|Site that no longer exists still violates Google's quality guidelines?|
Help me understand what's going on here!
Let me ask the question first, then fill in details: when you move a site, do all of its past issues move with it or do they stay associated with the OLD site? And a corollary of this: how can Google check if the issues have been fixed if they cannot even browse the old site since all URLs forward to the new?
I have just received a rejection of my RR for a site that is no longer a separate entity because all of its content has been moved to a new domain (mostly for branding purposes). The reason I submitted the RR for an old site in the first place was mostly desire to clear my own name. I had almost all sites in my WMT account banned some 2 years ago. In my humble opinion the outright ban was not justified and it was reversed some 6 months later after I had a chance to explain some things to the G quality team in a short email exchange. In any way, although some sites did have issues, I have a feeling other sites have simply been rounded up because I owned them, hence my efforts to clear my name.
My cause was not helped along by the fact that pretty much all banned sites had some amount of spam in UGC. Nothing you see them ban sites for normally, but unpleasant nevertheless. I have closed some of the penalized sites and redoubled my efforts to support the remaining few. Some sites were moved to new locations.
So I spent last two years fixing problems and removing UGC spam and sending RRs as I finish with the particular site. So far I have received approx. 50% "manual action revoked" and the rest is split between "no answer" and "one or more pages still violate". I don't know how to place "no answer" and, to be fair, all RRs I sent in the last 6-9 months have been responded to, so it's more like 50/50 yay or nay these days.
I can find no rhyme or reason to the responses, it feels like a lottery. I had sites which had serious "inorganic links" issues (see my previous posts for details) which had penalties "revoked" after a disavow and an RR. I had sites with no link issues I know of but UGC spam which was cleaned and penalty "revoked". I had sites that moved that were "revoked" and I had sites that remained at the old domain that were "revoked". I use "revoked" in quotes because the traffic never returned or even changed upwards a slightest bit, I simply got a message from G saying "manual action revoked".
But then I got sites with exactly the same types of issues and sometimes even more of the issues fixed that got rejected. I have to say though that all of the rejected sites in the last 6 months are the ones forwarding to new addresses. So, if I can sneak in the last question into this long message: are forwarded sites more prone to RR rejections? Perhaps because they cannot actually browse them per se - so should I even bother sending RRs for old forwarded domains?
I forgot to add that Google spam team could not (because of 301 redirects) and most likely did not see the site before rejecting RR - I see a hit on any of Google's IPs (that isn't a bot) on neither the old nor the new site.
I have come across a few other reinclusion requests that have been denied without the site being reviewed.
Imagine how many thousands of these free reinclusion requests are likely submitted every day from all over the world to Google. Now imagine how many human reviewers would be needed to handle these free reinclusion requests that are coming in every single day.
Since it is free request I am not surprised that Google isn't putting more resources into it or that the human reviewers don't spend hours reviewing each request. I am also not surprised that mistakes can happen when dealing with a project of this scale. Thirdly, I wouldn't be surprised if Google had some automated system to partially filter reinclusion requests to minimize how many are actually needed to be read by humans.
@goodroi Thanks for chiming in!
I hope you can relate to my feelings: increased workload is what you get when you become the world's largest monopoly in an entire industry. Somehow I cannot bring myself to feel sorry for the poor overworked reviewers. In fact, I'm incurring six digit losses because of a (half-assedly admitted in an email) mistake one of them made two years ago. In other words, it's not a "free service" - it would have been an absolutely required service if FTC hasn't been asleep at the wheel and reined G in as a monopoly that they are.
I can understand how it's possible to reject someone's RR without looking at a site, and I can understand how I could not catch a visit from Mountain View simply because a reviewer could have worked from home and came in on their home connection. Besides, who knows what types of VPNs the reviewers (most of whom are supposedly overseas or so we hear) are using and where those VPNs terminate. I did catch the reviewers in the past but there is no bullet-proof way of doing it, so it's possible that I've simply missed it for technical reasons.
My concern is mostly with the way such RR would go down. Since the reviewer cannot browse the actual site - they would be redirected to the new domain instead - few possibilities exist:
#1 they actually review the *new* site, the one that they land on, and therefore if my RR got rejected, I have some serious problems
#2 they actually review a cached copy (with an unknown to me cache date) and then no matter what changes and fixes I've done on the *new* site, they will still keep rejecting RR for the old one. This possibility sounds like I should simply forget about trying to restore the standing of the old site.
#3 - the problems were external to the site and required no visit. Inorganic links and bad WMT account owner's standing with Google come to mind. Since the last RR rejection I got is for a site that I never actively solicited or did anything to attract any links to, I am afraid that my own name is still marred by some record in some dark corner of Google data storage. This is the most frightening possibility - the one that made me start sending RRs for old (moved, no longer existing) sites in the first place.
Did I miss another possible scenario?
Which one do you think is more likely?
I should have checked my WMT account before posting the previous message. Looks like G approved another RR I sent for another old site with almost the same circumstances. Actually, it was in an even worse shape because it had known "inorganic links" problem, long since fixed.
This time there was a visit from a reviewer. All they looked at was the homepage, got the 301, came to the new site and also only saw the homepage. What can you see by looking at the homepage only - beats me - but, as goodroi pointed out, they are overworked, so what can you expect? ;-)
So, my success rate is now solidly stuck at 50/50
I am not saying this is what is happening but here are some other possible, theoretical, speculative, alternative scenarios :)
#4 They could possibly have an automated review process (similar to how email spam checkers work) to automatically judge reinclusion requests without requiring immediate human involvement.
#5 Google has used time based penalties in the past and possibly there is a minimum amount of time your site needs to be in the penalty box before a human will step in and review it.
ps I understand your feelings and would likely feel the same way but that isn't going to make anyone more money. Let's ask future respondents to keep focused on things that will help us all make more money :)