We’ve started a pilot program to alert sites that we consider to be outside our quality guidelines. Some of this was already discussed on Threadwatch, but let’s put the info in one place in convenient Q&A format:
Q: Are you writing to every site that receives a spam penalty?
A: No. Right now we’re running this as a test.
Q: What sort of sites are you writing to?
A: This is not targeted to sites like buy-my-cheap-viagra-here-while-consolidating-your-debt-and-buy-some-posters-about-online-casinos.com, but more for sites that have good content, but may not be as savvy about what their SEO was doing or what that “Make thousands of doorway pages for $39.95” software was doing.
Q: Are these sites penalized forever?
A: No, they can return to the index if they correct or remove the pages that were violating our guidelines. See my previous post about how to do a reinclusion request for advice on that.
Q: Are you emailing webhosts too? Where are you getting email addresses from?
A: We’re not trying to email webhosts, just the site owner or webmaster. Our primary way of finding who to contact is via email addresses from the web. If there really aren’t any, we use a few addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We may try a contact address by doing a whois search as another backup, but we will avoid emailing the technical or admin contact from whois.
Q: Can you give me an idea of what an example email might look like?
A: Sure. Here’s an example one for hidden text.
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.chefrevival.com.au/,
While we were indexing your webpages, we detected that some of your
pages were using techniques that were outside our quality guidelines,
which can be found here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html
In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, we have
temporarily removed some webpages from our search results. Currently
pages from http://www.chefrevival.com.au/ are scheduled to be removed for at least 30 days.
Specifically, we detected the following practices on your webpages:
On http://www.chefrevival.com.au/, we noticed the following hidden text: “Chef Revival Chef Uniforms – A range of stylish, comfortable and durable chef uniforms designed to withstand the pressures of today’s kitchens, Chef apron Chef Jackets Chef Pant Chef trouser Chef headwear Chef Apron Chef Shirt Chef Neckties, Chef aprons Chef Jackets Chef Pants Chef trousers Chef headwears Chef Aprons Chef Shirts Chef Neckties, traditional check chefwear clothes”
We would prefer to have your pages in Google’s index. If you wish to be
reincluded, please correct or remove all pages that are outside our
quality guidelines. When you are ready, please submit a reinclusion
request at http://www.google.com/support/bin/request.py
You can select “I’m a webmaster inquiring about my website” and
then “Why my site disappeared from the search results or dropped in
ranking,” click Continue, and then make sure to type “Reinclusion
Request” in the Subject: line of the resulting form.
Google Search Quality Team
Q: Matt, are you excited about this?
A: Heck yeah. I’m glad we’re trying to proactively contact webmasters and site owners when there’s an issue with their site in Google. I’m so excited that I split an infinitive in that sentence, didn’t I? Doh! 🙂