Still chugging..

I’m still chugging on a logistical project (it’s not webspam related). Sorry that I’ve been quieter on the blog as a result; the logistical stuff cuts into my free time, which causes a direct decrease in the time available for blogging. 🙂

In the mean time, here’s a few things that I thought were interesting:

Erik Selberg, a search/information retrieval person at Microsoft who worked on the original MetaCrawler, has left Microsoft for Amazon. Greg Linden, an ex-Amazon engineer, is shutting down Findory on November 1st. Gary Price noticed that LookSmart has shut down WiseNut. I suppose the only constant really is change.

– I don’t always agree 100% with everything she writes, but I did really enjoy this article by Jill Whalen. I also thought Eric Lander did a comprehensive, concise sum-up of Google’s webmaster tools. Read it to discover what features you’ve been missing.

– Every time I read Eric Goldman’s blog I feel little smarter. In his latest post Goldman writes about a court decision that favored

Based on this presentation, the court says Gunzburger didn’t defame Murawski even though (because and other search engines don’t show line breaks in the search results) search results may contain the words “Communist Political Organizer Bill Murawski” in that order. But per 47 UC 230, isn’t on the hook either because its search results are based on content from another information content provider ( Murawski also asked to stop indexing, and’s decision not to do so is an editorial judgment protected by 47 USC 230.

This case reminds me a little of the Maughan case, where Google’s automated compilation of site descriptions in the search results allegedly created new semantic meaning by remixing the indexed words. It’s nice to see this court recognize that search result presentations and search engine indexing decisions are completely protected by 47 USC 230. This result reinforces the broad discretion given to search engine choices about how to gather and present third party content.

There’s more interesting reading in Goldman’s full post, including how Yahoo is a private actor, not a state actor. Makes sense to me, but it’s nice to hear a court say that.

Anyway, I’m about halfway done with my logistical project, so I’ll still be doing light posting for a few weeks.

Update: OUT-LAW posted a copy of the specific court decision (PDF document). The exact wording from the court decision was “Deciding whether or not to remove content or deciding when to remove content falls squarely within’s exercise of a publisher’s traditional role and is therefore subject to the CDA’s [Communications Decency Act] broad immunity.” Again, it makes sense that search engines get to decide how to rank/remove content in their own index, but I’m sure was still happy to see a court agree. 🙂

94 Responses to Still chugging.. (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt,

    When would that logistical project things finish and you return back to “regular schedule postings” 🙂

  2. Worst case for this non-webspam task, first week or two in November. Best case, about the third week of October. Something like that.

    It’s also (not so?) interesting that I have the mildest cold ever right now. I snuffle a little bit, but I feel fine.

  3. Matt,

    It seems September month is the time where you get thosebrionchitis and cold things.
    Boiling water and boiling wine still an option, you know >:)

  4. Hi Matt,

    Red article by Jill Whalen. It’s very useful information for newbies.

    But could you imagine how much month cousin Joe should work that get enough links for getting google top? It works only if your online clients are 5% from offline clients (it’s offline business).

    But if you sell only online or offer some online service. It’s impossible to wait months or years!

    There is no point to draw an analogy online and offline business 🙂

  5. BTW, can you post something about pagerank?

  6. maybe it’s allergies.

  7. I enjoyed Jill’s article too. 😉

  8. It is truly sad about Wisenut. 🙁

    ( There were others who also knew about Wisenut’s demise )

    A few years ago, Wisenut & AlltheWeb was equally as relevant as Google; the overall SERPs were basically the same quality and superior to Yahoo’s and MSN’s.

    The only flaw was Wisenut did NOT update nearly as frequently as Google’s then monthly updates.

    Just like AllTheWeb, their new owners allowed a gem to deteriorate.

    Virtually every search engine that was acquired, was no longer developed.

    Many of the ideas has so much potential; they were just allowed to atrophy and act as doorway pages:


    Perhaps it was just business savvy and luck that prevented Google from going under or being acquired by another company that would have ceased development on it.

  9. I can’t believe I’m agreeing with SEW again…but I am.

    I was a big fan of AllTheWeb back in the days before it got bought out. The algorithm was relevant, the spam was kept to a minimum, and no one really knew about it so the SEO-types weren’t really targeting it as such.

    Then it got acquired and now it totally sucks. 🙁

    Not that it matters all that much, though…I doubt it would have ever been able to keep up with big G in the long run, so had it not been acquired, it probably would have gone in a circular pattern down a bowl into a long pipe and then into a septic tank.

  10. Zicam is your friend, when it comes to keeping mild colds mild. I never get mild colds, but last week I had one of my monster killer death colds, and with the help of Zicam, what used to last two to three weeks is now boiled down to two to three days.

  11. Hi Matt.
    I dont know if this is off topic. I thought I would mention this to you. In the Google Local Business center, after me submitting a site and get verified, it says
    ” Active
    Posted Dec 31, 1969
    0 coupons ( 0 active) ” I am not sure if this is an error. But just thought I would mention that to you, I wish I submit it on Dec, 31, 1969 🙂
    I have already met you in Pubcon where i had a Local Listing issue and you had the Team Solve that for me.
    Thank you

  12. Ezhil, I don’t expect a full PageRank update for at least a few more weeks, and possibly longer.

    Nick, interesting idea. I’ve never had allergies before, but maybe that’s it.

