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Google-Webmasters Communication - part 2



8:12 pm on Aug 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

Hi reseller (and everyone!),

I'm here and reading what everyone has to say (and taking lots of notes about what you would like). I'll do my best to answer questions, although I can't promise snazzy videos like Matt put together. :)

Matt and I think Google Sitemaps is a good vehicle for webmaster communication because it's a scalable way to get input from you and give information back to you. You know how we like scalable things at Google.

There's definitely a lot more we can do regarding communication, much of which has been touched on in this thread. I know that with the name "Google Sitemaps", it may sound like the product is about creating and submitting Sitemaps, and these other communication features are an afterthought. But in reality, our whole team is looking at better ways to communicate with webmasters, and the creating and submitting Sitemaps is just one small piece of that overall communication.

We want this product to include all the tools and diagnostics you need to learn everything we have available about your site's crawling and indexing, as well as include ways for you to provide input to us (beyond submitting Sitemaps and filing reinclusion requests). So keep your ideas coming...

[edited by: tedster at 5:37 am (utc) on Aug. 2, 2006]


1:00 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think google should offer a 'evaluate my site' option - where honest sites can have filters removed, if successfull.

Take this senario: Someone creates a free open source script, hundreds of sites use this script, the script has a 'Powered by [somename]' link on some or all pages. Now over the past year (or more) I've seen many of these sites (the main site which offers the script and which the links point to) tank in the search results and pagerank.

So, it seems like google are taking the 'unrelated topic' thing to devalue and even penalise sites (in trying to deter link buying to influence the results). In the above senario, it does not seem very fair.

So back to my suggestions: Why not allow sites to request a manual review, and if successful remove any penalies/filters? [ and if the site changes drastically, make them apply for a new evaluation ]. It has been said that google hire many people who manually evaluate sites (to check for quality), where does that list come from? spam reports? why not turn it around and let webmasters supply that list? I'm not talking about the reinclusion here - as this only applies to sites which have been banned, not penalised (as far as I'm aware).

What do you think?

peter andreas

1:05 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Of course I don't think my little site is responsible for the success of Google, just trying to make a point that I have been trying to do the right thing but That's obviously not the right right thing.

I am just going to do WHAT I WANT now, the way I see my site will benefit, I'm fed up worrying if I'm doing the wrong thing by Google.

An example, I have written natural text as I would normally write it but then been paranoid I have left too many widget words in. . I have also helped a freind set up an excellent site but been too afraid to link to it in case Google thinks I am doing something "Un natural"

It gets tiring

As I said before I am scared stiff about using site maps. I read about the messes far more qualified people than me get themselves into so what chance do I have?

[edited by: peter_andreas at 1:30 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2006]


1:11 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Please stop the canned responses to any email's that we send to you. It gets really old reading stupid responses. Most of us have long ago done everything that is suggested in Google's guidlines. We are trying to figure out what we have done "wrong" that is not included in the guidelines.

Telling us to read the guidlines is not the answer we need. Unless there is some invisible text in there that none of us can see!


1:38 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I agree totally. I am getting sick of Google myself. They are NOT God. I, and many other webmaster I know, are getting fed up with Google now. NO customer service at all. I am leaning more to Yahoo and MSN anymore as BOTH are getting better lately.

Google, kicking webmasters in the "nads" is not a good idea. (when it comes to Adsense, etc.). Yahoo and MSN are seriously going to trounce you all, if nothing changes and soon. It is only a matter of time. You ARE huge, and loved, yet you can fall as fast as you rose; it's happened before.

What do we want? SERVICE! Google made $2.46 billion last quarter? Can't afford to hire some human beings to deal with issues? We want to be treated like humans! I have just started dealing with Yahoo and their ads, they are AWESOME! I mean with that service, you will NOT continue to win. Simple. Just a bit of advice from a peon.

peter andreas

1:46 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree on the customer service thing with yahoo. In 1998 (OK a while ago I know) when I first uploaded my site (the same and only one Iv'e ever had)) I submitted to yahoo directory (Google was no where then) and a day later I had a personal email from a Theresa at yahoo saying what she suggested I do. I duely made the corrections she suggested, emailed her back and then next day I was in Yahoo directory - where its been to this Day (well it did go four years ago but I managed to email yahoo via their website and was told that my site was unavailable when they were indexing it- so I realised I had a problem with my host and re contacted Yahoo who then reincluded it) Never had the same experience from Google. Yahoo seem to the more approacheable.

