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Email from Google: You are being removed

Google sent me an email saying my pages are being taken out

     
3:34 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone got one of these emails from donotreply@google.com

does anyone know how to find the issue they are talking about.

we have not done any hidden text on our site so we are at a loss. Our site is a huge dynamic ecommerce site so I dont even know where to begin.

paraphrase:
They mentioned they detected "Hidden text/links on <domain name>.com" and also said that some pages are being temporarily removed for 30 days

does this mean the whole site is being removed?

how can I find out where they found this?

obviously we are FREAKING OUT

[edited by: jatar_k at 4:07 pm (utc) on Oct. 11, 2005]
[edit reason] no email content [/edit]

8:29 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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<a href="h-t-t-p:example. com"> </a>

See no anchor text? Little sh!tskies like that are really easy to leave behind with DW or other WYSIWYG editors when removing links. Done it many, many times accidentally - are those hidden links? And would that even show up with validation, since both opening and closing tag are both there?

9:10 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone know of any sites that offer html validation to check for hidden text (or rather letting you know it apprears the text is the same colour as the background), links that have no image or text with them etc.

There are plenty of basic html validators around, that would be really useful, I have gone from google and I suspect it could be this too.

10:35 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If Google are going to ban pages due to hidden text, they ought to provide a toolkit to scan sites so that webmasters can find the mistakes themselves.

As I said in a thread many moons ago, any idiot with more than two brain cells to rub together could come up with a way of hiding text and links in a manner that could not be spotted by automated tools so Google would not be giving away priceless secrets.

Incidentally, what address was the original email sent to? Was it webmaster@domain.com? Was there any evidence in the original email of human intervention or was it entirely automated?

Kaled.

10:54 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>If Google are going to ban pages due to hidden text, they ought to provide a toolkit to scan sites so that webmasters can find the mistakes themselves.

Why should Google be obligated to provide such a free service to webmasters who are supposed to be competent, capable and responsible for their own sites? How much do they owe to whom - and why?

Of course such a tool would turn the snitch_squad loose to scrutinize their commpetitors, so maybe it's possible your suggestion could be taken under advisement to advantage. But whose advantage, whose purpose would that serve?

10:54 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Woo, hang on, Marcia's comment has made me think, do y'all think named anchors with no text in might as hidden links to Google?

I'm sorry to admit it, but on quite a few of our legacy sites we have <a name="whatever"></a> links laying about.. It seemed to be acceptable back in the day (what didnt!)

11:07 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I have just been through my site, on which I regularly use Dreamweaver, and found many instances of <a href="somelink.htm"></a>, which were all unintentional and certainly not SEO tricks. Dreamweaver is so widely used I would imagine there must be millions of sites with the same problems. Would Google really see that as something to penalise?
12:20 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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OMG! this is the most frightening thread I have seen in years. It is like a murder mystery weekend!

Keep up the goood work guys.

<soundeffects>
A fresh breeze seems to appear from nowhere in the darkend room and begins to shut the door.
The door creaks lowdly for 5 seconds and then BANGS SHUT!
The silence is broken once again by an evil laugh as though from the gates hades .. MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
</soundeffects>

12:44 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"The silence is broken once again by an evil laugh as though from the gates"

Would that be Bill Gates?

1:47 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>> Since when did Google go into the business of sending out emails to sites that they remove from index? <<

Check Matt Cutts' GoogleBlog from about a month ago. They already ran a pilot program alerting 100 sites about dodgy javascript redirects; looks like this is "phase 2: hidden links".

A hidden link is easy to make. Delete the link text and accidentally leave the clickable action code in the file. Use Xenu LinkSleuth to find this and many other problems.

Run some of your pages through [validator.w3.org ] while online too and make sure that everything is squeaky clean.

2:42 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I understand that this is a noble thing, but if someone like Microsoft did this we woud have a pleathora of people complaining about email spamming since they say, quite clearly, that they will use WHOIS contact information.
4:11 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hmm this would be a problem for me since I don't have email accounts for most of my secondary domains :(
4:15 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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killroy

>>Hmm this would be a problem for me since I don't have email accounts for most of my secondary domains :( <<

I guess any of your other emails published on the frontpage of the secondary domains will do. I.e its just a way to make it easy for Google Search Quality Team to contact you, in case ;-)

5:01 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Why should Google be obligated to provide such a free service to webmasters who are supposed to be competent, capable and responsible for their own sites? How much do they owe to whom - and why?

