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My site was banned...

 4:05 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Even tough Google Guy has repeatedly said that nothing that anyone else can do can get a site banned, it appears it can. Competition has entered my site into over 100 guestbooks- even with anchor text and I have been banned from PR 8 to grey bar at beginning of update.

I investigated the Guestbook theory and site after site with guestbook links has been either completely banned or PR 0.

I really don't know why Google would ban sites for issues beyond their control.



 9:31 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually, I am counting on it for a new site.


 9:36 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>Competition has entered my site into over 100 guestbooks-
>>even with anchor text and I have been banned

googleguy has clearly stated in the past that nothing anyone else does like this can harm your site. only you can do soemthing to harm your site (suspect outbound links etc).
googleguy has also said suspect links will simply be ignored.
googleguy has also said grey PR suggests they couldn't spider the home page / or the site.

unfortunately, these posts will have been buried a long long time ago - the forum is way too busy. perhaps someone can go back through old threads to find and create a "googleguy says:" list of quotes?

>>Personally, I think it's easier and safer to come up with
>>good content that people want to link to.

yep, definitely the best :)


 9:37 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

And, if you are right about the guestbook links destroying your old sites, then expect your competitor to destroy your new ones the same way. :(


 9:46 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

>googleguy has clearly stated in the past that nothing anyone else does like this can harm your site.

And, others have stated, I believe even one moderator here, that there have been cases where this was false. Notice even Google itself uses weasel words about this issue: [google.ca...]

"Fiction: A competitor can ruin a site's ranking somehow or have another site removed from Google's index.

"Fact: There is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. Your rank and your inclusion are dependent on factors under your control as a webmaster, including content choices and site design."

Notice that "almost nothing" in there. Are guestbook links the magic secret to destroying the competition? Personally, I would have thought that Google would have considered guestbook links "below the radar", and not enough to worry about. They can't help a website that much. And, if they did worry about this they'd figure out a way of filtering them algorithmically. Guestbooks should be easy to spot by automated filters, and ignored.


 9:49 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, lets add another to the list of webmasters that feel guestbooks entries can lead to either a ban or perhaps a penalty. My site was squeaky clean - well ranked and YES, I checked my logs to see if perhaps my server was down, but it WASN'T. There was no other reason I can explain for being dropped from the index other than the guestbooks.

This is going to be my last post because I think Google is not being forward on there Do's and Do Not's Page. I don't recall seeing anything about guestbook entries. I sign guestbooks when I find a site I like - never once did it with the intention of creating a link for myself. I don't need them. Webmaster's with guestbooks enjoy the feedback and comments. I had one on my site and really enjoyed the feedback.

My site WAS completely HTML Validated - I played by Google's rules to the tee and got royally burned in the process. Since this is my last post I don't really care what Google has to say about things anymore - it's time to vent my opinion of Google's dominance on the SERP's. I had been hesitant to vent my opinions about Google until last night when I said I've had enough. I took my web site offline so what are they going to do now? Not a damn thing that I care about. I'll never use Google for any of my searches ever again and will advise anyone I know to be very wary of Googles behind the scenes tactics. Hell, Google is in a position of power and they feel they are not accountable to anyone.

Everyone says Google is too busy to answer their emails - they are taking the dump from DMOZ and (insert your own 4 letter word)on the webmasters and they don't seem to give a crap. Even in a recent post GoogleGuy didn't have much praise for the DMOZ. They don't suffer but the serious webmasters do. GoogleGuy has totally lost any respect I had for him -not sure that I ever did really but if HE AND GOOGLE cannot be upfront with the webmasters and take the time to answer their emails and questions I personally say with an attitude like that Google will soon fall from the good GRACE's they now think they are in. The online community is in for a rude awakening if they put their hopes on Google.

