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Link Penalty?
link penalty, google ban

 2:32 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

About a two years ago my website was linking to unrelated sites (before it got way out of control as it is today), not alot but a decent number.

I eventually removed the links a few months later (~ 1 1/2 years ago), but not before google gave me a penalty of some sort. From what I can tell, anytime I link someone the link is pretty much valueless, and on everyone I link to I do not provide them with any backlinks when you do link:www.partnerdomain.com.

I still rank extremely well for certain keywords, my website has backlinks and a good PR; my links are just valueless at this point. Anyone know if my site will ever come out of this penalty? As I said it's been a year and half since my website first was banned (at which point i removed the links), and now I hardly link to anyone (let alone unrelated sites).

Any advice would be appreciated.




 10:28 am on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

There seem to be a few threads on this subject. I'd be more inclined to class this as a bug rather than a penalty.

However, to test this theory, might I suggest that you rename your links.html page (assuming you have one). If it's a bug related to page history, this should clear it. And assuming that such a page gets all its PR from internal links, it should recover its PR after one or two iterations (about one month each).

Of course, you should also check for on-page factors. For instance, has a wag added a NOFOLLOW robots meta tag? Are the links pure html? ... etc.


Of course, this assumes that you haven't been selling links. If you have, you may have incurred a manual penalty.


 5:00 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you think you were linking to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods and you've stopped doing it now, you can write to webmaster [at] google.com with the subject line "reinclusion request" and describe the situation. I'd give it a whirl.


 6:16 pm on Apr 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hello GoogleGuy,
I want to ask you one question. How can i judge that the other site may or may not be judged a bad neighbourhood while linking to it? Is there any criteria to judge it?


 12:19 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Hello GoogleGuy,
I want to ask you one question. How can i judge that the other site may or may not be judged a bad neighbourhood while linking to it? Is there any criteria to judge it? "

Yes - if the site you link to has an affiliate link on it of any kind then Google will give YOU a penalty. Thats the kind of guys they are.


 2:38 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't think Google gives penalties for having affiliate links on your site nor on a site you link to!


 6:09 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes - if the site you link to has an affiliate link on it of any kind then Google will give YOU a penalty. Thats the kind of guys they are.

That's so untrue it barely merits a comment.

I have half a dozen sites that link to other sites that have various affiliate network link outbounds, without a dent in my sites serps (in over 3 years).


 10:37 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes - if the site you link to has an affiliate link on it of any kind then Google will give YOU a penalty. Thats the kind of guys they are.

Pleaaaaaasssssseeeeeeee.... Don't make these types of statements. There are many newbies on the board and they look to the more experienced to guide them. The statement has no basis of fact.

Furthermore, when trying to decide what Google likes and does not like, try to keep in mind "logistics" -- for example:

Hypothysis #1: Google will penalize you if a "bad neighborhood" site links to you.

- How could Google possibly throw enough processing or people power at identifying all the "bad neighborhoods" on the internet?

- How does an automated mechanism profile a "bad neighborhood"? For that matter, how could the most powerful machine on earth (the brain) profile a bad neighborhood.

- Even if Google tried to do this then a competitor could detroy all his competition by simply going to these "bad neighborhoods" and getting links to all his competition -- surely this is not something Google would walk into blindly.

Hypothysis #2: Google hates affiliate sites.

- A huge piece of Google's income is from "affiliate" sites -- hellooooo, what the heck do you call AdSense?


 10:38 pm on Apr 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

we see many bitter people coming on ww and toast google every chance they get.
Their comments are all based on emotion and not facts.

Google does not discriminate against affiliate links and in most situations cannot even tell what is a affiliate link and whats not.
What google doesn't like is a page full of links of any type with no distinguishable nor original content


 2:04 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)


I have to disagree. My site was recently penalised from a PR 7 to a PR 0. The only change I made to my site was to add an affiliate links section.

This contained about 20 links to external sites. None of which were penalised; all of them had PR. My site has since become a PR 0, and Google traffic has all but stopped.

