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It's been a while since I noticed any posts on my pet peeve, the PR0 penalty, so I thought I'd let you know what a real live human at Google said about one of my site's PR penalty.
In case you didn't know by now, I've had the classic PR penalty since last November on the site in my profile. There's more history here...
Anyway, I finally emailed Google this month, and much to my amazement, I got a reply within a week!
Noting the rules on not reprinting emails, I'll paraphrase what they said for you:
Me: Mt site's been penalised! Why?
Googs: Nah, your site's already listed.
Me: Thanks, but that's not what I meant - here's what I meant - yada yada...
Googs: We've had a look at our logs (!) and you're not penalised. You've got a pagerank of 3.
Me: Thanks again, but that's just plain silly, I've got loads of links from high PR pages. Before the penalty I was PR 6.
Googs: Here's a big autoresponse, go away politely.
And that's all folks!
1) Unless there is some problem with my site that I am not seeing, it only warrants a Pagerank 3 (now 2) in Google!
2) Or, the guy at Google got it wrong. Don't misunderstand me, I'm pleased that Google replied at all - after all, theirs is a free service, and I have no 'right' to traffic from them.
But it still looks like they got it wrong. No?
Strangely enough, it looks a lot like PageRankOne's reply about his penalty [webmasterworld.com].
Does Google know what's going on with it's own index?
Best of luck to anyone holding out for recovery.
All the best
I was not about to give up on that site search until I found this thread:
Googleguy, first post in the second part:
We tried a new way to detect site optimization. It nabbed plenty of bad guys, but it also caught lots of smaller people who read SEO boards. We're slowing backing off some of that particular penalty now. A few people will see PR0 end with our next index in a few days. A few more people will see PR0 end with the index that comes out toward the end of March.
1. It was a penalty.
2 They "backed off" slowly.
3. It's apparent that they never backed off completely.
4. When they started backing off they stopped admitting it's a penalty.
There could be a very interesting discussion just based on the comments in that particular thread.
I think there is a serious point here though, although it may be more important to us than Google - we have 2 examples of responses from Google where the answer is clearly wrong.
EDIT - oops - posted that before I read your post Marcia. So you think this is deliberate misinformation? I have to say I doubt that, but am I just being too trusting? :)
It is interesting that he said the following:
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?
I totally ignored SEO and simply created sites. That worked great up until this year when some of my sites started getting penalized for cross-linking - I figure that is what it was because removal of the cross links returned my old PR. Anyway, I would say that not knowing what could get you in trouble leads to bad inadvertant consequences. Not knowing the basics of SEO,IMO, is more dangerous to your health than practicing it to some degree.
Macphisto, you'll be fine either in this coming index or the March one. przero2, you will be okay too.
From the thread Marcia posted above.
Does anyone know if Macphisto and przero2 did recover completely?
I'd also like to draw attention back to the original topic. Do people think:
1) Google are not telling the whole truth with replies like mine and pagerankzero's
2)Something, somewhere has gone skew-wiff with the penalty process
Personally, I don't believe 1) (based on nothing more than I don't think that's how Google operates, plus, why should they bother?) and 2) seems unlikely too.
However, there is no doubt that my site is stil penalised when Google says it is not.
>We tried a new way to detect site optimization. It nabbed plenty of bad guys, but it also caught lots of smaller people who read SEO boards- GoogleGuy
If this is true, the penalty must be tied to an SEO trick commonly shared on this board.
Why can't we figure this out? If we can solve Gizmo quizes, We can certainly solve the Google penalty quiz!
Beachboy, you hit the nail on the head. I had actually been planning on starting a new thread here based on this exact same argument. This really is a topic that deserves its own thread. The quirky way that the Google algo works with Page Rank is seriously flawed based on human nature. Why *wouldn't* people with multiple sites link them all together? This is simply natural self-promotion. You want people who find one of your sites to see your other stuff too. The basic underlying flaw in the Google algo is that it seems to presume that people *wouldn't* have multiple sites. As in, put all their different stuff in different directories. However, in this day and age with domain names being so cheap, and web hosts selling multiple hosting packages, why not go for multiple domains? My current host has a package that for $19.64 a month allows 100 different domains, and 10 GB transfer a month! (Yes, that is not a typo.) Each domain with its own control panel. With web hosts out there offering hosting packages like that, I would expect it is gonna get common for families to have lots of members getting their own domain names, many linking to the other domains of their family members. The Google algo seems a bit out of touch with the way things are today.
The second problem with the Google algo is that even for people who do know something about search engine optimization, most search engines DON'T CARE about crosslinking. To the other search engines, this isn't considered anything wrong, and you can feel free to link to all your other sites, friends sites, and whatever else you want to at will. Basically, Google by penalizing what is natural is telling people to do things that *Google* way, not they way they would do it if Google wasn't out there.
Thus, Google's presumption that crosslinking is something that should be penalized is flawed. I can see penalizing sites if it is done with the *intent* of manipulating Google rankings. But not if it happens in the course of human nature.
I read on another SEO board about the whole idea of Google bombing. Oooh, it sounded a good idea at the time. 8 months on, I'm still paying the price.
Thanks to GoogleGuy for helping me out with one of my sites - but there are 4-5 sites still affected by my stupid idea.
As I've said before - why doesn't Google have a help desk that is for these kind of problems but is pay-per-check?
> a help desk that is for these kind of problems but is pay-per-check
I can imagine a lot of webmasters questioning Google's motivation if they did that. People would know that they could benefit from applying penalties to charge the ransom fee.
It would look bad; I'm pretty sure they won't do that.
