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The way I see things now: Six months ago I got "caught" linking in a legitimate business fashion- I have 8 domains, most of them high-content multipage sites- but also one "blue-widget" site the main page to which I linked from most all the pages of my other domains. The main reason for these links was that I WANTED TO SELL BLUE WIDGETS to those visitors! Why Google could not just stop counting links (from a particular domain greater than one or ten or whatever number Google might select) is beyond me. Instead, Google seems to have opted for being the judge jury and executioner and given my "blue-widget" site a permanent ban.
Why is the ban for linking patterns I might have had six months ago permanent? Such permanency feels arbitrary and capricious given that other bans have been only temporary. Yes, I know that Google needs to protect their results; but when Google installs filters that effectively (and permanently) kick sites out of the database for reasons such as the above, Google would seem to create a reservoir of ill will that no company can long afford. And it is so unnecessary when a temporary ban would likely serve as well.
Once this is widely accepted and other search engines stop trying to make money in self-defeating ways, we'll see realistic competition to Google and things will even themselves out a little.
And, regardless of whether 2/3 of sites are innocent, or 1%, the fact still remains that many people did not know they were doing anything wrong and are trying to correct it.
In the meantime, they suffer through reduced traffic, and Google's SERPS suffer through missing resources.
And yes, of course I'm one of the great unwashed. ;)
So two-thirds of the people with penalties here have "innocent" sites hit with an indiscriminate penalty? That certainly doesn't mesh with the sites that people have opened up for view that I have seen in the last few months...
In general I would think the reverse would be true. Most sites don't get penalized.
I know that this was not a penalty - and was merely a low ranking site that got...skipped?
Also have dealt with someone who uses a directory program that beings with the letter Z. :) This site was banned for a few months - but now is back online. I think this was a temporary penalty.
Then I have SEEN sites get permenantly banned - or at least are still banned to this day. In this case, most people in this forum suggest getting a new URL, cleaning up the site and MOVING ON!
Well, yes. Defining exactly where "such a peak is" is the hard part. And I have yet to see any real slowdown in Googles chomping up more and more of the SE popularity.
Everything fails after a peak - that is the law of nature. On the other hand, Lloyds of London has been in business for 400+ years, still waiting for that peak...
If a link (whatever that may be) is valuable to a google user then a penality is avoided and if that links sole purpose is to induce "higher ranked position" where the google users value is only "come here" then IMO a penalty is validated.
If your get a speeding ticket it's generally not because your were going to speed limit.
If you crosslink then you better have a valid reason to do so beyond PR or ranked position.
If you reciprocate links then you better have a valid reason to do so beyond PR or ranked position.
And so on.
Crosslinking: While Google has officially stated that it is only after those who are linking for the purposes of SE placement, the real issue is Google's attitude towards any significant crosslinking. It is defined as all bad even if there might be other legitimate reasons for it. And they obviously feel quite comfortable in having banished sites to Siberia permanently... one strike and you're out and I did not tell you in advance what a strike was.
Permanent PR0 Bans: Yes they exist and now that you know that, how do you feel about the hundreds of hours you probably spent trying to overcome that "automatic" placement in PR0, thinking that with their "everything is automatic email" it would be automatic to get out of their doghouse once you no longer tripped the filters?
Zeus: Google obviously is down on linking to such sites, but they haven't gotten their act together yet on how to keep all the zeus sites out. Google is likely giving out PR0-PR3 to sites linking to such directories without ever giving warning on the Google site that zeus sites will cause a penalty.
Long Memory: Google remembers your old link-buddies effort as well as all the other ways you may have tried to gain good rankings (guestbooks et al). If they hit you with PR0, then this may be because of an accumulation of offenses in Google's eyes. Big Brother has been watching you.
Sound Advice (from our adult webmaster colleagues?): Get a new domain for Google if deleting most all (not all) your outgoing links for a month does not restore PR.
Penalty Duration: A site experiencing low PR may be suffering from no penalty (GG: could be an algo change), a temporary penalty of unspecified duration, or a permanent penalty.
E-mail Replies: Google tries to reply to well-meaning webmasters, except when asked questions about a site penalty. Since that might give spammers a clue as to how to beat the system, these kinds of questions may be ignored.
Evidence, I'm not too sure how enlightening this discussion has been... it seems like the key questions raised at the start of this discussion are still up in the air.
I do believe your suggestion about getting a new domain may be on the money, though, if only because of the continued uncertainty.
Some are willing to dive head-long and worry about the risk after the fact. Hopefully this risk is your own and not at someone else's expense.
Other's have no idea what happened, but ignorance isn't really an excuse.
Still more don't care, they are happy being orphans, and doing the off-line marketing campaign and "pushing" people there, and that's fine too.
Someone once told me "he who knows not, that he knows not, is a fool".
I try to live by this statement, and sometimes it's real hard not to let the "fool" part get the best of me.
I suppose if 90% of your inbound links were from PR0 sites, that might trip some kind of alarm. That would be a pretty weird circumstance for a typical web site, though. I just don't think Google expects webmasters to take the time to see who links to them, check the PR for that site, and then ask to be delinked if the site has low or zero PR (whether it's a Zeus directory, Sally's Fun Links Page, or any other kind of link).
It's where you link out to - your outgoing links - that must be the sole criteria surely?
i'm pretty sure this was discussed somewhere and i personally do think that incoming links, in certain scenarios DO add to a penalty.
e.g. as an seo u set up 5 bogus websites, all crosslinked or whatever to get some pr going. then u link a new site from all of them.
this happens quite a bit, so no suprise that google might be looking at that scenario.
# 2. I think this PR thing has gotten completely out of hand and should be dropped by Google as all it is doing is giving them some bad press among website owners.
# 3. I formerly enjoyed a webpage rank of 6 and sometimes 7 until I was kicked out completely with no explanation even though I inquired...just a newsy little keep on googling message!
# 4. I eventually came to realize that it had to be my links from and back to certain themed pages...mostly Zeus, and I eliminated them as best I could. Got back in sometime in May with a 1 and or a 2, but so buried radar would not find me!
# 5. I searched back in my logs and found that even with a higher ranking with Google I was getting no traffic from them. Most of my traffic comes from other search engines where I rank pretty high on some of my key words and links to other sites, bookmarks, etc.
So, Google, take a hint and drop PR before the web drops you.
As my dear old Mom used to say, "nothing ever goes over the devil's back without one day having to crawl under his belly"
and addressing the theme of this thread, ill will.
If enough webmasters get peeved enough at Googles high handed, unexplained, actions and ban googlebot from their sites THEN Google will be losing their surfing searchers as they flock to search engines that give them more choices...
So Google really needs to be more considerate of the site owners as well as their "public" for without us they would have no "public"!
Just a thought.
I know how you feel but there is little that can be done until Google implements some sort of system of appeal for 0 ranked/penalty sites. I'm glad you've put your URL in your profile - too many people complain and are then not willing to display the actual site with the problem.
I would say keep on E-mailing them and even write to them via snail mail. I'm sure they will notice eventually but expect a long haul before your site is back fully into the index.