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10 y/o site violates Google's quality guidelines

 10:17 am on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

for the last 9 months, i've been battling via email with google, regarding paid links on my website

from the outset, i replied advising them that their adsense ads they were serving were totally nothing regarding my content ( i have owned and updated the same website for a decade now, all ONLY free website templates for a popular CMS system)

majority of showing ads were singles, and you get the idea, even tho each and every page of my 800 page website, had website related keywords for the design i made, and H1 titles always have "free website templates" - i even asked specifiaclly that only web design ads be showm though if course no answer on that

of course i decided to offer my own ad placemenets, when google couldnt provide the right ads.

their first email, instantly gave me a penalty, i tried to explain that their ad service would NOT serve correct ads that my visitors would benefit from, they auto declined the reinstatement

after 6 months, i managed to remove 50% of the ads, as of course i had to wait until each one expired, as these customers paid me money.

second request, auto answer , declined

i then send another email asking what links am i allowed to have to even get a reinstatement of what penalty they imposed, again, auto declined, site still violates

apart from really pissing me off, does google honestly think that i can have NO paid links, even if they are of benefit to my customers!

this whole situation stinks,

i am fine to give my website via PM, to anyone that would like to have a look, as there is no way, that i will run a website, and be dictated by google on wether i am even allowed to sell adspace

my google results: (link:www.$%^.com) = 1,590
: "my domain name" = 202,000

i am not one of these fly by night people, i have literally spent 1000's of hours making free designs.

thanks for reading




 4:24 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do you advertise that you have advertising space for sale?
Do you nofollow the paid links?


[edited by: tedster at 4:38 pm (utc) on Sep 17, 2012]


 4:49 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

You're not including links in your templates, are you? This is just ads?


 4:54 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you want to remain in Google's search index then you have to follow their quality guidelines. You are selling paid links, and when the links are dofollow it is seen selling PageRank. That's a violation of their guidelines. You can still sell ads, either image ads or links, but you have to add the nofollow attribute.

There are alternate methods for selling advertising, such as using OpenX or blogads.com.


 5:14 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@mikey : I've had A TON of grief caused by free templates that had my links in them ( [webmasterworld.com...] ) and my tussle with Google over that was successful in only 1 case out of approx. a dozen sites similarly affected.

So, netmeg is asking a very valid question: if your links are embedded in the templates that you let people download, then Google may see this as unnatural links. You may be able to convince them otherwise by insisting that you are the actual designer and even then, I think you will do much better if you create new versions of your templates with your link no-follow'ed and tell Google about these new ones, maybe you have a chance then.

But as far as grossly unmatched AdSense ads - this in itself is a huge red flag. I mean, first of all for you as a webmaster, I'm not sure if Google cares much about those ads in terms of the penalties. It can mean that your site has been hacked and the hacker is now sending tons of keyworded links to the hacked pages. Probably from hundreds of forum profile pages and the like. That, by the way, could also easily trip the inorganic links filter for Google. This happened to me before: a site that had nothing to do with pharma, started to show ads for various [dubious] drugs. I chucked it up to bad AdSense matching algo but I should not have been so quick to dismiss it. It turned out that AdSense's relevance is so much better than Google's own SERPs, ironically.

My site had one page (just one out of hundreds!) hacked into via comments and links to places that sell drugs seeded. Then they threw hundreds of forum profile, blog comments and other low quality keyworded-anchor links to that page. This one hacked page and the massive amount of links with drug-related anchors was enough to skew relevance of AdSense ads on the entire site!

So, if you are seeing grossly mismatched ads, don't just ignore it, it may be an indication of a bigger issue - your site may, in fact, acquire massive amounts of bad links, even if unbeknown to you. Google may be reacting to links that you don't even know about yet. Go through your site's code (as rendered to visitors) with a fine comb, see if you can spot any foreign insertions there and fix that ASAP, then file the RR again.


 6:10 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Go through your site's code (as rendered to visitors)

Good suggestion. I'd also suggest going through a few problem pages with "Fetch as googlebot". Some hacks to today are actually cloaked so only googlebot sees the parasite content.


 10:50 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

appreciate all the replies, and ill try to answer as below,


@RegDCP - I dont say anywhere on my site that I offer the space, i get emails every other day asking for it. maybe they see i already have some, and assume i will accept them for the right price - but i havent accepted any new ones since the google problems, rather i am letting them all expire, which seems unreasonable on goofgle part, to me anyway

@netmeg - my templates only have "design by #####.com" in the footer - i am only referring to the ad space i sell on my actual website.