Well of course they would... and did... and suffered. And yes, unfairly.
All of which comes around to a point I have bored people with for months: if Google doesn't like a link, it should IGNORE it, not PENALIZE it.
With that policy, they would negate any advantage for the bad guys, whilst at the same time not punishing people for quite naturally linking their sites.
The solution is to address the problem (possible 'dodgy' links) not to dispense Google-Justice on an epic scale. I could never understand, and still cannot, why they ever wanted to hand down penalties instead of just addressing the individual links. It isn't a good decision and is out of character.
On the 'no penalty' claims, they are edging towards L$ type double-speak. Come on Google - you are better than that (it is also out of character). There is still something in place (a penalty) and you do yourself no favors by denying it. In the long run, if you really must maintain the penalty, you will get more respect by saying so. Don't let yourself down.
They have slammed other search engines for providing biased results. Letting people pay for special support is almost the same thing.
I know it is frusterating to get these types of responses, but google isn't here for webmasters. Despite what most webmasters believe - the internet can function just fine without their sites.
Nine times out of ten (more than that) - if there is a PR - there is no penalty. Google shouldn't have to spend all their time with webmaster support. "Helping" some webmasters over others is arbitrary and not within the purview of a good search engine.
1. Remove "hidden links."
2. Reduce crosslinking: I had a copyright notice on each page that linked back to my main site. I reduced this to one link on the "Contact" page. I suspect there is a threshold for the number of links between sites that gets Google's attention.
3. Remove comment tags containing keywords.
4. Email GoogleGuy: Repeated emails to email@example.com normally produced a canned response or no response. In frustration, I finally contacted GG (no I will NOT share that address, requests for it will be ignored, FORGET IT!) and PR gradually returned to pre-penalty levels over the next two re-indexes. My suspicion is that some of the staff responding to emails may not be as competent or thorough as others.
Unless there is some problem with my site that I am not seeing, it only warrants a Pagerank 3 (now 2) in Google!
I took a quick look at your site in your profile. Looks like a penalty to me when there are no backward links showing in Google when there are 160 showing in Alltheweb. I'd look at these factors:
1) Taking out the link to the off theme sites, especially the one to the site with the other popular, but more-inclined-to-be-Google-bashing, SEO forum.
2) Inbound and outbound links - very optimized to maximize and preserve index page Pagerank. Maybe too optimized? I also noticed extensive cross linking between this site and another, very similar site, that also has your name in it.
3) Inbound links from at leat one gambling site, at least one Zeus site, other off topic sites, including at least guestbook link on a totally unrelated topic.
These are all things I'd red flag if I was writing the code for a SE.
Thank you for taking the time to have such a close look at my site - that's really unexpected and greatly welcomed!
Regarding your points:
1) OK, done!
3) I know we have a few links out there that are weird, but that's normal isn't it? And I have read that there is nothing 'off site' you can do to get a site banned.
Just my thoughts - again, thanks very much indeed for taking the time to do that - it is much appreciated.
All the best
All I'm saying is that a large company...or any sort of syndication could spam the index to bits in the matter of a month, so google has to be at least prepared for that.
I think thats partly what GG means by "Please be careful out there on the net, alright?". Their are some major players on the net (not denying some are at this board), but these players could easily plot googles downfall with spam if G was off its guard.
When 2 billion URL's are concerned sometimes the fine line with a solid change in their algo just aint fine enough- but a safety zone rather than spam possibility is in the besti interests of the index.
OT I know...because there is plenty discussion about PR0's, contact with google, ethics and all other things....just thought I'd add piece of mind there ! :)
And I have read that there is nothing 'off site' you can do to get a site banned.
I know the Google webmaster tips state this, but I would still proceed with caution on soliciting or creating off theme inbound links.
Googleguy has made references in other posts to sites getting dropped because of too many guestbook entries or automated keyword checking, which to me are both "off site" actions.
Also, if you missed this past post by Googleguy, you might want to read it and evaluate your site to see you are using any of the techniques he cautions against about JS links and "hoarding Pagerank":
I'm one of the little guys that evidently made a mistake and used WPG last year and was in a link farm until Mar 2001. Almost all the sites I link to are PR4,5, or 6. Most of the sites that link back to me are PR4,5 6 - even their link pages.
After working since 1999 to create a decent site that my visitors/customers give me lots of compliments about (both product and ease of use) it is very disheartening to go out of business because I can't get back into google.
Last Fri night I thought perhaps my last email was looked at because I discovered my site in www in almost all the old positions (page 1) for most of my keywords. I was so surprised and shocked I double checked in www2 and www3 and they were there, too! Happy was I! But not for long. I don't know how long these positions had been there before I saw them, but they were all gone within about a half hour and have not returned. :( :(
ciml - you asked before about my DMOZ page - I've checked and it does not have a penalty - in fact it has PR6.
And you know what? I am starting to get a bit hacked off with all these rules.
Google have (rightly) grown to the point where they control the majority of searches on the web, and so they are the 'law' as far as search goes. And with that privelege comes responsibility.
The trouble is, we 'citizens' aren't told the law, and so have to tiptoe around to avoid breaking it.
(In normal law, ignorance is no defence. That's because the law is there for everyone to see. I think ignorance is perfect defence when you have no idea of what the law is.)
When we do break it, we do what we can to make amends, and to work within the law in future. What grates even more is that now I have contacted the High Court to ask for a pardon, they tell me I did nothing wrong in the first place! Which is obviously wrong.
So the only truly safe way is to deny my visitors access to other resources we provide.