    Alan, I can believe that. 🙂

    SEW, we can both agree that WiseNut didn’t update very often. I remember searching for [september 11] on Sept. 11, 2002, and the search engine hadn’t updated in a year. So the #1 result was minutes from a cub scout meeting. There was no mention of Sept. 11th in the search results at all, even after a year.

    suresh, thanks for mentioning it. Sounds like someone isn’t setting their date correctly. 🙂 I’ll pass that on.

  13. It could also be that you’re meteorotropic, Matt. Do you get sick a lot when the temperature starts to fluctuate?

    Also…you keep mentioning a “logistical project”. Without going into too much detail, what are you referring to, and more importantly should we prepared sometime between mid-October and early November to hear mass complaining from webmasters who just got their tinfoil hats dry-cleaned?

  14. Why do I feel many of these articles about SEO just rehash old article topics but bring nothing new to the party?

    Someone really needs to help on the link building front. Most articles say you have to do it, but don’t give any solid techniques, just the usual vague “topic related”, “viral”, blah blah blah…

    Let’s say I built a new site that I think is a great idea, I have no budget to buy PPC, where do I start after I tell everyone I know?

  15. Hey Matt, thanks for the links over to SEJ as well as my blog. I’m glad you appreciated the review of Webmaster Tools, and hope to have a chance to catch up with you soon at one of these SE conferences.

  16. A side note regarding the oddly-casted-semantic-meanings from search results: Though it is perfectly legal, I would assume that one would want to find a better solution to managing the results. If there is one person suing there are problably many more silent people who are just as confused. I would look at this as an opportunity for product improvement 🙂

  17. Hey Matt, I finally got around to book marking your blog and now I’M feeling smarter as well. The SEO tidbits are always helpful but the article was especially interesting. As an old webmaster jumping back into the game, it’s cool to read this stuff.

  18. Off topic..
    Is there a counter @ google for PR games like this:

  19. September months haven’t been Matt’s best friends. Last year, in September, Matt had BRON-FRIGGIN-CHITIS!

    Luckily few friends have recommended boiling water and boiling red wine as a remedy for that nasty BRONCHITIS 🙂

  20. I’m also wondering what Justin said above. I suppose that service is against Google’s AdSense policies too about traffic exchange?

  21. I’ve seen that thing floating around lately too, Justin. It’s clearly designed to manipulate.

    Nice call.

  22. M.W.A., I almost never get sick, so it’s not just temperatures fluctuating. And as far as the logistical project, it’s got nothing to do with webspam. If webmasters complain in the future, it will be unrelated to this project. 🙂

  23. Justin, the tiny amount that I looked into tnx, it looked like there were some expired/stale domains involved. I’m sure that I or someone on my team will get a chance to check it out in detail soon.

  24. Chris Bartow:”Someone really needs to help on the link building front. Most articles say you have to do it, but don’t give any solid techniques, just the usual vague “topic related”, “viral”, blah blah blah…”

    Most SEO link building articles probably are not worth reading. The ones that are worth the time either don’t offer techniques or else the techniques are burned out within six months.

  25. Yes, even if Jill Whalen is a “know it all” she sometimes does make sense in this silly SEO popularity contest.

    Did anyone know that Matt Cutts is a halloween zombie? =P

  26. @Michael Martinez: SEO articles on link building are always worthless. If they were still worth something, the SEO “expert” would have kept them to himself.

    @Aaron Pratt: Matt Cutts is also the “Spam Assassin”:


    @Matt Cutts: are you going to let us in on your “logistical project”? You sound pretty ho-hum about it, and I’ve been reading your blog long enough to know that when you’re acting “ho-hum”, something cool is coming down the pipe. (er, so to speak)

  27. Just as a quick note, I know that on this blog George and a couple people were asking about the .cn domains, and I’ve seen a couple other people talking about it:,1895,2188281,00.asp
    so I thought I’d give a quick update on that for the people that are interested. I think I mentioned before that this spam was a little different than the typical brute force attacks that people have tried before (.be, .info, etc.) and that we were looking at making some infrastructure changes to better tackle any .cn issues we saw. There are a few changes to be made before I’m completely happy, but one is already done and another change is pending, so we’re in a better position now than (say) last week and I expect us to continue that progress.

    As always, I appreciate when folks give us feedback.

  28. Hi Matt,

    My website (shown in the URI through my name) was penalised last month in search rankings.

    I’ve just filed a reinclusion request, and also sent emails to approx. 250 people who I persuaded to ‘link-bomb’ my website.

    I can assure you this tactic definitely won’t be happening again, nor any other ‘gaming’ ploys, and thanks very much for your time.

  29. Cool; thanks for the update. It’s gone from my original search where I found it. My partner here at the office came this morning saying he kept dreaming of the chinese spam thing all last night. How weird is that?

  30. netmeg, that’s pretty weird. 🙂

  31. David Airey, so the paid links for business card printing and ink cartridge refills are gone and won’t be coming back? The other thing I noticed is that it looks like you silently changed the terms of your contest and didn’t mention that to anyone.

