homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from
register, free tools, login, search, pro membership, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Become a Pro Member

Home / Forums Index / Google / Google SEO News and Discussion
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: Robert Charlton & aakk9999 & brotherhood of lan & goodroi

Google SEO News and Discussion Forum

Google dropping sites based on registrant name?

 6:30 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a number of small (5-10 pages) sites, each covering a sub-area of a larger common subject. It's organized this way because I noticed I got better and faster indexing (for years) by dividing into smaller sites.

Last few days of September 2007, suddenly Google dropped ALL my sites except one from their index. Dropped as in no index, no cache, site simply not existing according to Google.

I checked all the obvious such as crawl errors, sitemaps etc etc. Everything absolutely fine, no errors reported in Google Webmaster Tools and several (but not all) sites were crawled 1-2 days before the total drop (of all sites).

The site still indexed is also mine, but I made a mistake when registering it (they are all with Godaddy, all in the same hosting account) and typed the registrant name wrong. Otherwise there is nothing really different about this site, it's very similar in structure but covering its part of the niche.

Conclusion: Google has penalized all sites belonging to one owner, for some reason (haven't found anything obvious but I've poked around a bit to no avail, tried linking a bit less between the sites, sorted out the odd error of no major importance etc). Or is there some other explanation I don't see here?

For the first 2-3 days, I had about 30% of the traffic remaining, coming in from MSN and other engines.

After nearly a week - now MSN & Live have also started to drop my sites. I find this even more strange and have no idea why this is happening.

I will of course try the obvious and change 1-2 of the penalized (or what?) sites to the same "misspelled" owner to see if the DNS change has any effect.

Anyone seen something like this before and do you have any clues what I can do? Move all content (after changes to the wording) to new sites with other owners?

Fortunately, I've split up all my sites on several different owners (companies, friends) and all the others are still well indexed although they are built using the same templates (private templates, created by me and only used for our sites). I did this because I didn't trust Google. Rightly so it now seems but I'm still wondering what happened.

I won't be bothered with reinclusion requests, it is just too humiliating and too uncertain. It is easier to re-create the sites with a similar name although still a lot of work to avoid duplicate content. But that of course gives me the chance of splitting up on even more registrants (more companies and friends) to avoid this happening again.



 7:27 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

now MSN & Live have also started to drop my sites

thats gotta sound an alarm bell....sounds like theres a real issue here with the sites...


 7:43 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

tried linking a bit less between the sites

That jumps out a bit. Check how your sites are indexed in Yahoo. If there's a penalty due to links that's where it's usually first apparent.

I will of course try the obvious and change 1-2 of the penalized (or what?) sites to the same "misspelled" owner to see if the DNS change has any effect.

It isn't quite that obvious, could always be a coincidence. As far as I know, this is the first report of this. Though it's certainly interesting I think it needs a bit of corroboration before you go making changes based on this.


 7:45 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

The only thing I can think of triggering this is that Google somehow strongly dislikes crosslinking between my own sites. There are a total of approx 20 sites, link block on each page of each site linking to several of the other sites (7-8 maybe). Made this way because it was easy to implement.

One site out of the 20-ish was on a totally different subject so that shouldn't really participate in the linking. I'm cleaning that up now but killing 20 sites TOTALLY over that would seem completely over the top to me.

Obviously there is an issue now (sites been unchanged for at least 6 months and well indexed before) with something that annoyed Google and others enough to zap us completely.

I just wondered if anyone else has seen this DNS-based zapping of all sites with the same owner and what the reason for such an overkill could be.

Note: The odd site that was registered to someone else by mistake was equally interlinked with the others but that site wasn't zapped.

I have drawn the conclusion from this that I should have different formal owners (companies, friends, relatives) of all sites to avoid DNS-based zapping. I have started that work now, will progress slowly on that since I don't know what effect DNS changes has on search engine rankings (for my other sites that wasn't zapped here).


 7:56 pm on Oct 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Jimbeetle, thanks for the Yahoo tip.