This can only be related to the affilaite links. I still have plently of backlinks, even though Google now shows 0 backlinks, and my indexed paged have dropped from 50,000 to 2000. Many pages are even missing titles\descs.

I beleive I was penalised just for having an affiliate links section. I have since removed this, and the site is still PR 0 almost 2 months later.

Googleguy, can you comment on if my site was penalised just for having an affiliate links section? How long until I can expect some kind of recovery?

I really didn't think I was doing anything wrong. Forbes and Walstreet Journal have affiliate links on their pages. Surely they should be penalised to? However, I just want to get back in Google's good graces. What more can I do?


 2:45 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't ask GoogleGuy to comment on your site. The last time GG commented on an "innocent" webmaster who was "unfairly penalized", the webmaster was roasted for spammy backlinks and content. GG's a nice guy, but you don't want him critiquing your site- trust me. ;)

A friendly note: Be careful that your statements are honest and truthful because the folks around here will not hesitate to get to the bottom of it. ;)

What more can I do?

Develop some legitimate links. I'm not talking random links from random websites- I'm talking old fashioned quality inbounds. Not forum url drops and not link directories.


 4:18 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you think you were linking to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods and you've stopped doing it now

Googleguy, i've been hearing this for long now.Now that you've reinstated so you should also give some clue about how to determine if the one we're linking to is bad neighbourhood.

Is there a wayout to know if the site we're linking to is spam. I've seen a lots of site having good PR, but which have been removed from the SERPS recently for no apparent reason.

No body would want to intentially link to a spam site.Now look at this if there is a good site but there is no traffic on it, its of no use. Now if we try to optimize it link builing is a very important requirement. Now if mistakingly we link to a wrong site in the process and get penalised then i would call it bad luck only. There should be some way to know whom to link and whom not. Now if you say dn't link back to link farms etc(as published in google seo guidelines) then i would say even a newbie knows that and don't go for it.
Well if you don't want to give a clear answer atleast give us the tail to hold.


 5:29 pm on May 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

hbirnbaum said
my indexed paged have dropped from 50,000 to 2000. Many pages are even missing titles\descs.

Are cause and effect being confused?

If Googlebot is unable to access your site, the effect might be just what you described. Rather than assuming that you've been penalised, I'd look for other causes.



 1:32 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


Thank you for your input. I run a clean site that is free of spammy content. This is a legitimate site that is suffering unfairly.

It has taken be over 2 years to develop thousands of on-topic backlinks from other sites that fit my theme. These are decent links from respectable web sites.

My statements are definitely truthful. I am not lying about a thing. I am just trying to get to the bottom of whatever caused this. I have read over the Google TOS several times, and I strongly believe I am following the guidelines.

I honestly do not know what the problem is. I emailed Google, and they will not comment on the specific reason the site was PR0'd. The only answer I could get is that the site is being reviewed. In the mean time, I am just about to go out of business. As a small business, we just can't hang on like this for much longer.


I think the site is penalized because it went from a PR 7 to a PR 0. This is definitely a penalty, and not just a loss of PR. I mean I had over 8000 backlinks that still exist, but Google now displays my backlinks as 0. The toolbar is white; not a good sign. This is a penalty and not just a loss of some PR. The site doesn’t rank for things it used to do very well on.

I have had a few members of WW already take a look at the site. They gave me suggestions, and I fixed the areas they mentioned. However, these were not factors that would result in a PR0. From what I have been told, the PR0 is the result of a manual ban; meaning someone from Google actually looked at the site, and issued a penalty.

I am still not sure what caused the problem, but like I said, everything that even remotely could be a problem, has been removed entirely. I activity read WW, and am pretty confident I would be aware of spammy techniques that would hurt my site. I am not into spamming the search engines. I run a clean site that has been optimized for the long haul. I am not looking to be #1 one day, and 100+ in the next update. This web site is my only source of income, and I would not blow it by trying to cheat!

I run a clean site, and really feel I have been punished unfairly. If there is a SERIOUS problem, I would like to be made aware of it. That’s the whole point…


 1:38 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

>if the site you link to has an affiliate link on it of any kind then Google will give YOU a penalty.

dmoz.org links to hundreds of thousands of sites that have affiliate links on them. And it has a PR of 9 or 10!