With Google though I think I know how Catholics feel. I constantly feel guilty, I must have done something wrong, I am not worthy.

OH it feels liberating to say what you think, instead of pussying around in case Google Guy is watching, say what you think and be dammed I say.

Site maps though, um, yes-keep on topic, umm...


2:44 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Nice idea, in an honest world, unfortunate this would be a bit like the OPD .. open to corruption big style.


2:48 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you drill down to the essence of the problems, you see a handful of factors that pretty much explain why the members are so interested in this issue, and why you see some very angry/emotional posts in threads discussing Google.

(1) Google influences an enormous fraction of the traffic on the web. The impact is so enormous, it can make or break most internet businesses. Google may not have sought this god-like power, and in seeking to “do no evil” it undoubtedly doesn't want to destroy the livelihood of the innocent, but there can be a lot of accidental/collateral damage every time the algorithm changes even a small amount.

(2) one of the biggest challenges facing Google is to deliver “clean”, trustworthy SERPs. Despite all the whining about Google hurting innocent bystanders while ignoring the spammers, it is actually engaged in constant battles trying to keep spam (as google defines it, not necessarily as WebmasterWorld members would define it) out of their SERPs. While Google is a very big company with enormous resources at its disposal, that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake to win every battle every day. There are thousands of smart people trying to trick Google (and the other SE’s) into displaying their site in the SERPs. However you describe these folks – Spammers, Black Hats, innovators, little guys, Senior WebmasterWorld members :) – the reality is that Google is constantly battling against new and innovative techniques. Along the way, there can be a lot of collateral damage to innocent bystanders, fellow travelers, grey hats, and others.

(3) Google was founded by a couple of guys who value automation and scalability to an extraordinary degree. For that reason, as well as others (I suspect they don't relish the idea of running a huge organization), they have built an extraordinarily profitable yet small firm (relative to their revenues) using an extremely small number of very smart people. This aspect of Google's corporate cultuer is pretty deeply ingrained, so you can expect them to resist, or be slow to embrace, any suggestions that would eventually require them to hire thousands of employees – regardless of how much it might be able to afford those employees.

Given the above, Google has not offered traditional forms of “customer service” (answering the phone, personally responding to emails) and its communications with webmasters have been relatively vague and limited.

Thinking about these core problems, it is easy to see why Google has been so slow to provide personalized, detailed, and precise communications (e.g. it doesn't send emails explaining why a site has been penalized or plunged in the SERPs).

First, given the current state of the art, you can’t completely automate this sort of communication – it requires human participation, and Google doesn’t have the employees needed to do the work. See item 3 above.

Second, there is a significant risk that information disclosed through personalized, detailed, and precise communications will be used against Google by its competitors and by Spammers. See item 2 above.

While there are no easy or perfect solutions to this dilemma, I like the earlier suggestion of using the Site Maps console. This has the very significant benefit or removing anonymity; because Google knows who it is communicating with, it can employ a greater degree of “trust” and provide more personalized and more detailed information to the webmaster, with less risk of shooting itself in the foot. See item 2 above.

It also has the benefit of providing an incentive for webmasters to avoid black hat techniques, and to "show their cards". In essence, there would be a quid pro quo -- if a webmaster signs up for site maps and ties all their AdSense and Adwords accounts together, following Google's TOS, they will be rewarded with better communications and less risk of total disaster.

I also like the fact that this allows trust to build up over time. For instance, Google can watch for patterns, to see if a webmaster is claiming to be someone he is not; it can pay attention to whether spam reports and other communications are constructive or abusive, etc. If a webmaster has built up some trust by providing useful information to Google (e.g. reporting Spam) using the site maps console, Google can subsequently reward that trust if the webmaster asks for a favor ("please give me a clearer hint what I'm doing wrong that caused me to suddenly plunge in the SERPs).

Channeling communications through the site maps console has the useful effect (from Google's perspective) of reducing the number of participants that they are potentially going to have to communicate with. See item 3 above.

Finally, this approach makes it easier for Google to answer questions raised by webmasters, because it can more quickly and easily figure out exactly what is going on -- after all, it will have detailed historical data (and patterns) stored in its system, as submitted by the webmaster through that same site maps console. See item 2 above.


3:22 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Awesome post, bet your fingers are tired, :)

Anyway, I agree with your point on having accountability, etc., with Adsense and Adwords tied together, Good idea. That is provocative. That would make us "good guys" feel better if we were treated as "good guys" and not lumped into the same categories as the jokers, if we make an honest mistake.