@martinbuster - when sellling these ads, most if not all, requested the follow links. but there website was totally related to what i do, so i didnt really care how the link was set up, stupid me assuming if relevance was there, why shouldnt they get some kind of benefit for payin me for the space.

@1script - yes, my links are embedded in the footer, as i thought that they would in turn provide me with more vistots back to use my templates. (this has worked well, and whilst i offer instant free downloads of all my stuff, sometime people actually buy one of my link licenses) maybe be a strange way to do things, but it has worked so far, in providing an fair income. 18 months ago, i did het hacked and someone inserted DRUG html, but i fixed that in 24 hours, no bad stuff since.

@tedster - each week i check my main content file for edits, other than my own, and there's been no insetions of anykind since that one 18 months ago

thanks again all.


 2:24 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dont say anywhere on my site that I offer the space

I think it would be to your advantage if you did.

Google does not frown on paid links, per se.
They dislike under the table paid links.


 3:18 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google frowns on paid links if they're dofollow, whether it is under or over the table. See this YouTube video where Matt Cutts says as long as the link doesn't flow PageRank then it's none of their business if you are selling links.



 4:42 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google frowns on paid links if they're dofollow

I don't think so.
They recommend yellow pages for business listings ad they are dofollow links.


 6:13 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Rather than penalize, Google sometimes does just ignore paid links for the purposes of PR and link juice. I've seen this in paid online ads from local and regional newspapers websites. These publishers are just big enough (and clearly not trying to evade anything - they just don't know) that I guess Google is willing to accept the trade-off.

Nonetheless, Google has been very clear that they want paid links to be nofollow - or else the publishers risks a penalty. A minor penalty can be a demotion of toolbar PR that doesn't really affect ranking. However, if they want to in any given situation, Google will totally wipe out rankings for a site that sells dofollow links. So there is a gradient approach on how this guideline violation is handled.

Nevertheless, I would not advise any site to sell dofollow links. If you can't drive actual traffic to your advertiser (or at least offer them good impressions) don't sell PR - it can kill you.

In fact, this particular warning that the OP is communicating sounds very much like it could be a paid link issue. However, the poor targeting of Adsense also sounds suspicious and very worth looking into. There could well be a big technical problem.


 9:35 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I suspect it's the footer links in the templates.

Robert Charlton

 5:36 am on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, it is at least the footer links, probably made worse by the addition of dofollow ads, and likely also by attitude in dealing with Google's reconsideration team. The way to get reconsidered is not to tell them their ad system is screwed up and you don't like their linking policy.

rannans... have you read and absorbed the thread that 1script linked to? In case you haven't... since I'm the mod who changed 1script's title and posted the historical context about Google's attitude toward links embedded in sponsored themes... here's a more explicit link to the thread....

Google wants me to remove links from sponsored WordPress themes
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4445558.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Here's also a thread about reconsideration requests...

Reconsideration Request Tips - from Google Search Quality Team
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/3903282.htm [webmasterworld.com]

From the Reconsideration Request thread...
document what you have done to correct any violations...

only file a new reconsideration request if you have new information about your site...

keep the actual request concise...

(be) respectful of the employees who read through all the input ...make your communication in a persuasive and well organized fashion...


 11:28 am on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Robert Charlton - (read that link as well ) i appreciate the time you have taken to give the info + all others that have posted in my thread :)

all along, i have been nice in my replies to google about my problem with a ban of some description, even though they won't tell me what exactly the ban is, as my visitor numbers havent really been affected, it's just that email says in so much words, your a bad website - i quote

"look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank"

this is soley pointing to the outgoing links people have paid me for, rather than my own template links on my templates.

my whole gripe is this:

1. why cant i offer adspace, without being penalised.
2. why should it be my concern the reasons people want to link to me, i only assume it is because of the 700+ uniques i get each day, as i have so many backlinks from my "hand made templates" surely that is a great thing - if these link requesters want a link due to my PR, then thats their choice and their $$

3. google reps refuse to specify how many links i need to reduce to , in order to remove whatever ban they have imposed.

to sum up, do they really expect me never to add any more follow links, ever !

how else can i monetize my website, when i offer everything for free instantly, and 1000s' of websites are using my designs now - i was always under the impression that offering freebies was a good thing, get the backlinks then that would get more people to my site.

then, if they dont download and use my designs, they would maybe click a google adsense link..... sounded fair to me.

but, when all the google adsense targeting went to crap, at least 12 months ago, the only thing that came to mind was to sell adpsace, now i am paying for it

it all seems so unfair, to me

thanks again


 12:43 pm on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I suspect it's the footer links in the templates.

netmeg is right.

