SEO Advice: check your own site

Remember a while ago when I said that you should check your website for spam before doing a reinclusion request? In general, any time you think Google may be dropping your site, it’s a good idea to check for spam on your own site. For example, a site called “The People’s Cube” recently posted an open letter to Google at because was no longer in Google’s index. Titled “Google Purges The People’s Cube Worldwide”, it begins “Dear comrades at Google” contains rhetoric like this:

We suspect it is also a deliberate removal – much in the spirit of 1984-style historical revisionism – removal of a “people’s enemy” from life and history. …. We can only think of three reasons for this:

1. Google is retaliating against sites that ridiculed its Google China project.
2. Google has begun to implement its Google China policies in the rest of the free world.
3. A left-leaning Google employee who’s got access to the database was suffering a nervous breakdown over the mockery of Marxism on our site, and so he or she dastardly removed/blocked The People’s Cube, hoping to “improve” the public discourse by silencing the competition.

You tell me which one it is.

Frankly, I could care less if your site is about neo-anti-Marxist disestablishmentarianism. I don’t care if your site is for cat people or dog people, or if you favor big-endian bytes or little-endian bytes. I don’t care whether your site is conservative, liberal, or Pastafarian. I care about spam: hidden text, hidden links, scamming links, cloaking, sneaky redirects, etc. So I’m going to go with reason #4: you had spam (specifically hidden text) on your pages. When Googlebot visited on Sun, 05 Mar 2006 12:17:12 GMT, the page looked fine to users, but had hidden text. Here’s what it looked like with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) on:

With CSS on

But if you turn off Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), you see stuff like this at the bottom of the page:

With CSS off

My answer to The People’s Cube is to make sure that all the hidden text/links are gone, and then do a reinclusion request. And don’t think I didn’t notice the cross-linking with sites such as and and that still have text/links hidden via CSS. Those sites should be cleaned up as well. I don’t know why was hiding links to sites like, which still has hidden text via CSS that says

Miami Beach Real Estate Florida Miami Real Estate Florida Investment Property Miami Beach Florida Condominiums Miami Florida Apartment Buildings For Sale Miami Florida Miami Beach Florida Apartment Buildings Miami Florida Apartment Buildings Miami Beach Florida MLS Search Miami Florida MLS Search Miami Beach Florida Lofts for Sale Miami Beach Waterfront Homes Miami Condos for Sale Miami Beach Florida Investment Property Miami houses condominiums preconstruction in Miami for vacation, retirement or investment, Miami Beach Real Estate Florida Miami Real Estate Florida Miami Beach Real Estate Florida Miami Real Estate Florida Miami Beach Real Estate Florida Miami Real Estate Florida Investment Property Miami Beach Florida Condominiums Miami Florida Apartment Buildings For Sale Miami Florida Miami Beach Florida Apartment Buildings Miami Florida Apartment Buildings Miami Beach Florida MLS Search Miami Florida MLS Search Miami Beach Florida Lofts for Sale Miami Beach Waterfront Homes Miami Condos for Sale Miami Beach Florida Investment Property Miami houses condominiums preconstruction in Miami for vacation, retirement or investment, Miami Beach Real Estate Florida Miami Real Estate Florida Miami Beach Real Estate Florida Miami Real Estate Florida

but that’s the sort of reason why you’d be removed from Google, not because of what was saying.

Update: Anyone got an account over at little green footballs so I can go and debunk over there? Looks like registration is closed at lgf. Sigh.

193 Responses to SEO Advice: check your own site (Leave a comment)

  1. Wow that is incredible….. What idiots

  2. Well spit, I believe there’s a few thousand anti-goo SEOs with a considerable amount of egg on their faces right now. All that mindless raving about the Big G being the digital equivalent of Albert DeSalvo looks a little silly I’d say.

    Yeah, “silly,” that would be the best word, I’d say. And maybe “stupid” would apply also.

    …[horse-laugh, horse-laugh, horse-laugh]…

  3. you mean i forgot that page … DAM ..

    DaveN 😉

  4. The person who wrote that may not even know that is there. They may have hired an SEO that did this without telling them nor the consequences of doing it. It seems quite obvious to SEO geeks like us but most people have no idea about that kind of stuff.

  5. Doesn’t linking to such pages reduce your page or trust rank?

  6. Oooh busted!

  7. And I was trying to get some work done today, too..

  8. isn’t that work? If not, it should be! I think we all enjoy when you publically out a spammer like that.

  9. Any publicity is good publicity.

    They will probably have more traffic in the next week than they’ve had in the last two months.

    Very dull and juvenile site.

    Difficult to embarass dullards like these.

  10. Wow… can I just say, how can anyone think you (Google as a whole) wouldn’t catch this stuff on a re-inclusion request!

    Thanks for sharing Matt… this gave me a great chuckle on a rather hetic Monday! 🙂

  11. I guess it counts, Ryan. I keep thinking that if someone should be able to reconstruct the right path forward (check your site, find the spam, remove the spam, do a reinclusion request), then there’s no need for me to restate things.

  12. from what I’m hearing today.. if we let search engines web run Google, it would be filled with nothing BUT spam sites, because apparantley sites that have relevant, on-topic content, who only use their key words 1 or 2 times can’t be at all relevant to the search results right?

    If your site really is relevant, and useful, and related to “widgets”.. wait a year, it’ll be up there near the top for widgets? Why? because if it’s useful and good, and relevant.. people will link to it, and google will spider it, and people will come, and they’ll tell people about it.

    Save for ingenious marketing (like red bull or Apple), this is how sites grow, and how they eventually come to rank higher for certain keywords.

    Removing a site is not depriving users of “relevant” information.. it’s depriving users of spam. It’s depriving users of content that wasn’t relative enough to be there in the first place, so it had to cheat. Unless you’re in politics, cheaters never win.

    There are 3 facts that you seem to miss:
    1.) you don’t have a right to be in a search engine
    2.) It’s not up to you to determine what keywords your site is relevant for. It’s up to your visitors.
    3.) Google is a visitor.

    Expanding on point 3… while google may be a visitor, they don’t buy stuff or click ads… so why spend too much time worrying about them.

  13. And I was trying to get some work done today, too..
    I think you did.

    I’m not surprised with Search Engines Web’s comment. He/she seems to favor Spam.

    Personally I applaud all you are trying to do to rid the SERPS of Spam. I know it is a gigantic task but every little bit helps.

    In reality non of us who try to abide by the guidelines will ever be satisfied when we see Spammy sites in the SERPS. At least Google (You) are working on the problem.

  14. Matt, I think SEW has a point there. I think you’ll find that there are a lot of us out there who are gamin’ the engines a bit just to handle problems like synonyms and plurals. It’s tough to make a page that ranks well for “wedding registry” AND “wedding registries” AND “bridal registries” without the page either (a) looking like a silly repetitive mess or (b) cloaking so that only the spiders see the silly repetitive mess or (c) cloaking and delivering half a dozen versions of the page with the different synonyms, singular/plural etc. in each (but beware the anger of the dup content monster!).

    I **DREAM** of a world where the webmaster can tell the search engines what a page is really about (e.g. via keywords in the meta tags), and not have to play this game. Notice I’m not talking about artificially changing my ranking for the page…I’m just talking about helping the spider know what my page is really about.

    I’d be nearly as happy if the search engines could handle & understand synonyms, plurals etc. well….but I do think that this is more complex than a simple thesaurus lookup in real applications.

    HOWEVER, what if you generally trusted our keywords in the metatags, and ran a sanity check with a little thesaurus-lookup algorithm to see if we were being naughty…to quote Louis, what a wonderful world it would be….


  15. [quote]The People’s Cube is a business corporation selling products on the Internet. A drop in traffic, caused by a malicious tempering with search results, has affected sales and that gives us grounds for you-know-what. [/quote]

    Very juvenile!

    They must be part of the other crowd search king something or another that believes Google’s search results are not Googles.

    They surely do not read Matts blog or other well known SEO sites or they would have knows the Great Inigo would wield his mighty sword and smite them down with one blow!

  16. Wish I’d done more research before I reported this one to TW’s Rumours & Scandal today but it was too precious to pass up.and has had me in stitches for hours.

    Thanks for the explanation Matt, I’ll put my Google Voodoo doll back in my desk drawer and stop poking it with hat pins now.

  17. Matt Cutts Please Please Please, tell me what is wrong in my site.

    Website has been online and fine for 5 years till March 8th 2006. And from March 8th onwards I’m getting 0 traffic from Google.

    My website is recommend on

    Note: You can get the domain from my email, which I used to post this comment.

  18. Have you ever noticed the text in the gray color toward the bottom of websites such as It’s obviously not intended for the regular website user as its very small and can hardly be red w/o highlighting or cut and pasting – it seems to be for search bots.. Is this type of text/SEO allowed? I’ve never included it on my websites because I thought that it was too much like spamming, yet i see a legitimate (and publicly traded) company doing it.. Is it allowed? Tip-toeing the line?