    I believe your original linking terms said:

    “You can describe the draw any way you like, as long as you link to my homepage ( using logo / graphic design-related anchor text. A few examples of what you could link back with include: logo designer, best logos, Edinburgh graphic designer, graphic design in Scotland, great logos etc. Be creative with it. Here’s an example contest entry you could use:

    David Airey, an Irish designer who aims to create the best logos, is holding an anniversary prize giveaway. There’s more than $4,000 worth in free prizes! Find out how to enter by reading the details on David’s graphic design blog.

    Feel free to add any other information you like, PLUS, for every 5 prize sponsors you link to (they’re all listed above), you’ll get 1 extra entry into the draw.”

    I think Danny put his finger on it here:

    If you’re going to play the “I had no idea this could happen; my naivety caused this” card, then it doesn’t benefit you if you’ve specified very clearly how you want people to link to your site, and then silently change how you urge people to link to you — but not mention that in any way in the original post, not even as an update.

    Given that you’ve written about nofollow before and posted on e.g. Digital Point about selling links, and that you changed the linking terms of your contest without mentioning it in the updated post, I have to admit I’m skeptical that you didn’t think selling links could be an issue with Google. But I’m glad that you changed how you urge people to link to you and that you’ve stopped selling links on your site. It sounds like you’ve submitted a reinclusion request; I’ll ask someone to check on the status of that.

  32. It’s not always possible to use nofollow on advertisement links.
    I use a closed-source script, which does not have an option to add nofollow.

  33. Matt: I was one of the people who noticed the .CN issue a few weeks ago and submitted a report to Google. They seem to be quite prolific in their attempts. I’ve noticed those results linked to search terms for computer parts, specific manufacturers of computers (usually somewhat obscure manufacturers – maybe a feeble attempt at avoiding detection via easily associated names like HP, Dell etc?), and a few other choice search terms.

    Glad to see you guys are working on the issue.

    I had several people in IRC think it was a PEBKAC issue or malware on my sytem. Glad to see I can prove them wrong 🙂

  34. netmeg, that’s pretty weird.

    I attribute it to too many Cheddarwursts before bed.

  35. If I only could get the spam trap right I’d be able to post…..
    About the “chinese” spam sites…. they are still ther in the area of my little world….. 🙁

    site:*.cn dog for sale and you can change “dog” to any breed and you’ll find spam sites…. I have also seen that they are high up in the searct still, replacing other well known sites, not mine though, since it got trown to the last page of the Internet at the same time the spam sites invaded GOOG…..

    Infrastructure change? Logisticts? HMMmm…. getting a new office???

  36. This post is above my head. :/

  37. Hey George, I take your point, but a couple quick points: 1) you’re adding site:cn now, which is progress, and 2) that is a different person than the original spammer. I wouldn’t say we’re done, but we’re in better shape than before and we’ll continue to iterate.

  38. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the response, and for taking a close look at what I’m doing. It’s very much appreciated.

    I can assure you that the paid links will not be returning.

    Also, the email I sent to all prize draw entrants is taking an effect. I asked everyone who entered to remove the links to my blog, and about 50 of them have already replied saying they will. Hopefully the others will follow suit. In hindsight, I should’ve listed the amended prize terms on my original post as an update, and not removed any of the original text.

    I’m soon going to be publishing an update on my blog, listing everything I did that was wrong, so that others don’t act as stupidly. Your comment here will help educate my readers too.

    Thanks also, for asking somone to check on my reinclusion request. I actually submitted more than one (for both the paid linking, and for the link-bombing). Sorry if that added to the workload there, and I’ve learnt some valuable lessons these past few weeks.

    All the best.

  39. Matt, that was a very generous review.

    David Airey, count your blessings, Matt has smiled on your blog. On a positive note after I left a comment regarding 302 redirects and mixed canonicalization links on your blog several of your readers contacted me, and we quickly made changes to their sites. So some more good will come of it.

  40. Matt,
    Yes. I added the .cn just to see if they were still there. It seems that if I don’t the results does not show any .cn domain, at least on the first 10-15 pages. One thing I do wonder about and that is it I do a search for site:*.* beagles for sale ther is not a lot of pages anymore snd there are some of them that in my opinion should have been on the first page and used to be on the first pag, but not anymore. Did a lot of pages get deleted (collateral damage) because of this or it is not related at all?
    I am glad that you are working on the spam sites even though it won’t help my site …

  41. Matt,

    Thanks for the informative comments, espcially those in reply to David Airey.

    You mentioned sevral times recently “making some infrastructure changes”. I assume we are still talking about BigDaddy infrastructure. Just wish to ask; do you expect those infrastructure changes to affect sites rankings in general or just limited to dealing with the .cn sites issue.

  42. JLH,

    I’m very grateful that Matt has taken time to look into my case. Thanks to you also, for helping some of my readers with their issues. That’s kind of you.

  43. David, you incredibly lucky b*****d. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s what caused your case and if you bounce back! If so, congrats in advance 🙂 Hamlet Batista and Matt Cutts to the rescue – nice one! I think I need to do a post lamenting our case …

  44. Again, it makes sense that search engines get to decide how to rank/remove content in their own index
    Matt …hmmm….wouldn’t you agree that this has some clear limits? What would you call crossing the line on this freedom to rank however you see fit?
    If Google pulled what Yahoo did some time ago and essentially forced sites to pay for inclusion or be excluded would that fall within the sensical realm?
    MSN is claiming (somewhat ironically and hypocritically, but correctly) that Google’s ad power is becoming close enough to a monopoly that remedies are in order. Historically there has been trouble when a single company or country controlled more than half a resource – why no problem here?

