? I do not care about that game, but I do want to learn about this on a webmaster level. If I put http://mattcutts.com/ in my browser it goes to your “click here” page but doesn’t automatically redirect by itself to www.

    Can you do another post that is more clear, should we all request that our admins. put a 301 redirect in place? Remember, we are not all geeks and need to have this spelled out in an understandable way.

    Thanks.

  86. Max

    Sorry, you can disregard my last question – I read it 5 times and finally got it when I checked each of the mentioned pages. There is nothing wrong with the URLs and the anchort text – you were talking about the content on the pages. Its just the way you said it – “Urls like http://www.faucetandsinkconnection.com/bathroom_faucets.html would look just like keyword stuffing to one of your competitors.” So, all my concentration was on the URL and not on the page’s content. Silly me :)

  87. Matt,

    What about the canonical issues with gwen’s site? It appears (from the site command) that her site has duplicate index entries for thousands of pages, each with www and non www entries.

  88. David W

    Hello

    Well I was going to point out that Google use tiny yellow on white text on the cache page – but it has now changed! Damn – i thought I’d caught you out!

    But a question – we’ve used light blue on dark blue for a while. Mainly for design reasons – the text looks good on the page. It is quiet clear and in medium size text. Can this get you a penalty? What is the limit of ‘colourA’ on similar but darker ‘colourA’ background? anyone know? Or should you avoid similar colours for text and background altogether?
    This would be a shame as simlar but distinct colours look well together.

    Thanks for all the advice Matt.
    Happy New Year to all!!

  89. Stephen

    Hi Matt

    The penalty applied to the site in review here is similar to what has happened to sites that have Canonical problems.

    So it does appear that Canonical problems does lead to a penalty ? Cant honestly see any other reason why some sites are losing rankings – hopefully when the test DC works out the correct Canonicals someone at G will realize some sites have been penalized incorrectly ? – or will all these sites have to do a re-inclusion request ?

    Wait and see after the test dc rolls out ?

  90. By the way, where can I find: PREFBAR extension to Firefox? What is the real name?

  91. Stephen

    Just to add to my post.

    EG – the penalty results in a downranking rather than a removal ?

  92. stephen,
    we just got any ranking back yesterday! it’s been 30 days since we disappeared & lost all ranking completely.
    i had changed the front page text and gotten rid of links to our other site so had requested reinclusion before Matt’s post. i don’t know if that’s why we are included again or if they spider again after 30 days to see if the problems were corrected and reinclude you if they have been?

    the bathroom_faucets.html page has changed since Matt talked about it. i’ve been working steadily since last night and have made a dent, although a small one and will continue changing other pages today.
    hopefully i can get everything to where it’s acceptable and not have to go through this again!
    i thought it was only cloaking if the colors were exact, stupidity on my part. originally i had what Matt shows as light yellow text as turquoise, until another competitor copied and pasted it on to their site, they even left it the funky turquoise color! i have emails where they admit to stealing my text but i honestly don’t think that makes a difference to anyone. they scrambled it up a bit & it’s still on their site. i printed it out when it was first done to show it was exactly what we had but… i don’t think that’s going to get me anywhere either.
    there is another site out there that has our text completely cloaked on their front page, they come up in the top 10 for many of the searches so i think it’s just luck of the draw who gets penalized and who doesn’t. there are so many websites out there how can they catch all of them? that’s what makes all of this so frustrating.
    at least now i know what i need to do to get a passing grade so this doesn’t happen to us again.

  93. Harith

    Hi gwen

    “so i think it’s just luck of the draw who gets penalized and who doesn’t.”

    I have always preached that Google can’t do it alone. ALL whitehat webmasters should be reporting spammers to Google. In a clean Google index whitehat webmasters will have better possibility to rank than if we leave those spammers on top of Google’s serps.

    We all should use this form more often, at least to keep Matt and the folks at Google WebSpam Team very busy during 2006 :-)

    http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html

  94. Stephen

    Gwen

    Are you getting much traffic from G now then – your site does not look correctly listed to me – looks like a downranking.

  95. Harith,

    i actually did report the dude who has the text cloaked completely but he’s still up there… i don’t know how long it takes for them to check that kind of stuff out, i’m sure they’re busy. i don’t have a lot of time to police the internet, the reason i noticed him was because originally he was using our text verbatim.. after we contacted him he swore he didn’t know what we were talking about but mixed it up!
    we knew it was ours because for one, i wrote it and another he is listing all of the manufacturers whose products we offer on our site when in fact he doesn’t offer anything from them and last but not least some of those manufacturers are names we fabricated to sell items we are bringing in direct and marketing ourselves LOL they don’t even exist!!
    it’s such a tangled web out there isn’t it?? LOL

    ps- my hats not completely white yet, don’t attack… eeks!

    Stephen,

    we are getting traffic from google again, although we were downranked (beats no ranking at all). the few searches i just did brought us up on the first page where we used to be so i’m going to keep cleaning up and hope we stay there. there are some very competitive searches that we have yet to break the top 50 with but neither have a lot of other sites that have been around a lot longer than we have so we’ll just keep chugging along and hope to get it right!

  96. David

    This is a PageRank question.

    It somewhat off target, but it kinda relates…

    Does Google care about page case naming?
    For example:
    http://www.somesite.com has a PageRank of 6
    http://www.somesite.com/index.htm has a PageRank of 5
    http://www.somesite.com/Index.htm has no PageRank

    External and internal links to one of these 3. Does Google care how these links are initiated? Obviously, they are all the same but Google does differentiate the PR, so do they differentiate SERP rankings?

  97. rjhere

    Hi,

    I noticed this post as did others:

    “Shoemoney, the site that you mentioned in your other comment looked like it had been involved in a lot of co-operative link networks and such”

    So you are basically stating that this is one of those things that may be beyond the webmaster’s control that could get you penalised? I would think if anything you guys would ignore these links.

    Some people use these sites for advertising purposes which is what the commercial web is all about.. Why would you penalize sites for advertising?

  98. What a Maroon

    Matt, you told Shoemoney,

    “the site that you mentioned in your other comment looked like it had been involved in a lot of co-operative link networks and such? If you’re not involved in that stuff any more, I’d file a reinclusion request for the site.”

    What does this cover? Are you talking Linkmanager and/or web ring stuff, or more like the link network at the bottom of this page, http://www.allsdhomes.com/?

  99. top dogg

    Gwen, really I have to admire you and what you’re doing with ur site…

    I actually forgot how the web looked like back in the day until I came across ur site.

    ur site is totally old school.

    and u might make a “respectable living” right now but I bet, you’ll make much more if you get new and FREE shopping software which is more compatible with our times.

    software like, OScommerce, is free and gets continually updated.

    remember…more and more younger people are getting online and soon, sites like urs, will be relics (no offense).

    get with the program… or uhm…get with the times…

    happy new year…it’s 2006!

  100. Valentine

    Hi Matt,

    Whilst I think it is great that you are helping a reader out with her site I get the impression you are making an example of this site because it is so blatantly wrong. I am sure it will help her out but how about giving us an insight into less than obvious penalties?

    Take Shoemoney’s site for example, it’s not banned it’s just dropped 30 or so places for all his search terms. You say it is likely that he’s been caught out using a cooperative link scheme. Maybe he didn’t know better but it is sad to see such a popular quality site disappear and then be replaced using the same tactics with sites like http://www.mailtribune.com/free_ringtones.html, a page so off topic from the rest of the site that it looks like it has been rented and built in 5 minutes for the benefit of adsense clicks.

    I run a site myself in the same boat that dropped almost uniformly 30 places for all search terms back in August. None of the so called “SEO experts” could give me an answer and wanted me to either keyword spam alt texts, have then build up multiple mini sites to gain extra links or spend loads of money on press releases, all of which I turned away from.

    Not knowing if it is a manual penalty or a result in a change in the algorithm doesn’t help either. Any drastic changes run the risk of dropping out of other search engines (yes they do exist) with no benefit as we are delving into the unknown. After 5 months of being downgraded there comes a point as a webmaster you may well be better off putting

    User-agent: Googlebot
    Disallow: /
    into your htaccess file.

    Sure it won’t help you get better results in Google but it could be better for your health in the long run. You will sleep better not having to worry whether you will be back up tomorrow and you won’t be pulling out your hair so much.

    So how about some posts with the less obvious reasons that could be cause for a penalty?

    Have a great new year.

    Valentine

  101. Lee

    Cudos to Matt for helping with the problems on that site. Hidden text, darb blue text on blue background, layered text under a transparent layer, keyword stuffing image ALT attributes, junked up Meta data and doorway pages. Well, Matt did name hidden text and doorway pages, BUT did he mention the doorway pages that are designed specifically to be doorway pages?

    Nah, he didn’t go that far. Perhaps he didn’t click that little link on the bottom left that says browse all products. Yep, that single link to all those duplicate content pages showing all those products. Those include the nice little link to MonsterCommerce and are probably generated by that nice little generate store button.

    So Matt, what’s the word on those doorway pages? Are they really doorway pages? Or does Google not consider them doorway pages because they are specifically made for the search engines to index when the dynamic URLs aren’t able to be indexed? I always thought a doorway page was designed specifically for the search engines and linking to the products presented on those pages.

  102. Aaron Pratt

    I believe Matt just makes general points. For this post it is:

    If you are spamming fix all the lame stuff you know you are doing before you submit for reinclusion or reinclusion will never happen.

    Sorry Gwen, I am getting tired of hearing from you in this thread, your site is a mess and you are a lame spammer, I also find you getting help to be extremely annoying though Matt does need to post an example. Ignorance is no excuse, you knew exactly what you were doing there and you are damn lucky you have a second chance. (Which I believe it the point of this whole thread)

    Howdy Lee! :)

    Happy New Year, time to Party!!!

    Next?

  103. Nadir

    Like most of other SEOs or webmaster, I always check out you blog. Today, I asked myself: damn, what am I really learning from that guy?

    Most of your last posts were dealing with people who did spam and who got banned. I enjoy the fact that Google is actively working against spam but why would I want to see an example of spam. You can just say that you’re working hard against spam: to prove it, just show me relevant results, that will work for me.

    You seem to enjoy publishing the identity of these guys so that everyone can come to his site and blame them, but ALSO to show their zeal for you.
    In the middle ages, witches were executed in public Europe, most of the villages’ population turned out to witness it, that was an opportunity for them to entertain themselves. Is that the kind of sensation you want to create Matt?

    I’m not saying that your blog is useless, it’s just that it presents some useless information for any webmaster that is trying to improve his rankings. Instead, why don’t you talk about a website that is well optimized so that you can educate people on things that work? I’m sure less people will be tempted to use spam if you were doing that.

  104. Matt, do you have any comments on this thread regarding hidden text from large, well known companies?

    http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=19116

    And can you explain why Robert Medford’s comments that he made here on your blog can only be seen by him, and apparently no one else? (There’s a shot of it in that forum thread.)

    I’m sure there’s a logical explanation!

    Thanks!

  105. That was a nasty post, Aaron, and totally uncalled for.

    Gwen – technical info:-
    Cloaking is feeding different pages to search engine spiders than to people. What you are describing as cloaking is called hidden text.

  106. One more thing, Aaron. That is not the first time that you’ve been so bold as to speak for Matt – even replying to a post on his behalf. You don’t know what anyone else thinks, and you can’t speak for anyone else. Speak for yourself in future.

  107. Aaron Pratt

    PhilC – Notice how I use the words “I believe”?

    I believe Matt said blah blah blah…

    AND

    I believe Gwen is a major spammer…

    AND

    I believe Google is really being generous with some of you.

    I do not speak for anyone, the way I try to figure out where Matt is coming from is that I generalize, it works for me, maybe not for you.

    (You will not censor me my friend, if Matt wants too this is fine, it’s his blog.)

  108. David

    This mat seem like a dumb question, but what is link bombing?

    You Said “Gwen, your problem wasn’t link bombing or anything else.”

    Thanks for the great blog…. I have learned quite a bit.

  109. What a Maroon

    >Sorry Gwen, I am getting tired of hearing from you in this thread,
    >(You will not censor me my friend, if Matt wants too this is fine, it’s his blog.)

    A slight double standard.

    >I believe Gwen is a major spammer…
    So are some of those you interview, so be consistent dude. Regardless, no one reads Matt’s blog for your opinion.

  110. aaron,

    you’re certainly entitled to your opinions.
    you want to see spammers… glasssinkdepot.com text completely cloaked on the bottom of the page.. 888depot.com text and manufacturers in that text that they don’t even offer products from.. same with 800saving.com, facuetone.com … all owned by the same person and all coming up in the searches! and i could give you countless others.

    my host put up “doorway pages” when we paid to optimize.. i’m assuming that makes them ok.. they told us we should add more.
    did i have too much spammy text on them.. guess so.. i’m in the process of re-doing all of them right now…

    as for the browse-all-products button.. that is a monster commerce deal, not in my control

    if i am a major spammer for using bad techniques, i’m fixing them. i didn’t have a ton of money to start with so copied techniques from the sites that were coming up, they turned out to be wrong, all i can do is fix them and go from there. takes longer than a day.

    Happy New Year

  111. wyma

    I have to echo the frustration of Gwen’s comment “never get an answer as to what we may have done wrong.”

    If a site has an honest “problem” in the way Google likes to see things, if would be more than helpful if instead of getting some boiler plate Google response which refers you back to a Google page, you actually receive a concrete response that could at least point in the direction to correct your innocent Google mistake or the buried “error” from a former work for hire webmaster. With large sites, it’s almost impossible to nail down exactly what/possibly caught the wrath of Google’s evil eye, even after logging in hundreds of hours trying to pinpoint the perceived problem.

    If the honest site owner was aware of what Google perceived as wrong, it wouldn’t be there in the first place, particularly if a site has been around for years and has a sudden drop out of the blue.

    A little informative input on Google’s side could be the difference from losing a business to staying afloat- even if the service was a fee-based consultation.

    After reading the thousands of posts on Webmaster World, it seems that even “professional” webmasters spend a chunk of their time reading between the Google lines- so who are you supposed to turn to when the “experts” are engaged in chronic guessing game?

    Stop the mystery and start the flow of good business with informative and forthright feedback- fee-based or otherwise.

    We are all in this web together so isn’t it about time that Google shows some respect for the hard efforts of site owners who offer a legitimate service and are being put out of business from a Google guessing game? Thank the goddess of good media that press, consumer attention, and referrals can still come the old-fashioned way- from word of mouth, newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV.

    Happy New Year!

  112. Aaron. Apart from the fact that you missed the clearly stated purpose of Matt’s initial post in this thread – “The SEO mistake I want to communicate here is to check your own site before assuming that someone else is hurting your site or that Google is making a mistake“, and stated your belief that is was something completely different, I’ve seen you answer a post virtually on his behalf with words to the effect of, “I think I know Matt’s mind…. ” and then proceeded to write as though you were writing on his behalf. I suggest that you speak for yourself in future, and avoid even hinting that you are in some way communicating what other people think. I may be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure that Matt can speak for himself if he wants to.

