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Old 09-16-2005   #1
dannysullivan
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Google Testing Ban Notification -- Could New Webmaster Tools Come?

For those who haven't heard the news, Google has begun to send out messages to webmasters if they spot JavaScript redirects that are against their content guidelines. It came out on Search Engine Forums here, then Threadwatch picked up the item and got Matt Cutts to confirm it is a pilot program. Lots and lots to read in the Threadwatch thread, including the possibility that for the first time, we might see some real webmaster page checking tools from Google, ways to see if your page might be banned or be at risk of penalty. It seems like a real shift, and a heartening one at that. Check out the reading, then if you want to comment more here as well, please dive in. What would you like to see Google offer? Or the other search engines as well?
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Old 09-16-2005   #2
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I think its a great initiative by Matt. And think of all the bandwidth it will save - no need for 'Has my site been banned?' posts!!

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Old 09-16-2005   #3
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I think the whole "its ok" stuff is a bit obverblown. Nothing would set red flags quite like people checking pages multiple times!
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Old 09-16-2005   #4
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About Time!

That is great news. Every one of us knows how frustrating any form of communication with Google can be. Maybe this marks the beginning of a more candid approach by them? Lets hope so!

I think the issue of who they choose to send the email to though is an interesting one that could raise all sorts of problems. How many website owners really know what their SEO specialist is really up to? Do the website owners realise (or usually care for that matter) that the agency they are paying to do their SEO work have actually been using methods that Google (and many other SEO professionals) consider to be “breaking the rules”? What then happens when the site owner receives this email? I think there may be a few shocked and disturbed clients picking up the phone and asking a few more questions than they normally would! I can think of several clients with whom I work, particularly in the public sector, who would have moral concerns about continuation of any type of SEO work that might be considered disingenuous.

Maybe I'm being cynical? Maybe all clients are briefed thoroughly and honestly before any SEO work commences? I'm not convinced though!

I would just like to add that I always brief my clients fully about the work I am doing for them. Actually I don't use any techniques that might be considered "black hat" and all of our websites are built with SE compatibility in mind so hopefully none of my clients will be getting emails from Google now or in the near future! Just needed to clear that up.

Simon
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Old 09-16-2005   #5
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Got to be a good thing for the industry as a whole - certainly a large problem for the industry just now is clients being burned by crap "seo" services (white and black hat! ). Also good for new people in the industry who may be messing around a bit to learn.

But I'm sure we all have a handful of competitors using dodgy techniques we'd rather not see Google giving a helping hand to, and as projectphp says, any kind of future tool to check pages would just set some red flags off.

What will be interesting will be to see how many of the banned sites from updates are indeed innocent "victims". At the end of the day, the emails from Google are going to be directly related to their ability to detect spam techniques - if the random outrages each update are to be believed, Google aren't as efficient as they would like to be, and there has been some collateral damage. Confirming reasons for a ban by email is taking the game to a whole new ballpark IMO. Interesting times.

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Old 09-16-2005   #6
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Do you think they will prioritise who they email i.e. start by contacting those sites that currently rank highest?

If they are going through the entire index, can I have a penny for every email they send please?

Simon
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Old 09-16-2005   #7
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Congratulations! You have been banned!

Not exactly the publisher's clearinghouse sweepstakes, but it has a certain flair
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Old 09-16-2005   #8
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At first glance, I think it's an excellent move. For years I've said (and written) words to the effect of, why should webmasters do anything for the engines when they do nothing for us; e.g. they don't tell us in advance when they're suddenly going to change their algo to catch a certain seo method that was previously ok - they just do it without a care for anyone else. I wrote it in a forum once, and later that day a very tiny engine sent an email saying that they were about to update their index to catch a certain type of method - an advanced warning

I can't help but be a bit cynical though. I just can't imagine Google doing it solely for the benefit of webmasters. There has to be another reason, and I'm thinking that they are feeling the heat of competition - Y! announcing an index size that is more than double Google's claimed size, for instance. So I'm imagining that Google is thinking, "let's get the web people on our side again, like they were when they caused us to grow and gave us our success."

Matt Cutt's blog could be another manifestation of it. It certainly isn't fulfilling his stated purpose of getting to know what it's like to have a website, because he isn't competing for rankings, and he doesn't care about any sandbox effect, and he won't experience the frustrations of a sudden drop in rankings. The existance of his blog is excellent for web people, though. It contains some interesting information, and it's a place to voice opinions and feel reasonably sure that they are heard.

That's two recent additions to Google, both of which benefit web people. The trend is excellent, because it moves in the direction of a two-way system of search engine and web people. Whether or not Google feels forced into it doesn't really matter, but I don't think they'd be doing it if they didn't have to.
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Old 09-16-2005   #9
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Does any body know the future criteria for which they will alert sites and the conditions they will need to follow for severe infractions?

I know Matt said that Javascript redirects were part of the first test but it seems rather tame for Google to spend all that trouble spidering the site and alerting you on a "javascript redirect". Big oggle deal. Hidden text....LOL. I say ban them anyway, its more fun when you discover it yourself.
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Old 09-16-2005   #10
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This should only apply to those that type in their url and click the submit button and ask for a googlebot visit. Otherwise the email is uncalled for and way out of line lol.

What good does it do to notify a spammer that he's being a spammer. Those that know how to use tricky redirects probably know what they are doing is against most SE's guidelines. If you think about it there is really no other practical use for tricky redirects to logically exist.