  19. Just remember, I was the first to point out this was not Google censorship!! Over at threadwatch nonetheless. They *do* have numerous problems (such as a horrible canonical URL issue) and if an SEO is involved at all they should have their name and address associated with all this, imho. I think we need to get some sort of body to certify us as legit because all I see are quacks who make more money than I do simply by scamming.

    PS, I’m the xMule guy from PubCon, heh.

  20. Hi,

    I have an account over there, let me know if you want to use it or have me post something. There is sort of a retraction, but the OP is still posting justifications there.


  21. Hello Matt,

    I know the following is not exactly spam but please see the second listing in the SERPs for ‘quotable quotes’. It is a dead domain which matches the keyword exactly.

    Shouldn’t this kind of stuff be getting pruned out automatically?

  22. Looks like you answered my question – Google has no problem finding CSS spam.

    Keep up the Good Work !

  23. I am in a field where spam techniques dominate the industry. I work hard to bring quality content to my visitors, and am glad to see that you guys are working hard to do the right thing the to protect the integrity of the internet. I obviously do not expect you to include my url in this post, but am including it to let you know that I appreciate your help within all industries.

  24. I see over at google groups they are posting messages that this is Google censorship …. they have been directed here.

  25. had been shutdown since early 2003 and yet there it remained, number one, for the search ‘xmule’ until the Big Daddy update this year… So the answer is “Yes, but please don’t hold your breath.”

  26. Another black hat down. Hooray! I wonder which forum advised that approach…..hey DaveN 🙂

  27. VJ, I’m pretty sure dead URL’s are removed automatically after time.

  28. Well, at least these guys are lucky enough to know why they got banned. There are still plenty good and honest sites out there that have been removed from the SERPS or index, where the webmasters are not that lucky like the folks at The people’s cube.

    When are you offering honest webmasters an option to inquire why sites no longer show up in the SERPS for keywords they were ranking well before (before Big Daddy/Jagger)?

    While the case above looks good for the publicity level of this blog, there are still webmasters trying to make a living off the Internet and that are working hard just to see being let down by the search engine they supported and promoted for years. They do not have a chance to correct eventually what took their site down.


  29. Outstanding work Mr. Cutts and much appreciated! If only there were more of you over there, eager to explain and instruct and clarify and able to do so promptly and with excellent, excellent visuals *and* wit!!

    I wonder, did thePeoplesCube people get a webmaster warning email about the error of their ways back on the fifth before their traffic got socked and they lost their revenue stream for the next N months? If so, this would be an excellent time to highlight it and show how Google is following up on that program.

    I have to say I don’t follow their cause but appreciate their cynicial humor. It almost seems like their “call for help” was coated in a bit too much sarcasm and cynicism though… alot of people didn’t catch it.

  30. Good post Matt, gave me a good laugh. Talk about irony.

  31. I just looked over at little green footballs. I noticed they use Google as their site search. Ouch…

  32. Why am I not surprised. Apparently elementary research and inability to see one’s own acts as possibly wrong still seem to be too much for our absurdist friends on the right. How nice to see them completely embarrass themselves. Seems to be a movement of some type. The only sad thing is that even though their tricks were exposed, all those other people who posted on this will probably never hear about the end of the story, which was the real story. Very much like the recent bmw thing.

    I’m starting to lose interest in spending time following the increasingly ridiculous search engine forum babble, who seem about as unable to do any research or thinking for themselves as our friends on the right.

  33. Once you start down the path to the dark side, forever will it dominate your destiny. If the site was actually clean, then they should first not panic that they were removed, but look for something basic or assume some network hiccup. In this case, they *were* removed because they were unclean.

    Messes tend to be hard to clean up in some cases too. Depends on just how much you sabotaged your future for cheating today. In some industries, that doesn’t much matter. I just wish the SEs could get it all – but that will not happen any time soon.

    Matt’s got his job for life.


  34. Good job Matt! That was actually a good CSS trick. I’m amazed at what people would do just to get a good rank.

  35. Please advise us Matt to put down our coffee before reading posts like this – it ain’t good for keyboards when we burst out laughing …

  36. Durka durka, muhamad jihad.

    By the way, what idiotic thing did SEW say THIS time? I don’t see it, but I’m sure it’s good.

    Keep it up, Matt. The more people like this that you piss off, the more you know you’re doing something right.

  37. As an experiment last year, I put myself in a position where I got a lot of request to do site reviews from newbies.

    After the year passed, I’d seen pretty much every amateur seo trick in the book. They are almost all transparent to any text/console mode browser, that’s how I found most of them. Lynx is especially useful by the way Matt, if you haven’t played it yet. It reveals keyword stuffed alt tags beautifully, as well as of course all the css stuff it doesn’t render. elinks and w3m are also very nice.

    If you’ve got your goobuntu box together yet these are standard apt-get installs.

    Nice going, this one raised a smile, good stuff.

  38. h2 is right. Try modding a directory site and making sure it’s of any quality. You’ll see tricks that will make you want to go postal, they’re so lame.

  39. This seems like a difinitive answer to the lingering question as to whether Googlebot actually detects CSS Spam.


  40. Oh! Case Closed! Clearly we have found a possible reason and since we all know Google “does no evil” well then it must be kosher. I mean its not like they pass of Al Qaeda sites as news sites? Okay, well its not like they’re helping out governments that censor political dissent? Well, at least they cooperate with our government’s legal requests, right?
    Or maybe they do what ever the frick they feel like doing, telling us that that’s whats good and right, all the while coming up with convenient excuses to nail those they disagree with.

    Drink the Kool-Aid ladies. Today’s flavor is Google-rific!

  41. What if your site is penalized, but you can not figure out the reason…Matt I have tried to reach you about this, but have yet to get over the wall you have constructed to limit your access… I wish Google had a good way of just telling me what I am doing that is making it so mad that it ranks me 50th for my sites own unique name…??? Please help…

  42. Actually, I think that the links are from the left sidebar (going from recollection), and therefore not hidden. Still, the terms are overboard. BTW, Charles Johnson at LGF has added a link to this page on his own front page. He’s good like that. De-bunked.

  43. Excellent – I think you are saying there I don’t need to sell http://www.neo-anti-Marxist ?

  44. “I think we need to get some sort of body to certify us as legit because all I see are quacks who make more money than I do simply by scamming.”

    I wonder which quacks and cut-throats would be best suited for certifying SEOs. This reminds me of the old calls for SEO ethics — which originated with some of the least ethical people in the industry.

    Sorry — I prefer the evil I know to the evils that are waiting to be bred and born.

  45. The only thing I would want to point out with what Matt/Google found is that if you take a hard look at some of the major markets for real estate, you will find a lot more than that.

    Everything from hidden links/text, dummy sites set up talking about widgets but hide these real estate rich keywords in the sites CSS files and use hidden links pointing back to the main real estate site. IMO if Google wants to find spam, look no further than in major real estate markets and several of the top ranking sites.

    Spam in major real estate markets is as bad as the porn industry. Nice catch but it would be nice to see all get treated equally

  46. They were not spamming, but trying to.
    I really like to see some major league high quality spamming next time. This one was too cheap (As were the webmaster’s commets).

    At least we got to know who is Matt’s employer…it was about time.

  47. shame looks like a cool site. You going to give them a repreive? Must be the ultimate humiliation taken down by the guy from google.

  48. Very interesting

  49. Neaver thought of Google as Marxist ?

    Like the Tank logo though ime sure that Google could afford some more recent Tanks.

    And it would piss Larry ellison off

  50. Apparently these guys did not hear about, and Ayala issues.

    I have seen some posts about “Things I Hate About Google” posts and some included Matt, which is not surprising especially if one’s site has been used as an example of bad optimization practice. I agree with Matt’s reasoning though.

    Maybe I should start a compilation about “50 Reasons Why Google Is Always Wrong”.

    1) If you ban a site for a bad practice, they will say you are too tough.
    2) If you promote their site as one bad example black hat SEO, they say you are promoting it the wrong way…

    .. and so on.

  51. Matt,

    A question to clarify my unstanding of your post.

    You say that the site in question will basicly never get reincluded unless either the links to external sites are gone or that the external sites clean up their act as well.

    My question is then, how is the external site treated, If I for example link in my blog (se URI) to a company site that uses SPAM techniques and they get caught by google, will that automaticly mean that my site also gets removed for linking to them? Or is it just a one way street, i.e. its not until I have done something bad thats the check on the external sites kick in?

    I hope that I’m not punished if a site that I’m linking to decides to do something bad, or am I thinking wrong?

    I know for example that the site I’m linking to in this post shows up in some datacenters, while not showing up when results are served from others – but always seems to be included in results from big daddy. Never figured out if thats punishment due to something in my blog or glitch in some datacenters that miss our data on the exact same search.


  52. I’ve suggested this to G a couple of years ago, but I’ll suggest it again in response to this (isn’t this what the Mozilla crawler is???)

