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Google have De-Indexed this site



1:23 am on Nov 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm looking at a site which was removed from their index over a period of time starting on 8th April through to 6th May (this was when the last page was removed).

I have just gained access to Google webmaster tools and it unfortunately isn't really shedding any light on the subject.

They do have a bit of long winded robots.txt, but can't quite see anything wrong with it either.

They did receive an email from Google when they were running an Adwords campaign stating Google had removed the site from their index (see below).

The email was sent on 29th March (just before they showed as being de-indexed in webmaster tools).

At the time the issue occurred they were running an ad for a genuine give away which didn't sound like anything that would violate Google's policies.

I've had a good look through the site and I can't see anything that stands out as to why.

I have checked the basics:

- Webmaster Tools
- Backlinks
- Site Structure (including any outbound links,
- Robots.txt
- Sitemap.xml (just in case there was anything odd)
- Duplicate Content
- Broken Links

I can see a number of small issues with the site, but nothing is really jumping out for me.

I'm not sure if I'm ok to post the URL here, but any suggestions would be appreciated.


Thank you for your email. I hope you're doing well.

I reviewed your AdWords account 'xxx-xxx-xxxx' and noticed that you have created a campaign with ad and keywords directing to the website 'xxx.com' and since the website is violation our webmaster guidelines policy it has been disabled to run through AdWords.

And this policy is something which is not an advertising policy but a Google search related one.

When a site gets disabled in Google Search it would be disabled for Webmaster Guidelines policy. And unless it is re-enabled in Google Search your website cannot be allowed to advertise with AdWords.

A violation of our Webmaster Guidelines may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise penalized. When a site is penalized, it may no longer show up in results on Google or on any of Google's partner sites.



11:47 pm on Nov 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow guys, lots of really good suggestions.

I've resubmitted for reconsideration and explained an outline of the areas I checked through.

I didn't include that I was the webmaster though.

Also, based on the responses, I checked for previous versions of the site (a bit of a head slap why I didn't check before) and the closest snapshot I have is from May 2011, where the design was slightly different and included the phrase "Our newsletter is awesome. Spam free..". I'm presuming if it was a manual penalty Google wouldn't de-index for the poor use of words.

Assuming that by "same template" here you're referring to my question about whether they've designed WordPress themes, this sets off some alarm bells.

It's not their own designed theme, but one they've purchased. It looks pretty clean but they do love their plug-ins.

Conceivably, there's enough similarity to sponsored themes that this site been similarly penalized. What's not completely clear is why the indexing withdrawal was gradual, why it appears that no notice was sent, etc. The timing isn't exactly what I'd expect from a Penguinized site, but, as noted, it does correspond to the giveaway ads.

They were running adwords and their ad was suspended. When they enquired with the adwords team they were told the reason the ad was suspended was due to their de-indexing. In many ways it was good they'd received the notification as it least gave them a line in the sand.

it's possible there's something he missed - I know I certainly have had a few 'head slap moments' over the years - but assuming nothing was missed in this case

You know there may be a chance I've missed something basic, but I usually follow a checklist as my memory isn't as good as it used to be ... lol.

The site does have a little over 70 pages of content all varied in length. I checked 15 random pages and I didn't see flags in copyscape.

Conceivably, there's enough similarity to sponsored themes that this site been similarly penalized.

The footer links are to wiki and .gov sites that are I think make sense to have as they offer value to the end user visiting the site.

I am asking them directly if they have ever received a DMCA as it does seem the most logical reason based on everything here. As the last snapshot I have is from May 11, there's nothing I can see between then and now. They may have cleaned it up since earlier this year and I'm looking at a well constructed site.

Keeping that in mind they did have a lot of pages indexed (according to webmaster tools) till they were gradually de-indexed, so the information available shows that the site was of a reasonably good size prior to the violation.


11:50 pm on Nov 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Giving away free templates with a link to your site in the footer of each, and advertising the giveaway on adwords, yup that'll do it too. Lol.


11:46 am on Nov 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Giving away free templates with a link to your site in the footer of each, and advertising the giveaway on adwords, yup that'll do it too. Lol.

I'm presuming if it was a manual penalty Google wouldn't de-index for the poor use of words.

Google deindexing a website on such grounds would open the biggest gates to lawsuits ever seen. Anything like that would amount to censorship and the last time I checked this was not China :)

I can totally see a template website reselling someone's templates without permission or not paying for the images used, etc. I am 100% certain it's legal issue, unless:

How about hosting? Have you checked with the hosting company or your logs to make sure they are not blocking Google?
I never encountered the OP scenario myself, but if I had to assume, I would think that, if Google manually deindexed the website, it would deindex the entire site at once, rather than gradually losing pages in WMT.

I vaguely remember a case from a long time ago, where websites disappeared from Google because the hosting server was set up wrong or something. Worth checking out either way...


5:40 pm on Nov 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

I'm confused about the giveaway - are legitimate giveaways in violation of Google policy generally? Or just under certain circumstances, and if so, which ones? I'm just wondering because there are a lot of top-ranking sites that do legitimate giveaways where you enter by subbing to their newslist or liking them in social media. It doesn't seem like this alone could possibly explain the site getting wiped out completely.

I've thought of one other possibility: hacking. Any chance the site was serving malware at any point and probably didn't even realize it? You said they had "ads for a giveaway" - any chance the ads were carrying something nasty? Or any other part of the site? Most Wordpress hacks leave noticeable trails such as injecting files onto your server. Look for iframes in the source code that you can't see the reason behind, too.

I can't go into too much detail, but I've seen sites I know aren't 'messing up' be either not indexed or removed after a brief period of indexing and the only thing I (and others who have been doing this a while) can come up with is there's just not enough 'uniqueness' or 'difference' there for Google to warrant putting them in the index and a low number of inbound links does nothing to say, "Hey Google, people like this, it should be included...'

Thanks, TMS, I wasn't aware of this. It definitely sounds like there's more going on in this case, but this is good information to have all the same.


12:27 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi All... an update on the de-indexing of this site.

4 days after I submitted the Reconsideration request Google have added the site back into their index.

4 days is pretty quick (in my experience) for them to complete a reconsideration request and based on the conversations with the owner of the site, I think Google may have made an error with this one.

I think this is an example that it can happen.

The message from Google below:


Dear site owner or webmaster of www,

We received a request from a site owner to reconsider www for compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

Previously the webspam team had taken manual action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this manual action. It may take some time before our indexing and ranking systems are updated to reflect the new status of your site.

Of course, there may be other issues with your site that could affect its ranking without a manual action by the webspam team. Google's computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users. If your site continues to have trouble in our search results, please see this article for help with diagnosing the issue.

Thank you for helping us to maintain the quality of our search results.


Google Search Quality Team



1:15 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Glad to hear of the good outcome!

Yup, that definitely sounds like a complete mea culpa - and a big one. One assumes Google will make at least some mistakes with penalties - out of eleventy billion websites, you can't expect people or computers to call every one just right. But I still think they must have *thought* something huge was wrong with the site to de-index it. I'd love to know what that was!


1:10 pm on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yay DavidJudge ... That's made me breathe easier:-)
This 37 message thread spans 2 pages: 37

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