If Google (or Googlebot) saw a red flag, saw it as unusual for your site, contacted you (even an auto-email), and you were able to fix it, this would be great. Some of us want to focus on content and not on ads or worrying about every yot and tittle.

I fully agree with the "secrets" part of your argument as well. I don't blame them for being careful, that's for sure. They are still King of search, no two ways about it. :)


3:45 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

What if you received an email like this from Google:

Dear Webmaster,
Thank you for your email. We have reviewed your site and we are happy to see that you have built a very informative website and remained inside the Google webmaster guidelines. Some links in the site's footer made our filter think your site contains doorway pages which as a result caused your site to drop in rankings. We have now adjusted this filter accordingly so that it will not hurt high quality sites in the future. We have also sent Googlebot to recrawl your entire site and you should be back on your previous positions within the next 24 hours. We are sorry for this inconvenience. Please accept this Adwords coupon code worth $50.

1. Don't say Google doesn't have the resources. I have sites removed manually every week by Google and these are sites that get 5 visits per day and have no top ranking for any phrases less than 4 words. If Google has the resources for something like that they have more than enough resources to manually review and fix a couple of good White Hat sites and not just BMW or Amazon.

2. Would webmasters like myself even think about doing BH stuff like subdomains, doorways or MFA sites if Google would just take our reinclusion requests seriously and have someone in their team take a quick look at our website and remove any possible filters that are designed to stop webspam and not hurt innocent sites. I'm sure Google has a database where they can enter a domain name and see what filter(s) the site has.
For example:
-near duplicate content filter, Sept 22, 2005
-too many affiliate links filter, June 27, 2006
After checking a site and seeing that it's white hat they can do two mouse clicks and remove those filters.


4:25 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

b2net aims for Utopia :)

Anyway, as an example of things that get us webmasters all worked up, what about the new SERPs appearing on some DCs like []

Is this a data refresh, bad data push, filter, penalty, temporary and if so for how long - say, 6 months or 1 week?

A lot less than B2net asks for, Vanessa!

This is an example of a newly evolving issue for us, and this is where we would like Googlers to chip in so we can decide if its gonna be champagne or beer tomorow night. Or you can let us have a sleepless night...


7:09 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is all great input. To answer a few questions...

Spam reports we get through Sitemaps tend to be a stronger signal since they come from registered site owners.

I understand that not everyone is technically able or interested in creating and submitting a Sitemap, but you don't need to submit a Sitemap to use the product. You can just sign in and verify site ownership to start seeing diagnostic information and stats.

Generally, you'll see that message if we really just don't have enough data to show. For instance, a site that's not currently indexed may not have query stats available (since no queries bring up the site in the results). If you can post your question and site URL in the Sitemaps group, I can take a closer look at your specific situation.

Oliver Henniges

7:11 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I see no difference between [] and current search results after a quick look at my major kws.

econman, I'd support everything, particularly your stress on google's automatic/scalable approach, which excludes personal reviews per se (no matter these from time to time may happen).

Individual complaints, reviews or prophecies about the future decline of google-market-share are not helpful or constructive and keep such threads hard to follow. Please read the prefix of this thread and try to get a glimpse of how communication between a search engine with a clear emphasis on automation and thousands of webmasters might be organized or improved, because this is what this thread is about. All those, who have lost considerable traffic by the latest algo-changes: Please consider some help of some of the older, more sophisitcated members in here, some might surely offer contracts with payment only in case of success. No stickies plz, I do NOT run such a company.


7:11 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think what the folks at Google need to realize is they're playing with people's livelihoods. Many of haven't just slapped a two page MFA site up for fun. We have slaved night and day over honest, valuable websites for years, we were earning thousands per month in Adsense and congtributing to Google's bottom line, and what do we get when we email customer support? Canned responses or waffling. I was having a dialogue with someone in customer support last week and I asked him a direct question but he hasn't responded in about a week and I doubt he will.

The Google modus operendi seems to be similar to politicians: deflect the question and if that doesn't work, just ignore it.