    Why don’t you guys just run a stripped copy of firefox with the text drawing code captured to a stream and the page clipping off. Crawl the web, render each page with this stripped Firefox to determine what is actually drawn when the page is rendered. Words that appear in the page HTML that aren’t rendered by the browser are hidden.

    i.e. you generate a list of words that are hidden on the page.
    When you hit a situation like this, you review the hidden word list and either flag it as hidden spam, or meta word ham. If flagged as spam, that site is filtered against those keywords.

    Or even do that last step automatically by comparing onpage text to hidden text to see if it’s ‘probably’ ham or spam.

    i.e. Just fix the problem, instead of this confrontational approach all the time, which IMHO isn’t a good thing, whatever the SEO toadies tell you.

    Also contrast:
    “Update: Anyone got an account over at little green footballs so I can go and debunk over there? Looks like registration is closed at lgf. Sigh.”
    “Comments are closed”, M Cutts.

  53. This also demonstrates how Google’s reputation has taken a masive hit of late. Everyone (including me) was so ready to jump and attack them over this. I live in Mountain View, and have never been a fan of Google. Way too full of themselves. And now with the China thing ? They will have a tough road to ho with the comming of MS search. I worked for Inktomi who was the Search King prior to Google. Same thing with them. Too full of themselves, someone would ask “what about Google?” and they would say “who?” and the whole room would burst into laughter. now they are no more (bought by yahoo).

  54. I’m all for cutting out spam and dislike hidden text as much as the next person but here’s a question.

    Quite often I use a technique called Fahrner Image Replacement to have stylised text images instead of regular text. This technique though hides text for when CSS is turned off and also helps screen readers etc. see ( Disclaimer: I’ve no connection to stopdesign at all, just a great article.

    So does Google penalise sites that employ Fahrner Image Replacement and similar techniques?



  55. How does image replacement in terms of accessabilty and document semantics figure in this?

    For instance, I might create a page and use a background image on an H1 element and use padding to obscure the text in the h1 element. This is best described here

    The reason is not for keyword spamming, but solves the problem whereby someone with a CSS enable browser will see a graphically enhanced site as a designer intended – someone with a screen reader will get a semantic document, without having to create a separate document.

    If the letter of the law governing spam onweb pages was applied to the nth degree, surely this could be innocently classed as keyword spamming? If the text in the repaced element is relevant to the document then is this acceptable?


  56. Wow, their response is hilarious – I especially like the line about “From their tone one might think that I sided with a murderous dictatorship…” – uh, hello?? You were the ones bitching about it in the first place!

  57. Nothing is missed from Matt Cutts eyes 🙂

  58. Matt,

    Is there some way that a webmaster can get advice from google (in general or a googler in particular) as to why a site might not be performing as well as it might?

    Much like [nsusa] said above, my corp site used to be high in the rankings, but was employing evil practices and might have been punished when jagger was released – however, coincidentally, the registrant of the domian was changed at the same time as the jagger release. Since the drop, we have cleaned up the act and have been working to get back into a position to bring us some traffic.

    I (we) have been trying to keep within the webmaster guidelines, but our results are nowhere near what they used to be.

  59. “I hope that I’m not punished if a site that I’m linking to decides to do something bad, or am I thinking wrong?”

    I’m sorry, but it has been a fundamental plank of Googles algo since Backrub that links are votes. If you vote for a slimeball, what do YOU think will happen?

    Going off at a slight tangent here, but I do find it irritating when people post stuff like this (sorry Kaj, this is not intended as a strictly personal dig; this is the straw that broke the camels back). Understanding SEO really isn’t that hard, once you’ve comprehended a few concepts, and learned to think like an SE. I find it mildly depressing that SO many alleged SEOs seem to show no interest in the second part.

  60. Haha nice one. You should put “spam example of the week” in a seperate category within this blog Matt. Its funny to read.

  61. I am 60 this year, and still a dreamer, Part of me still dreams of a level playing field. I am realy not sure why I followed the link here, but o find someone who had knocked down one of the bumps (in the playing field) is a pleasant reward for coming.
    I have heard the Name Mat Cutts mentioned lots of times (in dispatches) but to be truthful I merely scan the dispatches for the odd bits that I do understand – Thankyou for your clarity, I fully understood who did what, and why action was taken.

    I enjoyed my visit, and am a little wiser, If thats hitting your target, then you can mark me down as a ” Bullseye”

  62. Thanks for clarifying that the algorithm takes care of spam sites Matt.

  63. lol…damn idiots.

    >> The person who wrote that may not even know that is there.

    So you assume ignorance and claim they’re innocent? Good grief. Assuming nothing — whether they did it knowngly or some black hat SEO wannabe they hired snuck in some hidden text — fact remains theidiotscube is spamming and deserved to be banned.

    Not removing obvious spam before filing a reinclusion request redefines “clueless.”

  64. wow, the people are LGF really are bitter and don’t like you. It’s funny that they try to defend their links, but not all the hidden text… and they’re pretty much comparing Matt to McCarthy..

    Goodwins Law to occur in 3….2….

  65. Hey Matt, is it true that Google can’t distinguish original content from dups?

    I’ve done a couple of tests in Google Search and I’ve spot many times the original sites not even appearing on the results, but on the similarities.

    What do you recommend to go around this obvious search flaw? DMCA reports?


  66. damn, I sure wouldn’t want to be whatever its called) right now, I’d be feeling pretty silly!

  67. This might be slightly offtopic, but at the same time might cause a Google ban in the first place, so there it is:
    What can we do when pages are copied by sites like,, etc…? They make an exact copy of the page and change the links so it’s exactly as the website were duplicated.
    I just noticed today that one of my pages was ‘archived’ by hanzoweb and the link is
    I checked the source code and it seems there is no robots.txt link, no rel=nofollow and the javascript added to the end of the page (the same as they use on transforms all links, so you can surf my site without ever leaving hanzoweb.
    It just pisses me off knowing that I could have problems with Google because of that.

    PS: on another note, some pages from my website have a PR one day (up to 4, depending on the page), then 0 the next, then a PR again, then 0, then again… Why’s that?

  68. Mac,
    100% right.

    Google can’t distinguish original content from dups.

    In my website 30,000 registered members have posted 125,000 comments on topics / articles.

    My website is recommend on

    Google removed all the pages of my site on March 8th.

    My site doesn’t make enough money to employ people and file DMCA. In fact MANY sites link back to my website (Source: MY SITE). Google ranks them on top, and my site is no where to be found.

  69. I appreciate your work you do on reducing the spam in the Google Index.

    But what it happening to Google? The DCs are not synchronized, lots of old “rubbish” in the index (e.g. pages which don’t exist since 6 months or more), incompletely indexed sites (no, I am not talking of spam pages)

    Bottom line: very embarrassing 🙁

  70. I’ll give one example:
    Search for easter eggs in Google.

    Junk Listings include which are NOT related to the search:
    * DVD Review – Page Not Found!
    * Easter on the Net – Easter Eggs
    * How To Decorate Easter Eggs
    * Google
    * – How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs (pysanky)

    Now search for Windows XP easter eggs in Google:
    * 2nd listing: Its offering $50 to find easter eggs, LOL – We are LOOKING for easter egg, not trying to find a site which rewards us to find one!
    * Same for 3rd listing.
    * 6th 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th are not at all related to even Windows XP!

    The site which actually contains the information and is recommend on and from which many sites “other” sites have COPIED the information are getting ranked on top.

    Search in Yahoo, you will know the difference.

    I can give you 100+ examples.

  71. Rahul, I bet they had a good reason. What’s your site? I doubt they removed it just for duplicate content. … also, number of commentors and links from microsoft are irrelevant…

    Yeah Chris, I’m seeing URLs that point to nowhere in a lot of the results too. I’ve submitted a few of them via spam reports.

    another one I’m seeing is shows up for a lot of smaller search terms, and the only relevant keywords on the site are the ads…. and they’re google ads. Is google now using the content of it’s own ads as “site content”? or is this site doing some dirty stuff I haven’t noticed yet.

    Of course I only notice this when they relate to my site terms.. but it’s still annoying.

  72. Rhul and Mac – Yes indeed, this is a good question and if I understood the answer correctly it is “don’t worry about it” what should eventually happen (when your site gets more trust) is that those hidden articles that have been duplicated will rise in Google.

    For some reason MSN and Yahoo are getting it correct sooner but that doesn’t prove they are better. Now, keep an eye on the content that you wrote to see if it gets supplemental results, if that happens go nuts and by all means rip Google a new one in their forums, from you blog and yes in Matts Blog! 🙂

    My suggestion is sign up for Feedburner and only allow partial feeds, these are weak backlinks that you control NOT Joe Splogger but maybe even scraper links help grow your trust.

    I also would love for Matt to confirm this…because it is only our perceptions and they often are much different than the true reality. Help before we lose our minds Matt!!! ;-o

  73. Matt,

    2 questions for you.

    1. Is their really a super toilet in google headquarters that has a control panel? If so I may need to incorporate it into my column in our home improvement section on bathroom designs and technologies the average American mom would like to see in their own bathrooms. I thought some of my ideas might be a little far fetched, but after reading about google’s super toilet I am thinking not.

