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Google thinks my sites are interlinked but they are NOT



7:00 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Hi all,

I'm experiencing a bizarre situation here, wonder if someone had anything similar happening and thinks I should somehow report it through reconsideration request or take another action(s).

Long story short, about a dozen of my sites have recently been banned. Needless to say, since that happened I'm paying increased attention to the content of my WMT. I should say WMT accounts - I've been using two accounts - business and personal - and the issue is with both (and both have sites banned). I don't know if the issue resulted in the ban but it's very close right up there in the "Site violates Google's quality guidelines" vicinity.

So, my site A shows in WMT "Your site on the web -> Links to your site" a non-trivial amount of links (in tens of thousands) from my other site B. The sites have never been (intentionally) linked - different niches, nothing to do with one another.

A close analysis of the HTML code of site B shows no links to (or images, CSS or JS from) site A. What's even more troubling, all these ghost links are labeled as
Via this intermediate link:http://siteB.com/register.php
which is my account registration form! I've been over the code of this form/script back and forth many times and there is no condition I can find that would create a redirect ( I think that's what Via this intermediate link usually means) from site B to site A. In any case, what's Googlebot doing around my registration form, and even going as far as submitting it ?!

I've found five of these A->B "ghost linking" pairs. In three of those either both or at least one of the sites involved has been banned. Two of these A->B pairs that haven't been banned have sites that are actually somewhat close in theme. Not same, just close - like they could be about different types of gadgets but both are electronics gadgets (like PC vs. GPS for ex.) On the other hand, the banned pairs involve completely irrelevant sites.

Anyhow, I know I don't provide much info to go by and I don't see how I can provide much more in the open - it seems to be connected to the sites' account registration form so I have to be careful.

But have you ever come across a situation where Google was patently, verifiably wrong about links reported in WMT and do you think this can hurt the sites involved? Does anyone have a creative idea about what to put in the reconsideration request, should I file one? Had I found a programming problem on my site, I would have sent a recon request about my fixing it. But here the entire issue (despite looking rather dangerous) seems to be created by Google themselves, so what exactly am I asking them to reconsider?

Any suggestion or comment is greatly appreciated!


7:59 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

It seems unlikely to me that Google would have created its record of these links out of nothing. Have you used other backlink checkers like Yahoo Site Explorer to see if they show these links?


9:49 pm on Sep 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Have you used other backlink checkers like Yahoo Site Explorer to see if they show these links?
Tried both Yahoo and Bing - no links between those sites are found.

I mean, both Site A and Site B have a register.php URL. Since they are based on the same software and somewhat similar (but not same) template, the register.php pages might look somewhat similar (though graphics are different) and the HTML code is somewhat similar, but that shouldn't really matter to a bot since in the end they are not 100% same.
I also thought that I might be accidentally loading Site A's Google Analytics code into Site B but upon closer review that is not the case. Some sites had GA but some didn't.

I've also done extensive testing of Site B's register.php script trying to feed it all sorts of weird variables to make it redirect to Site A. However, the script does not accept GET queries and register_globals is off on this server, so in order to mess with the script (even though I could not find a way to "create" a link between the sites by messing with the script) Googlebot should actually make a POST query, and I don't know if they can (or even should) do that.

One other thing: Site A and Site B are hosted on different servers, completely different IPs.

So, in the end, I'm left with a conclusion that Google makes determination about the link between the two sites (not just one singular link: one of these A-B pairs shows 200,000+ links!) based on superficial resemblance of ONE particular URL on these sites. How crazy is that?!


10:04 pm on Sep 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There is definitely something weird going on with webmaster tools. I have one redirected affiliate link that now has 10,000 incoming links (according to webmaster tools) "Via this intermediate link". These sites are affiliate sites that I have never seen before and I think the only common thing is that we both link to the same online store for the same item. This is obviously incorrect for these to show as links to my site. I am wondering whether this could be the cause of penalties, even though these are sites that have nothing to do with each other.

You seem to have the same thing going on in a little different way. I would also like to know how to get rid of these and if they can cause penalties.