Google does not like those backlinks. It may have been fine before but this has changed. What was OK 10 years ago, may not always going to be OK now.

Here is another example, take a look at WPMU.org and how they got penguinized due to their footer links.

post: #4464063 by rlange
The SEOmoz Blog has a post titled "How WPMU.org Recovered From The Penguin Update". The specific situation may not apply to everyone hit by Penguin, but it might offer some clues.

The gist of the solution is that they removed something like 500,000 backlinks with anchor text that may have looked suspicious (footer links in WordPress themes they offered). Those backlinks were on a domain offering community blogs using their themes. The domain was also under their control, though, so they had it easy.

If you google the analysis you will find a detailed analysis of how they recovered from Penguin by removing those footer links.


 2:07 pm on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

do they really expect me never to add any more follow links, ever

They don't expect you to SELL any more do follow links, correct.

The only value that BUYING a do follow link has (over a no follow link) is the potential to pass Pagerank. Wrap your mind around that. Google wants Pagerank to be gained naturally, not purchased or gamed. That's why Google doesn't want you to sell do follow links. It doesn't matter that they created the ecosystem to begin with, so they pretty much created the mess to begin with. It's their search engine, they make the rules, and they change the rules. You've vented your resentment, now get over it and get with the times (or else just live with the penalty) This is the world in which we live. If that's the only way you can sell advertising, then you have a choice to make - continue to sell follow links and stay penalized, or change your business model. Because no matter what, Google isn't going to change theirs. So at some point you need to be practical.

(And yes, it *is* the footer links. It might be the text ads too, but it's also the footer links. Nofollow everything.)

There's no "fair" with Google. You either roll with whatever they're doing or you don't.


 2:25 pm on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

^^^What netmeg said ..every word..( I agree with her about the links ), and..you want to play in their index..it has to be their way..they never did "fair"..


 4:23 pm on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Summing up,
Innocent sites are now suffering with the common method of the so called SEO link building companies to spread spammy links all over the web in an attempt to rank higher.

Not so long ago, many webmasters bought these services and spoiled the Internet.
I think there's no other choice to Google but to ban them in order to clean the Internet.


 7:21 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

appreciate all the comments

just resubmitted my site for review with google.

i now only have 18 links from the original 70+ i had, and 17 of the 18 are related to my website, meaning web design etc

if i get knocked back now, after waiting nearly 12 months for my paid links to expire, i have no idea what i can do if they they no.

i asked them also, how many links can i have, no answer, and also asked politely, if i can have a few paid relevant links, no answer.

does this really mean, after spending a few thousand hours making templates over 7 years, that i can't have any paid links, even if they are relevant

im hoping now, will repost if/when i can an aswer

those that would like to see my site, please PM



 9:55 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

paid links are a problem if they are used to pass pagerank.
if the paid links are for the purpose of traffic then it's usually worth it to forgo the risk of a penalty by using a nofollow attribute on paid links.


 7:38 am on Nov 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

does google honestly think that i can have NO paid links, even if they are of benefit to my customers

IMO Google can penalize customers of paid links and does. It just depends on the severity, which can be manual or automated.

Although internal guidelines likely exist for manual penalties, discretion in the hands of a human always worry me if interpretation of rules is involved. And i wouldn't think that the folks who hold your life in their hands would be that concerned about deciding your fate.

The reconsideration team is another story, but if you have fallen foul of the guidelines, some folks or you might just open a can of worms and dig themselves deeper.


 10:27 pm on Nov 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

hi all, just had the google response. same deny as before, site still violates. they didnt bother to answer any questions that i asked. ( can i have any links at all )

so, i am in the dark now. i have 14 outgoing links now, and if that is too many, then they must be telling me i can have none, which is so damn unfair as i do not sell PR, yet they assume ALL links are only there for PR

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