7:58 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The one thing that has been driving me crazy is that we don't know enough on how Google "determines" which sites have good SERPs for which keywords. Most have us have seen similar situations like the one that my site has been going through since March. My site has been online since 1999 and sat in the number #1 spot on ALL search engines for a few specific terms. One of the reasons is that most of the information on the site is completely exclusive to my site, most of it doesn't exist anywhere else. Then in March of 06, on Google the site went from #1 to #141 in one day. Since March, I have sent inquiries to Google and like everyone else, received the same "form letter" response. I have followed all of the "guidelines" to the letter but nothing has changed. The only thing that did change in March was the fact that my site was spammed on numerous blogs, gambling sites, guestbooks, etc. but each time I mention this, I am told that 20,000 incoming "bad neighborhood" links will not harm a sites SERP. But there is no other explanation and so far, no one has been able to tell me exactly what happened. So, as I have for the last 6 years, I concentrate on content and hope for the best. The site still ranks #1 across the other engines but Google definitely has a problem with my site somewhere. This is where the better communication from Google would come in real handy. I am sure there is a good explanation for the sudden drop but I may never figure it out until Google has the manpower to reply directly to us webmasters. And, yes, I have been using the Sitemaps for some time now. The only odd item that stands out are the keywords in external links that are pointing to the site. Ironically, these are the keywords coming from the 20,000 bad neighborhood links which further leads me to believe my theory of them hurting a sites rankings. On other forums I have even offered to compensate someone for trying to figure out the penalties that Google is obviously holding against the site. So far, nothing. I hope sometime in the future, Google does start interacting with the webmasters to make our jobs a little less stressful.


8:13 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I, too, have what seems like hundreds of thousands spam sites linking to me. I would like to know if this is something I should worry about. It wouldn't harm Google to tell us either way. If it does harm us then it's nonsense because that's something we can't control.


8:22 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Thanks for the reply. That is a good point and I didnt relise it. I will have a look at setting up some sitemaps for sites I dont host myself and see what happens.

Although tbh it just does get a little depressing see all the work being put into new content and no one being able to find it.


8:58 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>>>>1. Google SiteMap accounts should have a "report a problem" form.
Reinclusion requests don't seem to cut it for all situations. Too often, regardless of the nature of the problem being reported, these just come back saying "you have not been banned because your pages are included in our index". It seems that the Google Help desk often take reinclusion requests literally, which isn't really surprising, since we are all forced to confess to imaginary sins just to be able to send one.<<<<<<

Reseller..in my opinion this is the single strongest statement in this thread. There are those f us that have sites that do not violate any google guidelines that are having a terrible time. I am exasperated that I went to all the trouble to do the sitemap and sign up and submit and then get reports showing the only thing wrong is they can't find the pages that 404'd a year ago. And it refuses to follow the sitemap. Dang! Just follow it and you will index this little 32 page site just fine.
There is no reason that this site should be entirely supplemental except for the index page.
The really strange thing is that every time there is a refresh...my index page climbs in the serps. Just got into the top ten on a very competitive three word search term in my niche. But it shouldn't be my index page but the page that the surfer is actually searching for. Other sites in the same niche are getting their page indexed just fine. Absolutely makes no sense that a 404 page is still cached and an existing page that once was ...is now gone!
In short...we need a console we can refer to and ask a question that has nothing to do with me having committed a spam offense.


9:19 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have to say, the level of communication that Matt Cutts has come out with this week has been outstanding. Have you seen this much from any other engine?


9:32 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have to say, the level of communication that Matt Cutts has come out with this week has been outstanding. Have you seen this much from any other engine?

I don't judge communication by amount or frequency but by the quality of what's said. This is the important thing to keep in mind.


9:42 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I get Google’s position NOT to give info to the webmasters of what is (really) WRONG with their sites… guess, how black-hat is going to use that…

From the black-hat point of view Google’s arrogance is awesome. If one stops thinking of them as Gods and actually considers all the factors that go into ranking, it will be simple to skew the results. Consider sub-domain Spam and cloaking – both work awesome – will never be fixed, since it’s impossible. Smart they are.. ha! There are many much smarter people around the world who think few steps ahead of Google… and they have great motivation – money.

Google should consider the experience of other search engines – internationally. For example: Yandex.ru (the biggest Russian SE) or the Baidu.com (the biggest Chinese SE) – they do much better job communicating with webmasters. Maybe one of Google’s employees should signup with those and see how the communication is performed…

Opps, was that thinking too much out of the box …?


9:58 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Vanessa ,thanks for your reply ,I suggest to more fellow webmasters to help Google fight spam and spamers instead of moaning.


10:14 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think Matt Cutts did a fantastic job.


10:28 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Vanessa ,thanks for your reply ,I suggest to more fellow webmasters to help Google fight spam and spamers instead of moaning.