Yahoo is actually just about the only major engine still indexing us and they seem to do it well (trying site:mysite.com gave me all pages and nothing looked odd).

It puzzles me this propagation from Google to MSN with a few days in between. I find it hard to believe it's a coincidence as things happened simultaneously to 20 sites, from fully indexed to not a trace.

It's almost as if Google decided to get annoyed after 6 months of spidering the same content and then communicated somehow with MSN. I just can't find the common underlying cause otherwise.


 6:07 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)


I have now moved a few sites over to new domain names (similar but not equal) and Google indexing started after about 7 days, just as I have seen in the past - ranking well too, also that exactly as expected for a non-punished site.

I did an interesting experiment - I also registered two similar new sites in the old hosting account (same IP as the de-indexed sites but shared hosting with hundreds of others as well). I put adsense ads on these, using the same publisher ID as on the de-indexed sites. Other info such as owner, technical contact etc are new and never used before. These two sites are not indexed at all even after a month, something I have never seen in the past. I have used similar linking, submitting, promoting etc on all sites involved. I did not report these sites to Google via GWT, avoiding the risk of being contaminated there.

This indicates fairly clear to me that Google is also avoiding indexing sites based on a combination of IP and publisher ID.

On the "moved" sites, I have currently left adsense off them until I've built up a good traffic so there is no publisher ID to punish and also they are on a new hosting account with new ID. All other info relating to these sites is also varied to avoid G-punishment.

I will later use a separate Adsense account (one used with well indexed sites, or a freshly registered one with some relative) for the moved sites.

I could of course vary the theme and register a new site again on the old IP, leave adsense off it and see if it is IP or pub-ID (or both) that Google is punishing. But for income reasons I don't want to take this any further now, I will just move everything slowly over to new accounts.

I still don't know what triggered the problems but in the future I will keep to these revised guidelines:

1) No more than 10-12 sites per one owner
2) No more than 10-12 sites per one pub-ID
3) No more than 10-12 sites per one IP
4) No more than 10-12 sites per one Google GWT
5) All other info, such as owner, other DNS contacts etc unique per site.
6) Wide circular linking rather than crosslinking

After much thinking, I believe that my problems might have been due to too much crosslinking and too many sites (24 of them in one IP/Pub-ID/owner), I can see no other reason.

I hope this information can help those of you working with many sites - there is obviously something that Google has started to dislike (that was fine up to recently). Just be careful out there...


 8:41 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow - you really make life complicated for yourself.

Google isn't going to punish you because all sites belong to the same person - in fact, the riskiest strategy (in my opinion), is quite the opposite - trying to give the impression that your sites are all owned by different people and companies will probably raise a red flag with every search engine.

If you have good quality, UNIQUE content on all your sites - and they are NOT interlinked at all (although you can probably link 1-2 in a very limited way) - you will be fine

Obey those rules and you can have a thousand websites all registered in your name, on the same server, sharing the same IP etc.


 9:43 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your comment. If you check the beginning of this thread you can see though that Google has done just that - punished all sites with the same owner. The one they spared was the one registered (by mistake) with a separate owner - everything else similar (interlinking, IP etc etc).

I wouldn't give the impression that all "my" sites were owned by different people. They would not be "my" sites at all but in fact really owned by different people. So no more strange than any 10-12 random sites out there, owned by different people and linking (in a moderate way) to each other.

Content is unique on each site but they have been (a bit sloppy, I admit) interlinked, i.e. links + backlinks quite heavily. I will now change that so that one site will link to 1-2 others and no backlinks from them (using a circular pattern over all the sites).

The fact is that we run several blocks of sites that interlink in exactly the same older (sloppier) way and they all have good indexing since years. The largest other block contains nearly 15 sites, others more like 5-10. This points towards the amount of sites being the problem (24 in this case), maybe in connection with the linking, ownership and IP in some complicated trade-off that Google calculates.