  45. Matt – I know you didn’t need to do this, so thanks for helping David.

    Sam mentions my name because I was the one that asked David to defuse the link bomb, send the re-inclusion request, and leave a comment apologizing on your blog. It seems I gave him a solid advice. 😉

    Here is the conversation

  46. With all of this talk about you not working on a webspam related project, it makes us wonder if it really is. At least, that’s the culture that politics in America has molded into our thinking, anyway. Looking forward to hearing from you as time permits. And good luck wrapping up the “webspam” project you “aren’t” working on. 😉

  47. I haven’t seen the .[unicode char]cn for a while but I just saw that they are still there and you don’t have to use the site command to find them. It seems like a bigger problem than when I first reported it when people said it was nothing to worry about….
    I also still see cn domains in toplistings. I understand that finding a common code to remove them can be tough, and no matter what a lot ofpeople say, there will be collateral damage of site fitting the spamprofile even if they are not a spam site themselves.

  48. That article of Jill is the typical article that everybody agrees with and very few understand.

    Common sense is more rare than intelligence and even more interesting, IQ has nothing to do with it.

  49. That article by Jill is not very good, and misleading.

    Joe would put “Home Page” as his title tag.

    I see that all day long.

  50. Hi Matt,

    I wish the FTC would go after the Yahoo paid inclusion scam. Yahoo clearly violates FTC rules about mixing paid and non paid listings, I have written a few blog articles about this and since I am not Matt Cutts not that many people have read my articles where I show detailed evidence of how Yahoo violated FTC regulations. Yahoo collects about $100,000,000 a year from this scam. I noticed Joe Duck above knows about it. Sometimes I get very frustrated when people just ignore or do not commit about big company scams, and pretend Yahoo is doing nothing wrong. I hope you read the private emails I sent you tonight and hope you respond to me soon.

    Thank you.

  51. When are Google going to do banned massively of pages with links paid? Google should do it to give example.

    And what will happen with the links exchange in the blogroll? Hundreds of exchanges are seen by the first positions of almost any keys.

  52. Joe Duck and Tom Forrest, you do not need to pay to be included in Yahoo. I’ve never paid Yahoo a dime and it doesn’t hurt your site’s ranking if your site is well structured with plenty of content.

    Matt, saw the reply on Scobleizer. I use too many different ‘names’ around the place because I’ve been following your blog for a while. I also sent you an email about a tricky situation a few months ago 🙂 I had noticed your comments on the .cn here. Hopefully it will improve things. There was a particular case of a redirected googlegroups link to a real .cn website that was ranking in yahoo quite well that I posted up on google webmaster groups where I post regularly. I’m not sure anyone figured it out, but it was interesting nonetheless (the link did not rank in Google).

    With regards to the communication thing, I think you’ll find that if anything, the Webmaster groups area of google sees several posts every week about how hard it is to communicate with Google. Yes, people say that the groups are being read by Googlers, but there is very little feedback or real communication coming from Googlers there and it makes you wonder how many of the threads are actually being read. You only have to spend a day going through some of the threads there to get the feeling that people’s perceptions are worsening, not improving (a totally non webmaster was just mentioning this yesterday over beers but his reasons were totally different which was interesting).

    It’s not the extra password that bothers me so much with Analytics, it’s just how hard it is to tie in different Google functions with one account. It’s not specifically Analytics either, although you’ll see from the link above what I mean about it being complicated for novices. I was setting up an account today for a friend in an unrelated business who spends a grand on adwords every month but wasn’t doing any tracking. The Analytics link didn’t even show under the different products that he could add on his account page, so I had to find it by typing in the URL. I know it’s because Google wasn’t originally set up with all these extra products but there is a lot of room for improvement here (you’ll find plenty of threads on this and weird errors that are never fixed in the webmasters group too by the way)…

  53. Matt where’s that report malware link i found a query that looks very dodgy ends up going to some domain pretending to me microsoft

  54. I’m frustrated Matt – everyday I sit and listen to my clients on the 100 things their competitors are doing that I’ve advised against – and how those sites remain ranked in the top 10.

    I’m about fed up with Google telling us what we can and can’t do, I’ve been an avid supporter of the non-paid link debate that has taken hold of the SEM/SEO industry, supporting Google at 100% and frankly – I’m disappointed that despite the threats and warnings – nothing has been done. Sure 1 or 2 sites banned and highlighted on your blog, but come on! Live up to the promises and deliver instead of letting people like myself, sit in front of clients and explain the stupidity of Google ranking a website which is obviously duplicate content over theirs.

    Clean it up, so I’m not sitting around making excuses for the lack of action on Google’s end.

  55. Matt,

    “David Airey, so the paid links for business card printing and ink cartridge refills are gone and won’t be coming back?”

