Banned By Google

How Do I Know If My Web Site Has Been Banned By Google?


You might ask yourself has your web site been banned by Google,
because you might have read or heard that various actions and methods
might make that happen. For example creating multiple web sites with
duplicate content or generating web pages with no original content
with affiliate ads might get a web site banned by Google. Some people
have for example created fake directory pages using DMOZ and Google
AdSense ads or other affiliate program ads just to get money when
people click the links and some have used computer programs to create
large amounts of computer generated link pages, etc.

Contact Google?

Contacting Google might not help, because Google employees don't have
time to give feedback for the exact reason why a site that has been
banned, because Google uses computer programs called "search engine
spiders" (or bots) to crawl through sites from a link on one page to
another page. That's why you might have to check at least four things
about your site yourself: 1) is your site banned, 2) is any web page
cached by Google linking to your site, 3) is your site accessible to
search engine spiders, and 4) are you using spamming techniques.

This article offers do it yourself (DIY) instructions. It doesn't
give definite answers, because every site is a unique case and you
might not easily find every spamming technique yourself. This article
gives hints about where the problem might be and how you can find out
possible reasons.

1) Is your site really banned?

If you can find one or more pages cached by Google using the site
search [site:your.site] (for example site:google.com), then you are not
banned. If you can't find any web pages from your site cached by
Google, it doesn't mean you are necessarily banned by Google (see 2).

2) Is any web page indexed by Google linking to your site?

If your site is new, one reason for not been indexed by Google might
be that no page indexed by Google is linking to your site. If your
site was indexed by Google for years, but it isn't anymore, then your
site might be banned by Google or you might have made changes on your
site so that it isn't accessible by search engine spiders anymore (see
3).

3) Is your site accessible to search engine spiders?

Another problem can be that your site is not accessible to search
engine spiders. For example search engine spiders don't usually (if
ever) follow JavaScript redirects. If you have a start page that is
only used to redirect to the main page using incorrect redirect,
search engine spiders might not understand your start page and that
way not to index your main page and not be able to go to other pages.
You can check yourself if your site is accessible for search engine
spiders by using a web browser called Lynx (or Amaya) and try go to
the main page. If you can't see anything on your main page with Lynx
and can't go to other pages on your site, then probably search engine
spiders can't do that either.

If for some reason you can't download or install Lynx or Amaya to your
computer, then you can at least disable JavaScript and cookies (if
your browser supports them) in your browser to try to emulate search
engine bots.

4) How to tell if a site is banned?

Google uses algorithms to find out if someone tries to spam search
engine results.

For example some people make duplicate sites, because they think that
way they might be found more easily with search engines.

Google says it gives relevant search results:

"You'll see only pages that are relevant to the terms you type"
http://www.google.com/technology/whyuse.html

Duplicate content is not relevant content, so Google removes that kind
of content from its index.

Other spamming methods or actions that can have your site banned are
mentioned in Google's webmaster quality guidelines on page
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769#quality
and they are for example:

   - hidden text and hidden links
   - keyword stuffing
   - link schemes meant to rank you higher in search results
   - linking to bad neighborhood
   - sneaky redirects
   - cloaking
   - doorway pages created just for search engines

Here are some examples of finding out are you spamming for example in
the situation where you haven't designed and created your web pages
yourself or you are not sure what you have been doing with different
programs. Some web sites may promise using their software doesn't harm
your web site or they don't tell you might get in trouble if you use
their programs. It can take time to check every web page and every
outgoing link you have yourself, but it can be worth it:

4.1 Hidden text and hidden links

You should be able to see hidden text and hidden links on a web page
by disabling JavaScript on your web browser (or use Lynx), clicking
the background of the web page, and then pressing Ctrl + a from the
keyboard (or from the web browser menu select "Edit", "Select All" or
similar).

4.2 Duplicate content

Make a phrase search for some parts of your main page (for example
from title and headings) and possibly some other pages.

Example:

If you want to know are there duplicate pages of Google's webmaster
guidelines main page, search for example for ["Following these
guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site"]:

http://www.google.com/search?&q=%22Following+these+guidelines+will+help+Google+find%2C+index%2C+and+rank+your+site%22

4.3 Keyword stuffing

If you have web pages with (especially non-relevant) keywords after
keywords, it's called keyword stuffing.

Example of a short keywords list:

   Google, games, entertainment, news, weather, cars, computers,
   cameras, phones, Yahoo, food, banana, apple, tea, coffee, MSN,
   physics, chemistry, women, single, cooking, sports, health,
   football, soccer, bowling, skating, billiards, tennis, chess,
   Montana, Colorado, Texas, Mexico, Calgary, Africa, Asia, Europe,
   USA, Australia, pets, business, money, insurance, shopping, ...