The faster you tell a spammer he's been caught the faster his next batch of sites will hit your SERPS lol.
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Old 09-16-2005   #11
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We've been blacklisted... I think?

I'm dealing with a client's webmaster in that he seems to blame the blacklisting of the client's website on our SEO techniques. Well, I'm not entirely sure they've been blacklisted just yet.

While I believe we are optimizing the website appropriately without any back door tricks, I just found out today that the webmaster has registered approx 10 domains with R=301 redirects to the physical website. From what I understand, the maximum would be three correct?

Furthermore, the entire website is built in dynamic pages in which alot of the URL's show "&id=" or alot of "?" are being used. Based on Google's technical guidelines these cause problems as well.

Anyway, what I think might be happening is that the webmaster is now advertising themselves as Google AdWord experts and now offer SEO packages. I'm thinking I'm being sabotaged. I've never had a problem optimizing my other client websites. Or maybe I'm wrong? Either way, I'm a little blown away with this and need to pin point the problem whether its us or the webmaster that is doing something that is deemed to be "illegal" by Google.
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Old 09-16-2005   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seomike
If you think about it there is really no other practical use for tricky redirects to logically exist.
The word "tricky" has no meaning in that sentence. Do you mean "sneaky", as Google uses?

Either way, it's untrue. Auto-redirects are perfectly valid. Maybe you've never created different webpages for different people based on their geo-location, or browser. And maybe you've never created a framed site. There are perfectly valid uses of auto-redirects.
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Old 09-16-2005   #13
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Pros vs. Cons

Well it is a useful solution for webmasters, especially if they are not sure what has hurt their site.

But, it could also adversely affect the quality of search results as spammers have an easy way to figure out the vulnerabilities of their algo through trial and error.

As they don't have to be worried about their sites getting banned, they could push the limits and use black hat techniques.
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Old 09-16-2005   #14
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Quote:
The word "tricky" has no meaning in that sentence. Do you mean "sneaky", as Google uses?
I'm not a simpleton Phil, but thanks for the low blow there (references on tricky).

Quote:
Either way, it's untrue. Auto-redirects are perfectly valid.
I'm talking about javascript not serverside, maybe I'm being to braud and should say, that tricky onmousemove events in body tags that trigger a redirect like or TP friends did, have no freaking practical uses besides duping.
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Old 09-16-2005   #15
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Ah. Then, yes, it would have been better to explain it like that.

I wasn't talking about serverside either (although geo-location does need to be serverside, so I shouldn't have included that). I was talking about Javascript - any conditional Javascript redirect.
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Old 09-16-2005   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilC
I can't help but be a bit cynical though. I just can't imagine Google doing it solely for the benefit of webmasters. There has to be another reason, and I'm thinking that they are feeling the heat of competition - Y! announcing an index size that is more than double Google's claimed size, for instance. So I'm imagining that Google is thinking, "let's get the web people on our side again, like they were when they caused us to grow and gave us our success."
Forgive my cynicism as well, but I couldn't agree more. The LA Times today had a story about new negotiations between AOL and MSN. When you're out in front, there's really nothing to do but look in your rearview mirror and peddle faster. The mere thought of #3 and #4 joining forces must worry Google.

And although this is nothing but positive news, it definately appears like more of a PR attempt than anything else. Personally, I don't think Google (or their new stockholders) truly give a flying fig about the well being of a webmaster, SEO, or otherwise.
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Old 09-16-2005   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seomike
This should only apply to those that type in their url and click the submit button and ask for a googlebot visit. Otherwise the email is uncalled for and way out of line lol.

What good does it do to notify a spammer that he's being a spammer. Those that know how to use tricky redirects probably know what they are doing is against most SE's guidelines. If you think about it there is really no other practical use for tricky redirects to logically exist.

The faster you tell a spammer he's been caught the faster his next batch of sites will hit your SERPS lol.

Is there a limit on 301 redirects? I've been told there are...
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Old 09-17-2005   #18
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From what I've read so far, "intent" seems to play a major factor, those breaking one guideline may be doing it "accidentally" and will get the notification, break more than one and your intent is clear, and you won't.

Makes me suspect a spam offensive may be in the offing....
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Old 09-18-2005   #19
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Talking Great

Now people know if they have an issue i think google did it because the sheer ammount of emails they got saying "Why can i not find my site" or "Has my site been blacklisted" now they are going to improve bandwidth and also consumer support i think that this was a good move done by google and hope to see the other searchs follow the lead!
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Old 09-18-2005   #20
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They must be ?!

I have to say they (Google) are living in illusion or idiots. Note that over 99.99% web-sites do not care of search engines. SEO works because tiny fraction of sites are optimizing for search engines. Most of them don't have webmasters and webmaster@ email accounts they can contact to inform. Some use blackhat techniques without knowing SEOs at all! Note that if my web-site has such email address, we will rfeceive lots of real spam mails daily!

Google has no authority to "penalize" web-sites. Its role is to find most relevant pages to users! All negatives we are discussing are created by SEs themselves. They need to find smarter ways to rank relevancy, rather than keep doing stupid things. I think they better move to neural network approach what MSN is using. Note that Google type approach is very easy to do reverse engineering! Just simple experiments reveal many things. I can notice that Goggle keep reshuffling to avoid this.
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