I've been a loyal member on WebMasterWorld since I first found this forum - we all know that certain sites, like this one, have an IN WITH GOOGLE that the normal webmaster does not (and don't tell me that's not true - I'm not buying it). I'm not knocking WebmasterWorld - you provide a wonderful service to the internet community and I want to thank those of you that have helped me RISE to a very nice position, but after this last update and reading HERE AND THERE and then getting the crap beaten out of my site for no apparent reason it's time for me to move on and make my life elsewhere. Brett, don't tell me you are not provided with certain information that the normal webmasters never hear about. Talk till you are blue in the face but a Spade is a Spade in anyones eyes that are willing to take a good look.

It won't surprise me at all to have this message deleted once it comes to those that are REALLY IN THE KNOW. Bottom line everyone - pin your hopes on Google and you very well might lose your livelihood. I'm just fortunate that my site was not one which I ever made a penny from. I only provided help and assistance. I learned long ago that when one puts all your eggs in one basket you can lose it all overnight.

I don't buy the notion that most everyone is saying - check your server to see if it was down during the major crawl if you lost you index position. Does anyone think that the major sites (which Google has taken under their wing - including this one) would lose their index position for a server fault? Nope. The bot would come back again and again to the preferred sites until the servers were back up, but for the little guys like myself Google gives you one chance a month. That's really a shame. Lots of people I know feel the same but are afraid to vent their opinions because they feel the Google God's looking over their shoulder. Well, Google can take what they can get now and one can only hope that the future of the internet is not dominated my such an indiscriminate and all-to-powerful search engine. What got you to where you are GOOGLE? I think it's time to reasses your corporate goals and even better yet your values. Heck, you hide behind a veil of "security" - feel you are not accountable to anyone. It's people and companies such as yours that will get their just rewards - either now or in the future. WAKE UP GOOGLE and get your crap together. Come clean with the webmasters and quit hiding. Major companies are accountable to their shareholders and Google should be accountable to the webmaster's they profess to help. Gee, do I see another ENRON lurking?

I'd really appreciate a sticky or an email from anyone that shares my opinion but is afraid to vent their opinion for fear Google is looking over your shoulder.

I wish all of you the best of luck, again thanks to the Moderators of this forum for providing wonderful information to the novice and expert alike. I sincerly hope that one of the moderators has enough courage to leave this message for everyone to read. GoogleGuy, explain yourself and your companies real ethics. Its TIME TO STOP HIDING - you will kill yourself should you keep up your foul practices. I could write for days not that i'm so teed off about this, but now that its over and done with it's like a major burden has lifted from my shoulder.

Again, good luck everyone. I wish you all the best and have hopes Google will make a major turn-around and come clean with their veil of security.



 10:11 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

This isn't a slam at coosblues specifically, but I can't help noting that it's a lot easier to sympathize with Webmasters who include URLs in their profiles.


 10:12 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)


Instead of being so bitter and giving up, why don't you just get a new domain name. Ditch the penalty.
You said it is not providing an income so why not?


 10:16 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I admit that my web site is peanuts compared to some of you who get tens of thousands of hits a day and generate millions of dollars income.

However, having been the victim of a Google screw-up in the past i know full well how flawed the Google system is. Not only did my site disappear from the search results, but it was not even indexed.

Was this a penalty? No. Was the server down? No.

Google just got screwed up. Who knows? A hiccup in the voltage? i got missed by the robot. About a month later i showed up in all my glory.

I'm glad i didn't do anything too drastic in my assumption that i had somehow infuriated Google. When it costs you thousands of hits (or dollars) it's understandable to be angry, but i don't think Google is any more screwed up or fallible than our justice system, our economy, our highways or our web masters.

Nothing works perfectly. Try to adjust temporarily until it's corrected.


 10:18 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Well, lets add another to the list of webmasters that feel guestbooks entries can lead to either a ban or perhaps a penalty. My site was squeaky clean - well ranked and YES, I checked my logs to see if perhaps my server was down, but it WASN'T. There was no other reason I can explain for being dropped from the index other than the guestbooks.

>This is going to be my last post because I think Google is not being forward on there Do's and Do Not's Page. I don't recall seeing anything about guestbook entries. I sign guestbooks when I find a site I like - never once did it with the intention of creating a link for myself. I don't need them. Webmaster's with guestbooks enjoy the feedback and comments. I had one on my site and really enjoyed the feedback.