4.4 Link schemes

To find out if your web site uses a link scheme, you may need to click
even hundreds of links on your web site on various web pages to find
automatically generated link pages. Those link pages might contain
unrelevant but also some relevant links. Those pages probably look
like they have been generated with computer software instead of a
human would have first checked those pages before accepting them to
the link page.

4.5 Linking to bad neighborhoods

You should avoid linking to bad neighborhoods, because Google follows
links to find out who links to which web site and that way Google
tries to figure out using spam recognition algorithms which sites try
to spam search engine results:

"Make sure that other sites link to yours. Links help our crawlers
find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search
results."
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=34397&topic=8523

Google for example warns about web sites that guarantee ranking high
in search results and/or offer link schemes:

"No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google."
"Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of "free-for-all" links, link
popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search
engines."
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35291

Guarantees for high ranking in search results and promises to get
money by linking to a site might look similar to below examples:

   "RANK HIGH IN SEARCHES!!!", "IMPROVE YOUR GOOGLE RATING!!!",
   "INCREASE LINK POPULARITY!!!", "LINK EXCHANGE!!!", "TOP RANKING
   GUARANTEED!!!", "AFFILIATE PROGRAM!!!", "EARN CASH BY LINKING TO
   US!!!", "RECEIVE COMMISSION!!!", "GET MONEY FAST!!!".

A web site in bad neighborhood might not be banned by Google, but web
sites using its software for example to create link pages can get
banned by Google, because automatically generated link pages are
useless content in search results.

See also "How do I find out if I am linking to a site offering an
affiliate program?".

4.6 Linking to a banned web site

Web sites that are used to trick search engines to rank web pages
higher are not welcome to Google's index. If a web site is banned by
Google, none of the pages on the site are indexed by Google. That
means there are no search results for the site search
[site:investigated.site] for the web site. On the other hand it may
also mean it hasn't been indexed by Google yet or it has only a few
incoming links.

Because no search results for site search doesn't necessarily mean a
web site is banned, it's wise to check every web site you plan to link
to even if you have made a site search for a site. If you think a web
site is using a spamming technique or you just are suspicious about
it, you might not want to link to that site. And because some sites
may decide to use spamming techniques later, you could check every web
site you link to every 2 weeks for suspicious changes.

Because it would be too easy to get a competitor banned by linking to
the competitor, Google doesn't ban because a spammer might link to
your web site. But linking to spammers or bad neighborhoods can get
your site banned. So you should be cautious about linking to someone.

Update (May 2006): Another symptom for a banned web site was that the
PageRank, which can be seen with the Google Toolbar, was 0/10 for
every web page on a web site, but that has changed around May 2006, so
now using Google's site search and checking the site yourself is even
more important.

4.7 Sneaky redirects

If you go to one of your web pages and you get immediately redicted to
some other web site, it could mean something is wrong (not all
redirects are wrong). For example if your web site is about cars, and
when you go to one of your web pages you get redirected to a shopping
web site, you should get suspicious and ask about it from your web
designer. Or if on your web page there is a link to a car manufacturer
web site, but when you click the link instead of seeing the car
manufacturer mentioned on the link, you get redirected to a web page
that sells insurances.

4.8 Cloaking

Some people create web pages that look different to search engines
than to humans. They might show different text when viewed with the
text-only web browser Lynx compared to what they look like with a web
browser with JavaScript turned on. For example you can turn on or off
JavaScript in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

4.9 Doorway pages created just for search engines

Some pages may have been created just to lead visitors to a site that
a spammer tries to make rank higher in search results. When viewed
closely, that web page might not really have anything interesting a
human would read. It might contain one or more links to the same page
that the spammer tries to rank higher.

The more there are web sites you link to, the more time it takes to
check the links, but it can be worth it! In the end, YOU decide if
you will remove some or any methods or actions mentioned above.

5) What if I'm probably banned by Google?

If you think you have been banned by Google, clean every section of
every web page on your web site and when you have made the possible
changes, send a re-inclusion request to Google by going to

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35843

More info:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=34443&topic=8523

It can take from 2 weeks to a month or even longer to get re-included
by Google. Make a site search [site:your.site] every day to find
out when/if you are indexed by Google.

By the way, you might also be interested in checking your site for
spamming techniques and other problems with some of the webmaster
tools listed here:

http://sites.google.com/site/tomihasa/google-general-faq#webmastertools


Last modified: November 16th, 2006

Author: Tomi Häsä (tomi.hasa@gmail.com)

URL: http://sites.google.com/site/tomihasa/banned-by-google

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