Wow! Imagine what PR it would have if Google had no such practice! 17 or 18 at least!

Or ... maybe this is an internet myth, sort of like Al Gore's brain?


 2:00 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


I wish it was a myth. Unfortunetely it's real, and has affected my site big time.

I totally agree that affiliate links should not be a problem. However, I can tell you my site was PR0'd because of it. The site was PR 6-7 for 2 years before I added the affiliate links. Then went to 0 in one update.

I don't know what else it could be, but it's definetely some kind of penalty. The site is and was clean of any spam at the time of the penalty.

If the site went down to PR 4, fine I lost some backlinks. But PR0 is definetely a penalty, and I really don't think I did anything wrong. HUGE sites like Forbes, etc all have affiliate links, and they are not penalised. I don't get it...


 2:12 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have affiliate links on all my sites, and none of my pages are PR0.

My primary site index page is PR6 and has been for years. Thousands of affiliate links on that site.


 2:26 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>develop thousands of on-topic backlinks from other sites that fit my theme.

Without being specific as to what I saw:
I hope you are not referring to the website referenced by your profile email address.

Site reviews are against the Terms of Service, so let's not go there.

As for affiliate links causing a penalty, no way. With great respect, and said in a constructive spirit, statements like that only demonstrate how tenuous your grasp is on what constitutes best practices in search engine optimization.

One thing made painfully evident in the GG Gives a Site Review Thread was that just because many people are doing something it doesn't make it right, or acceptable. Even if you get away with it for three or more years.


 2:38 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

hbirnbaum - i just glanced at a site I think you might be involved with.

You know... the one that G shows zero links for and Y! shows 125,000 links for.

I only had to look at one site to find the "[xyz] Partners Network".

That's your "clean site that is free of spammy content"?

That's the site that is "suffering unfairly"; the one that you "strongly believe [you are] following the guidelines" with?

Dude, you skated the edge, and your site got burned.

Start again. Best of luck to you.


 3:10 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I didn't look to see the site PD is referring to, but the site indicated in your profile has a lot of issues that would fall into the OOOP area - that's "Over Optimization On Page".

You definitely pushed the limit.

It also appears it is totally a manual ban -- the worst kind.

As much as you don't want to, you may have to start all over. If you do, avoid all the OOOP stuff.


 4:29 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

OK, hbirnbaum, you may have misunderstood me. I didn't say mean that so long as you made sure every site you linked to HAD affiliate links, you were safe! Those sites with affiliate links also may have done other things, even more evil, even more obvious.

Yes, you have to check carefully. But check the right things! If Google banned every site with affiliate links, they'd have fewer than a billion pages in their index (until, of course, all the spammers started stealthing their links with cloaked redirects like the hotelrezzing slimeballs do now.)

And read up on "post hoc, propter hoc" -- you can find it in any good compendium of logical fallacies.


 7:40 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


The site I am referring to is the one in my profile. I am not a part of any link farm. "[xyz] Partners Network", or any other network. Where did you get this information from?

I removed almost all the outbound links from my site, and none of them were ever "[xyz] Partners Network" to begin with anyway. All the links were built naturally, be contacting other webmasters.

The only sites I am linking to these days is giants like Honeywell and Microsoft. So, I am really curious to know what you are talking about. Sticky me if it is not information that can be posted in this forum.


 7:44 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


Well if it's not the affiliate links, I don't know what it is that caused the PR0. Google will not tell me. Your post doesn't do much to clear it up either. Please sticky me if there is something super obvious to you, that I am failing to see.

I did speak to a VERY respected SEO person who has verified that sites can be banned for having affiliate links "no problem". May be, maybe not, but I still do not have a clear answer on this.


 7:55 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


Thank you for clearing that up...

I actually know of 2 sites that linked to me that were PR0'd for their own reasons in the last update. The same update that affected me.

I did not link back to either of these sites, so I do not know how this could have hurt me. Perhaps Google thought I was affiliated w/ the sites that got banned?