While I don't necessarily trust everything Google says, it seems to me totally illogical for them to be penalizing sites bases on guestbook entries. The one thing GoogleGuy has posted that I really do believe is that Google prefers to filter algorithmically rather than by hand processing complaints. If Google actually thinks guestbook links are a concern, then they should just not count them for PR. The vast majority of guestbooks would be *trivially* easy to spot algorithmically, and their links not counted. This would both save on the labor cost of dealing with complaints, and also eliminate the possibility of some competitor sabotaging a site, or someone destroying a sit for the old fashioned reasons of spite, malice and revenge. That labor cost issue would be the big reason why Google would want to tweak the algo to ignore guestbook links. And, I'd still like an example of some site that ever got to a PR7 from just guestbook links? I don't think it is possible.


 10:38 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

>This isn't a slam at coosblues specifically, but I can't help noting that it's a lot easier to sympathize with Webmasters who include URLs in their profiles.

I found his domain trivially easy to find based on what is in his profile. Free hint: use search engines. His domain is grey bar.


 9:42 am on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

OMG, is this what’s going on?
For the last 2 days my site has a gray bar, I could not think of any reason why would that happened, until i read this thread and went and checked my back links, and guess what? my site is listed in 4 or 5 guest books.

I do remember reading some where in this forum that GG saying a site will not be band or even penalized for something out side of the site. Did i read that correctly?

Dose this mean i can put someone in business by adding their site t a few guest books?.

That is the worst, I thought google has better since than that, if they find any Spam in my site and band it or penalize it, i will be OK without but not for something like this.

The funny thing though, i am still ranking high on some keywords.


 10:17 am on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I love this thread.....All these folks with other competitors adding their sites to guestbooks;) Give me a break!

Google does not penalize a site for being listed in guestbooks....I have several, and yes I put them there myself (not some competitor trying to hurt me) and there is no penalty associated with doing so.

I'm not sure it did me a great deal of good either, but I had to find out what all the guestbook hype was about several months ago;) Only real way to find out is to try it yourself;)

If you are all so convinced that guestbooks damage sites then please sticky me, I'll send you a bunch of URL's you can happily add to as many guestbooks as possible for me. I know for a fact it won't do any harm, and I might just get a tiny little bit of extra PR for your efforts.

I would add them myself, but I personally don't think it is worth the effort;) But if y'all convinced it causes damage and want to help me commit suicide then I never turn down free labor:)


 10:47 am on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

coosblues, it's a shame that you boot your site and your membership just because of wild speculations!

I understand, that you're frustrated but ...

I don't see that google is hiding. Tell me one other staff member of any other BIG engine that contributes to a forum like this and gives advices, answers and hints like GoogleGuy does.

I don't like the phrase "i'm a victim of google". That's ridiculous! You are allways a victim only of your own work and behaving.

And the whole guestbook discussion is quite strange. GoogleGuy clearly said that your competitors can't hurt your site. Instead of believing it you say google is hiding ... hä ... so what?

You can't complain about possible penalties right in the middel of a update. Wait one month / next update ...

Come on, relax!


 12:28 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google should be accountable to the webmaster's they profess to help

When it comes to search results Google will help webmasters only as far as it helps them to provide a good service to search engine users. They are google's users.

Now for adwords that may be different but I currently have no experience of PPC. Even then though webmasters will only pay for PPC if the traffic is there or it is not worth the work. It all comes down to Joe Searcher.


 3:35 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Final Post on this.

Note: The administrators edited the title to not include guestbooks for some reason.

Google Guy states that competitors cannot hurt you. But, as pointed out it says in the Webmaster FAQ taht there is almost nothing that a competitor...

Also (can't find it now) Google Guy says that they manually review cases of heavy guestbook spam. So, How would they have any idea who signed them?