It is not straightforward though - I have friends who run hundreds of websites within other areas, similarly linked + backlinked and a large number of these on shared hosting with same IP - and no problem (yet!).

So there is a risk it is something else that triggered the problem, could be DNS related (that would explain why Google dropped us, then Yahoo a few days later), maybe something funny Godaddy did in their DNS. But the point is - that the only site that survived was the one with a unique owner. Hence my revised strategy of risk-minimization with different everything in order to make DNS based total-zapping more difficult.

The problem with Google is of course that they can do what they want without ever telling you why and there seem to be a lot of people who got problems they certainly didn't deserve and no way out of that since Google are more interested in preserving their algorithms than in talking to people. We just have to adapt to that and minimize the risk.


 11:37 am on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google doesn't have any automated DNS based penalties in my opinion.
Yours is a ban as manual as it gets.
Someone looked at your sites ( and their WHOIS ) and decided they need to be erased off of the SERPs.


If I get this right...
In your original attempt...

You've launched like a dozen sites.
With very similar content.
You've interlinked them heavily.
Except perhaps for one they had no links from others.
They were hosted on the same server.
Registered under the same name.
Shared the IP.
And you even put AdSense on them right from the start.
Using the same publisher ID.
And connected them in GWT.


You know what...

All that's left for me to ask is...
How original ( not unique but original ) is the content?
Is it yours? Was it syndicated? User generated?


[edited by: Miamacs at 11:42 am (utc) on Oct. 23, 2007]


 1:23 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I still don't know what triggered the problems but in the future I will keep to these revised guidelines:

Check this recent thread:


As Miamacs said

Yours is a ban as manual as it gets.

Get someone else to review it and give an honest opinion.


 3:43 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

suddenly Google dropped ALL my sites except one from their index. Dropped as in no index, no cache, site simply not existing according to Google ... no errors reported in Google Webmaster Tools...

I realize I sound like a broken record, but this is what drives me nuts about Google -- the apparently acceptable notion that they can literally destroy a significant portion of someone's online business in days without any discernable reason whatsoever. When anyone suddently loses 100% of the traffic they used to get from the world's number 1 search service, you have taken a bullet to the chest.

They could have raised a flag in Carlotto's GWT account to at least provide some clue as to what happened. There is no need for them to go into any more detail than necessary -- just a concise reference as to which guideline is in question. But no, you're gone and it's your problem -- a really arrogant attitude from a great company, IMO.

I hope for your sake it's just a glitch that will repair itself with the next update. If not, you have my condolences.



 4:05 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Conclusion: Google has penalized all sites belonging to one owner, for some reason (haven't found anything obvious but I've poked around a bit to no avail, tried linking a bit less between the sites, sorted out the odd error of no major importance etc).

I believe this is a common occurrence when detected. Many have tried the multiple site strategy to no avail. Many have made it work too. But, it brings a level of risk that you need to prepare for.

Having multiple sites on the same IP owned by the same person covering the same topic is webicide in most instances. An angry competitor could have easily reported your network of sites. It sure sounds like you had what they call a "hand job" by Google and now MSN too. I really wouldn't be suprised if MSN has come a long way in this area. With all their recent changes and the constant battle for that #3 spot, they may be on to something. ;)

Bottom line, you got busted. Hopefully those domains that are in purgatory are disposable? Because they surely won't be coming out anytime soon. I know that based on experience and reading others ventures into this area. Mind you, my experience is from years ago. I would never split a site these days for the purposes you describe. There are many ways to skin that cat and follow protocol without the risk.

Or is there some other explanation I don't see here?

There could be. But, from what you describe above, I'd be apt to believe that you got smacked. Time to move on and start a new empire. :)


 4:35 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

What messages do you get from Google webmastertools? I don't subscribe to submitting sitemaps, but getting one (or all) of the sites verified there may be able to give you black and white information about why you are dropped...


 4:46 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Carlotto, you made this comment in another topic...