Unlikely because we are not affiliated in any way with the linking sites. I don't know the people that ran the site, and we are certainly hosted on different IPs, and we have different whois information (obviously).

So what the heck?


 8:09 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

hbirnbaum, may be it's the directory you have - one or more of the 9188 links you link to probably cause the trouble. And is this mirror at / redirect to yahoo store new?


 8:20 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


What do you mean by the "directory" I have? I don't quite understand what you mean; please clerify so I can understand...

Also, it *is* possible that one of the sites I was linking to did get penalised. I had a links page that linked to about 8000 on topic web sites. If a few of those were to get penalised, I would never have known about it. I have not checked all of them, but they're gone now anyway.

After the PR0, I completely removed the affiliate links and the links pages entirely. I hardly link out at all now; only to large corporate sites.

As for the re-direct. The site is a Yahoo store, so it is hosted by Yahoo. So, the site can be listed as mydomain.com or store.yahoo.com/storename/. I do not have any control over this. A lot of Yahoo stores are listed well in Google, and don't seem to have been affected.

I do use a re-direct from the Yahoo domain to my domain for technical reasons, having to do with the user history cookie on the web site. It has nothing to do w/ search engines. It's there for technical reasons so my site will function properly.

Can this kind of re-direct cause a problem? As far as I know, it only re-directs to my domain when you come in on the Yahoo domain. Does this clear it up? Is this a problem?


 11:22 am on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

>What do you mean by the "directory" I have?
>I don't quite understand what you mean;
>please clerify so I can understand...

You don't know what i mean with directory? Hm, you might want to read your own website then: Welcome to the growing resource link directory of your-website.com.

>I have not checked all of them, but they're gone now anyway.

They aren't gone. They are still listed at your yahoo store.

However, i won't comment any further since we don't do site reviews here. Just one last thing to clear the confusion you caused with your wrong statements: it's not the affiliate link you've added that caused the penalty! Do not confuse other members by spreading wrong theories and by implying that these are facts! Your site might be penalized because of one or more of the other things you did wrong (the 200+ site maps, the nearly duplicate product pages, the redirects, the yahoo mirror, the "directory" ...)!


 1:25 pm on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I fail to see why you should be complaining. It is very clearly stated on your 'link to us' page that you wanted inwards links, preferrably from home pages, for the greatest exposure and if not that, then from all the pages except the links page, and were rewarding others with coupons or what not for doing that.

Anyone reading your page will think that you wanted links from home pages for exposure only and not for any PR gain since you failed to mention that.

Google is doing exactly that. It took away your PR that was just a by product of those thousands of links, and you still have your links and the exposure from them.


 5:31 pm on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

HBirnbaum -

Look, I don't work for Google. As far as I know the only Google reps that have posted in this thread is Googleguy.

Don't play dumb. I don't care if you think you did nothing wrong, and frankly, I don't care if you did do something wrong.

You claim you don't even know what "Partner Network" I am referring to when I substituted the word "digital" for [xyz].

Any site that has manages to accumulate 100K backlinks in a short time period is sure to raise a red flag with Google's spamarithm. If the bot sees that the links are coming from the New York times and a jillion other places - its going to say "hey, that's okay, this site got these links because it was in the news" - but if the majority of those links come from some "Partner Network"... well, let's just say that the outcome is not surprising.


 6:16 pm on May 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Its interesting reading for a guy like me

I think my site has about 300 sites linking in after 4 years, I do not have any idea what PR they are so could not tell you how many PR3 PR4 PR5 etc , and being honest not realy interested , if i add a link on my site i don't ask for a reciprical link .
Sometimes it scares me when i see guys saying they have 10,000 links in to their site as I could not compete.

But then I hear " my site was PR7 and higher and has been penalised " and think maybe i have been correct in my thinking
I am sure when big G originally came up with idea of measuring a sites popularity by sites linking in ( PR )they never realised smart seo guys would spot the
opportunity and be able to exploit the weaknesses ,

But with smart seo comes the chances of being burned , so don't make assumptions big G will not catch on and if G does accept the pain as a cost for the gains you made before

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
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