    I have a couple of issues with this. First, David’s penalty looks like a manual penalty, based on the fact that you mention non-algorithmic factors like David changing the rules of his contest. The problem with that is, right now, as you know, most SEOs don’t believe Google has the ability to detect paid links. The only way to get zapped by Google, according to the majority of wishful-thinking SEOs, is via manual penalty, triggered by “snitching” via paid link report or “outing” a site as Rand Fishkin is accused of doing in his latest blog post. Until people believe Google can detect a large percentage of paid links algorithmically, they aren’t going to comply with Google guidelines.

    One reason people don’t buy Google’s stance is the fact that sites that buy the most obvious forms of paid links (e.g. sidebar TLA ads) are still ranking well inspite of their manipulative practices. In fact, Rand’s examples are all cases where I’d guess detection is trivial (I probably could write code that detected them in under a week). But people want to believe Google sucks at paid link detection, and this case with David especially reinforces the view that Google detects and penalizes for paid links manually. Thus we have the SEO community trying to use scare tactics to force its members into a code of silence.

    Second, I assume the problem with David linking to an ink cartridge refills site has to do more with David linking uneditorially to an off-topic site than the fact that he is being paid for the link?

  56. Pagerank Uptade ? 🙁

  57. I found something strange regarding the web page I built about Matt Cutts. It is about the only page on my site that is not indexed by Google and I know some other good sites link to it as it offers useful information and links back to important articles written by Matt.

    Is this just a Google indexing defect or did someone manually take this page out of the Google index. I would really like to know.

    Thank you.

  58. Tom Forrest

    Whats the url of your “about Matt Cutts” page?

  59. Tom, I don’t think anyone has done anything special/different about that page. I’d make sure that you link to it enough that we crawl it.

  60. Hello Matt,

    Thank you for the response, I was worried I said something you did not like on this page. I would think a direct link from my home page would be enough, and it was indexed for a long time showing normal internal PR flow. So this is a fairly new change, it does seem in general it takes more these days to have Google index all ones important pages. This is an important page to me, because I send people to it all day long. I think you might be surprised and all the crazy black hat schemes people propose to me all day long. Then I just refer them to this page.

    This is all related to that article Jill wrote. My point is the “average Joe” that contacts me suggests they should try all sorts of bad SEO ideas. They are not nearly as bright as Jill suggests in her article. The good thing for Google is that even small local business like Locksmiths, Lawyers, Accounts, Shop Owners, even Plumbers all now know 80% of there new clients come from Google and only 20% from the yellow page ads. Five years ago it was 90% from the yellow pages and 10% from Google. So it is amazing how quickly Google effected almost every business.

  61. Matt,

    You wrote:
    “- I don’t always agree 100% with everything she writes, but I did really enjoy this article by Jill Whalen.”

    Good for your, Matt. Well, I do hope that you also enjoy what Jill wrote recently :

    Nothing wrong with Black Hats in my book.

  62. Sam I am,

    You do not understand how corrupt Yahoo is. I own many high quality sites and I am trying to become a bigger Internet Publisher. So some of my sites do great with Yahoo.

    The scam is all tied to Inktomi, when you used to submit there to be in Yahoo, and Yahoo cheated me all the back from 1998 when I purchased a life time listing in the Yahoo Directory. Anyway Yahoo took many / most of the people who submitted though Inktomi after Yahoo bought them and put the squeeze on them to pay of be kicked out. I still have the email they sent me.

  63. I also think it’s refreshing to read a court decision that makes sense with common sense. 🙂 So often courts makes decisions as if we lived in Mars… Good news, nice coming back, Matt.

  64. Dave (original)

    It’s definitely one of Jill’s better posts, although I stopped reading her site Years ago due to the sheer volume of SE spam promoting she does.

    IMHO, SE0 is a huge fallacy and those is the game should start learning bettering site navigation, structure and design.

    I would bet money that if old Joe (who has read & understood the SE guidelines), who’s lifetime has been spent fishing certain rivers etc, knocked up a Website, with Front-Page, on the subject he knows inside out. It would do better than most SEO’s who don’t really know the subject but THINK they know SE algorithms.

    I’m a BIG believer in knowing your topic is far more important than knowing SEOing

  65. Its interesting this one, obviosuly Ask have been doing a lot of work on their product and service offering recently and it appears to be starting to pay off. Personally I really think they are doing and have done a good job in imporving their search. It just goes to show though that its easy when in a project as large as that to let things slip.

  66. “Second, I assume the problem with David linking to an ink cartridge refills site has to do more with David linking uneditorially to an off-topic site than the fact that he is being paid for the link?”

    Linking to an ink cartridge site from a graphic design site is surely an on-topic link with the common theme being printing.

  67. Thanks for sharing, finally am catching your posts a little bit earlier 🙂

  68. Hello matt, Thank you for sharing this information i really appreciate it.

  69. Like many, I found my way here from David Airey’s post. I’m running into the same thing as Lani several posts back: “I’m frustrated Matt – everyday I sit and listen to my clients on the 100 things their competitors are doing that I’ve advised against – and how those sites remain ranked in the top 10.”

    I have a client who has a group of niche-market directory sites with a lot of reciprocal links and some paid links. She’s doing all the things she’s been able to learn she’s supposed to — “nofollow” on all those paid or free links, changing the headers above her GoogleAds and formatting those correctly, writing up as much unique content as she can to add to the pages, and so on. Yet every morning I get to listen to her frustrations because she’s getting outranked by competing directory sites that are doing none of these things, that are openly charging for links without a “nofollow” in sight, and without any “valuable” content aside from the links. She feels like she’s spending a lot of time and money trying to hit a moving target, and others are still beating her without even trying.