Instead they have content which is unique but fairly thin. Thin in value that is, not in amount of text. It still provides some value though, it is not zero. The average reader stays on a page for about 30-90 seconds before clicking on an ad (I only have these stats when they exit via an ad). It is boring - deliberately so - in order to make ads a more compelling place to click.

Emphasis mine. So, we can add MFA (Made for AdSense) to the mix?


 5:14 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks all, for the input.

The split on many sites was because I noticed that homepages got better SERP than inner pages so we simply decided to split up what would have been one site into sub-sites, but registered as different domains with descriptive names. Hence a level of interlinking (just as there would have been between pages on one site). If Google doesn't like that, then we have to obey and de-link (making navigation more difficult...).

Miamacs: You are right, the original attempt is as you describe it (the leftover site was interlinked as well, it just got another owner by DNS mistake). This strategy has worked fine, and is till working fine with several groups of sites since a long time. It is only the 24-group (the largest) that got slammed. The new moved group, now containing 4 sites and slowly adding more, is also working fine. It has only existed some 2 weeks but we are now well indexed in Google and Yahoo, still waiting for MSN to find us. Have deliberately NOT submitted the sites, I want the engines to find us naturally first, then we'll submit sitemaps etc.
The content is unique but of course many others write on the same subject even though it is a niche. I've personally written all pages myself (a thousand or so maybe) over a few years after researching the subjects on the net. Not a single sentence is stolen, scraped or hijacked from anywhere. We can not all be original, in that case there could be no Google (Altavista et al had the search engine idea first).

Receptional: In GWT I get virtually NOTHING AT ALL. No errors, no messages, all sitemaps ok, no pages indexed anymore etc.

Pageoneresults: Well, the hand job was my first thought too, but then when MSN dropped us as well, 2-3 days later, it just seemed v-e-r-y strange that they should independently decide the same handjob on sites that had been running 6-12 months, only days after Google did it. This in my view points more to something DNS related and I still don't feel absolutely comfortable with Godaddy's DNS - the reason being that the site that got the wrong owner actually showed the right owner when viewed from inside Godaddy's control panel, but the wrong owner when DNS was queried (for a long time, so no temp glitch).

The angry competitor is of course a possibility, he could have chased us on both Google and MSN but it still seems very unlikely that they should both have reacted so close in time.

At the end of the day, it turned out that my original idea of splitting things up between owners, IP's etc was sound - thanks to that I now have 2/3 of the empire left. I got carried away with the bit that is now semi-dead and I created too many sites with common owner/ip etc. Lesson learnt there but I still have no clue what Google penalized me for.

I've learnt to treat Google a bit like a North Korean dictator; say what he wants to hear and watch your back. He's got a lot of power and he freaks out now and then and grills a few citizens for no good reason at all, except maybe to put fear into the rest.


 5:18 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Lesson learnt there but I still have no clue what Google penalized me for.

You might want to consider putting your network up for interpretation in the forums here...

Review My Site

Based on your replies in other topics, particularly the one I quoted above, I believe you have other challenges at hand. It may not be just the cross linking by same owner, same IP, same content, etc.


 5:36 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Part of the problem of discussing the interlinking of sites by the same owner is we don't know the details, so maybe it's a good idea and maybe it's pushing the envelope.

For example, let's say you are a woodworker who makes tables, rocking chairs, cabinets, and chessboards. You could put each of them under the same website umbrella, or you could consider making them distinct domains focused on the distinct product lines, with the interlinking taking place on a "See More Of My Work" page.

I see the separate site approach as legitmate; Google may or may not -- we don't know. Unfortunately, given the current status quo no one can know until you dedicate the time & expense of creating/hosting the sites, and even then, it may be OK for a year or two, then Google gets a bug up their #@! and decide it's not OK any longer so you're toast.

It's all too vague and as far as I'm concerned, at this stage of the web's development there is no downside for anyone (Google included) for there to be clearer guidelines and better communications.

