Will Google Ban Your Website if You Complain?

by / Friday, 15 March 2013 / Published in Featured, Google, Search Engine Optimization

Will Google Ban Your Website if You Complain?

Do you accuse Google of penalizing your site as an act of revenge?

It may sound silly, but if you search through the online forums you will notice comments about webmasters accusing a sinister Google of searching and destroying the sites of the webmasters who complain about its practices.

Ok, so this is an over-dramatization, but you know how conspiracy theories start and there are many circulating the web accusing Google of ulterior motives.

Are they valid?

Unless, we can become flies on the walls of Google’s secret meetings, we will never know for sure. But, for now, it may be best to take Matt Cutts’ word for it.

In this week’s Google Webmaster video, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, answers a question about detecting spam and Google’s standard processes…

The question states:

When Google does a manual review, do you guys use a “set standard” when banning (removing from the index) or do you guys ban based on if it “looks bad” or even smells like spam?

According to Cutts, Google doesn’t take action on a site just because the webmaster complains or is critical of Google.

I have heard messages around the web where webmasters accuse Google of downgrading or penalizing their sites because it had an “in” for the webmaster. But, according to Cutts, this does not occur. The webspam team doesn’t search the “Google complainers” on the web and mark their sites as spam.

Cutts even mentioned the Voltaire quote and said Google abides by this saying, “I might not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your ability to say it.”

Essentially, Google sticks to the guidelines and does not condone emotional decision-making. Google has clear webspam guidelines that cover all of the normal deceptive, manipulative tactics people use to “trick” the engine.

Cutts mentioned these three:

  • Cloaking
  • Sneaky Javascript redirects
  • Thin affiliate sites that don’t add any value – A thin affiliate site may appear to the natural eye a “decent” site, but to Google, it does not pass as valuable. These sites simply regurgitate the same content that is already present on the web. Copied product descriptions from manufacturers’ sites and little to no original content would qualify as a thin affiliate site.

The Web Spam Team and its Processes

Cutts talked about how Google’s webspam team avoids making mistakes when identifying spammy sites. His main goal is consistency.

He talks about the process new recruits undergo when working with the webspam team. When people join the team, Cutts requires them to read and digest a lot of media to understand how to interpret spammy behavior. Through the use of “shadowing,” a term describing the coaching or mentoring of an experienced team member, new recruits are given the chance to learn and grow.

Even when new team members are ready to work independently, their actions are subject to review and the members receive relevant feedback until they can be trusted. In addition, Cutts said the team will perform spot checks to ensure everyone is consistent. Essentially, the team is highly trained to ensure they can handle and discover the many ways people try to manipulate the search engine.

Why is Cutts talking about his internal processes?

He is assuring webmasters that the processes the webspam team uses are consistent across the board. And he is diligent about making sure that every team member does his/her job.

He emphasizes consistency throughout the video because he stresses that Google does not penalize sitesbecause of a webmaster’s ill feelings toward the search engine.

He did mention that he receives some creative uses of spam and different tricks, but most of the time the cases are straightforward and by the book.

What if a spam action falls outside of the webspam guidelines?

Cutts said Google takes a holistic approach and it is not bound by a narrow view. The search engine doesreserve the right to take action if the behavior is deceptive and manipulative and counter to the webspam guidelines. If Google discovers a new spam attack, they will address it and ensure it does not negatively affect the user experience.

According to Cutts, Google tries to be as precise as possible and respond appropriately. He tells viewers to imagine they were Google…they would do the same thing, so though Google won’t be fooled by slightly different spam techniques, the search engine will still try to be fair and allow people to submit reconsideration requests for review. Cutts said Google’s main goal is to protect users, but it also understands the webmasters’ perspective because they are webmasters as well. As a result, Google understands that webmasters may get caught up in situations that are outside of their control.

What do you think?
Do you agree with Matt Cutts?
Or do you think Google takes deliberate actions outside of its guidelines?