    2. How about a weekly lucky drawing of some sort, we submit our sites and you draw one out of the hat (or toilet) and give us some constructive criticism. Heck I would take just criticism even. I mean I am really glad you are getting rid of spammers and your last example was great. They of course should have known what they were doing wrong, but if they didn’t they sure do know and can fix it. Heck maybe some of us are doing something wrong that should be obvious but we are too dense to pick it out. I will volunteer our site up for humiliation if you could just give us some good feedback on what went wrong Feb 2nd of 2005.

  74. Does Google send out any info to the site owners if they find something like this? I was surprised that my page dropped from number 1-3 too about 70 over a weekend if you searched for “noteme”, with no warnings . And I have never on purpose done anything wrong. And if you think so then it would have been nice with a warning. But then again, it might be that your engine just finaly realized how little my 2Cents is really worth and dropped me 70 places just because of that…:)

    – ØØ –

  75. Typo*: from which many * “other” sites have COPIED the information are getting ranked on top.

    Let me add: This is 100% unique information and not a “LCD Monitor” (which is listed in 1000’s of online stores) where Google can put any site in any position and still look right.

    It matters because Google is now ranking sites who have copied form site. And my original site is no where to be found.

    This is what I got from Google [#49527058] 5 days back:
    Please be assured that your site is not currently banned or penalized by Google.

    BUT… what Google has done is put all my pages in “Supplemental” so a search shows just 8 pages. And hence my site never shows up because they only search 8 pages in my site.

    My website:

  76. Aaron,
    That’s what I’m trying to say my site is recommend by (enough trust?) and my site is 5 years old and launched when Windows XP was launched (old enough?).

  77. Looks like nothing was learned.
    By Leonid Fuku
    3/14/2006, 11:37 am

    If this were a mistake, “Google” would have civilly corrected it, and clarified with all those involved. The avalanche of technically-knowledgable Google-affiliated hostiles leads me to an old phrase I learned in interrogation class:

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

    Usually, the next phase in this process is the appearance of some men at Mr. Square’s front door.

    Does anyone worry that the predominance of one search engine is a bad thing? Is anyone desperate for another choice? The Googlites should take a crash course in history so that they might fully comprehend the crash course their stock will eventually take.

  78. Funny thing:
    This all happened when I launched a NEW site called PennyRank:

    Maybe Google didn’t like it when I valued Google at 8 billion.


  79. Rahul

    “BUT… what Google has done is put all my pages in “Supplemental” so a search shows just 8 pages. And hence my site never shows up because they only search 8 pages in my site.”

    Try this one:

    and you shall see 432,000 from

    No “supplemetals” as far as I could see!!!

    And now you may wish to start singing: Oh Google..You are simply the best 🙂

  80. Harith,

    Results 1 – 8 of about 429,000 from for . (0.19 seconds)

    They show only 8 results. Rest are Supplemental. Supplemental = What Google feels is duplicate and those pages NEVER show in a keyword search.

  81. Harith,
    I believe Google is aware of the problem you are having with your site and the fact that pages are missing from its index. There’s been quite a discussion going on at WMW. This link was posted earlier and its worth reading, especially comments by GoogleGuy.

    (requires registration, but Matt gave instructions on that also)

    Bottom line, lots of folks were hit by this very recently, but most of the sites are starting to recover this week.

  82. I still don’t understand how you can penalize for cloaking while Google uses cloaking.


  83. Rahul

    Just a simple question. Have you made a 301 redirect from your site www-version to your site non-www version or Visa versa?


  84. pgaz,
    That’s my website.

    I know. I sent two mail to sesnyc06 AT (Subject: gonesupplemental – Large content site lost all traffic from Google – Please Read *AND* Subject: stillsupplemental – My website is recommend by Microsoft)

    According to GoogleGuy I should have started to see a recovery (from 11th), nothing yet… :-(.

    Nope nothing, Its been the same since 2002. I only add new content.

    BTW, if you find any redirect problems please let me know.

  85. Isn’t it about time that Google is going to tell what is going on?

    This is not a small problem anymore and i think lots of people are loosing big money everyday(mine is peanuts). And they must just be satisfied with no explanation?
    The longer Google is going to keep silence, the worser it probably is.

    I love Google and i defended them every time, but now they have some explanation to make.

  86. Rahul – I don’t know why your site is in supplemental but my first impression is that it is extremely noisy. All the flickering banners were giving me a freakin’ headeache and then I clicked on some links that were direct links to Microsoft? How is that unique?

    I would suggest trying to not cash in so extremely, you would be surprised how many click you can get from just one add box that doesn’t annoy people and make them leave your site believing it is spam.

    Oh, and stop with the damn popups, I just closed 3 of them.

    Time to clean up your code? You sites reminds me of a place on would go to get software cracks…

  87. Yes, at first glance of your site I figured it was just another thin affiliate site.. It has ads more prominent than the actual content, and many external links…
    and a LOT of your content is on a LOT of other sites… either they’re ALL stealing from you, or you’re stealing from multiple sources…

    I’m talking little things here, not just articles. Like the text describing each link in your boxes, or easter eggs, etc.. Almost any sentence I find on your site, I can find elsewhere on the web on another site.

  88. Google 1 : The People’s Cube 0.

    Way to go Google! Keep the spammers out. Matt, I love the way to took time and made your point. This shows that you and Google care. This also serves as a lesson to the ignorant as well as the black hats… Best.

  89. I’m not expecting my website to rank #1 for all keywords.

    All I’m requesting is let Google rank my website. But PLEASE don’t kick all pages of my site out of Google’s index., they don’t have anything unique, all their articles are syndicated, that doesn’t mean Google will kick it out of index? I know it will never happen to big sites, they have money and power.

    And it doesn’t happen to sites which break Google’s guidelines. Google shows totally unrelated search results in many keywords in my industry (already given example).

    Why me? And that also why suddenly from March 8th? I always notice change in ranking (never complained in 5 years!) every 3-4 months but kicking out all the pages?, do you think its fair for my website. :(?

    Is my website junk / worthless and doesn’t deserve to be listed in Google? I’ll shut up and close my website, if anyone from Google says yes.

    If I’m breaking ANY Google’s guidelines like hidden text, hidden links, scamming links, cloaking, sneaky redirects let me know I’ll fix it ASAP.

  90. Another manual catch, probably even reported by someone (competitor?). Great catch! And several related more, woohoo!

    Now only 5’929’289’283 spam sites to go!! We’ll get them all yet!

    (sorry, just a bit sarcastic today 🙂 — lovely site you caught there, Matt, I’m having a blast reading their comments! It would have been better to wait a week and let them build momentum :-))

  91. Hey Matt,

    I asked this question in Digital Point Forums yesterday
    Originally Posted by onedollar
    not yet and I don’t think pagerank is going to be stable from now on – google has hit upon a novel formula for the pagerank being constantly unstable (coz it can keep pagerank sellers and buyers in confusion)

    How about someone asks Matt Cutts about this? Has anyone even tried asking him? Would he tell us????

    Basically, all are up in arms about the considerable ups and downs of PR apparently due to the latest update Google is performing. One simple question for you Matt, are we getting closer to the end of the update so we can all have stable PR? Us SEO’s are somewhat confused about what to do. Because we follow Google’s instructions about web site rules and submissions we would expect to see some results from our efforts.

    Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree. Are there other issues with this latest update?

  92. Hidden text is bad. I know that. I just found that one of our client’s programmers used another person’s script for which she had to place a link in the code, but they said it didn’t need to be visible. So is it possible to get penalized for hidden text if it has no keywords relevant to the site in it and is only about 4 words long? I’m going to request that they do something with it, but just wondering. Its been there for months and hasn’t seemed to hurt rankings.

  93. The owner of that site is a jackass. If you sent him a link to the Webmaster Guidelines on, he’d probably say you just made them up for more “damage control”. Let them piss and whine all they want but bottom line is, he is violating the quality guidelines, got caught, and rather than remedy the situation, he’s arguing about it. Hidden divs with keywords stuffed is not an appropriate reaction to the phasing out of META tags.

    Way to stir the pot, Matt! 🙂

  94. Wanna know the sad part? This whole banned from google thing is getting the cube MORE traffic than they would have gotten had google done nothing… what’s that old addage? Who cares what you print about me, just make sure you spell my name right.

  95. HA!!! 🙂

  96. Just so the record will be clear, my initial comment in this thread was NOT directed at my man incrediBill. It was the result of listening to one solid week of serial-whining over in “Forum 30” in that “What good is Google if you can’t…” thread.

    A man can only take so much… ; )

  97. >Nothing is missed from Matt Cutts eyes

    Or his laptop with the “pimped out” FF browser loaded up with all those nifty apps he played with at PubCon in the “Dissect-A-Site” seminar.

  98. Agreed with KeithOrt. The owner of that site is a prized ass. Talk about a guy whose sperm count should match his IQ. We don’t need him reproducing.

