Confirming a penalty

Note: Remember my disclaimer that this is my personal site and that the views expressed here are not those of my employer? For this post, I am speaking in my official capacity as head of the webspam group at Google, and I’ve had this post reviewed by Google’s lawyers.

Usually, Google doesn’t confirm or deny whether a company has been removed from our index. I started that precedent several years ago when a reporter asked whether a particular company was banned from Google for spamming, and I declined to confirm a spam penalty. That precedent has worked well at times in the past, but lately I’ve found that it can assist webmasters to give concrete examples of violations of our quality guidelines.

This site is also useful because it allows me to give webmasters and site owners more information. For example, it lets me remind site owners of our search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines, which states that “you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire.” That means that if an SEO were to build doorway pages directly on your own domain, your site could be removed from Google as a result. For that reason, it’s important to do your research and to understand what actions an SEO company will be performing for you.

I was recently reading about a lawsuit involving Traffic Power, an SEO company. If you’d like some background, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about Traffic Power a few months ago. You can also read more from the Better Business Bureau, which has received over 100 complaints about Traffic Power in the last 36 months.

According to this post, Traffic Power is suing someone and asserting among other things

“The false and defamatory information includes but is not limited to the following:

a. Claims that the search engine giant Google has banned and is banning from its search engine listings websites of clients because of the search engine optimization strategies used by Plaintiff.

b. Claims that clients of run the risk of being banned from Google search engine listings if they use services;”

I’d like to address those two points. I can confirm that Google has removed and domains promoted by Traffic Power from our index because of search engine optimization techniques that violated our webmaster guidelines at If you are a client or former client of Traffic Power and your site is not in Google, please see my previous advice on requesting reinclusion into Google’s index to learn what steps to take if you would like to be reincluded in Google’s index.

Note: I’m turning off comments for this post. There are other places that are more appropriate places for discussing this issue.