    What can you tell someone like that? If I say “Search engine placement is one of the mysteries of the universe; it can’t be understood,” they generally don’t appreciate that.

  70. Why is Google fighting paid links? Ok, I’ve read Matt’s presentation at San Hose, but I still do not get the point. How can a business site have all the content needed, – there is no choise left. Or, say, our concurents have 90 000 paid links – what can we do, to get 80 000 natural links it will take 1-3 years and we do not have that time. Our am I a gladiator to figth my brother, to report on every one in the SERPs because they’ve got thousands of paid links?
    So before fighting some 70% of webmasters why does google make some suggestions, to improve things. Fighting paid links is raising AdSense revenue and is not a good way to improove the situation. Google has gone too far and is going against the webmasters. It is as said – you cant’t add noindex to all the ads or nobody will buy your ads. There must be an exit.

  71. Gasuns,
    I think its mostly because adsense is loosing revenue to companies that sell text links, which grow like mushrooms after rain. :-/

  72. I agree with Gansus. The topic about paid links seems so shady right now. Everybody knows it is needed to improve a site´s ranking but you feel like a cheater by doing that nowdays, which is absurd in my opinion. It is stupid for google to think that people will just sit back and let google do his thing without trying to tweak the rankings for their benefit. It is about time for some real guidelines on paid links.

  73. Dear Matt,

    You said the following in regard to David Airey post….

    “David Airey,
    so the paid links for business card printing and ink cartridge refills are gone and won’t be coming back?”

    “If you’re going to play the “I had no idea this could happen; my naivety caused this” card, then it doesn’t benefit you if you’ve specified very clearly how you want people to link to your site, and then silently change how you urge people to link to you — but not mention that in any way in the original post, not even as an update.”

    “Given that you’ve written about nofollow before and posted on e.g. Digital Point about selling links, and that you changed the linking terms of your contest without mentioning it in the updated post, I have to admit I’m skeptical that you didn’t think selling links could be an issue with Google. But I’m glad that you changed how you urge people to link to you and that you’ve stopped selling links on your site. It sounds like you’ve submitted a reinclusion request; I’ll ask someone to check on the status of that.”

    I would like to add my thoughts on the subject.
    You see, my site was also hit with a PR penalty for similar reasons recently. However unlike David I’m not going to jump through G’s hoops to get the page rank back. I would just like to yell from the roof tops that Google is a hypocritical for penalizing sites for doing EXACTLY what google does. Selling links!!! It’s just call by a different name, “Adwords”. But it’s mighty funny that G seems to pick and choose who they decide to penalize. (Can you say Lawsuit?)

    eg. Take ( PR9… They openly sell links, oh it’s called a membership… Oh I see, if I pay them $1k a year I can have my link squeezed in between Adobes link and the Generic Viagra link. I don’t see getting any penalty. Consider this post as my official reporting of their practice. I will follow up!

    Lets look at another site linked on w3 sponsor page.
    They basically get all their page rank from 2 sites. ( and Which they “paid” for both… Yet I see neither of the 3 sites getting any penalties?? (Again can you say Lawsuit?)

    Now for the biggest abuser of that particular “google policy” is google… You guys out there in www land can NOT buy are sell any links or we may ban you.
    If you pay Adwords/Google 20K-30k a year. You get a permission slip from the principal to SKIP the line. Thus “owning” the #1 spot for a given keyword.

    So what have we learned here today class? We do what ever we may choose but don’t you dare try it or your, out of here!

    Makes perfect since to me… not…..

    Yeah, you guys over there in cali with the tie die t-shirts may want to re-think some of your lame/ mob like policies before you get 2 things. 1) More court cases… and 2) A bigger better searchy ~ASK~ comes along and does it better.

    I would like to know if was penalized for retaining to many links over to short of a time span or what ever retarded lil policy Google has about that?

    Ahhh, yeah Google penalized Myspace with truck loads of CASH.
    or do I have that confused?

    Google should be court ordered to send out a monthly “ad free” newsletter to every site it has indexed and let us know what we can and can not do that particular month!!!!!!!

    So I guess we have to do like they do on ebay and start the “reporting wars.” eg Report every site that does not conform to G’s policy. Shall I send them to you personally Matt? I have a couple hundred thousand. You want that in 1 email or is there a policy that says I should put 1 per email?


    More to come on WMW, digg, seochat, etc…….

  74. Until today I had been a publisher who used to supplement my monthly revenue for this website. Unfortunately the nofollow tag was not tagged onto the URL’s for these links, but regardless those links went to ‘bad neighborhoods’ on the Internet and for that I am truly ashamed to have participated in. As of today I have replaced the TLA ads with Google’s text links program.

    Unfortunately this has caused a PR drop on my site. I have requested that Google look into my account to see if my previous PR can be reinstated but I really feel that I owe an apology for being a site that had violated Google’s guidelines. From this point forward I vow to not allow such links on my site, I just hope Google has mercy on my pagerank. 8-(

  75. I don’t think Google will ever give us some real guidelines on anything related to PR. Heck, what do you do when you’re not sure if your campaign will help your PR in the short term? You block some budget on adword…

  76. Matt, do you feel that in some cases Google and others may not be giving a fair representation of the truth when they make the editorial decitions they make. Shouldn’t members of the public at least have a voice in suggesting changes when poor editorial decisions are made?

