Reasons For Google Banning Your Site

How To Be Bad Without Even Knowing It

So far we've discussed the circumstances that can cause your pages or site to be completely removed from Google's index without actually being subjected to a ban. And you're probably already aware of the various pushing-the-envelope techniques � such as keyword stuffing, hidden links, or doorway pages � that can quickly get you banned if you're caught using them. If, however, you're not aware of how dangerous these techniques can be, you need to immediately familiarize yourself with Chapter Three of our UnFair Advantage Book entitled Tricks and Illusions. Other, not so obvious, bad behavior may include:

Bad Neighborhoods

Google doesn't generally penalize or ban sites based on who links to you (which makes sense since you have little control over that), but you can be penalized based on who you link to. If you're linking to a site that gets banned for pushing-the-envelope, your site could get caught up in a "sweep" of all sites that link to the offending site. Such a linking "infraction" can result in your site getting banned (or penalized) as well.

Is this fair?

well, perhaps not. Regardless, it means you must pay attention and choose carefully who you link to. Google obviously figures that if everyone is just indiscriminately swapping links it hurts their ability to organize their index in relevant fashion. This, of course, is one reason why link farms and web rings are generally a bad idea. You have very little control over who your page links to � and it's very easy to inadvertently link into a bad neighborhood.


This strategy involves interlinking multiple domains within a single ownership as a means to artificially inflate the PageRank of each interlinked page. Although this can be an effective way to boost search engine ranking, it also requires tremendous focus to make it work and can be very tricky to implement. If you link too aggressively between your sites or if you create an isolated node � an interconnected circle of sites devoid of incoming links from outside sources � Google is likely to eventually take notice and all of your sites could be penalized or banned.

Another variation of the same theme that also invites trouble is to set-up numerous keyword rich domains with different layouts but offering duplicate products or services. Although this strategy can and is being used effectively by many well known online businesses, you must either wield so much clout that an engine won't ban you or else take great care that they never find out the duplicate offerings are being touted by, uh, (shall we say) disassociated subsidiaries of a parent company.

Virtual IP Address

The adverse SE indexing issues that have been typically attributed to shared IP addresses are becoming increasingly rare these days. However, if you are sharing an IP addresses with someone who gets banned � such as someone running a large, heavily crosslinked mini-net all on the same virtual IP � Google may just ban the entire IP altogether.

Even though you haven't done anything wrong, if your site shares the same IP address as the offending site, your site may be caught in the sweep. Therefore, if your online business is profitable, we can't imagine it being unworthy of having its own IP address. This would eliminate any worry about being mistaken for the virtual crack-house next door.

In case you're unaware of the basic issues that revolve around shared IP addresses, it might be helpful to review an article we wrote back in November 2000 that focuses on many of the underlying concerns about sharing IP addresses.

Duplicate content

You've probably heard about the duplicate content penalty. That's usually just what it is � a penalty. We're unaware of anyone actually being banned for it.

Typically, one of the pages with duplicate content is just relegated to search engine "Siberia" � frozen-in-position somewhere around page 100 of the Google search results. In such cases, the "other page" typically maintains its original search engine rank, although sometimes both, or all, of the duplicate pages are subjected to a penalty (go figure).

Of course, your site being listed on page 100 of the Google search results is almost as bad as being banned. So, obviously, you should do everything possible to avoid posting duplicate content to avoid the penalty.

By the way, there are some obscure ways to incur the duplicate content penalty that you may not be aware of. Recently we leaned of an instance where one site was listed in a directory that provided a redirect to the site instead of a normal static link.

Previous to their directory listing, the company's homepage was ranked in the top ten. Immediately following being listed in the directory, their ranking fell to page 38. Apparently, since the directory page had been around for a while and had a higher PageRank than the company's homepage, the directory listing was rewarded with the higher ranking while the company's homepage was reduced in ranking by the duplicate content penalty.

In such cases, Google tends to see both pages with identical content and decides which of them is the more important of the two. In this case, they applied the duplicate content penalty to the actual business' site � pushing it way down in the rankings.

You can also get hit with the duplicate content penalty if you're using a site-wide template which causes the bulk of the content on each page to be semi-identical.

Site-wide templates can be a great way to save time and simplify layout. However, as you're making changes to the look of your ancillary pages or site, be sure that the indexable content also looks dissimilar to the search engine spider.

Syndicating your content to other sites in exchange for a link back to your site can be a great way to build incoming links. The downside is that it's potentially another way to incur a duplicate content penalty � especially if the site you syndicate your content to is larger and more established than your own.

The same problem can occur if your competitors are copying your site's content and posting it on their own pages. Keep an eye out for other sites which are carrying content identical to yours. Chances are pretty good that either their page or yours will eventually be relegated to the bottom of the results.

Whenever syndicating articles with your permission, try rephrasing parts of the article and/or give it a different title � something to make it differ somewhat from the article on your site. It can also help if the article is broken up into a few different pages.

Possibly you're aware there have been duplicate content penalties incurred under Yahoo as the result of redirecting your site to a new domain name. Although this penalty isn't applicable to Google, it is one you should know about if you are moving or changing any of your domains. Check out SE Bytes for more information on this topic.

Traffic Scammers

Ok, you've done your homework and you know that pushing-the-envelope can get you banned from the search engines. But one day your business gets a call from an aggressive sales rep who says that his company can get you a guaranteed first page ranking for your chosen keywords. Well, we're here to tell you that these companies have been very successful at getting their clients banned from search engines!

Recently there have been several notable cases where such companies have used exceptionally spammy techniques which were quite effective in getting everyone associated with them deleted from both Google and Yahoo.

So, before you decide to employ someone else to do your optimization for you, be sure to find out exactly what they intend to do. Most importantly, configure your agreement so that you can trust them. In the cases were aware of, the optimization companies "promised" their customers the strategies they used were approved by search engines and then proceeded to employ some of the most flagrantly objectionable techniques forbidden by the engines.

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