This sounds a lot like bend over and take it to me. What about webmasters that have sent spam reports to Google and seen nothing done no matter how many times you reported them. You might have something to moan about, eh? After a while you tire of such sisyphusian pursuits.


11:05 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Vanessa, aren't you glad you dropped in? :)

Seriously, why can't Google get it's act together? One of my sites was re-done over four months ago and went from ASP to PHP. All the asp pages were given a 410 gone. Yahoo re-indexed the site in just under three weeks, got rid of 98% of the old pages and indexed about 27,000 new pages so far. Google still has 46,700 listed as supplemental (all the old asp pages) and practically zero of the new pages indexed. Needless to say, I get zero traffic from G.

Do I think Google owes me some support? Umm...actually, I do. Between two sites that I run we spend over three hundred dollars a week on adwords. Not a huge amount but I'm betting these are the accounts that make up the majority of your revenue. I don't rate to get a real person to talk to? There's no recourse except to sit back and suck it up?

This is no way to run a business. People tend to resent monopolies, especially when they act like one. I'm testing MSN adCenter. If I can get anywhere near the traffic I get from adwords I'll be gone from Google. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.


11:09 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"Vanessa ,thanks for your reply ,I suggest to more fellow webmasters to help Google fight spam and spamers instead of moaning."

"This sounds a lot like bend over and take it to me."

No, it sounds like someone who hasn't been hit by a Google filter..............YET.


11:44 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I haven't been hit by a filter, all my sites are doing better than ever, and I'm still annoyed with Google. ;)

Let's talk honestly here for a sec.

Vanessa, GG, MC, Adam,

You're a business and I run businesses too. So we both know you're getting millions of dollars in free feedback and quality controls from the webmasters here who aren't as cynical as me.

What exactly are you DOING with this information and communication (aside from making money).

I would like to hear how you are going to improve things for the webmasters.

Communication is great. I'd be more than happy to buy each of you a beer some day and talk about anything you want, but what is Google the company doing with this communciation aside from gaining market share?

That's what people want to hear. Ok, so we take time out of our day to make your product better, but what are you giving back.

Until I hear some definite answers on how you are going to use this communication to help the the webmasters community as a whole, I see this whole proposition as bad business for naive webmasters.

As your company realizes, you don't give away "free" services without some pay off down the road.

What's the incentive for us webmasters, individually or as a group, by helping you improve your website?...Instead of going blackhat to improve our own bottomline if your website can't be bothered to help in a more substantive way?

[edited by: whitenight at 12:09 am (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]


11:48 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

"No, it sounds like someone who hasn't been hit by a Google filter..............YET2
Oh Yes I have many times,I recover ,and again hit and again recover ,but I don't moan ,got used to it, but why you guys get annoyed anytime someone talkin about reporting spam.Those scams are responsible for your drops in SERPS and the several filters that Google uses from time to time and unfortunatelly throws some babies with the water.Nail the spamers that is my philosophy.


11:58 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Although this is a facinating thread I have been amazed at the luddite responses in regards to making sitemaps.

This is not brain surgery, its really easy. You can download free programs that make them for you, or I purchased a powerful program (about $65 I think) that will work as well.

For people who have managed to master html, css, seo etc etc surely this is a minor task to negotiate, akin to copying a link into a program and making it run.

I have installed sitemaps on my site since October last year (I talk about it here [webmasterworld.com...] ) and have seen my google search hits rocket up, as well as my income (for a while anyway its going down at present).

Using a tool that allows me to see where my hits are coming from I see more and more google searches hitting threads and posts from my site and those are often ranking in the top 5 for the search criteria.

I put it mostly down to the sitemap, and some judicious seo of the forum software.

I fail to understand what all this chest beating is about, if you want to be at the top then you have to ride ahead of the pack, not coasting along in the pelaton, and that requires work.


11:59 pm on Aug 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"Nail the spamers"

I don't think anyone will disagree with that (except for the spelling maybe :) That's not why people are "moaning". We're moaning because there is no recourse when you are thrown out with the bath water, except to sit and wait and sometimes that wait can be an eternity.


12:02 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What's the incentive for us webmasters, individually or as a group, by helping you improve your website?...Instead of going blackhat to improve our own bottomline if your website can't be bothered to help in a more substantive way?

Not an unreasonable request when webmasters are asked to do work to improve Google's products so that Google doesn't have to spend money doing it themselves. Not an unreasonable request at all.
This 116 message thread spans 4 pages: 116

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