 3:41 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Google Guy says that they manually review cases
>of heavy guestbook spam. So, How would they have
>any idea who signed them?

hmmm ... i don't have a answer. I'd say that's part of the game! ;)


 4:39 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Do not panic.

I manage a large e-commerce site and there are dozens of guestbook entries, bulliten board entries, newsgroup postings with our URL. Never has it hurt us.


Look for another problem.


 4:58 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, there's one way we can test this theory. Let's pick a site then go out and sign 500 guestbooks.

Now, who wants to volunteer their web-site to be the lab rat?


 5:20 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Now, who wants to volunteer their web-site to be the lab rat?

Should be a high PR site, no!? Hmm ... high PR ... hmmm ... some site like ... hmmm ... gooohps ...



 5:30 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

IMHO, if your site has contents and do benefit visitors, it won't hurt if you sign 1000 guestbooks. Given the condition you have lots of good inbound links too --> It means your site is extablished and stable, nothing can bring you down.

I have seen a page with lots of guestbook entries, it got a PR8 and become #1 in a competitive keyword. Then after 2 weeks, it is drop from the index and PR=grey. His site doesn't have any contents and his inbound links are almost all guestbook entries.


 5:31 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

does your site inlude many affiliate links and content which is readily available on many similar sites?


 5:41 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Now, who wants to volunteer their web-site to be the lab rat?

How about asking Marcia to see if he allow you guys to use webmasterworld.com as the lab rat? ;)


 5:54 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google Guy says that they manually review cases of heavy guestbook spam. So, How would they have any idea who signed them?

Be definition, a "manual review" implies human judgment. If I were a Google employee reviewing a complaint about guestbook spam, I'd look at the overall picture. I'd give the benefit of the doubt to a site that looked clean, but I might be less charitable toward a site that used keyword stuffing, heavy crosslinking between multiple domains or subdomains, and other questionable SEO techniques. In other words, I wouldn't use the guestbook entries to trigger a penalty by themselves, but my suspicions about those entries might be enough to make me hit the "Go directly to jail" button if the site already looked shady.


 6:57 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Guestbooks are a non-issue. Their effect is not significant, due to the way that PR is calculated (page PR / # of outbound links), as most of these are buried on sub-pages, and the ones that provide for links typically have lots of them. I have yet to see where someone placed a guestbook on the homepage of a PR8 site and only had 3 outbound links!

In addition, there are legitimate reasons for including your URL in guestbook entries, independent of any search engine concerns. For example, tasteful marketing on related sites in order to get referral traffic from the other sites. Or in cases where the webmaster specifically ASKS his visitors for your URL, because he feels the links to other relevant or interesting sites would add value to his own site and make it more interesting and beneficial for his own visitors.

In many cases, such webmasters use their guestbook as a "poor man's link page", making the "other guy" do the work rather than having to edit the HTML themselves, and deleting anything that is not appropriate. In such cases, these "approved" relevant links are just as valid as a regular link. In those cases where the webmaster is very selective as to which links he wants on his site, these will have few links, and may provide a modest amount of PR benefit, which is how it should be. Those sites that are abused and not maintained will end up with 100's of links, and the resulting PR value to any one site will be zilch, also as it should be. Larry Page's PageRank algo handles this all quite nicely, which I am sure he considered when he created it, as guestbooks were popular even at that time.

This is a legitimate and sociable method of linking to relevant sites that has been around a lot longer than Google has.

To penalize or provide reduced PR in such circustances would penalize the rankings of some of the oldest, most well-established, and most well-liked and popular sites, and would result in a reduction of the quality of the Google search results.

Google has much more important problems to fix than to mess with a non-issue that would only serve to harm the perceived value and relevancy of their results. Such as third-level domain multi-listing spamming, cloaking, "hidden" page link farms, more insideous hidden-text spamming, and hiding hard-core spaming inside of external CSS files.

Or, to put it another way, you don't spend time deciding to paint your bathroom a slightly different shade of "pink", when your house is on fire.

