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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]

5:11 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This is going to sound stupid, but have you checked the email headers to make sure it's from Google and not your competitor, trying to get you to pull your site down?

Yes, I'm being daft, but it's the easiest first step to take...
DerekH

5:12 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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have you seen any evidence that google is actually removing the site?

how has googlebot traffic been over the past few days?

5:21 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I did check the headers and it looks like it is from google.

I have not seen any PR change or noticed any large change in rank

the email says that the pages have already been removed and the site is scheduled to be removed in 30 days.

when I type the email address donotreply@google.com in google I do see a thread from another site that is talking about this but it does not help me understand how to find the pages they are talking about

or if it is really real

5:22 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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how about googlebot?
5:23 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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also here is the spider report

Googlebot
Hits 1285+80
55.99 MB
11 Oct 2005 - 05:17

5:24 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Sounds dubious to me.
If Google are not happy with you then they will just dump you, why should/would they tell you

Must be spam-phishing-or competitor

5:29 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>They mentioned they detected "Hidden text/links on <domain name>.com"

It is possible to end up having what might appear to be hidden links, it can happen with just plain sloppy coding or errors when editing pages. If it's not deliberate hidden text or links, it's hard to find unless you come across it accidentally. For example, were there links that were "removed" with remnants of code left behind? I've had that happen by accident and found it by accident.

>>and also said that some pages are being temporarily removed for 30 days

That sounds like "some" pages, not all. Have you checked number of pages indexed? When it's not a really big site it's possible to do a site: search with preferences set to 100 to get a good look at status (like finding supplemental or URL only pages) but in your case, to try to detect what's missing wouldn't be easy - IF it's the case that it's just some.

Would it be possible to do a site: search with site:example.com -directoryname or some similar identifiers to try to see what's indexed in different sections?

5:56 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

Since when did Google go into the business of sending out emails to sites that they remove from index?
Isn't that impossible and unwise?
Your email can only be a prank/scam.

6:05 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It's real... quite a good idea - although a warning would be nice before the (at least) 30 day removal.
6:18 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts talked about this in his blog. They said they were starting with a small group of sites that they felt were good sites, but had done things that would get them booted. A 30 day penalty pending revisions is far better than just being dumped with no explanation.

Of course, if they tell you they found hidden text and you don't know where it is - it'll be tough to fix.

Did you do all of the html coding yourself?

6:21 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Rick

we did all the coding but it is a huge site

we have 1400 products and the site is all dynamic in PHP/Mysql

I wish they would say here are the pages

then we would go in and find them

currently the site has over 2500 pages.

6:56 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>currently the site has over 2500 pages.

It would be nice to know if it was hidden links or just hidden text, that would be a help. Sometimes "hidden" is a matter of identical font color and background color that it's on.

Know one thing that I'd do with a site that size, just in case it might by some chance catch something? I'd print out the CSS/stylesheet and examine all the colors used very carefully. That would be one way to do somewhat of a global check.

Then I'd take one page that's representative of a good number of the site pages and print out the HTML source code of it - and examine that very carefully, checking it thoroughly against what shows in the browser - especially the links. My gut feeling is that a ban/penalty is more likely to happen because of some kind of linking infraction, since that's mostly how Google gets gamed.

7:04 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi,
One easy way to see the hidden text is to in IE
edit > select all
not easy to do on thousands of pages but if they are dynamic a few sample pages might show the text.

There are other types of hidden text which are harder to find, and there are some that even an SE couldn't find.

7:19 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Google did start sending out messages like that in the past 8 weeks as a test whether to pursue program. It has its negatives and positives the first being is whether the E-Mail is actually from Google.

Marcia's thoughts are very interesting. Webmasters do hide links in various ways to protect content from thieves, except when accessed by keyword searches. Thieves mainly go after index pages but if you stick it in their noses they'll steal that too.

9:08 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If this is legit, be thankful you were notified, and that it is only a 30-day removal...Not 15+ months. At least you have an opportunity to make changes and resubmit.
9:12 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"My gut feeling is that a ban/penalty is more likely to happen because of some kind of linking infraction, since that's mostly how Google gets gamed. "

I think off-topic/spammy/hidden links are the biggest target for google right now, as I'm seeing indications in this direction from a lot of angles.

9:30 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've allways wondered if having white text on a blue background in a table with a white background in a body tag would give a penalty?

Basically,

<body bgcolor="ffffff
<table bgcolor="blue"
<font color="ffffff
My text here
</font

Could that get you a penalty?

9:37 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Ignore it - no way it came from Google.
9:49 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I have confirmed it

I spoke to my adwords rep and he says that yes it is a real email

10:01 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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jjdesigns4u,

Did your Adwords rep shine any additional light on the matter for you?

10:08 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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if you sticky mail your site to me, i will have a look and see if a fresh set of eyes can spot it.
10:19 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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sounds like you need to turn off styles and start going thru it page by page...
10:21 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You've Got Ban!
6:01 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Would something as simple as xenu work on your php/mysql site? The chances are greatest that this is a result of some sort of manipulation of external links (intentional or otherwise). Set the spider to pull out all external links and then you examine them on a page by page basis. Maybe you have an employee hiding some links to a site he/she is working on.
6:15 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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jjdesigns4u

May I suggest adding the url of your site to your profile, if you wish. That will allow fellow members to take a look and might come up with something to help.

7:28 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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marcia:
It is possible to end up having what might appear to be hidden links, it can happen with just plain sloppy coding or errors when editing pages.

That's as fine a reason I've read for having 100% validate code in a long time.

Unvalidated code always runs the risk that a spider will see it differently to a browser.

And that is a strange risk to take.

Not that that need be the case here -- validated code could have deliberately hidden links. But it eliminates one possibility.

7:44 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Victor,
I design all my pages uing Dreamweaver.

I have yet to see a page created in Dreamweaver pass a vallidator...at least at the version I am using (v4).

I agree its worrying, but I don't agree that 100% vallidation is practical either.

7:53 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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That's as fine a reason I've read for having 100% validate code in a long time.
What kind of validator would pick up a link hidden with .css when coded correctly? A validator won't compare correctly written code to what renders on the user's screen.
8:22 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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powdork: I didn't say it would. Marcia didn't say it would. In fact, I said it wouldn't.

What we both said was that sloppy (meaning unvalidated) code may cause spiders all sorts of problems....Including seeing links as hidden when they were not intended to be.

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