    And in a rather humourous twist of irony, he’s pissed at Google for not allowing him to use their engine to convey his message on the grounds that it denies his right to free speech, yet “the administrator” has to approve a new registration to his “free thought” board before anyone can get in. I DEMAND THE RIGHT TO SPEAK…but I don’t wanna hear about it from you.

  99. > one solid week of serial-whining over in “Forum 30″ in that “What good is Google if you can’t

  100. [[ one solid week of serial-whining over in “Forum 30″ in that “What good is Google if you can’t ]]

    those threads are why I spend much less time on search engine forums than I used to. I still prefer wmw to the others, they do have some very sharp posters, but the signal to noise ratio is dropping all the time.

    Re the silly cube site: Matt, this is something to think about, not sure how you handle this: this google thing has given that site a whole lot of new links, and probably raised their PR long term. In other words, if they remove their seo tricks, apply for readmission, they will have benefited long term from their pathetic attempt at black hat seo. Why not make the ban permanent, or at least apply a manual PR downgrade if that’s possible?

    — theres’ a bug in the comments scripting, if you use > it cuts off the rest of the comment.

  101. TearingHairOut


    A completely off-post comment, but you might be interested to know that you were mentioned in the Quarterly Technology Report of the British magazine The Economist. They had an article on the world of SEO. The writer is fairly up-to-date, they even mentioned the BMW site being banned on G.

    I read it on the print edition, I’ll check if it is accessible online but it’s likely to be subscribers only.

  102. Hi Matt,

    For some reason my last version of this post did not get displayed, so I am trying again.

    What concerns me is how Google is approaching this hidden text issue. It seems to me it must be a more manual approach as you cannot simply mark all sites that use display:none; as SPAMMERS. If Google is just looking in CSS files for display:none; or visibility:hidden; it is completely unfair for the proper implementations of such CSS. According to the W3C it is completely accepted and valid and as a developer, very useful. Google should not penalize legitimate sites that have been Information Architected, designed, branded in whatever manner that requires the developer to employ the use of display:none; for instance, a content toggle using tabs. I can list a few other completely great and useful reasons for display:none; that should not be penalized if anyone likes!

    Can you please give any advice on what is or is not acceptable in Google’s eyes with the use of display:none; or visibility:hidden; in CSS?


  103. The idiots over that the cube may spout about free speech, but I signed up and simply pointed out that “they made a choice to do what Google clearly says do not do and got caught doing it and Google banned them – simple facts and no conspiracy” — guess what – they deleted my message…. I guess the facts always get in the way of a good story.

  104. I have a question. What about sites that use hiddent text to avoid spoilers? Quite a few forums I visit use this for a legitimate purpose.

  105. RE: “If I’m breaking ANY Google’s guidelines like hidden text, hidden links, scamming links, cloaking, sneaky redirects let me know I’ll fix it ASAP.”

    Hmmmm, shouldn’t know the answer to that? It sounds like you are asking if *anyone can tell* that you are breaking Google guidlines.

  106. Seriously. What a joke? They obviously know what they are doing. Do they think that it won’t get caught? I’ll never understand why people think that they can somehow outsmart Google. It might MIGHT work for a few weeks or even a few months, but when you get caught you end up with less total traffic than you would have if you just practiced good SEO…and your site isn’t banned by G….and you’re not “cheating”

  107. Dave,
    :-S. Let me rephrase.

    I want to know if unknowing I’m breaking any Google’s guidelines.

    According to Google’s reply my site is not currently banned or penalized by Google.

    But then why are they showing just 8 pages?

    Matt Cutts Please Help.

  108. Rahul, I would spend a few hours reading the Google guidelines and then re-visit your site with only users in mind. I bet you find something 🙂

    Also, as Vbullentin ALSO has static versions (Archive) of each post you should block googlebot access to one of them you choose.

    I would go over your site but all those pop-up make me close the site before it’s even loaded.

  109. H2,

    Honestly, I can see why you’d leave that forum thread if your flagship site wasn’t in the Supplementals, but what would you do if it was? Where would you go to find updates?

    Matt, I’m really surprised that you haven’t commented at all on this Supplemental issue that’s’ going on. Even though GoogleGuy has popped into that thread twice in over 200+ messages, you’re the most visible one there is. Could it be that you don’t want to talk about it at all?

    One of the results of so many sites going Supplemental is that really strange sites are starting to pop up in the SERPs. Even expired domains are outranking some that were atop the SERPs for years. If you’re concerned about the relevancy of the Google SERPs, then I’d think you would be interested.

    Also, yes the USB gadget is cool. Funny that you picked a beachball to play with.

    As for TheCube, so much of what those hard-edged radical political groups do is more yelling & shouting than actual material “activism” per se. Once you remove the reason for the shouting (or expose them in this case for being total jack*sses), then it’s hilarious that they just ignore it and keep shouting. Way to go, Matt.

  110. This is very disconcerting to me. If google doesn’t like your hidden words, they block access to your site from their search engine? I guess I would understand demoting it, but blocking? That’s anti-internet imo. I would not even care if it was child-pornography or something equaly as atrocious. It’s not up to my search engine what I should see. I liked Google’s clutter-free page, but I have to go with a search engine that doesn’t ban websites.

    I’ll miss you Google! No doubt, you are the best search engine on the planet. But the China fiasco followed by my newfound knowledge that they block access to some websites in America is just too much.

  111. Rahul – the supplemental results issue is definitely a google bug which they are fixing. I was lucky enough to speak to a google rep at the Search Engine Room conference in Sydney yesterday and he confirmed this for me.

    Unfortunately you do just have to sit it out!

  112. Hey Peter,

    Were you let in automatically, or did the administrator have to approve you first?

  113. Rahul – Dude you need to just quiet down, if you are going to bitch and moan you should at least have something of value. You are obviously very greedy and are the type who will push the limits as far as you can. This is the attitude of the splogger or content spammer.

    I find myself chuckling at the final screams of the spammers as they drop off into the abyss. You could make a chart, when there are lots of posts in Matt’s blog Google is pushing some buttons, it’s extremely amusing stuff.

    Note: Looks like 404’s and 301’s really work and I might have been bitching about issues that were purely technical. Sorry about that Google but you can not expect us mortals to get it without a few more upgrades to sitemaps. Props to that BTW, it’s like a window in.

  114. the numbnuts should be laughed off the planet. All you have to do to get the people’s cube in a search at Google is type
    the people’s cube right into the searchbar. And guess what, là voilà! There it is.

  115. Matt-

    For the simpletons out there, do tell how we can perform the same CSS on/off magic as you and see if we had a SEO sneak something in on our site.

    Ignorance is bliss excpet when it gets you dissed… do tell how we can check on or tech “wizards.”

  116. * grins *

    God I’m evil. You guys should go check out the work of SEFL on The People’s Cube before the censorship police get a hold of it. 🙂

  117. Hi Matt,
    Love your blog, very informative.

    Plus it makes me feel good to know that I’m not alone in my problems with Google.

    But I have a unique problem which I haven’t yet seen anyone mention.
    Perhaps it is unique to us?.
    My site was delisted on January 31, and Google’s human responses informed me that:

    “We understand your concern about your site
    appearing in our search results. Please be advised that it appears your
    site was manually removed from our search results through our automatic
    URL removal system.”

    Yet no one at my site manually removed it from Google. They insist that no one could do it without access to our robots file, so then we started examining that and a couple weeks before we disabled Google from crawling our forums to ward off all the spammers signing up. We think they misinterpreted this as an order to disallow them from our entire site. Is this possible? And would a simple ‘putting things back as they once were in the robots txt’ solve our problem?

    Google has since ignored my emails and I sent a reinclusion request last night, insisting that we’ve cleaned our pages to make sure there is no hidden text or spam or anything naughty like that. We couldn’t find any but checked to be sure.

    Just interested in others’ take on this. Any advice would be muchly appreciated.

    Or if any of you are good at anazling robot files, ours is located at Perhaps it’s not Google friendly?

    Please help.

  118. Wyma – there are easy ways, using a toolbar, to turn CSS on and off.

    What browser are you using?

    If you are using IE, download the AIS accessibility toolbar and there is an option for CSS on and off.

    For Firefox – try Chris Pedericks web developer toolbar.

    Both are good.

  119. Matt Cutts, talking about what is good or not for the SEO work, I have a question about automatic link exchange tools.

    I participed in the positioning aid of “microsano” in spain and my investigations concluyed that the number of backlinks is more important than the number of pages indexed from a site.

    Searching around WWW I found wich guarantees efectively and respect to SEO practices with automatic submissing to thousands of webpages.

    What you thing about it tools? It’s recomended?

  120. I personally don’t agree with Google banning sites. They may get penalized for not complying to the rules, but Google has to serve it’s users not by patronizing them. If I want to search for spammy sites, please deliver them to me. Or to extent further, let’s assume there is a site with very unique, politically controverse information. A regime could force them to include keyword lists or a dull site admin thinks it helps to do so or a webhoster tries to quiet them down by providing suboptimal redirects, duplicate URLs and stuff. Now, do you want Google to remove them completly? Most people only rely on one search engine, and I don’t think censorship (and this is what Google is doing) does comply with what society can expect (and even is company prayer) – do no evil.