    The nastiness that I referred to was just just plain nasty. Perhaps I’m not seeing too well today, but for the life of me, I can’t see the words “I believe” anywhere in what you wrote about Gwen:-

    Sorry Gwen, I am getting tired of hearing from you in this thread, your site is a mess and you are a lame spammer, I also find you getting help to be extremely annoying though Matt does need to post an example. Ignorance is no excuse, you knew exactly what you were doing there and you are damn lucky you have a second chance. (Which I believe it the point of this whole thread)

    You even quoted yourself incorrectly.

    The words “I believe” are there at the end, but they refer to your (mistaken) belief about the point of this thread. Your statements to Gwen were just plain nasty, and you should apologise for them.

  113. Aaron Pratt

    PhilC – I once joked about speaking for Matt when he was away, you obviously lack a sense of humor. It is also interesting that you remember that, must have really bothered you eh? LOL! Note: On your blog your “Jill Whalen – SEO Bitch” link is dead even though you are still #1 in Google for it. Why would one be so nasty as to post a link like that? See where I am going with this? You want more?

    Gwen – Yep, it is very human to point the finger at someone else when you are backed into a corner.

  114. Aaron.

    #1 You weren’t joking. Your memory of it is as flawed as your quoting of your own post in this much more recent thread.

    #2 I don’t have a blog.

    #3 If you don’t know why the link is there, you aren’t going anywhere, are you? But thank you for pointing it out. I’d forgotten about it.

    #4 No I don’t see where you are going with this, and yes please – I do want more.

    Now do the right thing and apologise to Gwen for your totally uncalled for nastiness towards her.

  115. Seems to me that nobody here should be pointing fingers and calling people names for what we’ve seen so far of Gwen’s site. We all want our sites to be recognized by search engines and for quite some time, what worked was strictly the result of trial and error. Hidden text and links were at one time no different than using “hidden” meta tag titles, keywords, and descriptions. Site visitors couldn’t see either. Web designers did this to their own sites. They weren’t out to damage another – just trying to raise their hands to be recognized by the engines.

    Google is now stating that it finds these tactics no longer acceptable and we are learning this through blogs, word of mouth, and sometimes through official notifications. It doesn’t mean web designers who used these techniques in the past are CRIMINALS or people to be ridiculed. We all are learning through a process that is evolving constantly.

    Next week Google might ban some technique that any or all of us are using today – that doesn’t make us bad people.

    IMHO there are only a few things that should cause a site to be banned – displaying or exhibiting false information, deliberately hurting another website or it’s ranking, and the deliberate stealing of another sites content.

    All other “offenses” should not be rewarded, but if the offense is automatically recognized by intelligent algorithms and detection, then the intended benefit can be likewise ignored by the algorithms. Then the people who waste their time and resources doing these things will be getting no value while others who concentrate on adding worthwhile value to their sites will be (or should be) rewarded.

  116. Aaron Pratt

    Ok, this is amusing, I’m game…

    PhilC- That link to WebPosition Gold is also broken on your “website”; it looks like a blog to me sorry.

    Your many articles in defense of spam on your “website” are extremely interesting, does this help you get clients? You see, you are doing what Gwen does but in a more calculating way. You defend what you do even if it is wrong; anything that works in the engines is fair game eh? Is this what you are selling people like Gwen?

    Jill Whalen is a self proclaimed “white hat” correct? It is very interesting that many of you do not like her, is it because she is female? Or is it because what she was saying all along is true? Has “Jill’s Way” become the right way?

    BUT you have made me aware of Gwen, she is the typical person who visits your forum, takes advice (which has temporary good results) until the algorithm smartens and throws her in the trash for cheating. I am sorry Gwen, I thought you were more like PhilC but you are more like the rest of us out here who you call “weenies” or “stupid”. 

    You see people like you piss me off, your opinions are very strong and you have turned many good websites in the wrong direction for your own financial gain. Now you are defending us when we get caught spamming? Wow, what a freakin’ hero eh? LOL!

    Disclaimer: All judgments cast are the beliefs of Aaron who visited PhilC’s website and spent a few moments looking around today.

    Prove

    Me

    Wrong

  117. What a Maroon

    >anything that works in the engines is fair game

    That is no different than what WG said in your interview, Aaron. So it is ok for you to interview “lame spammers” (why didnt you call Boser out since you feel so strongly about it), while ripping into others you dont know?

  118. aaron,

    i’m not pointing the finger at anyone else for my actions. i’m just tired of getting beat up on! i followed bad examples, i know better now & i’m doing my best to fix it. i’m just trying to point you in another direction so you’ll go leave bruises on someone else LOL

    i think i’ll take a football break!

    have a great day!

  119. Aaron Pratt

    Maroon – Thanks for sharing, yes this is a good point and I am just being ruthless on someone who I believe holds negative feelings about me. I will spend some time getting to know PhilC if he is willing to let me in. You have to agree that when looking at Gwen’s site anyone from SEO to webmaster would say “Wow, total spam”! Correct? So why would you defend that?

    Greg Boser – I do not know much about him, he agreed to the interview and kindly answered the questions. He is like the navy seal of marketing and is not available (and goes out of circulation often) but he is a good guy as you see in the interview.

    Michael Gray – He agreed to an interview and also kindly answered a great question in my new “Ask a Webmaster” category. Mr. Gray is much like Sebastian in that they enjoy educating us; I can not say enough good things about these two guys and have not seen any bad advice come from them yet. I do not consider them optimizers, they are webmasters and there is a difference correct? My belief is that we all are going to be making quality sites from now on because quality is key and “content” is a dirty word.

    Excuse me if I am sometimes ignorant, I honestly don’t know a damn thing about SEO but one thing that I would like to change is the bad advice thing.

    What’s Hot?

    Webmasters

    What’s Not?

    SEO

    (I will not hijack this thread any further, sorry)

  120. Blazes

    >>>”Perhaps he didn’t click that little link on the bottom left that says browse all products. Yep, that single link to all those duplicate content pages showing all those products. Those include the nice little link to MonsterCommerce and are probably generated by that nice little generate store button.”

  121. Blazes

    >>>”Perhaps he didn’t click that little link on the bottom left that says browse all products. Yep, that single link to all those duplicate content pages showing all those products. Those include the nice little link to MonsterCommerce and are probably generated by that nice little generate store button.”

    Good find, Lee.

    Gwen, MonsterCommerce doesn’t generate those pages for you without your permission. You don’t have to use the spammy tactics it offers. As far as your claim of ignorance, well, I’m skeptical. You seem to be adept at locating spam on your competitors’ sites.

  122. Wow you guys – well done! I cant even imagine home much more traffic Gwen’s site is getting due to this very interesting foot-ball match. I could not be bothered to go to her website – now I will and surf around too… Gwen, you can count on one more visitor – moi!…. and I don’t even freaking need Kitchen sinks and faucets… or whatever it is that you sell!

    Can someone please check my site too and tell me what’s wrong with mine and why do you think Google is not indexing the site? Si instead of bad-mouthing each other – try a nce game of cosmic defender… or in a few days I will be releasing – Sherriff Tripeaks… I promise you lots of fun…

    http://www.2dplay.com

  123. So what do we do after we have checked our sites for the hundredth time, sent the web-form reinclusion request to Google for the tenth time, waited for several months, and prayed to an array of gods?

  124. I don’t really get the whole keyword stuffing thing. Like if you have a site for free widgets and have links on your home page saying Free Widgets purple, Free Widgets Green etc and they go to different pages is that keyword stuffing? I thought it was just good SEO as opposed to having links like free green widgets, free purple widgets which aren’t optimized for what your site actually is all about.

    Also I have a site that has no hidden text but if you look at the google cache of the page it looks like I do. (apparently because googlebot doesn’t read my css correctly) Is this going to get me in trouble?

    I just recently was reincluded after submitting a reinclusion request (had my 401 setup to automatically redirect requests for non-existing pages to the home page which I didn’t realize would apparently give the appearence of duplicate content) the last thing I want is another penalty for something I had no idea might be a problem.

    Finally what is the rule in reference to hidden text in the form of 1 pixel wide marquees which simply spam keywords over and over. A couple of sites in my niche do this and I’ve submitted spam reports about them multiple times over the past several months and nothing has been done.

    I try my best to follow the rules to the letter of the (google) law and it’s quite frustrating to see competitors benefit by cheating.

  125. Anonymous

    > SO WHAT, it is their right to put appropriate keywords in the URLs- (duh!) – WHO WOULD’NT – and what is so ridiculous is we are only talking about TWO WORDS bathroom and faucets

    Okay, let’s talk about rights. Google has a right to drop your results entirely if they want… other sites have a right to slander you… your potential customers have a right to be offended by keyword mongering…

    Hmm. Shall we talk about “good practices”, instead?

  126. Myles wrote: “I just recently was reincluded after submitting a reinclusion request (had my 401 setup to automatically redirect requests for non-existing pages to the home page which I didn’t realize would apparently give the appearence of duplicate content) the last thing I want is another penalty for something I had no idea might be a problem.”

    So does this mean we shouldn’t have 401s redirect to our homepages? I didn’t know this. What are we supposed to do? Just have a static error page?

  127. Mr B

    The fur is flying! I love it.
    I’m on the side lines, aint sayin nothin’, and its “gettin’ my preasure up”.
    This is one of the most passionate threads I have read in a long time.

  128. Gwen. Aaron is the only one who has spoken against you personally, so don’t take it to heart. Everyone else appears to appreciate your naivety at the time you added those spam elements, and also wishes you well with the recovery.

  129. Aaron. I’m pleased that you can now tell the difference between an ordinary website and blog. You learn fast, Aaron – well done!

    PhilC- That link to WebPosition Gold is also broken on your website; it looks like a blog to me sorry.

    Oh. Maybe you still can’t tell the difference between an ordinary website and a blog. No matter. Do a bit of surfing on the web, and you’ll soon learn the difference.

    The WebPosition Gold link doesn’t appear to be broken to me, since it goes to a WPG page, but it’s out of date as of a few weeks ago, so thank you for reminding me – again. Perhaps I should employ you to check my sites on a regular basis – at least you seem to have a talent for that.

    Your many articles in defense of spam on your website are extremely interesting, does this help you get clients? You see, you are doing what Gwen does but in a more calculating way. You defend what you do even if it is wrong; anything that works in the engines is fair game eh? Is this what you are selling people like Gwen?

    Oh dear – you’ve outed me in front of Matt. Woe is me for I am undone. But hang on a minute. Matt knows me, and he knows my site. Most everyone who’s been around the seo business for a while knows me and my site, so what’s your point? You’re not accusing me of spamming are you? Have you found any evidence of spam? If you have, let’s see it. If you want to out me, do a proper job of it, for goodness sakes. What you have found (a lot later than most other people, but you’re a newbie so that’s ok) are some views and opinions. You’ll need to do a bit better than that if you’re going to make good on your threat, Aaron.

    Jill Whalen is a self proclaimed white hat correct? It is very interesting that many of you do not like her, is it because she is female? Or is it because what she was saying all along is true? Has Jill’s Way become the right way?

    Ah. You really don’t know anything about it, do you, Aaron? Your original reference to it was, “On your blog your ‘Jill Whalen – SEO Bitch’ link is dead even though you are still #1 in Google for it. Why would one be so nasty as to post a link like that?“, but you’re too new to know who gave her the ‘SEO Bitch’ title, aren’t you? Why don’t you ask her? Naaa, I’ll save you the trouble. It was Jill herself. She created a site (seobitch.com) in which she claimed to be a bitch, and she intentionally behaved like one. Being a bitch was the whole purpose of her site – that’s why she chose that domain name. Now, would you like to repeat the question, “Why would one be so nasty as to post a link like that?“?

    Stick around the seo community for a while, Aaron – it’s quite surprising what you can learn if you give it time ;)

    BUT you have made me aware of Gwen, she is the typical person who visits your forum, takes advice (which has temporary good results) until the algorithm smartens and throws her in the trash for cheating. I am sorry Gwen, I thought you were more like PhilC but you are more like the rest of us out here who you call “weenies” or “stupid”.

    I have made you aware of Gwen? I thought it was Matt who did that. I must be having bad memory day, but I thought that all I did was criticise you for being so nasty to her.

    Gwen is the typical person who visits my forum? How would you know that? You need to read some threads to know what is written in forums, Aaron, instead of jumping to silly conclusions – like you did about Gwen.

    You see people like you piss me off, your opinions are very strong and you have turned many good websites in the wrong direction for your own financial gain. Now you are defending us when we get caught spamming?

    Er…which websites have I turned in the wrong direction for my own financial gain? And how have I done it? Perhaps you would like to offer some examples, and explain what I did, and how I gained financially. Or are you just guessing and expressing those silly conclusions again, Aaron – like you did about Gwen and my forum.

    Btw, I am proud to piss somebody off who is as nasty to people as you were to Gwen. I am very proud indeed. And I didn’t write anything here that defended spamming or a spammer. I wrote something critical of you because you were nasty to someone. The reason you were nasty was totally irrelevant

    Disclaimer: All judgments cast are the beliefs of Aaron who visited PhilC’s website and spent a few moments looking around today.

    It takes more than a few moments, Aaron. If you thought for more than a few moments before posting things, you wouldn’t have people here posting against what you wrote – and not just me. And if you make threats, make sure that you have something to back them up. So far, you’ve shown nothing, and I did ask for more. Perhaps you are holding back for my sake, but please don’t hold anything back – let’s all see the real substance of what you have. Or…..that wasn’t it, was it?

    Finally, Aaron. No I don’t want to get to know you. You showed yourself in your nasty post to Gwen, and I haven’t yet seen an apology for it – at least not one that was easily recognisable.

  130. Why somebody starts sobbing about how their business will be destroyed if they can’t get their free listings in Google, I wonder why they don’t use Adwords? If money is being made from a business, they can afford to pay something for clicks.

    Gwen, SEO is a bluebird. If you want to build a business, identify the keywords that work, calculate the expected value per click, then bid the odds.

  131. Gwen,

    I suggest reading http://www.bradfallon.com/2005/11/stomper-update-the-net-present-value-of-spamming-the-search-engines.html

    It’s hard I know since you want immediate results, but eventually all of your spamming competitors will be caught and you will be on top.

    - Myles, were you talking about a custom 404 error page with a 301 redirect to the homepage?

    If so, have you confirmed this is what penalized you?

    I currently do this and did not know this is considered bad????

    Anyone let me know;)

  132. Aaron Pratt

    Phil Craven – Take a few happy pills, you will feel better in the morning. It’s ok, I am perfectly happy being an outsider.

    aaron,

    i’m not pointing the finger at anyone else for my actions. i’m just tired of getting beat up on! i followed bad examples, i know better now & i’m doing my best to fix it. i’m just trying to point you in another direction so you’ll go leave bruises on someone else LOL

    i think i’ll take a football break!

    have a great day!

    Nope, we are good Gwen, looks like we both took some bad advice from the snake oil salesman.

    Go Patriots!

  133. Aaw – spoilsport :(

    Ok, this is amusing, I’m game…

    I was also enjoying it – and you backed out. But if that was your idea of “ruthless”….well….

    Anyway, how about that apology to Gwen – you know that you owe her one.

  134. Aaron Pratt

    Dude, now you look like the ass, go to bed! ;)

    Gwen doesn’t need an apology from me…she needs one from those who turned her in the wrong direction.