  77. Hi Matt,

    the Red article by Jill Whalen. This article was very usefull for me. Thanks

  78. I agree Juliuo. In a perfect world everyone would get organic links, but since this isn’t a perfect world we need some guidelines to follow since everyoneone else and their mom pays for links.

  79. Thanks for the link to Eric’s article Matt. A nice refresher on Google tools.

  80. Hi Matt,

    Interesting article by Jill. I’m not sure I entirely agree, but you always do want to have the best site possible for your visitors. Then again, you would need to get those visitors, huh.

    Anyway, there’s been a lot of talk about the PR penalties for paid links. My site was one of those who received the penalty. I do understand Google wanting implement this policy for their search engine. My problem is that the solution Google requests of using the “no follow” option either forces you to effect all the search engines or the whole page. If I use the “no follow” attribute in the link itself, then it not only tells Google not to follow the link, but Live, Yahoo, and any other search engine that pays mind to it. If I use the robot.txt, I can specify that only Google shouldn’t follow, but then it applies to the whole page, including my navigation menu, links to announcements, etc. I want to comply with Google, but both solutions are overkill. What’s the Chinese proverb about using a cannon to kill a mosquito.

    So, I think I’ve come up with a solution, but I’d like your opinion on whether Google would be alright with this (and it would work). I was thinking of putting any paid text links in their own I-frame. The I-frame could have the robot meta tag telling Googlebot not to follow the links. This way Google’s terms are met as we are not selling text links without applying the “no follow” for Google. Google also will still be able to follow the other links of the website which do not need the “no follow” tag. We also will not be excluding the other search engines, who do not have the same standards as Google.

    Do you see any issues with this solution?


    PS – Since the “no follow” is actually supposed to indicate that a website does not vouch for a link, Google might want to consider creating a new robot attribute like “paid link”. That way Google could still discount the paid links, and the “no follow” tag could keep it’s original meaning. The “paid link” attribute could effect the Googlebot differently as well where the bot could still follow the link, but not apply any link credit. – Just an idea.

  81. Link buy and Link change, Google seems to start punished websites even more than expected. The best thing you can do ist, get back to the old times and start building content. All these backlink supplier are also buyer of backlinks.

  82. Hi Matt,

    Google sending email to webmasters to tell them the reasons their website got penalized, is that a myth or reality ? If reality, does it work also for french websites ? This matter to me because it looks like we got a penalty from Google 1 week ago and since, we are trying everyday to find out what we did wrong. I have read and read the guidelines dozens of time asking me if there was anything on the website dedicated to search engines instead of visitors, when it could be the case we made changes to avoid any mistanding but, in reality, we don’t know what we are looking for… Is there any GG human emailing french webmasters about what is wrong ? Thanks for your time and I apolgize for my school english.

  83. Hello Matt,

    Reading your blog it seems that this penalty thing is a real hassle for everybody: Google, because i guess you guys have to spend a lot of resources in catching what you consider the bad players; the webmasters, because we all of a sudden we stop benefiting from Google traffic. But the end users suffer as well, in my opinion, because when the reasons for the penalty are not clear and the webmaster has no clue on what s/he did wrong, if any, good chances are that a good site stay penalized forever and that a good resource about a certain topic don’t show up at all in the search results.

    Althought i understand that dealing with what probably is an incredibly huge number of penalty explanation requests would be almost impossible by Google, i also believe that a little bit more of clarity should and could be made by Google about these phantomatic penalizations. At the end, i cannot believe that you would not agree on the fact that a big part of the penalized webmasters have read, re-read and read again the Google TOS and are absolutely in good faith and that if they only knew what the hell has caused the penalization they would take action for good and they would avoid to repeat the mistake in the future.

    I hope i’m not sounding like venting, but the frustration is really really big, for those like me who make playing by the rules a starting point, in life. Speaking briefly of my situation, i run an adult site of which i am the main model as well. I have never hired SEO companies and i have never sit down and planned a SEO of my site; the reason is simple: i want to play by the rules and i want to just focus on content. Until March 2007 i was doing good with Google for several 2-3 words keywords and i was pretty happy with it; i was not on the top10, but i had several pages from my website and many articles from my blog receiveing nice traffic coming for relevant and related keywords. All of a sudden, overnight, this changed and i am not getting ANY traffic at all from Google since then, but when people search for my name on Google. Even searching for my name in quotes followed by the word “porn” without quotes do not return my website. After having read articles, posts and blogs all over the Net for months, in August i arrived to the conclusion that only two thing might have triggered my penalization:

    1) I had a javascript on my homepage checking the users’ browser language; if the language was Italian, the user was automatically redirected to the version of my website in Italian via javascript redirection.

    2) I used my blog rss feeds to feed my affiliates with promotional content; this created a situation where my blog articles appeared also on other websites (those of my affiliates).