  121. Rahul

    >> I want to know if unknowing I’m breaking any Google’s guidelines.

    I don’t know about the Guidelines, but reposting the “secret” SES e-mail address Matt gave out is pretty poor form, when it was meant to be kept for conference attendees only…

  122. Hi Matt

    A Gadget specially designed for the members of WebSpam Team..their dogs and cats (including the lovely Frank’s sister) 🙂

    Launch A Full Air Assault – Without Ever Leaving The Ground!

    Airzooka is the ‘fun gun’ that blows a harmless ball of air towards any object, person (or animal!). The airball will travel up to thirty feet and beyond…

    PS. I’m not associated with the said site in anyway.

  123. Hiya Guys,

    I have got to be honest, I don’t think its just Rahul who is not improving I am not either.

    Now to be honest i’d love to see you guys tell me what a mess im making so at least i can repair any thing i have missed 😉

    We write 3 articles a week (500 – 1500 words) and add 5 * 300 -1000 word blog posts each day all material is first posted on the site. We do syndicate out some material.

    We are not accessively affilitate or using content copied from elsewhere.

    Take a look, as it stands i believe that some people who should be improving are still not ( a lot are still not reporting possitive changes).

    If i shouldn’t be improving then i’d rather know why.


    BB . co . uk

  124. I am shocked at the site owner’s infantile reaction.

    Firstly, he broke the guidelines, but was unlucky to get caught by the algorithms, and delisted, just like the many other sites out there. But instead, he chose to bitch about it as if Google was duty bound to keep his site into listings, even after he broke the guidelines, and even claimed his little plug as “relevant”.

    I don’t think he has any credibility left now.

  125. No offence to yo spammunsters and stuff, but who really needs your shi*ty sites anyway, and how the hell or why the hell even do you think you have a right to J Arthur?

    For the most part I think the party is over, if your name aint on the guest list you aint getting in, unless youve got a few choice nods from a few people in the know in the right areas you might as well give it up. The club’s employed a few more bouncers too, so if you are sneaking in and dont cut the mustard then yo’ll be out on your earhole anyways.

    Maybe google should just stick up a big sign saying THIS CLUB IS FULL – EXISTING MEMBERS PLAY BY THE RULES TOO, ELSE YOU WILL BE EVICTED

  126. We write 3 articles a week (500 – 1500 words) and add 5 * 300 -1000 word blog posts each day all material is first posted on the site. We do syndicate out some material.

    Mindless content spammer.

  127. Rahul

    If I was you I would seriously consider redirecting from non-www to www.

    You have serious split PR between the two – Big Daddy is supposed to be designed to fix this issue and if you query a Big Daddy DC Google is handling the Canonilization correctly for your Homepage – at this stage though the ranking does not seem to have been reapplied.

    I just get the feeling that the full benefit of the Big Daddy update has not been felt yet….eg Google is correctly identify Canonical Homepages, following 301s,302s but the ranking process has not followed yet.

    Optomistic perhaps.

  128. Hi Matt – just wondering if you could enlighten us a bit more about Google’s informing webmasters policy. Would youhave contacted the webmasters at People’s Cube to let them know what they were doing wrong? Obviously this could be massive job for you guys, getting in touch with all webmasters who are flouting the rules.. so do you only get in touch if the website is a certain size / attracting a certain number of visitors?
    It sounds like a really interesting idea – but is it implementable across the board?
    Thanks! Onders

  129. LOL, wow, that sites owner is throwing a real hissy fit. I like how he finally gives up and just says “OH COME ON GUYS ITS JUST A LITTLE BIT OF SPAM, EVERYONE DOES IT!!”

    I hope he never gets reindexed.

  130. Aaron,

    Actually were not mindless content spammers !

    We write extreemely complicated and compliant articles on UK finance. These articles are covering upto date issues that affect everyday people in the UK and are written by a qualified individual. Te blog posts are never syndicated by the articles are. Are articles are placed on several large uk websites, the material is reused because of the quality of it.

    We dont chuck out articles just for the links but also to help our clients be aware of issues within the market The average time spent on our site is pushing 15 minutes which in finance is alot.

    I suggest you dont sling mud at people, when when it comes to our market you have no idea what so ever.

    Whilst I accept we maynot be doing things in the best way ( for seo) calling us mindless simply shows your lack of knowledge in our market. If you took the time to read the material we produce you would quickly realise there is nothing mindless about either us or the site.

    Many thanks


  131. LOL

    Incidentally I dont do the article writing as you can probably see from my speeling and tieping.



  132. I personally share the concerns that other have about Google and it’s collective big head. They simply don’t seem to care about the lively hood that some of us have in our sites. Big Daddy is a big dud. I’ve had to let go two employees and go back to having a “regular” job myself simply because Google is sending me 10% of the traffic that I was getting prior to Big Daddy.

    I can’ wait for MSN to become a more of a player and show Google they are not the only show in town.

    This blog is very symbolic of the Google mentality. It’s all about stroking Matt’s ego. Stop sucking up people!

  133. “Mindless content” spam. Matt is that a term you’d use or a distinction you’d make when evaluating content?

  134. “It’s all about stroking Matt’s ego. Stop sucking up people! ”

    That’s what this blog is all about – making Matt feel good about himself. Many of the people that post are typical corporate suck ups. While at their day jobs they are using resting comfotable up their bosses butt.

  135. I for one am getting sick of all of the spammed by google sites. You know the ones, they exist solely to appear in the google serps, to get clicked on so that more google ads can be displayed.

  136. Google should consider filtering sites that contain or link to “bad” software downloads, those that contain viruses and keystroke logging spyware. It would make the online world a much safer place for everyone and effectively slow the spread of computer bugs. It would give “safe search” a whole new meaning!

  137. After reading this post by Matt it made me think…

    I have a navigation bar with suggest categories as LOCATION which includes a MORE link that when you hover over it it displays a DIV with other location past the default of 5. This is done so that all the categories in the nav can be seen by the user at once without having to scroll.

    Should I be concerned about that this would be considered hidden text/links?


  138. >Were you let in automatically, or did
    >the administrator have to approve you first?

    I waited to be approved. My message got deleted and I appear to have been banned by them….all for pointing out the simple facts.

    Rahul – what are you hoping to achieve by hijacking this thread? If Matt was to respond to every single problem, imagine the ‘flood’ of requests.

  139. Keep up the good work, Matt. Funny that I cannot find any mention of this blog entry on WMW. These days if you even post something neutral about Google on many of the SEO boards you get blasted. It’s good to hear that things aren’t as bad at the ‘plex as what some people would make it out to be.

  140. >Were you let in automatically, or did
    >the administrator have to approve you first?

    I waited to be approved. My message got deleted and I appear to have been banned by them….all for pointing out the simple facts.

    I think you and I need to take the game onto a neutral playing field. Dictator boy banned you, and censored both of us.

    Gimme a few minutes to lead, and you can follow.

  141. Never mind. They re-closed registration at LGF.

  142. Hello Matt,

    I’m a political/news blogger and have a membership at LGF as well as close contacts with other A-list bloggers in that region of the blogosphere. If you still need to get something into LGF, let me know. I can help.

    – PajamaHadin

  143. So google can detect CSS SPam, but what if I use image replacement on some of my headings?

    Technically, I’m hiding text but it is a small amount… is that how you distinguish between what hidden text is comment spam or not?

    As well, do you look at each link that is hidden to see if it is potential spam? I often add a skip to content or skip navigation link to my pages but it is hidden unless CSS is turned off…. will this get caught in the Spam Filters?

  144. Ah, apparently conservative=spammer nowadays.

    Matt: answer this question. Are you a liberal/progressive/whatever else you people call yourselves these days?


  145. Jarrod, why even run the risk? It’s so unnecessary.

  146. matt,

    did you people warn peoplescube using the 30 day penalty. I feel the site is quality enough to be eligible for a warning, don’t you think so?

  147. Why do people automatically assume google can detect CSS spam? Maybe some yes, but the lines are very gray between white hat CSS techniques and blackhat ones. I don’t think any algo out there can do that accurately. Not yet anyway. Maybe really primitive stuff, like the cube garbage, I could see that triggering spam triggers by itself, without css detection. Google can’t accurately deduce intention, too risky I think for them to try that yet. I’m sure they’re working on it though. When they finally hire people who understand things like that they may succeed, but they’ll need to look elsewhere for their people.

  148. Jeremy Wong 黃泓量

    the display:none rule of CSS can be trick..

    however, i use this rule.. for handling special case of my web site.. especially the front page.. because the front page looks a little bit different from other pages.. so i use the display:none rule..

    please detect spam carefully.. thx ^^

  149. I don’t think it is detectable without looking at the behavior of the site.

    Hidden text serves many useful, non decietful purposes… and since it’s all subjective to the “user” I don’t think it’s possible to detect it without simulating or involving a “user”.

