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I was fat, dumb and happy for over a year then all of a sudden…I was <snipped>! Ouch!
Here’s the chronology:
April 21-03 my site had a PR 6 and was doing very nicely thank you. Except there was one weird occurrence: a site visitor emailed me that telling me my search was not producing desired results (I use Google for my site search.) I dismissed the visitor’s comment as “operator error.”
April 22-03 my site’s PR dropped to 5 and I noticed I had dropped in the PR order in the Google Categories. Weird.
April 23-03 Grey bar. <snip>! I emailed Google and asked what had happened.
April 24-03 Received semi-personalized reply from Google telling me my site had been blocked from the index due to one of a variety of possible causes. I removed the hidden text and redesigned my home page using Verdana font. (I looks very lame now!) Later that day I emailed Google again, explained the situation, begged, groveled and made a fool of myself asking for mercy.
April 24-03 (Same day!) Google emailed me back with a personalized reply thanking me for making changes and informed me my site would be resubmitted for possible reinclusion. (I was very impressed with Google’s rapid replies.)
May 7-03 I joined Webmaster World. What a terrific resource. Except I’m amazed at the amount of bandwidth used for mere speculation. Very entertaining reading though!
May 9-03 I emailed Google again asking for a more definitive statement regarding “possible reinclusion.” No Reply.
May 12-03 I emailed Google again this time I acted like we had never communicated before. I told them I cleaned my site and hoped they would consider me for reinclusion.
May 19-03 I received an email from Google thanking me for making the changes and telling me site should be reincluded very soon.
May-22-03 I’m back baby! PR 6 just like before and still well ranking for many keywords.
The odd thing is, when I view the “cached” version of my page it’s the old page with the hidden text. Go figure!
Anyway, I have a hunch it may not be over yet but just thought I’d share my journey.
Here are some stats:
Since banned from Google my opt-ins dropped 80% and my revenue dropped 60%. A very expensive lesson!
[edited by: Marcia at 7:24 am (utc) on May 23, 2003]
[edit reason] Optimized for appropriate semantics [/edit]
Patient: "Doctor, it hurts when I do this."
Doctor: "Okay, don't do that."
Alright, alright, I'll get serious. Sounds like the hidden-text algorithms kicked in. Penalty was about 30 days, which sounds right. After it's over, the site is re-included without any penalties. Later we may do another pass through the sites that were caught in order to verify that the hidden text is gone.
Bottom-line: if you took all the hidden text off, you should be fine.
30 days? I know you've got rfgdxm1 and others raising the question from time to time of 'why not a stiffer penalty...' so I won't go there.
My question is...do most of the sites that do this even know that they were hand-slapped? Because if not, their site may be reinstated before they even figure out why it temporarily vanished.
I've seen sooooooo many 'respectable spammers' lose a site temporarily only to see it reappear. Just wondering if there isn't some way to either bop them a bit harder, or otherwise communicate that 'continuation of said practice is likely to result in more significant future penalties.'
Please forgive if this has been covered elsewhere, but I've tried searching for it and so far have only found stings on severity of penalties...not on how to really make the spam policies stick.
I liken it to white collar criminals - for example seemingly respectable CEO's who make off with the company pension fund, and *if* caught at all, are treated as though they had done little more than taken an apple from the fruit stand.
Respectable Spammers are different from *chronic sleazy spammers* who put up joke sites faster than the SE police can nail them...though in my view no less worthy of penalty.
PS - For the record, this post is not a thinly veiled attempt to nail the site referenced above, nor do I intend to report that site; my question is a general one.
[edited by: wackmaster at 3:14 am (utc) on May 23, 2003]
And to Mike_Mackin, the only respectable spammers are at Hormel. ;)
What I don't understand is why Google is letting sites back in *before* it is confirmed that they have cleaned up their act? Wouldn't it make more sense to check back after 30 days, and if the site is found clean add it back into the index at that time? The way Google is doing this, spammers will keep getting kicked out, added back, kicked out ad nauseum.
I've even gone so far as to advocate that Google post notices of penalties so sites would *know* that they've committed an SE crime. Some won't care; some will curtail dubious practices; and some will become enlightened. All for the betterment of mankind.
Doubt that will happen in my lifetime however. :-)
I guess I have to work full time to report these.
Too many sites, too many hidden words in a mm thin, inch long corner.
Besides, some web sites disabled "Ctrl A". So you will not see it with "select all", you will have to do "view source", and again some sites do not let you do "view source". How can you detect them...
I start to admire the spammers...
Their smartness and diligent.
I know if they do not hidden, they will work harder and dumber like me....