10:55 pm on Sep 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I have one redirected affiliate link that now has 10,000 incoming links
Just so I understand the situation correctly, Is it a URL on your site that redirects to another URL on the same site? Or does it redirect out?

I'm very concerned about how easily they consider separate sites belonging to the same owner due to redirects and links that may or may not even be legitimate!

I had sites magically appear in my personal WMT account (in other words, I did not have to authenticate them, they kinda authenticated itself!) that were registered to another WMT account that I sometimes log into (for business). Granted, there's also a link between the site that magically appeared and my main site that's registered in my personal account. But they are separate and I would not want them linked as if they are under the same ownership.

I have also seen 301-redirected domain names magically appear in my WMTs - relics from a bygone era when I was searching for a better domain name and redirected the site from one domain to another. The magically appeared domain name had no site on it for 4 years (it was 301 redirecting to another one of my registered sites all this time). I was contemplating either letting it expire or selling it but now that it's linked to my WMT (though there can't possibly be any authentication html file on it) I feel like I'm stuck with it - what if this automatic authentication works the other way around, too, and will link whoever gets my old domain name with my current site?

So, yes, I am also concerned about the adverse effect of these "perceived ownership" relationships between separate sites, especially in cases that are difficult to explain logically.


1:08 am on Sep 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Tin foil hat time... are any of the above gmail or other google (not gwt alone) users? Are you logged in? Do you use the same computer to access multiple goggle accounts? Do you allow cookies to exist? Is the sky blue?

Reason why I ask is it seems that all the different parts of google talk to each other behind the scenes and google is desperate these days to ID every INDIVIDUAL...


2:13 am on Sep 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

Sure they are interlinked, by your actions.

YOU are the first person to see a post or article when it's published, your IP address and time are logged thanks to any of the following - logged into Google, adsense on page, analytics on page, a search box on page etc.

When YOU next log into your Google account or your adsense account your IP is again recorded and, well there you have it, you told Google about all of your sites.

Solution? Unhook all Google products from your pages, don't use Chrome and don't use ANY plugin or 3rd party stuff on your site that might use Google products AS WELL AS don't use ANY browser addons that have toolbars Google can tap for information, which includes pagerank updates, Alexa stuff etc, etc. You can't even use Google.com to search with if "instant" is on because it pings google with each letter you type.

That won't stop Google from getting information from you via cookies or browser sniffing but it's a start. Google will eventually gather the data anyway from other sources such as tracking on your social network sites or from things like that little +1 button at the bottom of this page.

Post a new response? The +1 button at the bottom of this page knows the IP of the FIRST person to see the reply and they can match your WW forum ID to YOU when you next log into adsense or google or youtube or... you get the idea. Gathering data about you is a MEGA priority at Google.


2:56 am on Sep 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@tangor & @Sgt_Kickaxe:
Guys, I'm not saying I want to hide my actions from Google and I'm upset that I'm not succeeding. This would be just crazy talk. They are by now WAY beyond anything Orwell might have dreamed of. Besides, if I wanted to hide, I would at least try and I didn't. Of course I use the same PC for both accounts and of course I don't wipe cookies out every time. I have nothing to hide or so I thought until a dozen of my sites got axed from the index.

I'm just saying that information they do receive about me is #1 circumstantial and #2 flawed and therefore they make completely wrong conclusions from it, but I'm the one who's hurt by their blind trust into their flawed data.

There are no links between the sites yet no one at Google could possibly be bothered to actually look up from their "search quality control center" screen (I think that how Matt Cutts referred to it at some point?) and see the actual sites. What they see is a wrong compilation of wrong data about me building a link network. Down goes the ax. There is no reprieve because the person looking at the reconsideration requests (I'm willing to give them a benefit of a doubt that there is an actual warm-blooded person reading those) goes by the same data that led to the ban in the first place.

Anyways, sorry it turned into a rant. The actual idea was to ask around if anyone else had seen "ghost links" like that in WMT and I don't see many people stepping forward. So I'm not sure now if this is very unusual or it's just hard to spot.


10:09 am on Sep 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I still say there must be something about your sites that caused Google to think these "ghost links" exist. If Google were randomly generating these kinds of links out of nothing, then it wouldn't just be happening to sites that you happen to own.