    I thought that rss feeds was made exactly for the purpose of feeding others with your news, but never mind: in August 2007 i did the following:

    1) I deleted the javascript from my homepage
    2) I started to write completely different, original articles to feed my affiliates so that since then my blog articles can be found only on my blog.
    3) I went to my Google webmasters tools center and applied for reinclusion explaining that point #1 and #2 was what i thought i did wrong, that i fixed it and that i would have not fallen into it again.

    Well, of course i haven’t heard anything back and my site is still ranking on Google only for my name. It goes alone that Google competitors rank my site well as they ever did and that i don’t know anymore where to bang my head in order to understand why Google hates me so much.

    Don’t you think that maybe the TOS shall be a bit more clear, if it’s not possible to have our matter dealt personally by anybody at Google? I understand that the algorythm needs to remain secret and hidden, but i hope that you also understand that it is not funny to be penalized and feeling helpless and clueless about it. I think that at least the webmasters tools area should have a sort of red-light showing up when your site is penalized: this would not solve my problem, but at least, knowing for a fact and for sure that i have been penalized and not having any clue on why, i would put my mind at ease and it would save us a lot of hassle, time, headaches etc. In fact…have i been penalized??

    Thanks a lot in advance for reading this long post, if you did lol And if you didn’t well…thanks for giving me the space to express my opinion in here.


  84. Everytime I think I understand what Google is doing I realize I’m wrong. Why does my site continue to jump between #2 for my keywords and #n (where n is very large) when I don’t change anything? It would be nice if penalized sites were informed as to what they did wrong. Anyhow, I appreciate this blog as it gives me some insight into what’s going on…

  85. Matt, Hi!
    I’m a first timer here.
    I read about the penalty that David Airey received regarding “linking” on your blog.

    I believe I made a mistake by linking between our sister sites and our distributors websites. These were not paid for links.
    Can that kind of advertising cause a penalty with our rankings?

    I didn’t wait for an answer.
    I just corrected the issue by removing the links and requested a reconsideration request here –

    Was that the right thing to do?

  86. The Google dance is still not over. Google is looking out for punishing link buyer and link trader (bad neiberhodds). The best thing you can do ist building your own backlinks and the most important is to bulid content, so that you recieve backlinks from other sites.

  87. I dont think regarding linking on this blog receives penalty. This would make no sense at all. If I like a website I can link to it. This all about what Google wants.

  88. Well, very interesting to read through the comments as similar situation happened with two of my sites ( and on December 12, 2007.

    I didn’t see any message in Webmaster Tools saying I did something wrong. I fixed what I could come up with and asked for reinclusion. Two month later and still hoping someone will just give answer. Both sites were top ranking. One of them for many years. Suddenly they are -50.. Is there any way to get some answer or help from anyone in Google? Is this manual edit/penalty?

  89. I recently lost half of my google traffic, and it looks like for no reason, i just implemented a new search script that generate static page for each keyword searched and it’s well optimized, but each page have like 50 links to random other search pages, like Search Tags list, because of the high amount of visitors there was loads of keywords, how could that be a reason for penalty, maybe they thought the search tag list a link farm or what could that be.

  90. your concept is good.I want to follow it.:)

  91. i read that Google’s spokesman admitted they recently adjusted their algorithm again, more toward quality backlinks and skewing further from link quantity. With so much work invested in one strategy or another, it becomes and expensive in time and money to try to keep my site moving in the right PR direction. Frustrating.

  92. Hello Matt,

    I am new on the net with a website that sells products. I heard about the term SEO and researched. I attempted to do some SEO myself and got burned. I signed up for freetrafficsystems and added spin articles thinking that it was legit. After 30 articles were posted. my ranking went down severely. I called my Google Adwords guy Thomas Berry and was told that my site was penalized. Being newly aquainted with the term “SEO” I was unaware of the consequences. This company stated that the backlinks were linked to good sites. I have now read the rules and now know the error of my ways; decided to hire an organic SEO guy who did additional diagnostics on my site and found that my web designer made my text the same colour as the background of my site which is a no no. I am soooo sorry about what I did. I don’t want my livelyhood affected like this. I am a single mother here. Is there anyway to lift the penalty? I am paying a man $300/month to clean up my site from this point on. Matt, please help me!

  93. Matt, not sure whether you’ll even read this note. But I have a similar situation as David Airey. My PR got dropped 0 from 3. I know the cause of it. Google is very smart (as if I have a doubt) and detected my fault.

    No I didn’t practice any black hat tricks, I do not have any backlinking strategy. I am a personal finance blogger who got enticed in to selling links for money. Little I knew the difference between do follow and nofollow.

    I took corrective action. I converted all links to nofollow. I even returned money to a couple of advertisers who didn’t want a nofollow link. My site is now clean.

    My traffic is fine and still growing but, I am worried, very much worried. My blog just started taking off. I am worried that future advertisers who wants to place ads for eye balls and product sells will never prefer my site seeing a PR 0. As a PR (you know better than me) is a sign of popularity.

    I submitted a reconsideration request but not sure if I’ll ever get the decision reversed. I know a few fellow bloggers who are sitting at PR 0 for years. I am worried, is my blog finished?

    Matt if you are reading this comment, place me in a watch list and if you ever see me selling do follow ads punish me again. Return my PR Matt.
    I did post on forum but no serious help is received yet. I’ll still wait for answer there.