Meanwhile other people are suffering because of ridiculous treatment such as expired domains not being credited with new links, even if they had no links before being purchased.
Seriously, after reading this thread would you advise someone not to use hidden text if you thought that hidden text would enable them to get a PR6 and 'do very nicely thank you' and that if they got caught google would assign a consultant to discuss it with them so that they would only be banned for a month?
2. The image links to something. A larger image on an html page for instance. Google is currently not using alt text unless it is within an href tag. I'm not sure if they read it when the image links to another larger jpg.
This would be very respectable spamming IMO.;)
The link word/s is handle by php (single page) to do such things:
I'm very sorry if I was not totally clear in my posting.
I did NOT “spam with great success for a year.” I have excellent site content that I worked very hard to develop. I have over 50 one-way links pointing into my site. I have several hundred carefully cultivated reciprocal links. I update monthly, practice every legitimate form of SEM, participate in Paid for Inclusion programs, and advertise in print media.
Google in no way shape or form gave me any advice -- they simply restated the policy that is on their website.
I believe it is impossible for three sentences worth of hidden text to result in a PR 6.
I am wondering why we are not back in? Maybe more sites will be let back in soon? *Worried*
I've been stressing for a month! Wife and dogs are hating me. LOL!
Trust me, 30 days is long enough to make any site owner lose a few years off their life. I don't know if I can stand another week! I hope somebody can help me.
I was one of the first people to visit Google out of everybody I know and I recommended it to all my friends. It is by far the best and always will be. It is history in the making folks, so pay attention!
What Google does do is tell webmasters what Google as a search engine doesn't like, and especially what they don't like coming from SEO/SEMs, which is a vastly different thing.
You all, including rfgdxm1 and his references to "a broken algo" and a "bug in the system", manipulated your sites and their links to and from other sites in order to achieve a better ranking for terms that you had identified.
Would you not at least accept the possibility that your sites may have been affected by a change in the Google algorithm which affected the manipulations you had made, as opposed to, or in addition to, manipulations that others had made and that you identify as "spam"?
You all used SEO/SEM methods - it is not possible to be just a little bit pregnant.
One of the earliest quotes I remember reading from GoogleGuy bears thinking of when I read the interminable complaints of the last couple of weeks:
There is an important message here though, especially for the smaller webmaster. Let's define that as: you manage a single-digit number of domains, or you read here to promote your own personal site, or you don't do SEO for a living. The message is pretty simple, and it's one that full-time SEO's should already know: SEO can at times be dangerous to the health of your site. Please be careful out there on the net, alright?
Has anyone answered the question on whether new sites included in April that have disappeared completely off the index - is it a ban or should we just wait and see?
I am really confused and keep checking my site to see what I may have done wrong.. I'm not a Webmaster, I just run my own business and did my best to develop my own website.
I don't want to jump the gun and e-mail Google.. I can't find any hidden text - so could it be anything else?
Thanks chaps / ladies
[edited by: nutsandbolts at 7:51 am (utc) on May 23, 2003]
regarding hidden text techniques - I have even found websites in dmoz directory having PR5 above using hidden texts! I have even seen doorway pages which have broken links added to dmoz. It's really surprising.
As for SEO, Google hasn't said that is per se unacceptable. Only that certain specific practices, such as hidden text, being part of link farms, etc. are a no-no. However, if SEO of the sort that isn't on the list of no-nos is like being a little bit pregnant, God help anyone trying to design a website.
According to ODP guidelines, hidden text is NOT justification to refuse to add, or delete, a site. Doorway pages are. As for doorway pages, consider that the site may have changed since when it was reviewed.
I am very new to search engine marketing, I joined Webmaster world about a month ago because I wanted to promote my non commercial site. The reason for this was to promote the sport that I am dedicating the site to. I was hoping to get good ranking in order to try and get advertising so that I could keep the site going without it burning a hole in my pocket. I already dedicate alot of time to it I did not want to pay for the up keep. I have never used any search engine optimisation technique. I borrowed the template of the site from a frind and then started populating the site.
My site has gone from a white bar to not being ranked could I have been banned? If so I do not know why?.
What should I be looking for see what I may be doing wrong?
My web site is hosted at NC State University. Because of this, we are required to put a disclaimer at the bottom of every page stating that the content is ours and not the university's. I've put the disclaimer in a black font that stands out really well on all the pages, but I've got lots of line breaks before I posted the disclaimer. A typical user would have to scroll down quite a bit past the main content before ever seeing the disclaimer.
Does that count as hidden text? Or is hidden text where you use the same font and same background?