If your PR8 site took a nose dive, I would suggest you consider other more likely causes. First, check if the PR9 and PR8 site linking to you still have the same value!

Your PR8 also makes you a target. If you think some of your competitors are trying to knock down your listing, did you consider that they may have resorted to more effective tactics that simply marketing your site for you?

Google has good reason not to negatively consider any factor that can be easily manipulated externally by others, as it would result in "SEO wars" of webmasters trying to blow each other out of the water, and the relevancy of Google's search results (the main reason they are so popular today), would be shot to hell.

However, when I considered the statement that there is ALMOST nothing someone else can do to hurt your rankings, I stopped to ponder what an evil person could do if they really wanted to take-out a high-PR site.

For instance, what if someone created some throw-away domains, and filled then with hard-core spam and numerous cloaked re-directs to your site. Hosted them on some no-questions-asked bulk hoster in China, and put your company name as the domain owner.

And then filed an anonymous spam complaint against you with Google.

Evil? Definately. But my point is, if your site is really as squeeky-clean as you say it is, and you know for a fact that someone is "out to get you" in Google, and is willing to restort to underhanded means to do it, there are much more dangerous possibilities than the unlikely "g/b penalty" theory that you propose.


 7:18 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

From [webmasterworld.com...]

I can try to clear things up about guestbooks a little. We don't currently penalize for guestbooks in our automatic scoring. It's something that a competitor could do to another company, so our automatic scoring doesn't use it.

Investigating a manual spam complaint involves looking at all the evidence, direct and indirect, that we can find. djgreg, I noticed that several months ago, your domain was near the top of the list in terms of numbers of guestbook signed. At that time, signing guestbooks was a less-discussed technique. That could have been a factor for your domain.

Google very well understands that guestbooks can be used maliciously by your competitors. They will not penalize *just* for that.

When they do a manual review, and there are many other problems, they will consider those links as part of a trend, but at least some of the problems with your site must be on page factors.

So if you are already cheating a little, your competitors can make you look that much worse by signing lots of guestbooks.

There is no way that signing 4-5 guestbooks would ever enter the equation. That is a total non-issue. OTOH there are lots of glitches that happen where sites get missed. Then people grab on to the first thing that they see that might be a problem and hold on like a pit bull.


 7:29 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree BigDave and also - for the millionth time on here - want to echo that grey toolbar is usually just a page (or site) not indexed and not a sign of a penalty.
I had a stupid little example of this last month when I inadventerntly left a "nofollow" meta on a page that went up just before the crawl. I looked at the page's grey bar, puzzled over it and finally noticed the errant code days later.


 7:45 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)



 7:57 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, maybe a slight wince
1 minor page out of a site pushing 1,000...I'm not THAT dumb I would leave it on a major page.


 8:09 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just to echo what other people have said, I don't think mfishy's site has a penalty. You probably want to double-check everything with your ISP and make sure that your site is in order.


 8:11 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

... i love that forum! ;)


 8:40 pm on Jan 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just to follow-up a little more: the vast majority of emails about sites being dropped or even banned usually turn out to be webmaster error. I'm not saying that Google can't make mistakes--anyone can. For example, last March we crawled the web so quickly that we didn't get to retry fetching pages as much as usual, and so some really slow sites, or sites that were down briefly, weren't in our index that time. But we do try to get every site we can. Our bots often go back and re-try urls to see if a site has come back up or doesn't time out. Our fresh crawl can also pick up some sites that were down during our crawl. As far as penalties go, we really don't like to do them. Manual penalties are quite rare and we try to investigate very carefully before they are put into effect. I think most people here know that Google prefers to fix problems algorithmically, even if that takes a little longer.

The takeaway message I would ask webmasters to remember is that not showing up in Google!= "I'm banned." We've got a FAQ on our site that site owners can review if they don't show up in Google.
The terms of service on this forum don't allow specific sites to be mentioned. If a person lists their site in a profile, then other people (including me) can help that webmaster out if they can and have the time. I hope that helps some people feel better, or gives them some info about what to do if they don't see their site..

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