<Reason for edit: typo>

[edited by: Reno at 5:38 pm (utc) on Oct. 23, 2007]


 5:59 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

It really is a case by case thing - so it's natural that the guidelines end up somewhat vague. It's really about intent, most of all, and that's not easy to define in technical terms.

At 2006 PubCon in Vegas, Matt Cutts was part of what became a widely discussed Site Review panel. They looked at several sites where owners also owned lots of other sites. If you haven't read his blog from back then, you may find it adds some clarity to the topic.



 8:35 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's really about intent, most of all, and that's not easy to define in technical terms.

You are right and I do understand that. The unfortunate effect for people like Carlotto is one of devastation. He may very well be, as Google or the military would put it, "collateral damage" (what an ugly term).

This is why the time has long since arrived for Google to re-think their total-destruction policy of wiping out entire sites for problems that they see on specific pages. YES, definitely remove those pages and let the siteowner figure out why that is. But if the number of pages removed goes beyond a certain percentage -- say 67% for example -- then put up a flag in their GWT account so they understand that they are on the verge of a meltdown. That really is not an unreasonable approach for what has become one of the most powerful corporations in the world.



 8:43 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster, I hadn't read that one. Interesting. If anything, it strengthens my view that one should not provide the search engines with any easy way of finding the "next site belonging to the same owner". If Matt Cutts looks manually at a number of sites under same ownership, then we can be pretty sure Google is doing similar things.

So by using protective measures such as many owners, IP's, GWT accounts and pub-ID's there is an amount of damage limitation if a search engine decides on a whim to kill you, maybe because they changed policy, maybe by accident, who cares. They hardly bother to get it right again whatever the cause and at least in my case, they couldn't be bothered to let me know first what was offending them so I could change it (zero messages in GWT, ever).

Anyway, thanks for all input so far and now I don't think we can take this any further. I will just go on now creating new sites (well...first a number of old sites with new names) and keep expanding as before but with an extra layer of G-protection in the system.


 9:01 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Pageoneresults: Sorry, didn't mean to ignore you, forgot to say that I tried to get to the "Review my site" thing but I end up in an eternal loop of logon pages. I never get to a forum where I can post anything and I don't want to annoy anyone by trying to post a site here.

Again, thanks for all info - I will now focus on getting my income back on track again!


 9:14 pm on Oct 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ah, I believe that is a Supporter's Forum, my apologies.

Instead they have content which is unique but fairly thin. Thin in value that is, not in amount of text. It still provides some value though, it is not zero. The average reader stays on a page for about 30-90 seconds before clicking on an ad (I only have these stats when they exit via an ad). It is boring - deliberately so - in order to make ads a more compelling place to click.

Can we talk about the above response that you made in another topic? It sounds like you have a network of MFA sites, is that correct?


 8:47 am on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

No it is not a network of MFA's.

There are a few that are a bit thin as I am in the process of adding text to them, several are highly optimized for Adsense (so deliberatly writing text a bit heavy and technical around the ads for people who just checks in to find that it's the wrong site for them - it is then very likely they will exit via an ad).

However, there are also many very technical, some very serious sites with lots of pages that I wrote because I feel especially for a subject and have gone into depth with a lot of how-to for technical minded readers. These now also carry Adsense although income from this is extremely low due to the technical nature of open software I am describing. I only put Adsense on them because I had the Pub-ID from other sites.

Everything was zapped and I'm sure it is a Google "owner smack". They have found something they don't like, somewhere in one or a couple of sites - then smacked everything they could find with the same owner according to DNS. Served me right for not watching my back and the reason I started this thread was mainly as a warning to others with many sites.

So bottom line: If there is something wrong in one page, or one site - you may get TOTALLY DELISTED by Google for ALL SITES where DNS shows the same owner, regardless of content or quality. A very good reason NOT to provide the same owner for all sites and probably good to vary a lot of other info as well (IP, GWT accounts, Pub-ID, whatever). Google has grown very powerful, with power comes abuse. Be careful out there...


 12:39 pm on Oct 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I like quoting from myself.