  135. Blazes…

    the only spam i’ve found is when i see my text coming up in the searches on others sites.. can’t help but notice.
    why is everyone so suspicious of people and acting so jaded? not everyone is a sneak a thief or a liar.
    if i were trying to hide anything i wouldn’t be posting to an open forum such as this one. i’m thankful for the help Matt offered.

    in the meantime i’ve received nasty emails from anonymous sources who are too cowardly to put their real names or email addresses on them. it’s not been fun.

    still.. i’m thankful that Matt took the time to point out what i need to do to clean things up and i’ll continue reading and trying to learn the best methods to use.

    as for the Browse all Products, Monster told us to put it there? all of the sites on monster that i know of have it… what’s wrong about it?
    from what they say, it helps google spider your sight & find new products more quickly when you put them up etc… they generate the catalog it leads to. are they steering all of their customers wrong? would be interesting to find out if they are…

    thanks,
    gwen

  136. Dave

    PhilC,

    After reading your posts in this Thread I took a peek at your site. What I saw was not good. links to link schemes, PageRank mania and links to known spammers! Not really supsrising as SEW & WMW are you forums of choice AFAIK. Both are frequented by spammers and SEW has them as Mods. Hell, Danny S is even paid by spammers and gives them credibility and platforms and SEO conferences.

    Bottom line is your site has lots of really BAD advice that will suck in all the newbies and get many Mom & Pop site banned from Google. You must be proud……..NOT!

    I hope my post saves at least one newbie from following the flawed advise on your site.

    MATT,

    Got my Google wallet & computer accessories a few days ago. PLEASE pass on my sincere thanks to all those concerned at Google.

  137. aaron…

    Redskins fan here!! LOL

  138. Harith

    Dave

    >>Not really supsrising as SEW & WMW are you forums of choice AFAIK. Both are frequented by spammers and SEW has them as Mods.

  139. Harith

    Dave

    “Not really supsrising as SEW & WMW are you forums of choice AFAIK. Both are frequented by spammers and SEW has them as Mods.””

    Now why do you say that, Dave?

    Are you coming here to learn, share and make friends.. or just to go bashing one of the greatest webmasters community on the planet, WMW?

  140. Hidden Text and Accessibility – are we punished?

    Accessible WWW-Sites often provide links within the page (positioned absolutely at the top of the source code), i.e. to the content, to the navigation, to login-forms and so on.
    All these are usually hidden by CSS for the output to screen and print (usually by display:none) and made visible to screenreaders in the in CSS media=aural.

    Now, the (silly question): With all the fuss about even tiny portions of “hidden text”, will google punish such sites?
    None of these “links” go off-page, usually there are 5-6 jump points on each page (depending on the strukture of the site).
    If the answer is yes, how to avoid the punishment (html-comments,….)
    A statement from Matt would be highly appriciated

    Armin

  141. I agree with Harith!
    Most of the spammers are bad seo guys.

  142. Hi Matt and all!

    I have question about r4einclusion request. My page have some kind of filter and I want to ask you if reinclusion request is good solution for this problem.
    My page is wholesale lingerie company and we try to optimize our content for this keyword (wholesale lingerie).
    In other engines (like yahoo, MSN, altavista etc..) we have top positions for this site but on google we have some kind of sanbox. On allinanchor we have 12-40 position but on normal SERP we have in cosmic position ~500 :-(

    What is wrong?
    My pages is http://www.lingerie-wholesale.biz

    best regards
    Tomek Jaromin

  143. tomtomakut

    gwen, just wait 30 day and G will put back your site into the index again,you don’t need to touch your site. leave like that.
    and very important don’t comment.

  144. WOW……

    Looks around…how long till this blog no longer accepts comments??.

    Way to go….. each of you should be proud….

    Shakes head ..turns… and walks away ….

  145. russell

    Hi Gwen

    Well, atleast you had your 15 minutes of fame on the web because no amount of spam techniques would have generated all that traffic overnight, did you see your Alexa ranking?

    I would take the advise of an earlier thread, scap this site and start from the beginning. From the begining of desiging this site your only intention was thinkng about rankings and how to gain postioning in the SE and you crossed over into spam and your site turned into a plumbing junkyard. I would start fresh from the beginning and only think about your viewers in mind and potential customers and giving these visitors a better exprience. Yes, lay down some marble for your new site. Keep it clean and simple.

    And dont stuff those ALT

    All those spamming sites you mention will not last long, time is running our for all of them. With a new clean site, sometime down the road you will eventually have better ranking than this current mess.

    Happy New Year to everyone

  146. hi matt,

    first of all, thanks for your posts, instructive and useful (and sometimes fun ;-)

    regarding the spammer subject of your post, my personal feeling is that the “punishment” is well deserved.

    my main competitor has been using the same techniques (less extensively though), and I resent this as unfair competition, as he much better positioned than us.

    I tried to use the links provided by Google to report the spamming, no effect (done it a few months ago). for us it is a big problem, google.fr (yes, i’m from France) being a big lead generator for us !

    any suggestion on how to report the spammer more efficiently ?

    regards & happy new year

    guillaume paoli

  147. Wayne

    [QUOTE]What a Maroon Said,
    December 31, 2005 @ 12:49 pm

    What does this cover? Are you talking Linkmanager and/or web ring stuff, or more like the link network at the bottom of this page, http://www.allsdhomes.com/? [/QUOTE]

    Those sites that are on there are part of the largest link farm for real estate sites out there. Yet we are told that link farms are against Googles TOS, but these are only their to manipulate the serps.

    If you look at www( dot )greatlasvegashomes.com you will see over 150 homepage links and if you check the sites they link to you will see those other sites with the same set of links as all the others. Another tool they use is www ( dot )relo-experts.com which is part of this link farm and the site owner of this links them from several pages inside his directory.

    Why would the same people create dupicate sites with basically the same information for the same cities and link back to the same people in this link farm. The Las Vegas site has created 5+ domains and all of them link back to their primary sites as well as all their link farm buddies.

    I am not crying it time things will even out but if Google expects us to play by the rules then why are others not held to the same rules. Just because most of these sites are old doesnt mean they are not violating the rules google has setforth for us to follow.

    I really wish Matt would take a look at those sites. All of them prior to linking to eachother did not rank well, now they all rank top 3 in google for their primary key phrases.

  148. Aaron Pratt said:

    Dude, now you look like the ass, go to bed!

    Is that the best you can do, Aaron? You were nasty to someone, and I picked you up about it, so you turned on me. When you couldn’t answer my replies, you resorted to insults. Is that all you’ve got? During the process, you have posted nastiness and misinformation, and you’re calling me an ass? You need to take some of your own advice, Aaron. Better still, don’t be nasty in the first place.

    Dave. More misinformation? Leave that sort of thing to people who are good at it. E.g. I very very very rarely visit WMW – where did you get the idea that WMW is one of my forums of choice from? There isn’t anything bad in my site, and there isn’t anything there that you could win an argument against. So, until you have something worthwhile to say, perhaps you should stick to the topic of the thread. You’re not showing an aptitude for realistic discussion, so leave it to the experts, eh? ;)

    Aaron and Dave. Your reaction to nastiness is to attack the person who pointed it out. If that’s the way your brains work, it’s fine by me. It merely shows people something about you, that’s all. But if you genuinely want to discuss any of the content in my site, there are places to do, and I am more than happy to debate any of it with you. I don’t think that it should be done in Matt’s blog though – although I am sure he enjoys chuckling at all this stuff. On second thoughts, he might actually welcome it. Give it a go if you like, and we’ll see what he makes of it. This thread could turn out to be the most lively one here :)

  149. What a Maroon

    >So why would you defend that?

    No one is defending it.

    >Greg Boser – I do not know much about him, he agreed to the interview and kindly answered the questions. He is like the navy seal of marketing and is not available (and goes out of circulation often) but he is a good guy as you see in the interview.

    Thanks for helping make the points about your being uninformed and why the need to take the personal stuff out of the issue.

    No one said WG wasnt a good guy, (i have learned quite a bit from him on WMW and he has been very available at pubcons) but if you had been around for even 18 months, you would know a little something about him. If you had ever heard him speak at a search conference, you would realize how funny your statements are, since by your definition, WG and the majority of the most skilled SEOs in the biz are “lame spammers” in one way or another. You dont insult pros like him, so no need to insult amateurs like Gwen.

    Matt doesnt stoop to attacks and is often seen in their company, even giving a few of them tours of the plex. Let Matt wield his own sword, as he is quite capable of defending his own index, while being a gentleman at the same time.

  150. Jimmy Two Times

    Dear Matt Cutts,

    After reading your blog for quite a while, I would like to post my comments. You seem like a nice guy, and you have helped many people with your tips (although you work for the “other side”). Here are some facts you will find very interesting. Please do not delete this, and I will keep reposting:

    1) You and people at Googleplex are trying to fight off spam. Your definition of spam is quite wide and inclusive of most factors that would increase the ranking of a website.

    2) You have denied the very real existence of a Sandbox. That is now in certain cases taking over 18 months!

    3) Most Americans do not know about your “Sponsored “Link” advertising scheme, nor do they know about Yahoo’s.

    4) Your robots and now humans at Googleplex (and elsewhere) are visiting sites and removing them by hand.

    5) You are encouraging people to turn others in that are employing any SEO methods to their sites.

    6) You and the people at Googleplex are hurting thousands of SEO businesses, and hundreds of thousands of websites by your consistent and relentless pursuit of taking down sites.

    7) You are employing certain aspects of fear marketing to get your point across so that others will be fearful of employing SEO methods, such as getting links to point to your site, link exchanges, keyword stuffing, hidden text etc.

    Now, after reading all of the above, you will notice fact number three nestled in between the other facts. You should not ignore this fact!

    Why should you and the people at Googleplex have the right to filter out results, when the general American public is not given the right to know the truth about sponsored listings? Most Americans do not know that if they click on a sponsored listing in Google, it could cost some poor business on the other end as much as $5 (or more) for that click! If that poor business gets just 100 clicks in a day, they have paid $500 to Google that day! Now, if most people knew that a single click would cost someone on the other end $5, they will think twice before clicking on that link. Google would lose hundreds of millions of dollars if everyone had all the details and schematics of how a sponsored links worked. You have quite conveniently hidden that fact from the general public.

    If the people at Googleplex have set in their sights to take down SEOs, because SEOs are costing you money (I’m sure you are going to say you just want clean results), then SEOs have a right to tell the world how sponsored links work! You cost them money, they should cost you money! However, it will cost you a lot more money then it will cost them!

    Google set its mark in the world by being the nice guy. The search engine that was NOT evil, not motivated by money. Now that Google is corporate and things are going so well for you in the stock market, you have turned a blind eye to the tens of thousands of webmasters and SEOs (which put you on the map) that are quite honestly making a living from the bread crumbs you leave at the table! Would it make the people at Googleplex happy to see some poor webmaster not make his $2000 mortgage payment, when you guys are raking in billions?

    You should encourage others to make money with you, and not fight against them. Cooperation will always beat competition. BE FAIR!

    Concerned Citizen

  151. Blazes

    Hello Gwen –
    Take a look at the Google webmaster guidelines and then decide if it jives with what your shopping cart solution is telling you. Don’t believe everything they say.

  152. Hello Matt,

    Speaking of webmaster stuff, should a home page have a lower page rank then it’s subpages? I know of a website that is doing this now, recently the home page went down (1 week ago or so) and sub-pages are higher. home was pr5, now home is pr2 and sub pages are pr4′s and stuff. just seems odd!

  153. What a Maroon

    >Speaking of webmaster stuff, should a home page have a lower page rank then it’s subpages?

    You mean like Matt’s site?

  154. I have a site with an internal page the toolbar PR of which is higher than that of the home page. It’s not that strange, really. The internal page is the main page of a niche directory, and it has a decent number of links pointing to it — not as many as the site’s home page does, but because the directory is more niche oriented than the rest of the site, a higher percentage of its links are coming from pages containing fewer outbound links, and probably pages of higher average PR.

  155. Aaron Pratt

    I keep hearing from you people, “If you were there then you would know…blah blah blah” well guess what?

    I do not care about who was a bigger spammer back then, I am more interested in who you are today and what you have to offer.

    PhilC – Blah Blah Blah

  156. Aaron:

    Check your WPW PM (since I don’t know how else to get a hold of you). I have an idea for your SEO Buzzbox in it.

  157. Big Daddy

    RE: Wayne Said,
    January 2, 2006 @ 10:11 am

    When I was at Pubcom in Las Vegas back in Nov this same question about the Referral Network of agents on the homepage came up. Matt seemed to think it was O.K. if it was their the users that are buying and selling real estate because they are very often relocating to other areas.

    It is very common in the real estate business to send referrals back and forth for people relocating.

    It appears that people are trying to get their competitors banned because they are jealous of their success.

    This forum should be hear to help each other not hurt each other.

    Big Daddy!

  158. Matt

    Joe, the trouble with just ignoring hidden text in indexing is that when a site with hidden text comes up, it looks bad to the user and they assume that the hidden text led to the site ranking where it did. Answering “that text didn’t really do them any good” is rarely what the user wants to hear, I’ve found.

  159. Matt

    Glen, I would recommend fitting whatever keywords you want to rank for into the normal text that you’re writing. If a visitor gets down to the bottom of the page and sees a big, long, non-natural list of keywords, that’s really not as helpful as having the keyword integrated into the normal content of the page.

  160. Though it is probably getting way off topic, as the owner of the site http://www.greatlasvegashomes.com I feel it necessary to address the repeated comments being made by “Wayne” on this blog. The agent referral network mentioned was started in early 2003 and is made up of agents who know each other from the Internet and who trade referrals and brainstorm real estate systems directly between each other. I have had countless referrals and numerous sales each year from these agents and my association with them – as a matter of fact I currently even employ an agent who was also referred by a member of the group in Florida. At this point I have also met more than half the agents in person and have talked to and emailed all of them numerous times.

    In addition about 10 of us were at the Pub Con event in Vegas in November – we were the group that corralled you in the corridor, Matt, and ended up moving to the lunch room to continue the discussion for about an hour. During this time the topic of relevant linking vs. link farms came up. Unless I grossly misunderstood you, Matt, it is perfectly correct to link to associate sites in the same field, especially when you are doing business together. If additional PR is garnered as a result, that is a side benefit like adding original content pages on a regular basis. We are not talking about irrelevant sites here – only those directly related to real estate. If my understanding is faulty on this topic please let me know right away. (The photographer that was also present asked exactly the same question on his site as well and understood the answer to be the same.)

    I also do have 5 sites on real estate – one is a vacation home site (just starting and meant to be nationwide), one is a Las Vegas site, one is a Henderson site, one is a golf course home site and one is a high rise condo site. The only thing they have in common is I have built them all from scratch and written every page from the accumulated knowledge of 25 years in Las Vegas real estate. I am obviously not a professional SEO person, I do not have fancy graphics or flash, but I do have a lot of original content and that’s what keeps the clients coming back over and over and over again. I have always personally believed that Google measures how long people stay browsing on a site as a large part of its measure of importance and relevancy – is that true?

  161. Overwhelmed

    Speaking of hidden text, Gwen has the link to the monstercommerce “Browse All Products” as hidden text at the bottom of the 2nd website (hardwareandlightingDOTcom). Would that eliminate any possibility for duplicate penalities from the HTML Catalog?