    Hidden text is hidden text.. there’s no easy way for the algorithm to know that this text shows when I mouse over an image, or doesn’t show at all. In fact, it really truly can’t know without actually putting it’s mouse over the image..

    (i know it can look for onmouseover or whatever, but i could trick that just as easily)

    I don’t thikn a fully automated solution is possible…

  150. Great post Matt.

    One question.

    What is “scamming links”? New term on me!

  151. Hidden text is hidden text.. there’s no easy way for the algorithm to know that this text shows when I mouse over an image, or doesn’t show at all. In fact, it really truly can’t know without actually putting it’s mouse over the image..

    (i know it can look for onmouseover or whatever, but i could trick that just as easily)

    Depends on if Google could read JS files and figure out how to process them as a web browser would. The good news is that the technology is there.

    Mind you, that’s a purely speculative remark.

  152. Matt,

    Can I just aska quick question ?

    Does using the font size 8 at the bottom of a page still get you penalised if the rest of your site is in a font 10 ?

    I’ve come across various sites that use small fonts coloured as the same colour to spam SEs with keywords as well as some that don’t, and both have been penalised.

    I tend to use the small font for non-descript stuff that needs to be there like a copyright notice etc and some of them seem to have been dumped for no reason……they’re all legit sites, no spamming or anything as I hate that.

    Any clues ?


  153. RE: “gray between white hat CSS techniques and blackhat ones”

    Not in my book. If it’s outside the guidlines then it’s blackhat. Spammers would LOVE for lines between black & white blurred as it serves their purpose well.

  154. Thanks for the explanation, but this would not have been the first time that Google had manipulated search engine programming to make a political statement. Why else would the first two sites on a search for “failure” be White House sites for Presidents Bush and Carter? After having seen Google do it once, it seemed credible to me that they would do it again.

  155. Matt,

    Please help me once again. I made a post in this group a few months ago about a re-inclusion request and you helped me to get it done and I was indexed within a few days.

    Now I have been UN-INDEXED and I haven’t changed anything on my site. Can you please let me know why this is happening? I used to have between 60 – 180 pages indexed (depending on the dance card) but now I have between 3 – 30 pages indexed.

    What happened and why? I have Googlebot pounding my server right now (which is another thing how can I have Googlebot hit my server 24/7 until it finishes all my pages?) and Googlebot has pulled down about 3.2 GB of content. I have 170 sitemaps of 20,000 URLs each listed in Google Sitemaps and Google has downloaded 163 of those sitemaps.

    I literally have millions of pages within my site and each page has unique content (I have 4 million songs in the db) for the 3 primary pages of artists.php, albums.php, and lyrics.php.

    I am trying so very hard to be a better resource for lyrics than the current lyric sites like,, and (some of which will install spyware so be forewarned) but Google seems determined to make this very difficult on me.

    Please help me once again on this problem.

    P.S. If any other user has some feedback for me please feel free to go to the site to get one of he many email addresses listed on the contact us page and shoot me an email. I need to find out what the heck is going on–and fast.

    Thanks for your help.


    Brent D. Payne
    Lyric Vault

  156. Jeremy Wong 黃泓量

    Lyric Vault,

    Your pages are not HTML 4.01 valid, but you put the W3C HTML 4.01 Tick image in your page. It may be the reason your site have been kept from indexed…

  157. Jeremy Wong,

    What do you mean they don’t validate?

    I did change the artists page though as it had some missing alt tags.

    Matt has stated before though that validation has nothing to do with indexing so I very much doubt this has anything to do with it.


  158. Umm…I hate to bring attention to what should be a dead topic by now, but that People’s Cube thing may be gathering steam by posting links to fountains of misinformation that support their cause.

    And the problem with idiots like TPC is they’re just stupid enough for people to listen to them.

  159. Umm…I hate to bring attention to what should be a dead topic by now.

    Fact is this is not a dead topic and I believe it will inform many in the of “why I should not toss spam on my website” I found a thread about this today in a forum I like to visit.. I would love to see where google does draw the fine line on spam or a keyword percentage on words and phrase used on a web page. but then sence google is like the God of search engines I just they have to leave that to are free will and jubge us on what we place before

  160. So I have a mystery. One of my sites ( used to appear in the top 5 SERPs for searches on “venture capital”. It was usually on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th Goog SERP. Then one day it disappeared completely and reappeared a month or two later in the mid 80s. Today, it’s on the 90th SERP for this key term, according to

    I have read all of the above and didn’t use any of the tricks described above. This is a hobby site for me, so I don’t have a lot of cash to throw into hiring SEOs for it. But since the site is acknowledged as a damned good one, offering for free what other sites charge for, I am baffled by the 90th SERP position.

    If anyone can offer me a clue, I’ll appreaciate it. Just for the record, I have a number of sites which typically appear in the first 3 SERPs of the top 3 search engines, so I have some skill in this area.

  161. You people talk a lot of things for removing sites which may have a little text at bottom or a hidden link but again you seems helpless with removing the real JUNK, which is coming on top positions. Even you dont love to talk about that.

    These days you are trying for other language filters but tell us – have you finished with developing filters for english it self?

    The fact is you are way behind techniques used by spammers and are unable to develop effective filters — THIS IS FACT Matt and You have to accept that.

    FYI just try this phrase in Google – buy cialis

    You could say its related to online pharmacy, we dont promote, we hate, its illegal, its not justified —- but at the end its an industry and people suffers like me who do genuine business with all the money making certificates (SQT) which you require to authrnicate.

    What would you say if or says why there is so much junk with this kind of terms in your SERPs?

    This about this…!

  162. You are correct “I Hate Google”……. the major problem I see is related to massive spamming for this industry but again this dosent mean you block the whole industry instead of filtering junks.

    Thing to be noticed is: If today this can happen with pharma then it can also affect other industries in future as well (travel, real state etc.) and make Google a full of scrape only.

    WOW …… it seems we have question about future of Google as well?

    One more thing: Spam filtering cant be avoided as same as hacking and computer viruses. Matt you never know what will be the next move of spammers.

  163. I Hate Google: I sense hostility. Have you tried a nice cup of herbal tea, or maybe a nice lid or two? You could really use a nice lid or two?

    SOMEONE! PASS DE DOOTCHEE ON DE LEFT ‘AND SIDE FAH ME BWOY! ‘E need a ‘it real real bad, mon!

    As VP quite rightly pointed out, the problem isn’t primarily with Google as an organization, but with those idiots who continue to find newer, stupider, and more twisted ways to manipulate things every second of every minute of every hour of every day.

    Saying Google is behind on spam filtering is somewhat like saying Ad-Aware is behind on spyware or AVG is behind on virus detection. Of course they’re going to be behind; they have to read and react. And in Google’s case, there’s a great deal more to read and react to since people have a commercially vested interest in their SERPs.

    Just curious: what’s your site, and what makes it better (besides the demi-coherent explanation) than any others?

  164. This is pure entertainment! There are more thoughts in THIS thread than in any of the others. Asking for help, pointing fingers, just plain excellent. The thread topic suits it all well. Confusion….

  165. hmmm……… It seems Google need to again focus on SEO basics, some attention to title, keywords, description and other meta tags, which I think are not being considered right now.

    Remember – A Blog/Comment/Guestbook and Doorway pages will never have effectively written TAG’s like keywords, descr, title etc. according to page content.

    Check this example:

    GGL URL:,GGLJ:2006-05,GGLJ:en&q=buy+phentermine

    How come this can happen? These are basics about not to consider these pages.

    Upto page 10 around 90% results are taken same way as that first one.

  166. It’s great to see hidden spam content being dealt with. I have a small concern though, and perhaps you could answer this for me Matt.

    CSS allows the creation of excellent cross browser navigation menus which use a:hover techniques to show the drop down when a mouse is hovered over the menu title. Is this declared as hidden content? Therefore, is the text held on these menus spam?

  167. My thoughts have been touched on once or twice in the comments above, but have not been satisfactorily answered.

    For accessibility purposes, my site has ‘skip navigation’ etc…to allow screen readers to get straight to the content. However, this breaks my lovely CSS layout when implementing the stylesheet, so I have ‘hidden’ these accessibility links using the stylesheet.

    In addition, again using stylesheets, I have a screen layout and print layout. The screen layout hides my full contact details whereas the print layout prints these at the top of the page.

    Will Google regard these two examples as spam?

    I would really appreciate anyone’s input on this, as it is a pertinent issue for those who maintain a white-hat SEO, spam-free site but employ display:none for legitimate purposes.


  168. I have spam reported tons of sites to Google where sites are using my domain name and scraped content. Google has been infiltrated by spammers with tons of .info sites and nobody can guess what has happened????? Both sites that have been ripped off by these @@%$#%#@ index-spammers HAVE BEEN DELETED FROM GOOGLES INDEX!!!!
    now see if I care to report anyone anymore 🙁 If this is what happens to some decent sites then Google will be the one who only show spam sites in their index and when people figure that one out then there will be no more Google. People will go to MSN or any other search engine to find good quality sites!!

  169. If Google is so good at catching spam, why don’t they just ignore it when ranking websites? Why should anyone have to attempt to outwit a Google search analysis? Why should legitimate code, such as a frameset, be cause for a penalty? Why doesn’t Google take all framed files into consideration?

    Perhaps Google (and others) created spamming by their own attempts to arbitrarily develop ranking rules (which they frequently manipulate).

    It doesn’t seem right that sites of poor content can be on page 1 by paying per click. How does that fit with the philosophy that content is primary? By the way, I wonder how many suffering loss of income decided to just pay per click?

    I suspect the DoJ will be looking at Search Engine Companies again. Something is amiss…

  170. Well… All the time people say go Google Spam Report tool and report what you find not appropriate.

    But can you report more than 1 Million spam sites for single keyword?
    (check last example posted)

    80% of total spam is only sub-domain spamming…. I think Google you need to think about sub-domains now.

  171. What, is scamming links?

  172. Matt,

    I wonder what are the chances of a site to be reincluded into Google after it finds its “way” again? I have cleaned up a site of mine, deindex my site using the url console (probably a mistake in hindsight) and then filed a request but all I get are the standard form emails.

    Is it worthwhile to try again in several weeks?

    I am thinking of cutting and running on this site but I have several hundred customers. I guess I can move them to a newer site but only if I know that my site will never be reincluded in the index. And if I do a redirect from the penalized site to the new site does the penalty follow?

    Thanks in advance.

  173. Some comments based upon my observations…

    Those who would accuse real estate and builder sites of spamming by repetition of community locations should consider the many legitimate variants that must be used to cover an area… Not picking on Miami (Florida), but these are all valid community names: Greater Miami, North Miami, South Miami, North Miami Beach, South Miami Beach, West Miami, Miami Shores, and many other Miami (subdivision)s. Why should these valid MIAMI keywords be penalized by abitrary rules that tend to force limitations upon legitimate businesses? Now read the paragraph below.

    Again using Miami (arbitrarily) as an example, one top ten search on Miami Homes (two words) brought in nine sites of good content but also one with zero content which consistently appears in the top four on Google and other search engines. This site has a graphic with no ALT or TITLE (caps for emphasis here only), a first and only sentence that says CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE, and immediately below a large block of KEYWORDS in barely discernible light grey type on white background. The TITLE in the HEAD section simply states Miami Homes. The URL is (Remember, I am only using Miami here in place of the geographic area where this actually occurred. So, no reflection on should it exist.) When you CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE, you are re-directed to a different URL of a builder site. Obvious spamming, plus no meaningful descriptive text whatsoever. The only thing this site offers to a search engine is a matching URL and some spammed keywords. I also believe it is several years of age. Why do we check frequency, density, location of keywords etc. in an attempt to comply with some arbitrary system? This is the epitomy of a site with no content and definite spam that shows all we attempt to comply with is nonsense.

  174. I’m not going to be surprised in the coming months, search engines will be more tougher against spammer sites. Most search engines want to provide a good surfing experiences whereby good information is provided to the surfer and not spamming text which does nothing but for advertising purposes. Personally I applaud all you are trying to do to rid the SERPS of Spam. I know it is a gigantic task but every little bit helps. In reality non of us who try to abide by the guidelines will ever be satisfied when we see Spammy sites in the SERPS. At least Google (You) are working on the problem.

  175. I think google shoul eliminate the hidden text sites and contents out of their directory. Some searchs are doesnt give a real conclusion. Most of adult sites are takes a way to crash google.

  176. I think so. Real contents and real sites are listing down. Google must remove this pages and give the rate the original contents.

  177. What do you do when your site has no hidden text, no cloaking, no SEO optimization crap, no keyword spamming – and Google just drops you from the index? I have sent repeated messages to Google and the only response I get is “We cannot comment on the reason your site was dropped”. I have requested reinclusion and after three weeks nothing has happened. This is arrogance beyond belief. My site is a conservative weblog and has been online for two and a half years with no complaints or problems. I am an IT professional and I know how to play by the rules of web publishing. Since Google dropped my site, traffic has dropped from over 3,000 hits per day to just over 1,000 and advertisers have left. There is considerable financial damage being done with no reason given as to why. Will it take a lawsuit to get Google to play fair?

  178. Skipper, I was in a similar situation. Clean site, re-inclusion request, standard response. I had to get a conversation going with Google about how I understood their rules and whatever error I had done was not going to happen again. I received an email saying it was sent off to the engineers, and a week later my pages started showing up in Google again.

  179. I’ve seen the question, but not any response/answer: if the fact – that hidden/invisible CSS text – is considered spam, does that mean we can’t use it in a genuine way? E.g. in CSS driven drop-down menus or pop-ups (used correctly and legitimately)? Anyone know?
    This must surely be a big question, since CSS offers ADA compliant navigation options that are also GOOD LOOKING (when done right)… and I’ve been seeing more and more of them.

  180. OK, so probably nobody is every going to see this message because it’s down here at the bottom, but: if Googlebot detected the spam, it could have easily sent an email to domain registrant informing them that their site is being removed, and the reasons why. Then it could have said “the steps you need to perform are….”.

    If you do this, then you’ll probably have to repeat yourself a lot less, and people will know they have a problem, or that the need to fire their SEO’s.

  181. I gather that google is pretty good about collecting CSS spam and deindexing or filtering, it leaves the question what does G do about not removing pages or sites that use CSS layers and DHTML to hide content until it is requested by the visitor by a click?

    I would lay bets that as usual you take the kill it all approach rather then finding out if the data is valid or not.

    Having written one or two smaller search applications myself I understand the difficuly of programatically descerning between the two but you guys have got to learn to not throw the good out with the bad.
    And more importantly quit trying to be the voice of what is spam and what isn’t.

  182. Stephanie Rosendahl

    I don’t see an answer regarding the question about display:none.

    We purchased the ‘infinite menu’ from a popular software company. Their menu uses display:none. It is a drop down menu and when you look at our cached pages, the text displays correctly. However, I would like to be sure — is the use of display:none Ok? Does Google penalize for display:none?

    I assume it is ok if the text actually displays and nothing is hidden.

  183. Hi,

    can anyone tell me what in the world happens if somone was to PURPOSELY SPAM your site.

    For example, most web promoters know that sumbitting your site to search engines multiple times in a short span angers them and may be considered spamming.

    What if I used a Automatic search engine sumbitter to KEEEP SUBMITTING MY competitions website? What if I go around and spam my competitors site to mass message boards and allow Googlebot to determine they are spamming. Booom….next thing you know my competitor is flagged and rank is lower then mine.

    Believe me when I say this though, I would never want to sink that low to a competitor and honestly asking this question so I can know how to protect my site from such a competitor.

    If anyone has a clue, please respond!!!!!!!!!

  184. I was incredible stupid and let my neighbour do SEO for me. He used hidden text by CSS a lot and now my site is kicked out from Google. I learned the hard way.

    So be warned, if you don`t know what they are doing, double check all the help you get from others.

  185. You know what amazes me? They were so indignated by google, and yet they were adopting a very aggresive way to show how “innocent they are” involving all other reasons (google china)…

    Shame! 😛

  186. Hi,
    I have a question regarding this blog and what could be misinterpreted as endorsement .
    A friend recommended some free software that helps with directory submissions, which is something I haven’t done with my sites, (that’s probably why they rank so poorly). I have to trust the company before I install their software, so I search for information using Google and I find 10 results with the name of the software and the famous Matt Cutts in, this is because the owner makes comments on this blog and frequent references to Matt Cutts in forum posts etc.
    It seems genuine enough but I feel these comments in various places were designed for the purpose of adding authenticity to his product. Obviously I don’t want to perpetuate this by mentioning the product on your blog suffice to say it has “Matrix” overtones. I just wanted to make that comment.

  187. Ooopss….busted.

    Great find Matt. Keep up the good work!

  188. Hey guys, I came here looking for an answer to the display:none thing but see that there doesn’t seem to have been one yet.

    A solution I’d like to try is to use a body onload or document.ready script to find all ‘hiddenDiv’ classed boxes and set them to display:none. This way any non-javascript browser can see the info, but toggle hide/show it from those with javascript.

    I’m using this on a page where the content is massively long and the entirety of it is uninteresting to most visitors; thus toggling divs like this seems like a good solution.

    Any thoughts on this Matt?

  189. Hidden texts work well for Flash sites. I don’t think it’s spam if the text matches the flash content. Is there a chance of exclusion of such sites? If so, is there any other ‘legal’ solution?

  190. hidden text means disaster for us. So on the effect of paid link. Both of them can affect our PR. But this case, unindexed from google is the worst thing i’ve ever known

  191. holy crap Matt. You should be selling ads on this page for florida investment property. you’re on the first page for that search term. I guess spamming a page with a billion search terms still works! 🙂

  192. Really nothing missed from Matt cutts Eye 😀

  193. Hey, I am having a doubt what’s the diff b/w
    Will Google treat both the urls same?