Banned By Google – The Many Possible Transgressions

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There are many ways you can be punished by Google. The punishment usually involves your website being removed from the world’s largest Search Engine. Here are a list of ways that Google has found to punish sites either specifically or generally across the board. If your website is completely banned, you can submit your site for reconsideration, if you have addressed the problem.

  1. Not protecting yourself, or your website. If your website is hacked, and you find yourself at the wrong end of a Malware attack, Google will show little sympathy.
  2. Use hidden text or hidden links. It used to be fun in the old days to use white text on a white background. Or to use the CSS tag “Display:none”. But now it is an explicit no-no.
  3. Use cloaking or sneaky redirects. 301 redirects are generally the most widely accepted methods, because it is clear what you are doing to the browser. Using anything that sends users to one page, and search engines to another is a massive rule breaker.
  4. Send automated unauthorised queries to Google. You could easily fall foul of this if you set up a system to check the ranking of a website on Google, without protection against massive traffic using the system. Google Apps have an API you can use to do just this without actually affecting your IP address.
  5. Load pages with irrelevant keywords. This is sometimes called over optimisation, and can result in your website being punished. It basically falls under the banner of quality content.
  6. Create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content. Some systems allow you to create pages automatically based on certain search queries. If your WordPress website has a particular type of search bar, then it will do this. You have to be careful that the pages are marked correctly, and that there is enough content there to show the search robot, and the reader, that the page is either content or search information.
  7. Create duplicate content. If you have an automated content scraper, or you allow other authors onto your site, you may come across this. At the moment I have never seen this affect entire sites completely, but if you don’t have enough original content generally, then your domain quality signal could be reduced.
  8. Create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware. Again, you may do this by accident or even for fun. If you spoof the Google log in page (or any other page like a bank etc), even as a joke, if people could be confused, you are breaking the rules.
  9. Create affiliate programs with little or no original content. Affiliate programs are a popular way to sell products on the web. However you have to make sure that you are not copying the information across from the vendors website without adding any other information. You could add your own spin on why you are endorsing the product. You could build unique testimonials from other users.
  10. Dont add value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
  11. Use words that are from a known ban list. Be careful when using words like “Joints” or “Sex” in the description of your business. Your whole website could be affected by being slapped with an “adult content” tag, or could be removed from Google Places.
  12. Overuse Adwords or other advertising. Google pushes its own platform, but only wants it to be used on quality sites. In the last Panda update, Google specifically singled out sites that have used Adwords heavily on their sites to drive revenue. In our post on the subject, the main question you should be asking yourself would be “Would you trust the information on this site?”.
  13. Link to bad places. If you are linking to site that can cause someone to download malicious content, or that might be seen as a site that breaks one of Google’s rules, then you can suffer too.
  14. Link out to too many irrelevant websites. This is known as a link farm, and is seen as offering no value.
  15. Try to manipulate your Page Rank. Even though PR is relatively meaningless, if you use “nofollow” “noindex”, and other particular internal linking methods in a way to manipulate your PR, then you could fall foul of this rule.
  16. Sell links. You can charge an admin fee for setting up a directory, but you cannot blanket sell links back to a website.
  17. Offer financial incentives for people to link to you. There was a recent story of a University Book store that offered a discount to people who provided a link to their site. Their website was quickly banned across all keywords. This was one of the few times one website was particularly targeted in this way.
  18. Don’t create systems that can manipulate outbound links in any way. If you give away a free services, such as templates or plugins that link back to you, don’t use those links to manipulate the system
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3 Responses to “Banned By Google – The Many Possible Transgressions”

  1. Brian Maher 28 September 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    We’re working with a client to bring them back out of the sandbox and get re-indexed. They tried to get cheap seo services from a company they had not properly researched. Sadly Google are not very sympathetic once you break the rules

  2. Steven 30 November 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Thanks for the good read. Do you know if there is an extensive list of Google Places banned words? I’m looking for a list somewhere other than the one on blumenthals.com. I can’t seem to find one. Thanks for your help in advance, that is if you can provide any.

    • Robert Steers 30 November 2011 at 10:00 pm #

      I have no idea where to find the complete list. If someone has it maybe they can post it here.


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