  162. Nadir

    “Glen, I would recommend fitting whatever keywords you want to rank for into the normal text that you’re writing. If a visitor gets down to the bottom of the page and sees a big, long, non-natural list of keywords, that’s really not as helpful as having the keyword integrated into the normal content of the page.”

    Ah, here is Matt giving SEO tips, very interesting :) And I thought you were only about writing posts about spammers….

  163. steve whitmore

    Talk to us more about the “co-operative linking networks” :)

  164. Big Daddy

    Just a quick follow up to the post. If home page links to other agents for referral purposes is a problem. Would the same links with a NO Follow be O.K.? Since the main reason they are there are for the user and not the search engine. But then I guess all our links should have them????

    Big Daddy!

  165. i’m reading all of your posts and i’m more confused than before.. one place says put a bunch of keywords in alt tags, we had next to nothing in them so went through the entire site adding more, now you guys say don’t… how IS a person supposed to know who to believe before it’s too late?
    i’m totally frustrated…

  166. Matt,

    i think the reason people believe the hidden text is doing the site good is because if you look at the cached pages, those key words are hi-lited. if they are hi-lited and the search engines can tell they are hidden, and hidden text is punishable, why do the sites continue to come up?

  167. Use the alt text as it’s intended to be used, Gwen – for people who don’t see the graphics.

    If it’s a graphic that links to another page, then use the alt text to say something about the other page, and even include “click to …” etc. if you like. Include the other page’s target keywords, but without overdoing them. A single page should only target one or two searchterms anyway. For graphic links, Google treats the alt text as anchor text, and they attribute the anchor text that points to a page as being on the destination page itself. Not only that, but anchor text is the most important ranking factor in Google. Ignore anyone who says not to use alt text. Google wants you to use it for graphic links, because they want the link itself to say something about the destination page.

    For graphics that are not hyperlinked, use the alt text to say something about the graphic, and try to fit one or more of the page’s keywords into it if reasonably possible.

  168. Aaron Pratt said:

    PhilC – Blah Blah Blah

    Finally, you’re beginning to talk some sense.

    Sorry – couldn’t resist that ;)

  169. Gwen – “i’m totally frustrated… ”

    Welcome to the real world of Google :)
    that’s why it’s so nice to come here and know the information is genuine, and why we would all love Matt to give us a 1 on 1 critique on our websites.

  170. Ian

    You can use the extension ‘Nightly Tester Tools’ to enable extensions that haven’t yet been checked for compatibility.

    Prefbar has recently been updated (28/12/05) and should now work with 1.5 anyway see http://prefbar.mozdev.org/

  171. Gwen, you may set ” Copyright 2004 FaucetandSinkConnection” to “Copyright 2006 FaucetandSinkConnection”. Maybe that helps…. ;-)

    Serious (just a list of basic suggestions, for usability and search engine optimization):

    Personally I find the list of keywords at the beginning not so beautiful to a visitor: Do you think someone reads this whole list? Many visitors go away at first look, I think. You can put this list into a and format, alphabetical. Maybe you can think about which manufacturers are the most important to you. And move less important things to another page. Readibility tip: Don’t use UPPER CASE letters at all for links (below ‘category’). Make it underline, so visitors know it can be clicked. And there I see a manufacturer list already.

    What you have at the bottom of page seems to me more interesting to visitors. Make use of links there: “Look for bathroom cabinets or bathroom vanities in our “Bathroom Furniture” section”. Use a hyperlink around “Bathroom Furniture”, so a visitor just have to click. Put the “browse all products” – link at top of page: If I’m searching for a product, I should follow that link.

    * See it from the positive side: In the time you’re out of Google, you can experiment without consequences to search engine positions: how to make most of money related to number of visitors.

    *. The description meta tag is not a description but a list of keywords. That is not the target of the description. Describe there what you are doing, not your product catalog.

    *. You can put keywords into the metatag “keywords” ( which is not relevant to Google, as far as I know.)

    (. Remove ‘Welcome to’ from you tag title. Would you be found on “welcome to”? :-)

    * Maybe change the alt tags. e.g. for ‘save a life… adopt a pet’. that should be enoug for the alt: describing what the image says. Is your site about “puppies for sale”? Besides of that, the link is not working.

    * Look at this: http://validator.w3.org/. The sign after “copyright”-text isnot shown in my IE, maybe that is a “illegal” character.

    * It seems to me you are using Microsoft stuff, according to stuff as: “class=MsoNormal”. I don’t know if you can’t better use a W3C-compliant HTML-editor or so, to meet the W3C-standards.

    * Before following my suggestions, be aware of that my website is removed too also… (I think because using subdomains which I’ve removed now, but don’t know for sure). It seems me honest to let you know, I mean: who am? :-)

  172. smoke2much

    Wow, I go out of town to part for New Years and I come back to see people spending their holiday arguing about SEO tactics. Seriously, you two could have done your thing in private and spared us the chore of scrolling through your worthless comments. I think I got dumber just skimming over them.

    Matt, can you please tell me if penalization is automatic, manual, both, or a mix, and where does it seperate?

    Thanks

  173. I am really trying to figure out what my problem is with Google as I do not do anything “illegal”. I resurfaced after Jagger back to the top again and suddenly I have disappeared although I still have a PR 4.

  174. I come back to see people spending their holiday arguing about SEO tactics. Seriously, you two could have done your thing in private and spared us the chore of scrolling through your worthless comments

    That wouldn’t have suited Aaron’s purpose of exposing something that most everyone already knew. LOL. Besides, no seo tactics were discussed, but I agree that is was worthless stuff (apart from picking Aaron up for his nasty post), although a few people appeared to be entertained by it :)

  175. Aaron Pratt

    I am starting to like you Mr. PhilC, you got a lot of fire, you will have to come in for and interview sometime and leave your hat at the door…

  176. WhyMe

    What’s interesting is that I have a friend who has a website. I took a look at and noticed a couple of sentences of keywords hidden in the page. I sent him an email saying search engines will ban sites for this. Soooo… he removed the hidden text and thanked me for the advice. Well guess what? He used to be able to rank in Google with the hidden text, now that it is gone he no longer ranks at all! Go figure, I should have kept my mouth shut…

  177. Dave

    PhilC, I have already stated what I saw on your site as bad advice. If you want one specific example I would draw your attention to the link (affiliate link even maybe) you have to Text Link Ads. Last time I looked into this site all I saw was that they are PR mongers and is nothing but a glorified linking scheme that has seen many drop/banned in Google.

    Aplogies if I’m wrong about you frequenting WMW, I thought I had read many of your posts there.

    Now, you will dissagree with me but I expect that and will allow others to come to their own conclusions.

  178. What a Maroon

    >they are PR mongers and is nothing but a glorified linking scheme that has seen many drop/banned in Google.

    Prove it Dave. Prove that a site was banned because of a text link ad from TLA.

  179. Dave

    Perhaps you are green to the area of Google search? Even Google themselves NEVER state a reason why. It’s impossible to prove, just like anyone (outside Google) cannot prove that hidden text, cloaking, link schemes, doorway pages sees sites banned or penalized.

    This is why common sense and logic SHOULD prevail and is likely along the lines of why Matt started this very Thread.

    Unless Text link ads uses the nofollow attribute (which it certainly didn’t last time I checked) they ARE one of the linking schemes Google states NOT to use.

    Please don’t bother trying to tell me that Text Link Ads sells click traffic!

  180. Matt:

    So what do we do after we have checked our sites for the hundredth time, sent the web-form reinclusion request to Google for the tenth time, waited for several months, and prayed to an array of gods?

    What do we do then? How do we awaken the sleeping Google?

  181. Dave

    Lost Puppy, I would say that you NEED to remove the reason your site was banned. Submitting for reinclusion before doing so will likely dig a deeper hole.

    Linking schemes are often one of the most abused areas, (due to PR and anchor text) so opt out from ANY you are invloved in. You mention “sites” I would suspect cross linking for SE’s.

    Read ALL Google’s Guidlines until you eyes bleed and you WILL very likely read the reason why your site is banned.

  182. Wow, that was just as helpful as Google’s automated response.

  183. [quote]From there, mail the CD to yourself via registered mail. DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE, HOWEVER. Leave it sealed, as the sealed envelope contains a postmark date.

    (Note: I’ve read in a few places that you should have a notary public sign as a witness saying it was done, but that costs $60. I’ve found that if you just put a letter in that’s witnessed by 3-4 people or more, that suffices.)[/quote]

    Just in case anyone read that and thought it was good advice, it’s not. If the person you are filing against calls your bluff, this evidence won’t hold weight in court. You need to file for a copyright registration to make it stick. That only costs $30 in the USA, and can be done by anyone. http://www.copyright.gov has all of the forms and instructions. Be prepared for the process to take 5-7 months to complete but once it has you’ll have a certificate to document the registratrion and can be entitled to statutory damages in addition to any monetary recovery for a real infringement action.

  184. gwen

    after all is said and done i believe if google can’t find and penalize ALL of the sites that are practicing “illegal” tactics, then they shouldn’t punish any of them. competitors continue to come up in the searches whose sites i learned from!
    if you ask me it’s very discriminatory to randomly select sites to penalize while others doing the same thing continue to thrive.
    maybe bill gates isn’t so bad after all?

  185. Lost Puppy,

    If you’re looking for help on what appears to be a specific site, why not post the site? If it’s that good, show it to the rest of us. And if there’s a reason you’re suffering, it will likely get found.

    In other words, let’s see what it is.

    Dave gave you the best advice he could for not having seen your site, and there’s no reason to go slagging him for that.

    This is an unofficial list, and is in no way supported or endorsed by anyone at the big G (just my own observations) but here’s the top stuff I’ve noticed that seems to get people banned:

    1) Keyword stuffing

    2) Hidden text

    3) Cloaking

    4) Doorway/scraper pages

    5) Bad inbound/outbound links, usually caused by a reciprocal link exchange. Check your OBLs in particular to see if any have been banned.

    6) A domain name that was used by someone else previously, and then purchased by another after it was banned.

    7) Spamming Google for reinclusion requests by asking them 10 times. That’s probably not good for your search engine health.

    There are others, I’m sure. But none come immediately to mind. That was a 1-minute list, and should in no way be associated with Google or Matt himself. It’s my own.

  186. Gwen,

    With all due respect, that didn’t make an ounce of sense. That’s like saying “if we can’t catch all the child molesters, serial murderers and bank robbers, we shouldn’t arrest any of them.”

    You have to stop at least some people to try and enforce corrective action. It’s not really all that random…it’s algorithmic selection. No, it doesn’t affect all sites, but that’s less a flaw in Google’s setup than it is a flaw in everyone else’s. There are about a billion ways for people to spam the engines nowadays, and some of us have seen every tactic under the sun. How can Google, or MSN, or Yahoo!, or anyone else be reasonably expected to catch all that?

    The only thing Google is somewhat guilty of is that they tend to respond slowly to manual submission by users of spammy sites. But that may also be a side effect of the many different techniques mentioned above, and Matt and the other engineers’ ongoing efforts to remove this sort of thing algorithmically vs. manually. So I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt there.

    Besides, you’re not upset that everyone else is spamming and isn’t getting caught. You’re upset because you’re spamming and you did. You played with the bull, and you got the horns, so suck it up and deal with it.

  187. Correction/clarification in last post: by “everyone else’s”, I was referring to all of the spammers, not everyone in a general sense.

  188. Gwen,

    My thoughts exactly! It IS random, adam. If it was algorithmic, why would one site be penalized for hidden text, while another isn’t. THAT doesn’t make sense. I have asked matt the following question twice now.

    Matt, can you please tell me if penalization is automatic, manual, both, or a mix, and where does it seperate?

    Read the above post about fortune 500 sites using black hat tactics and not being penalized. No, that’s not random, it’s discriminatory.

    The whole thing is pick and choose. People are being penalized for something that their competitors are thriving off of.

    Can I just have some clarification on the penalization process? I’m not penalized, but I’d like to keep it that way too.

  189. gwen

    Adam,
    bad analogy. you’re spidering websites, not hunting down criminals on the move LOL it’s a little harder to catch a moving target!
    maybe i don’t understand enough about it but it is frustrating to see sites that are doing the same thing continue to come up in the searches and thrive while i sit & wonder IF google will reinclude me. their pages have been spidered and the text they are coming up for (if you look at cached pages) is the hidden text.
    if they have been turned in and continue to come up in the searches as one person posted then what is a person to think?
    being penalized is rough enough, but being told that you may or may not be reincluded after you fix what google didn’t like is pretty harsh.
    personally as long as the spammy/key words that are being used on a site are relevant to that site, i don’t see a problem with it. it’s not like you’re advertising free sex and then trying to sell someone a shower (although with some thought i’m sure the two could be connected)
    you remove a few people who are in violation and leave the rest.. you’ve just made life easier for them, not only are they getting away with what you say is wrong, you’ve eliminated the competition for them.
    i’m not appeased by “eventually it will catch up to them” because i don’t believe it will. i think it will continue to be random selection

  190. PhilC, I have already stated what I saw on your site as bad advice. If you want one specific example I would draw your attention to the link (affiliate link even maybe) you have to Text Link Ads. Last time I looked into this site all I saw was that they are PR mongers and is nothing but a glorified linking scheme that has seen many drop/banned in Google.

    I don’t think you’ve actually seen any advice on my site, Dave. If you’ve read it, you will have seen firmly held views and opinions, but precious little in the way of advice. You can correct me (with specifics) if I am mistaken, but I think the only actual advice that I give on the site is to follow the search engine guidelines. Perhaps that’s what you find fault with ;) I am certain that there is no advice to ignore se guidelines in the site.

    I am not aware of any site that I link to selling PageRank, and I am not aware of any sites that purchased links from the site you mentioned being banned or penalised by any engine. Perhaps you have evidence? Or, more likely, you are just guessing. It’s not very good to guess at things and write them as facts.

    Unless Text link ads uses the nofollow attribute (which it certainly didn’t last time I checked) they ARE one of the linking schemes Google states NOT to use.

    You’re missing it, Dave. It’s not Google’s business what links are placed on websites. Google’s business is how *they* handle links internally – and that’s all. Google is not the web, and they don’t make rules for the web. If you are content to let Google rank your pages where they see fit, it’s alright, but other people prefer not to settle for that when their rankings aren’t so good.

  191. I am starting to like you Mr. PhilC, you got a lot of fire, you will have to come in for and interview sometime and leave your hat at the door

    I don’t think so, Aaron. I get asked to do interviews from time to time (there’s one sitting in my inbox right now), but I don’t generally do them. I have well thought out views, that don’t always agree with some people’s views, but I’m not a self-promoter.

    I can understand Gwen’s frustration that the sites she learned from are still doing well when hers has apparently been singled out for a penalty. It is very unfair, and I’ve no doubt that the engines don’t like it either. But they can’t help it. They don’t yet have the ability to automatically spot many things that they’d like to spot and deal with. The Jagger update is a good example of how they can’t yet do all that they’d like to do.

    It appears that part of the Jaggers was to deal with CSS hidden text, but in doing it they managed to throw out some perfectly good, non-spammy CSS navigations, which badly affected those sites. That’s what appears to have happened.

    It’s easy for us to imagine that spotting hidden text is simple, because we can see the stuff with our own eyes. But writing a dumb programme to do it, and cover all possibilities without making too many mistakes, isn’t anywhere near as easy as we might think. How can a dumb programme differentiate between CSS hidden text in a genuine navigation system and CSS hidden text that’s spam? It’s not all that easy.

    Another example is auto-redirects. It’s not difficult to write a javascript parser and spot some auto-redirects, but how does the programme know whether or not the redirects are essential to the site? If my memory is correct, one of my sites was flagged for that, but the redirects were essential, and nothing to do with spam. The programme had no way of knowing.

  192. “It’s easy for us to imagine that spotting hidden text is simple, because we can see the stuff with our own eyes. But writing a dumb programme to do it, and cover all possibilities without making too many mistakes, isn’t anywhere near as easy as we might think. How can a dumb programme differentiate between CSS hidden text in a genuine navigation system and CSS hidden text that’s spam? It’s not all that easy.”

    I have to correct you on this. Hidden text CAN’T be seen with the eyes, hence the word hidden. But writing a program to spot hidden text is extremely easy. I can do it in under an hour with very high success rates and I’m not even what you would call a skilled programmer. If Google’s algo can differentiate between language patterns, I think they should have no problem spotting hidden text. No, alot of it is not easy, but with all the engineers they got, I think they could do better.

  193. tom

    matt,

    well, after posting twice in this post, http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-advice-interpreting-inurl/
    and having them deleted (i assume because they weren’t related to the topic)… and then trying to post again, and it not showing up (hope my email hasn’t been blocked for seeking advice)… i’ve come to this topic, as it it related…

    we have actually checked our site repeatedly and found nothing wrong….so what does someone do in this case? if there’s nothing wrong with their site?

    i’ve submitted reinclusion requests, most recent today.. but still nothing..

    i’m simply seeking your quick review of the site, as you do for so many others….

    again, any help is greatly appreciated
    thx
    tom

  194. And there’s where both of you are wrong.

    It’s not “random selection” or “pull a name out of a hat and see if they’re a spammer, and nail them.” That makes no sense whatsoever, because it would take far too long for Google to go through every site and penalize everyone who did anything wrong.

    Not only that, if it were random, then Google would be wasting time selecting sites and going through and reviewing them all. They might just have some better things to do with their time.

    The reason that it appears random is simply that we can’t see the correlation or pattern. And quite often, the people bitching and moaning about it being random are the same ones who got caught.

    And as far as my analogy being “bad” goes, spidering websites on a regular basis is like trying to nail moving targets. Content changes. Code changes. New techniques are discovered to manipulate both on-the-page and off-the-page.

    You want proof? Look at what you just did to your own website. Is that the same code that was there even two days ago? No, it’s not. Moving target.

    Now…as far as whether or not it should be reincluded…I can’t speak for Matt, and I’m not pretending to. But if you came to me and asked me if the site should be reincluded, I would say no.

    Why?

    Because you’ve spent so much time search-engine-optimizing your site that you’ve completely forgotten about the reason you’re doing it in the first place…your users.

    Look at it from their standpoint. Who wants to read that much text in a paragraph? At the very least, break it up into a bullet list. I’d go so far as to maybe pick 5 or 6 things you want to focus on for each list, and then a link as the last bullet point saying “View All Manufacturers” or “View All Categories” or whatever it is you wanted to focus on.

    Don’t get me wrong…I don’t think you have a bad site overall. I’ve certainly seen a lot crappier (even made a few back in the day). But stop worrying about what Google thinks so much and worry about what your users will think. The SE stuff will come with time and patience…don’t try to screw with them, though.

    Quite frankly, Gwen, I don’t think you’re really trying all that hard to do anything other than the bare minimum required to get back in.

  195. tom

    matt,

    well, after posting twice in this post, http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-advice-interpreting-inurl/
    and having them deleted (i assume because they weren’t related to the topic)… and then trying to post again, and it not showing up (hope my email hasn’t been blocked for seeking advice)… i’ve come to this topic, as it it related… (this is the second post of this post, as the first one didn’t show up.. so i guess my email has been blocked… if so, why? )

    we have actually checked our site ( http://www.preferredconsumer.com ) repeatedly and found nothing wrong….so what does someone do in this
    case? if there’s nothing wrong with their site? or they can’t identify it?

    i’ve submitted reinclusion requests, most recent today.. but still nothing..

    i’m simply seeking your quick review of the site, as you do for so many others….

    again, any help is greatly appreciated
    thx
    tom

  196. >> It’s easy for us to imagine that spotting hidden text is simple, because we can see the stuff with our own eyes. But writing a dumb programme to do it, and cover all possibilities without making too many mistakes, isn’t anywhere near as easy as we might think. How can a dumb programme differentiate between CSS hidden text in a genuine navigation system and CSS hidden text that’s spam? It’s not all that easy.

    Funny…that thought sounds familiar. :)

    Although I’d like to add some things to it.

    What about expanded information divs (where you hover your mouse over a product and more information flies out)? Not necessarily navigation divs, but like the ones here?

    What about image and menu replacement divs? Something like this for a menu.

    Phil’s right. There are just too many variables and ways in which people can code perfectly legit stuff to be able to check for spam that simply.

  197. Wow – I don’t believe it – all this talk of hidden text etc, and a light bulb goes off in my head – way back last summer when I was overhauling my nav bar I reckoned it would be a good idea to create ‘title’ tags with my links, so that visitors could get a better idea what was on each page
    when they moused over them – some of them didn’t work, but I left them there anyway (I’ve got a pretty heflty nav bar)!!!

    Could GGbot have misconstrued these as hidden text? and that’s why I’ve been demoted to the 3rd/4th page – don’t know but I’ve removed them all now – so we shall wait and see – fingers crossed

  198. Michael Weir

    This is hilarious. Here’s how it plays out in my mind:

    Gwen: Oh noses! *pulling hair out* We’re completely out of the google database and our traffic and sales have sunk like a stone.

    Gwen’s in-house SEO (black hat): *hears commotion from his desk – quickly sneaks out for a smoke break – returns 7 minutes later with an excuse fresh in his mind*

    Gwen: (speaking to SEO): Have you any idea what is going on and why this could be happening?

    SEO: *nervous fumbling* uhh….let me check things out and get back to you.

    *15 minutes later*

    SEO: (to gwen) – it appears that we got linkbombed. Suddenly we have over 14,000 links. *goes out to smoke another cigarette*

    But seriously, it’s nice of you to point her in the right direction. She caught a lucky break!

  199. rob

    >M Weir

    Love your humour!

    We had a cartoon here in England ‘stressed eric’ http://www.stressederic.com/ I’d bet that he’s a struggling seo on the quiet!

  200. Dave

    RE: “Wow, that was just as helpful as Google’s automated response.”

    If you are looking to be spoon fed the answer you will be waiting a loooong time. Get off your butt and apply some common sense and logic after reading Google’s guidlines.

    Some people can never be helped, hey PhilC ;)

  201. Dave

    RE: “It IS random, adam”. Nope, there is no such thing as random where computers are involved.

  202. Dave

    RE: “ut stop worrying about what Google thinks so much and worry about what your users will think. The SE stuff will come with time and patience…don’t try to screw with them, though.”

    Good advice for all those considering “SEO”. Are you reading this Lost Puppy :)

  203. Aaron Pratt

    Because you’ve spent so much time search-engine-optimizing your site that you’ve completely forgotten about the reason you’re doing it in the first place…your users.

    Very well said Adam.

    This thread has become interesting again.

  204. Oh yes, I am reading all of the bad advice from people-who-are-not-Matt-but-seem-to-think-they-are. It’s like watching the Special Olympics of SEO.

    Google penalties ARE random. I have several web sites, all built the same. This is the only one to be penalized.

    Google is buggy as hell. This is not unexpected. Any large system will have bugs. However, Google has no effective mechanism for reporting and fixing bugs. This makes it highly unlikely that the bugs will ever been found and corrected.

    The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. You cannot call or e-mail Google to tell them that they have a problem.. You can send in a web form, but it goes to a round file in India. Google has no effective feedback mechanism to aid in improving its system.

    This is pure arrogance on the part of Google. Eventually, it will have negative consequences for them. It already has negative consequences for searchers and webmasters.

    For Google to deny that it has bugs is arrogance, for others to deny that Google is buggy is stupidity.

  205. Smoke2much said:
    I have to correct you on this. Hidden text CAN’T be seen with the eyes, hence the word hidden. But writing a program to spot hidden text is extremely easy. I can do it in under an hour with very high success rates and I’m not even what you would call a skilled programmer. If Google’s algo can differentiate between language patterns, I think they should have no problem spotting hidden text. No, alot of it is not easy, but with all the engineers they got, I think they could do better.

    I’ll assume that the “CAN’T” comment was just humour – not laugh out loud humour, but humour just the same.

    I *am* a skilled programmer and programmatically spotting hidden text really is as easy as you make out. Yes, you could write a program that spots some hidden text in an hour, but it wouldn’t represent a search engine. If it really is as easy as you make out, why do you suppose that there is still so much of it in the index? It’s been since long before Google was ever thought of, and they really don’t want it, so they should have been able to handle it by now if it’s easy to do.

    Dave said:
    Some people can never be helped, hey PhilC

    If you’d said you needed help in the first place, I would have helped you. Speak up, man ;)

  206. Dammit. That should have said:-

    …and programmatically spotting hidden text really isn’t as easy as you make out.

  207. gwen

    adam,

    i think you’re wrong… i’ve been doing a lot of things that aren’t necessarily on the front page for you to see (i did work on that tonight). i would venture a guess that i’m older than most if not everyone who posts here, as in i didn’t have computers in school and had a career with race horses for the better part of my life after getting out of school so this is all new to me, teaching myself as i go along. sometimes things take me a little longer to accomplish than they may take you. for those who think i’m the great mastermind spammer, sorry to disappoint you LOL

    i enjoy reading & learning from all that you guys have to say & i appreciate all of the suggestions & advice.

    matt, i thank you again, even if you were using my site as what not to do, it’s helped me tremendously!

  208. Dave

    Lost puppy, Is there a reason why you will not post a link to your site?

    Also, for you to use the word “arrogance” is a bit rich after your reply’s to all here that try to help you.

    There is NO such thing as random when computers are invloved. This is basic 101 stuff, so I’m suprised that some here insist Google does banning at random.

    PhilC, I guess as Text Link Ads likely pays you money you are always going to defend it. However, you know as well as I that it IS created for SEs (Google in particular) and IS exactly what Google warns against in it’s guidelines when it talks of linking schemes.

    BTW, you pages on Doorway pages are also specifically mentioned in Google’s guidelines as something to NOT do. The fact you provide 2 “strategys” to create these for SE sais it all IMO.

  209. Google penalties ARE random. I have several web sites, all built the same. This is the only one to be penalized.

    List off the sites. All of them. 1 by 1.

    If you’re going to make this statement, be prepared to back it up. And if you’re that confident that you’re right, let’s see you step up.

    It’s one thing to say “Google sucks, Google is bad, Google is evil”, and another thing to back it up.

    Now I’m not saying Google isn’t buggy, but as someone who has done a LOT of programming, I wouldn’t fault them for 95-98% of the seeming inconsistencies in their results.

    Any experienced and skilled programmer knows the toughest aspect of coding isn’t developing the shell or the basic algorithm: it’s in coding all of the little stupid exceptions, band-aiding code, applying patches, hacks, whatever you want to call it, for the idiots out there who throw monkey wrenches into everything. This doesn’t take into account the evolution of HTML code and the billions of adaptations, permutations and combinations of such.

    And let’s face it, Google’s got a target painted squarely on its ass as far as people trying to mess with it are concerned. There are manipulators at every stage of the game trying every trick in the book and five hundred that were never written down just to get there.

    Rather than blaming them for “bugginess” and “randomness” consider the large number of holes they have to patch in the boat created not by their own algorithm, but by those of us who try to crack it.

  210. RE: “It IS random, adam”. Nope, there is no such thing as random where computers are involved.

    Dave, you’re a smart man from what I’ve read but I think you may want to reword that thought. ;)

    http://www.kastlefireplace.com (refresh the page and watch the right side. Random.)

    Sorry…couldn’t resist that. :)

  211. Dave

    From: http://www.random.org/essay.html

    “Randomness and random numbers have traditionally been used for a variety of purposes, for example games such as dice games. With the advent of computers, people recognized the need for a means of introducing randomness into a computer program. Surprising as it may seem, however, it is difficult to get a computer to do something by chance. A computer running a program follows its instructions blindly and is therefore completely predictable”

    You are all confused by Pseudo-random.

    Happy reading :)

  212. I never heard it put that way before.

    Mind you, I’m not going to put a lot of stock into any essay that requires a quote from Don Cherry to make a point. :)

  213. Dave

    There are only 2 ways to “put it”. The right way and the wrong way. You might want to “reword that thought” :)

  214. PhilC, I guess as Text Link Ads likely pays you money you are always going to defend it.

    There you go again, Dave – jumping to wrong conclusions. They pay me nothing – and before you jump to more wrong conclusions, no, it is not a link exchange, a reciprocal link, or any other kind of link like that. If you looked more closely, you’d understand, but you seem to prefer jumping to conclusions.

    BTW, you pages on Doorway pages are also specifically mentioned in Google’s guidelines as something to NOT do. The fact you provide 2 “strategys” to create these for SE sais it all IMO.

    sigh….you just can’t win, can you, Dave?

    There is nothing in this doorway page article that suggests flouting the guidelines. In fact, the very last sentence says, “They are not difficult for search engines to spot automatically, and I advise against using them.“. The article describes doorway pages, and states my opinions of them. The only advice it offers is *not* to use them.

    The 2 strategies article doesn’t offer any advice one way or the other. The second strategy is squeaky clean from a search engine’s point of view, and the first strategy describes a way of using doorway pages that the engines don’t like, but it still doesn’t advise the use them. It merely describes things.

    You’re not suggesting that doorway pages shouldn’t even be written about are you?

    You’ll need to do better than that, Dave.

  215. I will not list my site names for the incompetent trolls who hang out here and pretend to be Matt.

    I’ve read your posts — you have nothing to contribute. I would get better SEO advice from my granddaughter.

    Any sufficiently complex system will be buggy, and these bugs will produce effective randomness. In addition, Google is a mixture of both human systems and computer systems.

    Your belief that computer systems are incapable of randomness is a genuine misunderstanding of something you learned in COMP101.

    Yes, computers cannot generate random numbers, only pseudo-random numbers. That sounds relevant, but it really isn’t. It’s just being quoted out of context by people who really have no idea what they are talking about.

    My advice is this: quit responding to questions to Matt. You’re not Matt. Got that? You are not Matt. If someone posts a question to “Random SEO idiot”, feel free to respond.

  216. Well, with almost 3 decades of programming experience and a couple of college degrees, and much time spent writing code that analyzes and parses text in massive volumes, I’ll weigh in and say that spotting hidden text IS relatively easy but tedious. It depends on the competence and experience of the programmer. All programmers come into every new situation with zero competence and no experience. They develop competence by learning from their experience.

    As for randomness, anyone who actually paid attention in Computer Systems class (or anything similar) knows that all computer systems include a human element, and in this particular system (search engines indexing Web content) that is all you need to guarantee true randomness. No algorithm can predict what every Webmaster is going to do or permit to be done to their Web site.

    And, finally, you guys are assuming these sites that get caught for hidden text are always ranking on the basis of hidden text. I’ve seen plenty of sites that go after the rankings from as many angles as possible: hidden text, NOFOLLOW on outbound links (or using Javascript for outbound links), optimized on-page content, massive link building, high PR inbound linkage, etc., etc.

    Ain’t no one here, except maybe Matt himself, who is in a position to say whether the hidden text is helping any sites rank or not.

    And there is a great deal of arrogance in the SEO community. It’s a common personality trait in technical fields. Arrogance is just another word for confidence. You’re only arrogant when you display more confidence than the other guy.

    Arrogance is often its own reward. I’ve seen many a fool spout absolute nonsense here and elsewhere in the SEO world and smugly thumb their nose at people who knew better. We all play that fool. Every one of us.

    I’m confident in saying that.

  217. The question I have is about this domain. Killersites.com or any website that has over 30,000 inbound links. It is nearly impossible for the average business or person to get these kind of inbound links.

    Another one I noticed is any top query on website hosting or web hosting. Most of these are affiliates who get top ranks on Google, yet, they actually do not own these sites. These are the “review” sites, which is one of two things. Either the sites they alledgely review are all actually several sites owned by the same company all linked together, or, they are affiliates who have several of these review sites, that all link together. In which case, not a single small company will ever reach the top.

    I have heard most of these “review” sites are actually owned by dmoz editors, but I am not sure if that is correct. I do know that I wish dmoz would utilize something like alexa rather than dmoz since it is light years behind in doing anything relevant anymore. They said the wait to even be considered is a minimum of six months, and some have been waiting since 2001! That seems like a shame to me.

    Just another concerned host

  218. You’re only arrogant when you display more confidence than the other guy.

    Excellent – I really like that. I’m not going to discuss whether or not it’s true – I just like it :)

  219. Dave

    LOL @ PhilC. @ Pages on Doorway pages, Cloacking etc etc, but it’s all good advice that wont get you into hot water with Google ;)

    The ONLY safe way to create Doorway pages, or to cloak is to not do it….period. Nowhere in Google’s guidlines does it state some Doorway pages and some cloacking is fine.

    Hmmm. should I believe PhilC or Google…..decisions decisions :)

    Lost Puppy, then I guess you really are lost arn’t you :)

  220. Dave. You really should try to get the facts right before posting.

    My articles offer views, descriptions and opinions. They don’t offer advice, except when they advise people against spam methods. You would know that if you actually read them.

    Now, if you’re saying that spam methods shouldn’t be described in articles, I wouldn’t object to that opinion – I would disagree with it, but I wouldn’t object to it. It’s when you write false things, as you have done a number of times in this thread, that I have to correct you.

    The ONLY safe way to create Doorway pages, or to cloak is to not do it….period. Nowhere in Google’s guidlines does it state some Doorway pages and some cloacking is fine.

    Some education for you, Dave:-

    (1) There is nothing wrong with cloaking. The engines do it, and the engines condone it. What the engines don’t condone are some uses of cloaking.

    (2) There is nothing wrong with doorway pages. The engines are perfectly happy with them. What they are not happy are some types and uses of doorway pages. If you actually read the second doorway page strategy in the article, you would understand.

    You really should get around more and learn these things, instead of trotting out certain words and assuming that all things related to those words are spam. You mislead people when you imply that all cloaking is spam, and all doorway pages are spam. You are wrong, and you shouldn’t do it.

    Although you haven’t said that hidden text is bad, I’ll tell you anyway. There is nothing wrong with hidden text, and the engines are perfectly happy with hidden text. There are, however, some uses of hidden text that the engines don’t condone.

    Auto-redirects are the same. The engines are happy with them, but they are not happy with some uses of them.

    Try and get it right, Dave. You know it makes sense ;)

  221. gwen

    question for all of you experts… we have several domain names that we purchased thru godaddy… since they are “parked for free” they are running adsense on them which of course brings up our competitors that are using adwords… as if things aren’t bumpy enough right now…

    godaddy says that in order to avoid that i have to “forward” all of the sites to our existing site? i asked if somehow this would get me in trouble and they said no… but i don’t trust them LOL

    my question… will “forwarding” a site to our existing site get us in more hot water??

    really didn’t want to post this here.. i’m about sick of this blog LOL
    didn’t know where else to ask

    thanks in advance for anyone who answers!

  222. Dave

    Oh how funny, care to show me where Google backs your statements? didn’t think so :) Funnier still is that Google DOES back mine in no uncertain terms :)

    Your false spin on cloaking and doorways may work with the uninitiated (your target audience) but certainly not on me. I have seen the same argument (for want of a better word) used by many a spammer on many forums. While they get all their mates jump on the bandwagon in some forums (ones run by pro spammers) they are always beaten down with facts on the decent forums. Been there done that :)

    Spam tactics may work for a while, but tomorrow…….. I would say you really need to go back to basics and actually read & understand Google’s Webmaster guidelines. Then stay away from your spammy forums and start to frequent the ones where spam tatics are NOT tolerated and condoned.

    It is only those who cannot SEO within Google’s guidelines that feel they must resort to stepping outside the guidelines.

    Gwen, you sound like you are sailing straight back into dark waters! Dump GoDaddy, buy one decent domain and build one decent site.

  223. gwen

    Dave,

    don’t jump down my throat just yet.. i know everyone loves to attack but i don’t want to connect those domains to my site.. just want adsense taken off of them by godaddy. i haven’t sailed anywhere just yet, that’s why i’m asking.
    i’m trying to stay out of dark waters.. simply trying to figure out how not to have them use our domain names for adsense.. we haven’t used them for anything, weren’t planning on it. do i have it from godaddy in writing, no i called tech support to see why they were using my domain names for adsense & that’s what i was told.

    i’m not looking for more trouble here, just sound advice as i didn’t feel i got it from the godaddy people.

    crimeany you guys think everyone is out to do something underhanded when all i’m trying to do is avoid that… coming here and posting i’m going to try some other technique of fooling google is the equivalent of a drug dealer walking up to a cop to tell him someone stole his stash…

    in the meantime, thanks for the round about answer LOL now i know, don’t do it!!

    GO SKINS!!

  224. gwen

    in order to avoid further debate.. i called godaddy again, told them what they had told me to do would get me banned from google so what were my alternatives. turns out that they can remove the google ads if you request them to do so.

    sorry to raise anyones hackles, guess i didn’t talk to the right person last night.

    all is well.. nothing underhanded going on here

    thank you dave :-)

  225. Dave

    Gwen, not “jumping down your throat at all” so caaaaallllllm down :) Just trying to save you getting back in hotwater with SEs. Are you aware you can block competitors sites in AdWords?

    If you forward multiple sites to one site you should use a permanent 301 redirect.

  226. Putting AdSense on parked domains is something that Google encourages. In fact they have a special system for doing exactly that. It seemed a bit underhanded if the registrar makes money off your domain when you are paying them for parking it, though.

    There is no hot water with forwarding a domain to a site, but there’s no real reason to do it. If the parking arrangement means that you can put your own page up, then put your own AdSense ads on it, and get any money that they might earn – which will be negligable. I don’t know if you can put your own page up though, as I’ve never had a parked domain.

    There are a number of way of ‘forwarding’. How does GoDaddy suggest you do it?

    The only hot water that exists for ‘forwarded’ domains is when the domain has content that could rank in the engines – when it’s a site. It could be seen as a satelite site that exists solely for ranking purposes. Domain forwarding isn’t like that, and there is no problem with it.

  227. Dave. You really are unknowledgable. I said that the engines use cloaking and auto-redirects, and that they are perfectly happy with them. I also said that they are not happy with some uses of those things. All of it is true. If you are not aware of it, then you are just not observant enough, or you’ve been brainwashed by those forums that you recommend, and that’s not my fault.

    Now, I invited you to discuss the content of my site, but I expected more detailed discussion, and not general overall statements, which don’t do anything. If you really want to discuss it, please find a specific item and we’ll discuss it. Then we can do one item at a time if you like, but let’s get down to details.

    So far you’ve said that my site advises people to spam, but I’ve shown that it doesn’t. In fact, I’ve shown that it advises people not to spam. And you’ve implied that search engines don’t want cloaking or auto-redirects of any kind, when in fact they do, etc. etc. So let’s discuss details if you want to discuss, but generalised stuff doesn’t do anything for anyone..

    If you’re confused, I’ll give you a couple of examples that might help.

    Cloaking

    Cloaking identifies the file requestor and serves different pages to different requestors based on some criteria or other. For instance, Google uses IP cloaking to serve different pages to me in the UK than it does to you – in the U.S? That’s one example of a search engine using cloaking, and there are more.

    Another example is when some search engines don’t spider URLs with anything that might be a session ID in them, so cloaking is used to identify if a search engine is making the request, and, if it is, then the returned page is modified for the engine – a different page is returned to the engine than to people.

    As I said, search engines a perfectly happy with cloaking. There are some uses of cloaking that they are not happy with, but cloaking itself isn’t a problem for them.

    Auto-redirects
    Google uses auto-redirects. Have you never seen a quickly displayed message saying that the next page will load… in the Google site? I have.

    Consider a framed site. Google follows frame sources, so its pages do get indexed, and they get listed in the rankings. What happens when someone clicks on one of the framed page’s rankings and goes to the page? The page sits there in the browser, outside of its normal framed environment, usually without any navigation, and can be almost useless to the person. The sensible thing to do is to instantly auto-redirect to the site’s index page, so that the whole framed site is brought together with the requested page in the main frame. Or if the requested page is merely the top or side column, then the framed site is brought together with the front page in the main frame. Makes sense? Of course it does.

    So you see, auto-redirects are fine. The engines do it, and there are perfectly good reasons for it. There is nothing wrong with it, and search engines are happy with it. But, it is sometimes used in ways that search engines don’t want.

    Notice that Google’s guidelines, and Google people like Matt, always use the phrase “sneaky redirects”. They never just say “redirects”. They don’t want sneaky ones, but they are happy with those that are not sneaky – like the ones they use themselves, and the example I just described. You may have understood the phrase “sneaky redirects” to be judgemental, meaning that redirects are sneaky, but it doesn’t mean that. It means that they don’t want the types of redirect that are sneaky. The word “sneaky” refers to a type of redirect – it isn’t a description of all redirects.

    Note also that this is Matt’s blog. If I’m saying something that isn’t true, wouldn’t you think that he would say so? For instance, he wouldn’t mind people thinking that all auto-redirects are bad, and all cloaking is bad, and all hidden text is bad, but he would surely want to correct someone who says that some of it is ok if it really isn’t.

  228. Addition:

    Search engines are against certain methods of doing things when they are used for gaming the engines. They are not against the same methods of doing things when they are not used for gaming the engines.

  229. Dave

    Nice try Phil, but no go with me….so old spin I hear from spammers over and over. Just because SEs do things and other sites do certain things it does not mean anyone, anywhere at anytime can. Common sense you see….or perhaps you don’t?

    READ THE SEARCH ENGINE GUIDELINES. GOOGLE, YAHOO and MSN

    Google states
    “Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

    Perhaps you are confused as to what cloaking really is.

    “Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

    In your case the answer is a resounding NO!

    Do NOT employ doorway pages.

    Now ALL the SE’s are after is qaulity content. That’s all users need to do, i.e. add content pages and link when relevant.

    There is no need to cloak, use doorway pages, or redirects. Of course you cannot agree with this as you have a ve$ted interest in keeping the uninitiated ignorant.

  230. You really should try to use your brain once in a while, Dave, because you haven’t started to make any sense yet. Let me try and make it easy for you.

    ASK the search engines if they are happy with the cloaking and auto-redirect examples that I provided. Ask them.

    Also ask them if my statement above is true or not. The statement is:-

    “Search engines are against certain methods of doing things when they are used for gaming the engines. They are not against the same methods of doing things when they are not used for gaming the engines.”

    Ask them. I don’t know how else to explain it to you. You’re not interested in facts or common sense, so ask the engines.

    Yes, Dave, I know exactly what cloaking it. I’ve been in the business a long time – long before Google – and I do know what cloaking is. Perhaps you haven’t been around so long and perhaps you’ve been brainwashed by silly people (I’m thinking of one person in particular) who try to change the meaning of words to make it ok for engines to do it, but not for the rest of us. You should think for yourself once in a while.

    Now, since you have objections to my site’s content, I asked you to be specific, but you choose not to be. Instead you choose to carry on with generalisations, which are meaningless. So I’ll be specific – ok? I’ll start with auto-redirecting.

    I described one reason where it is beneficial for users. Here’s another common use of instant auto-redirecting. I’m in the UK, and if I type http://www.google.com into my browser’s address bar, I am taken to http://www.google.co.uk, regardless of whether or not I want to go there.

    Do you consider either of those examples of instant auto-redirecting to be bad, or spam, or spammy, or unacceptable to the engines?

    So that you have more to get your teeth into. I described a use of cloaking (session IDs) whereby people get one version of a page, and search engines get a different version of the page. The purpose of it is to allow the engines to crawl the pages, and it is something that wouldn’t be done if search engines didn’t exist. Do you think that that use of cloaking is bad, or spam, or spammy, or unacceptable to the engines?

    Don’t go off on generalisations again. Asnswer the questions that were asked. Ok?

  231. I redirect the old URL’s of some of my web sites to the new URL’s.

    I redirect the old URL’s of some of my web pages to the new URL’s.

    I redirect users who connect to any of my domains to the www. versions of those same domains.

    I redirect hotlinkers to the wrong images.

    I redirect download bots to the wrong pages.

    I redirect web hacking script to the wrong pages.

    I have one redirect which exists just to work around a bug in a script run by some of my web partners.

    So many redirects; I must be one bad dog! w00f!

  232. As there does seem to be some confusion caused by differing uses of terminology and also some degree of lack of understanding of terms utilized, I recommend that we all use the following definitions as standards for the duration of this discussion:

    What is Cloaking?
    http://www.internet-search-engines-faq.com/cloaking.shtml

    What are Doorway Pages?
    http://www.internet-search-engines-faq.com/doorway-pages.shtml

    How do I create a 301 Redirect?
    http://www.internet-search-engines-faq.com/301-redirect.shtml

    Specifically, there appears to be some confusion regarding the relationship of 301 Redirects to Cloaking.

    When it is called a “301 Redirect”, it is good. When it is called “Cloaking”, it is bad. Of course, it is the same technology — it just has two different names based upon how it is being used, who is using it, who is naming it, and with what prejuidices they are naming it.

    It’s a bi

  233. I will not list my site names for the incompetent trolls who hang out here and pretend to be Matt.

    I’ve read your posts — you have nothing to contribute. I would get better SEO advice from my granddaughter.

    Any sufficiently complex system will be buggy, and these bugs will produce effective randomness. In addition, Google is a mixture of both human systems and computer systems.

    Your belief that computer systems are incapable of randomness is a genuine misunderstanding of something you learned in COMP101.

    Yes, computers cannot generate random numbers, only pseudo-random numbers. That sounds relevant, but it really isn’t. It’s just being quoted out of context by people who really have no idea what they are talking about.

    My advice is this: quit responding to questions to Matt. You’re not Matt. Got that? You are not Matt. If someone posts a question to “Random SEO idiot”, feel free to respond.

    A few things:

    1) If you asked a question to Matt publicly, that means that the public can and does have the right to respond to it. If you don’t want advice or opinions from others, then ask your question privately.

    2) The fact that you had to insult others because you’re in a snit about your site being banned only serves to reinforce the point that I made earlier: chances are you’ve done something that you either aren’t aware of or don’t want to admit.

    If you were that confident that you were correct, you’d have no problem showing it publicly. The fact that you didn’t, and chose to insult me, shows that you haven’t got the strength of opinion that you think you do.

    And before you call me random moron or idiot or loser or whatever else you’re going to call me, let me give you the correct counterargument:

    “Okay, smart guy, you think you got me pegged? Here are my sites (list off here).”

    Any other counterargument will be interpreted as incorrect and will only serve to reinforce the point I’m making again: if your site was that clean and didn’t do anything wrong, you’d have no problem sharing it with others.

    If you don’t share, you’ve got nothing and any other comments you make from here on out carry no value.

    Go ahead. This is a popular post now. With the number of comments and people reading it, you’d have a great opportunity to generate some traffic for these sites of yours. Floor’s yours.

  234. There are only 2 ways to “put it”. The right way and the wrong way. You might want to “reword that thought” :)

    Okay. I’ve never heard it put the wrong way before, but thanks, Dave. :)

    j/k

  235. Dave

    Phil, as soon as you show me where Google backs your statements…… You already know they back mine in writing. You, for some reason, feel the need to create doorway pages, use redirects and cloak. For those of us with common sense NONE of these are needed.

    Until then, ta ta! I’m done debating with someone who constantly resorts to name calling and personal insults.

    Well said Adam, Lost puppy is not worth it IMO.

  236. Dave. Google doesn’t back your views in writing. If you think the guidelines back your views, then I suggest you read them again and apply your brain to them. You are welcome to quote any part of the guidelines here, and use it to find fault with anything I’ve written, and we’ll discuss it. But you only speak in generalisations, which is quite useless.

    It’s a shame that you won’t discuss details, but it’s not a surprise, because there was no way for you to win if you’d actually answered my questions – whatever answers you gave.

    For the information, Google has specifically said that serving modified pages to Google to get rid of the session IDs for them is fine and acceptable. I.e. the use of cloaking that I described above is acceptable to Google inspite of the fact that it is done solely because search engines exist, and in spite of the fact that it is cloaking. Also, a rep from Alltheweb wrote that cloaking is a grey area because there are valid uses of it. So your thinking that all uses of cloaking is unacceptable to Google, simply because it is mentioned in their guidelines, is nothing but blind dogma on your part. Not only that, but you are plain and simply wrong.

    As for the instant auto-redirects, it is self-evident that search engines have no objections to the examples that I gave. One of the examples is Google itself doing it.

    Incidentally, don’t be so dogmatic about this part of the guidelines:-

    “Another useful test is to ask, Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

    Google WANTS us to do things solely because search engines exist. rel=nofollow is a well-known example. You need to apply more common sense and less dogma.

    You should think about things, Dave. It’s not difficult, and you’ll get a much better understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable to the engines if you do.

    Note again – this is Matt Cutts’ blog – that’s *the* Matt Cutts of Google. If I’m misleading anyone here, I’m sure he would say so. If my statement that “Search engines are against certain methods of doing things when they are used for gaming the engines. They are not against the same methods of doing things when they are not used for gaming the engines” is in any way wrong or misleading, I’m sure he would say so.

  237. Dave

    Oh yes they do! Read and weep

    FROM GOOGLE THEMSELVES

    “Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

    “Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings”

    “Avoid hidden text or hidden links.”

    “Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content. ”

    AND FINALLY

    “These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known websites). It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles listed above will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit.”

    FROM YAHOO

    “What Yahoo! Considers Unwanted
    Some, but not all, examples of the more common types of pages that Yahoo! does not want include:”

    “Pages dedicated to directing the user to another page”

    “Pages using methods to artificially inflate search engine ranking”

    “The use of text that is hidden from the user”

    “Pages that give the search engine different content than what the end-user sees”

    Now, ALL the above back my statements here 100% and show your ways ARE spammy.

    What you also fail to grasp (among many things) is the fact that, those of us with common sense some Web knowledge NEVER need to resort to questionable tatics.

    ANY pro SEO that feels the need to resort to your ways is never going to last looooong term.

    BTW, the fact you take NO comment from Matt as the green light for spam is rather silly indeed…..but what else could I expect :)

  238. No one cares what you think.No one wants your SEO advice. Your pathetic PR4 web page didn’t even rank on page one for “Toronto web design” when I just checked. You’re a small fish in a small pond.

    Don’t get all uppity about being insulted. Dave started with the insults and you chose to join in with Dave of your own free will. Don’t blame others for the choices you have made.

    Even after getting penalized, I still get XX,XXX unique visitors a day. I don’t need traffic from this web log.

    The fact that you see traffic from this web log as significant shows just how little web traffic you are used to receiving.

    Have a nice day.

  239. Dave

    Yeah, yeah Lost Puppy, whatever you say. Yada yada yada :)

    Phil, here is some more from Google which AGAIN backs my statements;

    “Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as *doorway pages* or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you.”

    …and on their Report Spam page. Guess what some of the checkboxes are :)

    Hidden text or links
    Cloaked page
    Doorway pages

    Show me anyone who uses Hidden text or links, Cloaked page
    or Doorway pages and I’ll show you a spammer.

    It’s sad that you feel the need to con and resort to spam when you call yourself a SEO. It’s no wonder the whole industry is seen in such bad light!

    Feel free to have the last say. Let me guess, Search Engines do it and others do it so why can’t I? Well, Phil, many get away with all sorts of crimes and unethical practices but that is NEVER justification for doing the same for those of us with ethics and morals.

  240. Wow Dave, you are the Copy & Paste master. I’ve never seen anyone who could Copy & Paste as well as you. Your parents must be very proud of you.

    I could never dream of becoming as good as you at Copy & Paste. I guess I’ll just have to continue to think for myself until I learn the true Zen mastery of your Copy & Paste technique.

  241. Dave, when you said “Show me anyone who uses Hidden text or links, Cloaked page or Doorway pages and I’ll show you a spammer”, did you really mean to call Brett Tabke of WebMasterWorld a spammer?

    I mean, it is common knowledge that Brett uses cloaking at WMW.

    I guess I never knew that about old Brett; I’m glad you set me straight!

  242. No one cares what you think.No one wants your SEO advice. Your pathetic PR4 web page didn’t even rank on page one for “Toronto web design” when I just checked. You’re a small fish in a small pond.

    I’m also in the one industry where people can gain search engine ranking at the expense of their own customers, something all but two of the pages above me do.

    Since when is PR4 “pathetic”?

    I don’t feel insulted either. To be insulted, your opinion would have to be worth something. It’s not. Why? You’ve got nothing.

    So…as you would put it, have a nice day.

  243. Dave. I give up with you. You are so caught up in blind dogma. But I’ll try one more time:-

    FROM GOOGLE THEMSELVES

    “Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

    I’ll say it again since you seem to have trouble understanding plain English… GOOGLE SPECIFICALLY STATED THAT CLOAKING IS FINE TO REMOVE SESSION IDs FROM URLS – JUST FOR GOOGLE.

    Cloaking is fine for Google. SOME uses of cloaking is not. Have you got it now?

    “Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings”

    We are not discussing this. We are discussing whether or not things like cloaking, etc. are acceptable to Google. Go back up the thread and read the details again if you are confused.

    “Avoid hidden text or hidden links.”

    CSS and some javascript navigations use hidden links – links that are displayed upon a user’s action. Other parts of some webpages also hide text until a user does an action. Surely you are not suggesting that all of that stuff is unacceptable to Google? If you are not suggesting that that stuff is unacceptable, then you must agree that hidden links are fine, but that SOME uses of hidden links are not.

    “Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.”

    Read that quote again, notice the phrase “created just for search engines”, and then read the second doorway page method in my site and try and fault the method. That doorway page method creates doorway pages, but it doesn’t create them just for search engines. So doorway pages are fine, as long as they aren’t created just for search engines. Agreed?

    You see, you are misunderstanding Google’s guidelines. They are general guidelines, and not absolute. They should not be read as being absolute. There are perfectly good uses of all all the methods that are mentioned in the guidelines, and there are also spam uses of all of them. It is the spam uses that search engines find unacceptable, and not the perfectly good uses. Think about it Dave.

    I’ll give you an actual example of what I mean…

    I have a site that was discussed by Matt and myself. Every single page in the site does an instant auto-redirect – every page. All of the redirects are conditional, but they are there on every page. I actually mentioned them to Matt, and the site is still there in the index, and ranking fine. My auto-redirects are necessary for the functioning of the site – they aren’t “sneaky”, as Google puts it. You see, it isn’t a method in itself that’s spam – it’s certain uses that a method can be put to that’s considered to be spam. If you can grasp that, then you’ll have a much better understanding of things.

    I’ll tell you what to do. Since it’s difficult to ask search engine reps about these things, go to the forums that you mentioned (the out-and-out whitehat forums, such as IHY and HR) copy and paste the example of cloaking and auto-redirects that I gave you, and ask them what they think – spam or not spam. They will tell you the same things that I’m telling you. As a matter of fact, of those forums (HR) actually uses the example of cloaking that I gave. I don’t know if IHY does or not.

    Dave, we all know that hidden text, hidden links, auto-redirecting, cloaking, etc. is used for spamming. It’s when you say that ALL uses of those things are against search engine guidelines and considered to be spam, that you get it wrong. You won’t find any support for that view from the engines, or from the whitehat forums that you mentioned.

  244. addition:

    I should have said that, if you land in my site that I mentioned on any page except the index page, you WILL be instantly auto-redirected. Those auto-redirections have been seen by Matt, he didn’t object to them, and the site is fully indexed and ranking, in Google.

    It is an acceptable use of a method that is sometimes used for spamming. Therefore, not all instant auto-redirects are unacceptable. You seem to think they are, Dave, and you are very much mistaken.

  245. Dave said:
    Show me anyone who uses Hidden text or links, Cloaked page
    or Doorway pages and I’ll show you a spammer.

    How about Jill Whalen? She uses cloaking on her site – she serves different pages to search engines than to people. She’s a spammer – right?

    How about every site that uses hidden links in CSS navigation?

    How about every site that contains anything like a “click here to reveal the answer”? (hidden text)

    It’s a pity you didn’t include auto-redirects in your little list, because I would have said, how about Google?

    Brett Tabke has always said about cloaking, “if it’s good enough for the engines, it’s good enough for us”, but Brett isn’t known as an out-and-out whitehat, so he’s not really a good example.

  246. Dave

    Like I said, should I go with what Google states in writing, or believe a SEO site owner that links to PR sellers and pro spammers? (rhetorical). I have requested at least twice that you show me where Google backs your assumptions in writing……I guess it wont ever happen as it’s NOT in writing.

    Even I were to believe you, there is never a reason to game any SE in the methods you describe.

    Content is, always will be KING :)

    BTW. You didn’t SEO Lost Puppies site did you :)

  247. You’ll go with what you think is best, Dave. I tried, but I can’t help it if you refuse to see it.

    I’ve shown you evidence, and I’ve shown you evidence in Google’s writing – even in their guidelines – but you steadfastly perfer to go with blind dogma.

    No problem.

  248. Dave

    …..Didn’t think so, you state the guidelines are not absolute and one must read between the lines to get backing of your statements. “Creative reading” I believe it’s called.

    You say blind dogma I say common sense.

  249. Dave

    Anyway, despit your name calling and personal attacks I do agree to disagree.

    Till the next time we meet :)

  250. OK, now that that’s over…

    Do you really think that *every* Google penalty is the fault of the webmaster and that *none* of them are ever errors on the part of Google?

    Don’t you think that Google should provide a mechanism for communications about those potential issues? And by this I do not mean Matt. Matt is not scalable. Matt cannot police the entire Internet. Matt is cute and furry and loveable and he’s every SEO’s favorite teddy bear, but he’s the wrong solution for the problem.

    Google Reinclusion Requests are most often thrown into the bit bucket. That’s not “effective communication” by any reasonable standard. A canned automated response simply cannot qualify as effective communications.

    I got a telephone call the other day from Yahoo asking what I thought of their YPN service. I got a persons name and direct telephone number to address any questions, issues, or concerns that I might have. I asked the AdSense team (via email) if they had a telephone number people could use. They responded negatively.

    No company is an island. Without a robust, scalable, and effective means of accepting feedback and resolving issues, Google slowly grows more and more out of touch with the realities of the Internet, publishers, advertisers, and web users.

    And Matt, we still love you, even if you aren’t scalable.

    Or has Google Labs finally finished that human cloning project. ;)

  251. Dave

    RE “I asked the AdSense team (via email) if they had a telephone number people could use. They responded negatively.”

    Maybe they also believe you are not worth the time. I mean, you seem to abuse anyone that attempts to help…….glad to know this is now biting you on the butt :)

  252. Dave:

    I don’t see how you have helped anyone.

    You have been abusive, slow witted, arrogant, ignorant, and rude. You have even tried, unsuccessfully, to be condescending.

    So, unless you consider “giving us all someone to laugh at” to be “help”, you have been no more “help” than a foot fungus.

  253. Dave

    Oh, surprise surprise, more personal abuse and insults. Are you always this childish & predictable?

    RE: “I don’t see how you have helped anyone.”

    You probaly don’t see many things. Perhaps you cannot read English very well.

  254. Oh stop, you’ll make me cry.

    You’re not nearly as amusing as a doggie biscuit.

  255. Dave

    RE “You’re not nearly as amusing as a doggie biscuit”

    A “doggie biscuit” LOL! Are you for real?? ooooh such wit…..:)

  256. One of us is for real.

    The other one of us is a low-self-esteem basket-case who lacks the confidence to think for himself.

    I think it should worry you that you are having an argument with a dog, and losing.

    Do you often converse with canines? Do you often get schooled by them?

    So Dave, I noticed that you’re not posting the URL’s of your web site(s)…

  257. Dave

    RE “So Dave, I noticed that you’re not posting the URL’s of your web site(s)… ”

    No and I wont unless I come here looking for advice….hint hint. The reason I do not is down to me callling spammers spammers when I see them. Spammers are a very sensitive lot when called out and, as they have no/low morals, don’t think twice about harming legit businesses. Especially when they see the non-spam site is canning them in the SERPs :)

    Lost Puppy, I don’t know why you are so hot & bothered about me, all you had to do was say, “thanks, but I would like to hear from Matt” after I offered some advice. That’s not so hard is it?

  258. Perhaps I was offended that the opening salvos from you and Adam both involved accusing me of being a spammer who deserved being penalized or banned?

    My question was clearly stated as a question what to do AFTER you have looked your web site over. Your response was to look my website over.

    Well gee thank you Mr. Fancypants! I had never thought to look my web site over or read the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Actually, I did — and my post made that clear.

    That’s not “advice”. That’s not helpful. That’s abusive and rude. It is an attempt at being condescending towards a person whom you don’t even know. That displays both ignorance and arrogance, a nasty combination.

    And then you went on to display the entire sum of your extensive SEO knowledge by quoting from a web page about SEO that looks like it was written by Google’s legal team. That is a prima facie admission of lack of experience.

    You might consider reading more and posting less, at least until you learn a few things on your own — things that aren’t published by Google.

    You kicked me and I bit you. Does that seem so odd? You’re lucky I haven’t peed on your leg.

  259. Dave

    I give up on you lost puppy, you are rude, immature and arrogant.

    Ta ta!

  260. Coming from a person whose defining characteristics are rudeness, immaturity, and arrogance, I will take that as a compliment!

    You’re welcome!

  261. you state the guidelines are not absolute and one must read between the lines to get backing of your statements. “Creative reading” I believe it’s called.

    It’s not creative reading at all. If Google says “sneaky redirects”, they mean “sneaky redirects”, and not “redirects”, or “auto-redirects”. There’s nothing creative about reading what is written. But by “sneaky redirects” you choose to think they mean “auto-redirects” or just “redirects” – that’s creative reading.

    If you don’t think you are misunderstanding the guidelines, tell me which type of redirects are fine with Google, because they only refer to “sneaky” ones. Or perhaps you might like to explain what “sneaky redirects” actually means in their guidelines.

  262. Dave

    The statements below are ALL quite clear in these regards. This DOES apply to your method as you are ONLY doing it for SEO puposes.

    “Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.” ”

    “Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” ”

    BTW, the google guidelines atually read

    “Don’t employ cloaking or sneaky redirects. ”

    notice the OR “sneaky redirects”? Any redirecting that is done for no other reason that SEO, or showing a user something different to spiders is “sneaky”

    In regards to doorway pages the guidlines are again VERY clear, unless you apply your ‘creative reading’ agian.

    “Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content. ”

    ALL the above quoted Google guidelines describe your methods to-a-tee

  263. “Don’t employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.”

    notice the OR “sneaky redirects”? Any redirecting that is done for no other reason that SEO, or showing a user something different to spiders is “sneaky”

    I asked you a simple question, and you shrouded your answer in loads of irrelevant stuff, so I’ve quoted your answer to my question in order to continue rationally, and I’ve bolded the meat of your answer. Ok?

    I agree with you. Redirects that are done solely for seo purposes, or to take people to something completely different to what they expected, is sneaky, and against Goolge’s guidelines.

    You see how easy it is when you post details instead of sweeping statements, as I often requested?

    What it means is that auto-redirects that are not done for seo purposes and that do not take people to something that they didn’t expect, are fine, and not against Google’s guidelines. It means that auto-redirects are not against Google’s guidelines in themselves, but that some uses of them are against Google’s guidelines – as I said earlier. Are we agreed?

  264. I misunderstood some of your last post, Dave – I read it too quickly.

    Cloaking is not redirecting. The two methods are totally different – they are not the same thing. My post replied to your answer concerning redirects, and was nothing to do with cloaking.

    It’s better to discuss one thing at a time.

  265. Dave

    RE: “What it means is that auto-redirects that are not done for seo purposes and that do not take people to something that they didn’t expect, are fine, and not against Google’s guidelines. It means that auto-redirects are not against Google’s guidelines in themselves, but that some uses of them are against Google’s guidelines ”

    LOL! So YOU say. I think I will trust Google’s guidelines as they are written rather than believing a SEO that links to spammers and offers ‘shady’ advice. Nothin personal of course ;)

    It REALLY means what it actually sais (funny that), that is:
    “Make pages for users, not for search engines.”
    and
    “Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings”

    It’s funny how all your shady methods are summed up in these 2 statements from Google ;)

    Now, white hats know how to design a site so that these sort of shady tricks are NOT needed. Is really is that simple.

    RE: “Cloaking is not redirecting”

    errr, yes I know.

  266. Dave

    Now, perhaps you can back-up this statement of YOURS?

    “GOOGLE SPECIFICALLY STATED THAT CLOAKING IS FINE TO REMOVE SESSION IDs FROM URLS – JUST FOR GOOGLE.”

    All I can see that Google has stated spefically in regards to cloaking is;

    “Don’t employ cloaking..”

  267. Mark JJohnson

    Matt, Is it safe to assume that this site was specifially targeted and banned by Google for this practice and that this is the assesment of this site by Google.

    I am researching SEO myths and could use specific examples of “Banning” and official statements from Google validifying there(Google’s) position.

  268. I accept that you are unaware of Google’s statements concerning certain uses of cloaking, and I am not at liberty to show you anything. I’d kinda hoped you would take my word for it. But Matt is at liberty to correct anything that I’ve written that is wrong, and he hasn’t corrected anything.

    About the redirecting:-

    It is clear that you’ve never come across redirecting that is solely for people and not for search engines, or you wouldn’t have quoted those other lines from Google’s guidelines. I did describe one such use earlier in the thread, and I’m not going to waste time rewriting it for you. It’s a shame that you can’t understand, but it’s not my problem.

    I’ll tell you what, Dave. We’ll all understand Google’s guidelines in our own ways. Ok?

  269. Dave

    So you wont (more likley cannot) back up your statements. That sais it all IMO. Lip service only hey, hmm, me thinks I’ll pass.

    RE: “But Matt is at liberty to correct anything that I’ve written that is wrong, and he hasn’t corrected anything.”

    LOL! You are serious? I guess I will then take no corecction from Matt on my posts that I’m completly correct :)

  270. The only thing that I won’t (not can’t) backup with quotes is about the cloaking, but the fact that Google themselves cloak should be good enough for anyone to realise that some uses of cloaking are fine with them, and some uses are not.

    Now, Matt is hardly likely to to write that your interpretations of their guidelines are wrong when you are saying the things you are saying, is he? He is much more likely to say that all cloaking is wrong, and things like that, if that’s what they really think, isn’t he?

    You should think more, Dave.

  271. Dave

    The “only thing”, yeaaah right! You haven’t backed one of your claims with anything from Google.

    You ASSUME that cloaking is ok simply because Google do it??? Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t Google themselves create their SE algo. Now, I’m NOT saying cloaking is a no no for ALL, but without an exemption from Google’s themselves you ARE outside their guidelines as they are written. That my friend, means you are a blackhat SE spammer.

    Considering Google themseleves do NOT state why a site is banned, I think it is highly unlikley Matt would break that protocol. Again, this is common sense for most.

    Perhaps you should think less :)

  272. Dave

    RE: “He is much more likely to say that all cloaking is wrong, and things like that, if that’s what they really think, isn’t he?”

    …and the reason for that is pretty darn obvious considering that IS ALREADY written in their guidlines, i.e. “Don’t employ cloaking..”

    Hmmm, now what are they saying by that statement ;)

  273. >> 4- Since Google does NOT acknowlege Meta Keywords – they have absolutely no credibility in protesting HIDDEN TEXT!!
    Why not just allow Meta Keywords – but use the technology to evaluate their relevancy???? What is the problem – if Google would just compromise, many of these tactics would stop – Google is partly to blame.

  274. sorry my last post seems to have been truncated …

    My point being is I do not see how ‘hidden’ keywords can be regarded as META keywords ??? Hidden text DOES inflate your KWD of your page, so it IS SPAMMING …

    In order to be a META tag, it would have to be defined as so, and have not seen meta tags yet that appear ON A PAGE?

    I do not understand where you were going with this point SE Web (if it even was a point)??

  275. osu9400

    Underscores or dashes in URLS? Some made mention of this eariler. Is there a preferred character to use? My HTML editor uses underscores and I hope Google doesn’t see a dash as a higher value separator.

  276. I am certain I was busted for the same thing recently, but I have no way to determine.

    I had someone maintaining the site for me and I was ignorant about SEO techniques. I have since taken it upon myself to maintain the site as well as optimizing for SEO. My site poses a challenge since there is very little textual content on the homa page. I reluctantly added some to help.

    If anyone is still reading this thread I would appreciate you taking a look at my site and letting me know your SEO thoughts. I am going to follow Matt’s suggestion and re-petition for inclusion.

    http://www.gentryfoto.com

    I can take your comments – good or bad!!

    Thanks,
    Joey

  277. Sorry, Dave – I didn’t realise that English isn’t your first language. I should have written much more clearly about what is and isn’t in Google’s guidelines, and I’m sorry that you still don’t understand them. However, it’s a bit late in the thread to start now.

    You can change the subject and call me a blackhat spammer if you like. Many people do, and I don’t mind at all. But how you made the giant leap from me saying that certain types of cloaking, etc. isn’t spam, to me actually spamming is beyond me. In fact it’s beyond anyone who has even half a brain – of course, that clearly doesn’t include you, Dave. You just don’t make any sense at all. You’re not Clint in disguise, are you?

  278. Hi. I’ve just been searching the blog for references to hidden text and ensuing penalties; this seemed to be the most relevant post I came across.

    We have a client who is exasperated that they can’t out-perform their main competitor for their top keywords, even though the competitor’s site is mainly Flash (certainly the homepage is: http://www.skirmishpaintballgames.co.uk).

    It was only when I dragged across the page and saw some odd highlighting, followed by a View Source, that I identified the problem – the homepages is absolutely stuffed with miniscule text in the same colour as the background.

    I then explained to the client why this works but is a very bad idea in the long term. Their question, of course, was how long? I had to confess I don’t know the answer – this site has been running like this all year and as yet, Google hasn’t penalised it at all for flagrant disregard of its Quality Guidelines. It seems a little harsh on those playing by the rules and putting in lots of hard work when they see keyword-stuffed sites out-performing them.

    Is the exclusion of sites for keyword stuffing completely automatic or is there a manual process too?

  279. Ian,

    It’s not easy to detect hiddent text reliably using non-OCR algorithms. Take a look at this OCR-based report.

    http://www.detect-hidden-text.com/SeoTools/t/165c1b6e-25b7-4d31-bd2c-c63e4b22a431/.aspx

    The detction works quite well, but it’s computationally expensive. This is why search engines only detect *some* hidden text.

    Alex

  280. Alex, thanks very much for that link, I hadn’t seen it before, nice work!

    The essence of what you are saying then, is effectively that some spam is “acceptable” (or rather, gets under the radar) depending on its implementation.

    Presumably search engines can only remove sites perpetrating this kind of spam through a manual procedure? Which in turn begs the question, what resources do they have to devote to this and what sort of timescale or response should we expect (if any)?

    Think I’ll get over to Matt’s Grabbag post to pose the question! :)

  281. Matt,

    you don’t have to put this is online, but I really need to get it out …

    GWEN, YOU’RE A LYING BITCH !!

    aah, that feels better ;-)

  282. Google: setup account on Google, added website http://www.ethtekco.com, uploaded a Site Map to Google, Verified site with Google’s Meta code, months later not on Google index. Message on Google account “No pages from your site are currently included in Google’s index. The site uses frames. Site disappeared from My Account, re-entered it again and re-uploaded the Site Map and the Google Meta Code, still not on Google. We have 4 other business websites which have been on the web for several years and none of them have page ranking.

    What is the secret to getting indexed on Google.

    Thank you.

  283. shawn

    The best advice is DONT make a page for a search engine make a page for the visitor and content is always king. you can try every white hat or black hat trick there is but the guy that just writes good articles that revolves around his keywords and devlopes his site to relay good information about a service or product will usually beat you in the SEO race.

    I see so many websites that you can tell 2 seconds after reading there content, that its not content its all about trying to rank high with keywords. Dont get me wrong keywords and content go hand in hand but if you write your copy for your visitors with the search engines as an afterthought you will get better results.

    Shawn

  284. Shawn,

    Did you look at the website – http://www.ethtekco.com, it certainly was not written with any search engine in mind. The website template was purchased readymade and all we did was enter the text and change the logo. Yahoo had no problem indexing it within 3 days and its still on Yahoo. Google is a big problem for business websites (my opinion) not indexing, not page ranking etc.

    Thank you for your help.

  285. Hidden text is till happening even today and also even after so much has been written about the practice.

  286. Busted…she might not have been aware of the spammy hidden text (if the site was designed by someone else) or that it’s no-no to do something like that.

  287. Busted :)
    Easy to blame others, hard to blame yourself..

    Thanks

  288. I’ve heard of blocking such pages, but this is first time I see someone really be banned off the Google.

  289. Matt…I think your awesome. I thank God for the information you’ve provided. I have recently been warned taht my site will be removed for a month for hidden text ..text that I did not know was there..honest. I would never intentionally violate Google guidlines…the relationship means to much for me. I was hopeing since you are head of the Google webspam team that you would give me a chance and not remove my site. I am really a beginner and not that savvy ..I learn everything I can from such blogs and SEO’s…Are you a real person? Ive searched for you picture just to see. I just really believe that Google should just give us like 24 hours to fix the problem after a warning and not just drop us. Poeple like mysel depend on our relationship with Google for our living…Its that extreme…Can you help…? A month can really hurt….

  290. If you were to use hidden links in a small way – e.g 10 key words or so at the very head of a page like Raleigh.co.uk and diamondback.co.uk. (competitiors within the UK) Will this be classed as spam?
    I hate companies that cannot see the benefit of true legal sites and that try to cheat acurate search results.
    These webmasters should get a penalty of a 6 month ban for that domain.
    We have repoted the guys above and yet nothing. They are even increasing their spam as we speak.

  291. Jason Benesch

    Hey Matt,

    I am a webmaster/designer for several sites/blogs and recently got penalized by google for hidden text:(

    I have been doing a lot of research on it and I am confused.

    First of all, I agree, the site absolutely had hidden text.

    But the hidden text was not to increase my seo, or trick google into getting a better page rank. It was not a seo tactic but rather a design tactic. I am a huge fan of csszengarden and am fascinated by css. My sites are very eyecatching and I try very hard to follow every web standard and google guideline when making my designs. My hidden text was and still is identical to csszengarden tactics:

    –HTML–

    Title of Site

    –CSS–

    #title {
    text-indent:-9999em;
    background: transparent url(images/path) top left no-repeat;
    }

    After getting penalized I was stuned because I thought I was following proper standards. I did some more research and also found on another one of my favorite blogs:

    http://ma.tt

    If you look at his header, he has the same identical hidden text and yet he still remains a high page rank.

    I would love any input you had on the issue? As far as my site goes, I have since removed the hidden text and inserted a blank space, removed the text-indent from the stylesheet and resubmitted the site to Google.

    Again, any input on the subject would be wonderful.

    Thanks so much for all of your advice and everything you do. I know you don’t get paid for any of this;)

    Jason

  292. Wow!
    I never imagined Google could catch that……
    I will never ever even think of putting spam on my website.

  293. Agreed, people won’t order anything from a site that has hidden text, so do google rank

  294. I thank God for the information you’ve provided. I have recently been warned taht my site will be removed for a month for hidden text ..text that I did not know was there..honest. I would never intentionally violate Google guidlines.

  295. Hi,

    2 weeks ago i have received after much efforts the message ” manual spam action was revoked” which made me very happy and i start working hard . 1 week all was fine and traffic started to return at normal but after 1 week all goes down and now is worst then was with penalty . I just added lots of unique content to my blog so i don’t understand why is happening this ?

    Thanks. Sorry for my bad english

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