Google has two objectives here:-
1) to index the web
2) to cleanup dodgy SEO

If Google were to provide tools to scan websites for what could be considered dodgy SEO, both these objectives could be achieved with greater efficiency.

Kaled.

5:07 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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My apologies for earlier reply - yes, this came from google
5:14 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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g1smd
Use Xenu LinkSleuth to find this and many other problems.

Great tool, thanks for the tip. (Although it should be tweaked before running against a website - it's pretty aggressive).

5:36 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What about google providing a validation service much the same way as w3c does? If a web site owner hires a designer or seo, they could then validate the pages to determin it is all white hat. Also, when you get these little warning emails from google, you could run pages thru to find the problem.
7:00 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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All that would happen is that SEO people would keep tweaking the pages to be just one-keypress short of a "fail" notice - and that would leave Google no room to sort sites into any order as they would all have the same number of "points" in the scoring system.
7:15 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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How does Google get around the spam violations while doing this? This looks like unsolicited mail to me.
7:20 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Just point out that this appears to be a move towards manually adjusting the results, something I think Google said they would not do.

True they get someone else to do it for them!

Actually a good idea I think, nobody (apart from any competitors) wants to lose good sites from the SE's.

I am disturbed by the Adwords reference earlier in the thread though, do they do it for non Adwords/Adsense sites?

7:37 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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How does Google get around the spam violations while doing this? This looks like unsolicited mail to me.

An unsolicited e-mail isn't spam.

Unsolicited bulk e-mail for commercial purposes is spam.

7:49 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi,
spam (spăm)
n.
Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.

[answers.com...]

[edited by: jatar_k at 7:59 pm (utc) on Oct. 12, 2005]

7:57 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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indiscriminatelyThe emails are not sent indiscriminately.
8:02 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi,
I didn't say they were, I just posted a quote. But if you read the second definition in the link for technology, such email would fit the bill. IMO No one would really consider a letter from Google spam, but it is an unwise move and I can't see any justification for it in these politically correct times.
8:03 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The mail is sent personally to each site for a specific reason: that is not spam.

8:09 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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just an update for everyone...

I think we all know now that it is real.

We have search high and low for hidden links on our site and have only found some random code errors that people have mentioned here.

We still have the same number of pages showing in google when we do a site:domainname check

last visit from googlebot was today a 5:25 AM

8:31 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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IMO No one would really consider a letter from Google spam, but it is an unwise move and I can't see any justification for it in these politically correct times.

It's a perfectly wise move, because it will help to keep genuinely useful sites from being purged from the search results.

I don't think Google has to worry too much about spurious complaints of "spam." For one thing, anyone who equates an unsolicited e-mail with "spam" will be afraid to e-mail a complaint. :-)

8:53 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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An unsolicited e-mail isn't spam.

I would disagree. By definition, unsolicited mail is spam.

Could I not send out an e-mail to everyone from my casino site saying that they don't meet my guidelines to be listed on my site. Informing them that not linking to me is against the guidelines and they should change their site to cooperate with my casino.

8:57 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Maybe they are classing
<div id="Layer1" style="position:absolute; left:15px; top:1818px; width:725px; height:16px; z-index:1"><h1 align="center"><font size="1"> as hidden text? Does the site you are talking about use the same "tricks" as your profile site?
9:03 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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They already ran a pilot program alerting 100 sites about dodgy javascript redirects; looks like this is "phase 2: hidden links".

Do you think this means ANY Javascript links? I use Javascript links for my affiliate links because it is so much easier to have one external links file than to manually update each affiliate URL on every page where one appears on my site. I realize that there are other ways of doing this, but Javascript was the first way I noticed.

My site went MIA from Google on Sept 22 for all of it's primary keyphrases. Still ranks #1 for most in Yahoo & MSN.

9:23 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think we should give some credit to the fact they are at least notifying you that you’re being penalized. Its bad news and I sympathize with anyone who gets one of these things but at least they are extending the courtesy of letting you know. In my mind it’s a very big step in the right direction regarding search engines and penalties.

Contrast it with the Yahoo way of just throwing your site into the crusher and then deflecting your appeals with auto generated e-mails stating you will receive no further communication on the matter.

This 215 message thread spans 8 pages: 215