You've interlinked them heavily.
(...) they had no links from others.
They were hosted on the same server.
Shared the IP.

This is enough for a ban.
No need for anything else.

If you launch a dozen sites, interlink them all, have no or very little other links in their link profiles...

Google recognizes the attempt as a 'Mass Driver', a closed cirlce of sites of same ownership trying to vote each other onto the SERPs. And does rightfully so, doesn't it. Your messages don't seem to contain any outrage, rather just an interesting debate on how to build mass drivers for Google ( AdSense )... which I'm not sure I can sympathize with, but neither can I support your conclusion.

The fact that there was a single one that got spared isn't necessarily just because they didn't want to ban someone who might not be involved in this 'scheme'. It could very well be that site having some OK links to it, or Google might have simply overlooked something. ( they'll be sure to check next time ) For you know what, from now on - as Google monitors this forum - they will know they can't rely on the WHOIS record, and will have to believe their 'gut feelings' telling them that if a site looks the same, is hosted at the same place, under the same IP, for the same theme, and is interlinked with a batch of other sites pretty much the same... lacks any inbounds apart of same ownership links just as the rest of the pack, hell, they can just ban it without confirming the owner's name which is but a string you can type or mistype at will anyway.


If they DID that right from the start...
( ban all the sites involved, regardless of their WHOIS records )

This thread wouldn't have came to be.
Not only that, but instead of a possible vision on Google prejudicing domains by their WHOIS record, a sense of rightfulness would have filled the air, that yes, Google does in fact try to crack down on scheming.

Btw. MFA doesn't necessarily mean domain parking or scraped, stolen content.

It means what it means, Made For AdS(ense).
Which isn't a bias, more like an emphasis.
It's name, complete with middle initials really is...
Made Only For AdSense. - or MOFA, which we don't use for obvious reasons *smirk* - might be relevant though.
... does the intent ring a bell?

I have some sites that almost fit this profile. Pretty much like you, I already had the content, thought it could be marketed, and optimized a site to host it in a way it could bring in some money.

Do you know what's the difference between stinkin' old MFA and a site just optimized to have ads?

No, not just intent.


It's whether people find it a useful resource or not.


And how does Google identify whether people like something?
...take a guess


I'd like to see the conclusion to be 'don't do this' and not 'don't do this on the same server, with the same IP'. Both as a user and a webmaster I don't like arriving on such closed networks.

I've brought this up before but


All interlinked as if this was OK doesn't really cut it for me.

Why not market them one by one, get links to them one by one, and THEN, for those that proved to be popular, interlink, move the content of the rest to these, and you'll dominate your niche in a legit way.

It's OK to build several sites on the same topic when it makes sense.
I can even see some that don't make sense get away with it.
I don't like it, and keep a record of all of them in case I get fed up with their activity.
Most of them get banned/PR neutered though, long before I'd do anything.

If you spread your content within reasonable limits, and/or use subdomains instead... market each and every one of them and build up link profiles... then this can be done without having to think about when your competition will send in a SPAM report and Google ban your entire network.

Oh, btw.


You know what, doing things that Google doesn't like.
That's OK, it's just that you won't be registered with them.


Also, on the issue of how much 'privacy' can shield you from being identified as someone who's going against Google. One of the partners of one of the clients of one of my friends ( I've worked for them in the past ) got banned from AdWords based on their... what info... wanna guess?

Credit card numbers.


It's not like they don't KNOW, it's more like, they don't want to get sued and don't ban unless they're 100% SURE. As for you ( and any other webmaster ), why the risk when you have original content? Open up the circle, spend another week or two for a link campaign, and you can rest easy.

Of I misunderstood your business model, my apologies... sorry, don't mind me, ignore me... etc. But if not, you could consider what I wrote, there's lots of advice in it afterall.

Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  

Home / Forums Index / Google / Google SEO News and Discussion
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Home ¦ Free Tools ¦ Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About ¦ Library ¦ Newsletter
WebmasterWorld is a Developer Shed Community owned by Jim Boykin.
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved