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Businesses Scramble To Stay Out of Google Hell

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the argh-my-pancreas-the-demons-poke-it-so dept.

Google 303

whoever57 writes "Forbes has up an article on the consequences of being dumped into a claimed 'supplemental index', also known as 'Google Hell'. It uses the example of Skyfacet, a site selling diamonds rings and other jewelery, which has dropped in Google's rankings and saw a $500,000 drop in revenue in only three months after the site owner paid a marketing consultant to improve the sites. The article claims that sites in the supposed 'supplemental index' may be visited by Google's spiders as infrequently as once per year. The problem? Google's cache shows that Google's spiders visited the site ss recently as late April. 'Google Hell is the worst fear of the untold numbers of companies that depend on search results to keep their business visible online. Getting stuck there means most users will never see the site, or at least many of the site's pages, when they enter certain keywords. And getting out can be next to impossible--because site operators often don't know what they did to get placed there.'"

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My tips on Google penalties (5, Informative)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939585)

My tips for staying out of Google Hell.
  • Keep using the same domain name. Right now changing your domain name incurs a huge penalty from Google. You will lose 90% of your traffic for 8 months.
  • Use unique titles and meta descriptions for each of your pages. If the titles and meta descriptions on two of your pages are the same, one or both of the pages will likely go into Google Hell
  • Don't buy links to your site to boost your pagerank from unrelated sites. If Google sees links to your site on the same page as links to Viagra sites, you will likely get a spam penalty.
  • Ensure that your content is original and unique. If you use syndicated content, or syndicate your content to other sites, Google will realize that the content exists in two places and put one of them into Google hell.
If you do get into Google hell:
  • There is nobody at Google you can talk to.
  • Fix any issues that you can find.
  • Contemplate. Google hell is designed as a penalty box. However it can whack the white hat folks just the same. You may be in it because you did something wrong, you may just have gotten hit by friendly fire. It happens from time to time to most large sites that depend on Google for traffic.
  • Wait. You will generally get out of Google hell. In my experience it can be as little as one to two months for most things, but up to a year for domain name changes
  • Get the PR machine going. Google doesn't want a bad image. If you get artitles like this one in places that Google engineers are likely to see them, the problems may get fixed for you faster. Google will still never admit that there ever was a problem though.

Re:My tips on Google penalties (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939641)

Nicely put!
also, never stop the marketing and the linking programs. Google hell is an important part of the Google cleaning up process. and it also helps me consider how to improve my web site.

Also, since it can be a web page design issue... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939673)

...make sure your site doesn't suck [webpagesthatsuck.com] .

Re:My tips on Google penalties (4, Insightful)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939725)

Add to this:
do not hire idiot consultants to raise your pagerank.

  Which is not technical advice but should cover whatever fool stuff someone might try.

  I have to say, I don't have a lot of sympathy for the guy. He tried to cheat, and when it backfired, he goes crying because he can't get un-blacklisted. Well, sucks to be him, but it certainly serves google's purposes (and the health of the internet as a whole) well.

  Pre-emptive strike: I believe, in principle, on strong public oversight of corporate decision-making.

  The *exception* is anything that might be considered an editorial decision, the dispensation of advice, etc. If it's not a tortious lie, they have a right to say (to recommend, to blacklist) whatever/whomever they want, because I have a right to choose to whom I will listen.

  If you don't like what google does, you don't have to use it - but you can't force them to change what-they-say because you don't like it that other people listen to them.

Re:My tips on Google penalties (4, Insightful)

DarkSarin (651985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940487)

Actually there is one comment above that I have to disagree with. If you don't like what Google does, you may not want to do business with them, but you don't really have a choice--if you are depending on your site for revenue, then you absolutely MUST be concerned with Google, even if you never purchase advertising from them. In other words, you can't ignore Google, even if you absolutely despise them.

If someone comes up with a better search engine that also gains equal or near-equal footing with Google, then you can worry less about them, but I think it will be a VERY long time before anyone doing business on the internet can afford to ignore Google.

So while a business as a whole might decide not to purchase advertising via Google, and may not use Adsense, very few businesses can afford to ignore the monster that is Google.

Re:My tips on Google penalties (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940741)

It's not cheating, everyone on the first page of every google search you do that could possibly lead to a sale of any kind has paid a consultant to be there. There is an entire industry built around gaming search engine results. There are the "white hats" who buy links, etc but do it in a google approved manner (i.e. on industry linkblogs or sites that sell links with relevant content.) There are black hats who spam blog comments/message boards/whatever they can find with their links, and their sites will often end up in Google hell eventually.

Google realizes that any system they can create will be gamed by SEO consultants before they can change their algorithms, so they set them up in such a way that to game the system, you have to do things in a way that actually makes meta tags, subjects and relevant content meaningful. It makes the internet as a whole more usable, and sites that provide no meaningful content or don't play by the rules will be buried.

Yes, this often means that you can raise your Google rank by buying or renting links on popular industry-related sites. There are entire advertising networks set up to organize this kind of activity. This has been going on for years, and if you didn't realize that by doing a Google search you were being marketed to, well, open your eyes. :)

Google Official Response (5, Informative)

cyberianpan (975767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939737)

The chief anti spam engineer of Google is Matt Cutts [mattcutts.com] he says:

As a reminder, supplemental results aren't something to be afraid of; I've got pages from my site in the supplemental results, for example ... That statement still holds. It's perfectly normal for a website to have pages in our main web index and our supplemental index

MySolitaire.com, another online diamond business, spent January to June of 2006 in the supplemental index. Amit Jhalani, the site's vice president of search marketing, says he figures that cost his business $250,000 ... Okay, so the VP of SEM for this site mentions that they tried buying links; maybe those links started to count for less. I decided to check into mysolitaire.com and see if I could find any other links that might have started counting for less. I did find a spam report where someone forwarded an email that appeared to be from mysolitaire.com ... I checked out http://www.mysolitaire.com/resources/ [mysolitaire.com] and by my count saw 329 different categories offered for link exchanging:
And the fix:

The approach I'd recommend in that case is to use solid white-hat SEO to get high-quality links (e.g. editorially given by other sites on the basis of merit).

Re:Google Official Response (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939901)

So basically, be good and don't try to mess up our search engine and we'll keep giving you free advertising.

Re:Google Official Response (1)

ccandreva (409807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940435)

Where did this response come from ?

Re:Google Official Response (3, Informative)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940777)

Matt Cutts maintains a blog where he responds.
Here is the link to this particular response:
http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/google-hell/ [mattcutts.com]

Re:My tips on Google penalties (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939751)

You forgot the most important one: 'Think twice before paying any of the so called "search optimisation consultants"'.

Re:My tips on Google penalties (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939941)

I wonder if actually buying keywords/pay-per-click ads from google would help getting out of Google Hell....

Re:My tips on Google penalties (5, Funny)

hotdiggity (987032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940147)

If you do get into Google hell:

A player gets out of Google Hell by...

(1) Throwing doubles on any of your next three turns. If you succeed in doing this you immediately move forward the number of PageRank ratings shown by your doubles throw.

(2) Using the "Get Out of Google Hell Free Card"

(3) Purchasing the "Get Out of Google Hell Free Card" from another e-business and playing it.

(4) Paying a fine of $50 before you roll the dice on either of your next two turns. If you do not throw doubles by your third turn, you must pay the $50 fine. You then get out of Google Hell and immediately move forward the number of PageRank rankings shown by your throw.

Even though you are in Google Hell, you may buy and sell on e-Bay, buy and sell houses and hotels (in Second Life) and collect revenues.

Re:My tips on Google penalties (2, Informative)

eriklou (1027240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940425)

Google seams to have a back end now for people to control some search stuff for their domains. I don't know if this is relevant or not but its an easy place to get Google to remove cached stuff. I recommend looking around in it and verification of a domain just includes uploading a blank file with a weird name.

http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps [google.com]

Re:My tips on Google penalties (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940553)

A domain name change can take longer. Especially if sites that linked there are updated infrequently. A site that I occasionally drop by is still in Google hell after more than a year. Granted, it wasn't designed with google in mind in the first place, but it is a prominent site for its topic matter, and was in the top 3 search results prior to the domain name change.

As for what this site is, I'm not going to say, as this might have been an intentional, or at least, desirable consequence for the webmaster.

Re:My tips on Google penalties (3, Insightful)

Jessta (666101) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940843)

If your site isn't coming up in google the keywords you want and it's losing you $500,000 then you should probably buy some ads from google to get yourself back in there.
It's sort of an obvious solution.

Sounds like the system works just fine to me (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939605)

So these guys tried to game the system with high-priced "search consultants" and now they're whining that Google caught them?!?!? Even more embarrassing is Forbes giving a voice to these lowlifes as if they're the victims.

Google's obligation is to serve the consumer doing the search with the most accurate and fair results possible, not to ensure that sleezy companies paying big $ to "consultants" who game the system maintain their sales.

For shame, Forbes!

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (3, Interesting)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939671)

That was my first thoughts. I was a little surprised to read that they *think* that Google knocked them down because of links from low quality sites. I did not think Google does this, but if it is true it opens up a whole new way to threaten people. Build a low quality spam site and then threaten businesses with adding a link to their site. A new kind of corporate blackmail for the internet age.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (2, Interesting)

asninn (1071320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939963)

This seems to be not so much about spam sites linking to them as much as it is about them linking to spam sites, though, so that blackmail scenario likely wouldn't work.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940309)

Google probably has included directionality in the their "graph" of the relationship between the sites, or will soon, so having all kinds of bad links pointing your way, and none of yours pointing to the bad links (except through extremely roundabout paths) will probably have a neutral affect on your ranking.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (2)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939691)

Don't you think you're being a little harsh? I hate the whole "search consultants" business, along with a lot of the web design businesses, but the company made a mistake. Hiring a consultant for this kinda thing would seem the logical thing to do, but they didn't calculate the risk.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939783)

Actually, I suspect that these guys knew EXACTLY what they were doing. You don't pay a guy $35,000 to tell you "I can't game the system, or make any promises. I can only give you some advice that you can find for free on Google's own site." I suspect this "consultant" went to them with promises of insider information on how to game Google to get them a higher page ranking than they deserved.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (2, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940299)

Lots of people pay consultants without knowing exactly what they will do or why they need them. The entire management consultancy game depends on this.

In this case they probably did know what they were doing though.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939853)

Harsh? No. If you're going to game the system, you might get burnt. Boo hoo.

Let's not get started on relying on a third party (Google) whom you have no contract with for a large percentage of your business. That's got to rank up there with Stupid Business Models 101 in my view.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939787)

So true. It's like the feeling of satisfaction that burbles up when you see the driver who just passed you on a curvy two-lane road getting pulled over by the radar-cop a mile further. (Or, in the winter, seeing the SOB in a snowbank or ditch...) 8)

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (2)

bubblah (1095629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939897)

According to http://techwag.com/index.php/2007/04/30/welcome-to -google-hell/ [techwag.com] techwag, they were dabbling in black art SEO or Grey hat SEO when they got dumped, and the point on that one is that I agree with you, and black/grey hat anything is going to get you in trouble, and it is great that they are whining now about it, but really they brought it on themselves. As long as people try to game the system, they have to suffer the consequences of gaming the system. my 2 cents.

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (2)

coldcell (714061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940119)

It actually smacks to me of pro-Google 'journalism'. It may be the paranoia talking, but given that a lot of comments on this already are of the 'but that means that Google is awesome', and 'See? Google can't be evil if they catch the bad guys!' ilk, perhaps Forbes wanted to subversively massage Google's image of being Not Evil? Pretty shabby either way, really. -c

Not every one is a Web Dev (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940467)

It's not a fair assessment to assume companies want "to game the system" by hiring SEO "experts". Most of my web clients know NOTHING about making a web page, so they know even less than nothing (like -nothing!) about getting listed in search engines. Alot of them would hire an SEO agency in complete innocence, thinking they are just setting up their site to conform to what the search engines need in order to "get listed".

Re:Sounds like the system works just fine to me (2)

Tassach (137772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940715)

So these guys tried to game the system with high-priced "search consultants" and now they're whining that Google caught them?!?!? Even more embarrassing is Forbes giving a voice to these lowlifes as if they're the victims.

While these guys may not be innocent victims, this does bring up an interesting counter-scenerio. Instead of putting links to your site in link farms, what if you put links to your competition's sites in link farms, forcing them in to Google Hell?

If I can create a throwaway site that negatively impacts your page ranking, that opens up a whole realm of dirty tricks and lets you game the system from the other end...

That's 35 grand poorly spent (4, Informative)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939611)

When you hire a consultant specifically to improve your Google page rank, I guess you are opening yourself up to stuff like this. It sounds to me like this guy hired someone who thought they knew how to game the system, and the system gamed him back.

Re:That's 35 grand poorly spent (1)

watergeus (877271) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940363)

Is it so hard to formulate a working contract for both sides? What about paying the consultant in relation to the extra hits.

Marketing Consultant (5, Informative)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939623)

after the site owner paid a marketing consultant to improve the sites


Sounds to me like they should have hired a more professional consultant, it seems to me thats who the company should immediately be blaming rather than Google.

Re:Marketing Consultant (1)

FuryG3 (113706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940595)

Agreed. Seems like their Marketing money went to the wrong place. Had they instead used that money towards other marketing means (adsense or real world ads) they'd be in a much better situation.

Actually, if your business is run *entirely* off of referrals from one search engine, I would think it would make more sense to use marketing methods which generate referrals from other sources. You can't get away from being dependent on search engines if your business is an online one, but diversifying your income seems like a pretty good idea.

Re:Marketing Consultant (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940895)

"Your Honor, my client deserves to be compensated by the police department for loss of revenue. He knows nothing about any so-called stolen merchandise. He made a legitimate business transaction buying a truckload of DVD players for $5 each from Mr. Soprano. Yes, this transaction occurred at 2am in a back alley, but my client works all hours."

Skyfacet (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939625)

It uses the example of Skyfacet, a site selling diamonds rings and other jewelery

Well they sure will be getting alot more hits now. It's on Slashdot, prepair to be slashdotted (AKA: Slashdothell)

Re:Skyfacet (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939863)

Or rather slashdotheaven for an online retailer.

Re:Skyfacet (1)

plasmana (984377) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940005)

See tip #5 in the post "My tips on Google penalties" under the heading "If you do get into Google Hell"

*Caring* (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939629)

"Forbes has up an article on the consequences of being dumped into a claimed 'spam index', also known as 'Mail Hell'. It uses the example of e360, a site selling mortgage refis and anatomical enlargement, which has dropped in graylist rankings and saw a $500,000 drop in revenue in only three months after the company paid a marketing consultant to improve the emails. The article claims that sites in the supposed 'spam index' may be re-evaluated as infrequently as once per year. The problem? The site was reevaluated as recently as late April. 'Mail Hell is the worst fear of the untold numbers of spammers that depend on breaking spam filters to keep their business visible online. Getting stuck there means most users will never see their emails. And getting out can be next to impossible--because spammers often don't know what they did to get placed there.'"

Dante (3, Funny)

inkedgeek (1067346) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939639)

I suppose this is Dante's 9th ring.

Re:Dante (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940189)

I'm not even supposed to be here today!

Business model relying on free service? (5, Insightful)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939643)

Unfortunately that is the price you pay for basing your business on the assumption that a FREE SERVICE (namely Google's ranking system) will continue to work in your favor. Many businesses are getting their "advertising" for free by being ranked highly by Google, and prominently displayed in search results. Maybe they should consider paying for strategically placed ads like everybody else.

Re:Business model relying on free service? (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939721)

RAMEN brother. I worked very hard for my little site, it does not have any real ranking. but when someone wants to find my site and does not know the full name, it will rank number 1 - 5 on Google.

My little apartment building competes in the miami beach market so there is no chance in hell I can rank #20 or greater under a hotel type search.

I depend on buying AdWords to guild people to my place and depend on word of mouth. it the site ever breaks 20, I will be hosting a huge party and eat till I drop.

Ooops I didn't know is no defense (0, Redundant)

cyberianpan (975767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939645)

Oooops I didn't know that my "marketing consultant" was doing SEO spamming. Ooops I just paid him by accident to do "stuff".

Good that Google doesn't let that defense wash. Could you imagine what a better place the world would be if we could have a similar rule for email spam ? I cheer Google on for their anti spam efforts [mattcutts.com] .

Re:Ooops I didn't know is no defense (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939899)

Yes, but it can be a legit reason. Really, I don't expect a diamond selling company on the internet to know more about web building, then I expact a BnM Diamond store to know about building neon signs.

Re:Ooops I didn't know is no defense (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940091)

Yeah but if a BnM (I like that acronym) were to write a sign manufacturer a blank check based on the promise that his sign will increase traffic x% then he's just as big a moron, and deserves to suffer the consequences when he gets the 30' tall neon sign that says FREE LAPDANCES (with the purchase of a diamond engagement ring values at $7500 or more)

Re:Ooops I didn't know is no defense (1)

virtual_mps (62997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940141)

Yes, but it can be a legit reason. Really, I don't expect a diamond selling company on the internet to know more about web building, then I expact a BnM Diamond store to know about building neon signs.
You don't need to know a lot about computers to know that paying $35k for a guy to add links to/from a bunch of unrelated web sites to try to fool people into coming to your site is a bad idea. You just need a certain sense of ethics...

Shady SEO? (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939647)

FTFA:

and saw a $500,000 drop in revenue in only three months after the site owner paid a marketing consultant to improve the sites.
Any bets on if this was some shady guy who told 'm of the miracles of using Javascript and text with the same color as the background to up the number of keywords? There's several of those dirty SEO tricks that get punished.

So.. (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939651)

So basicly a guy paid a "consultant" to abuse how Google works and then when Google changed the system to stop this happening he complains that he got punished for it?

At what point is this guy any sort of victim when he knowingly exploited the system for his own gain and got caught with his hand in the cookie jar?

The Punchline (1)

theRhinoceros (201323) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939655)

In retrospect, Sanar thinks he can trace his problem to a search marketing consultant he had paid $35,000 to improve Skyfacet's Google rankings. He now believes the consultant mistakenly replicated content on many of the site's pages, making them look like duplicate--that is, spam--content. But even after he reversed the consultant's changes, he couldn't get Skyfacet's pages out of Google Hell, where they remain today.

Mistakenly? Really? Are you sure? I thought that was the SOP for search-engine gaming-- the amateurish ones that don't charge 35k for a net change of -$500k overall-- but still standard, ham-handed SEO nonetheless.

New Business Model (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939661)

1) Go into business
2) Gather home pages of major competitors
3) Add links to these home pages on disreputable web sites
4) Watch their traffic go down.
5) Watch your traffic go up.
6) Profit

Just cant figure out where the "..." fits into this one.

Re:New Business Model (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940075)

I don't claim to be a google or SEO expert ... but from my limited understanding, inbound links do not hurt no matter what. I know that google claims that hiring people to get you involved in shady link farming can be harmful. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but the simple fact is that you can not control who links to you.

A lot of people have theorized that what might be harmful is many unrelated links of very low quality in a very short period of time, however as you just pointed out, that opens completely innocent people to attacks of this kind. I could have a network of 5,000 sites with a PR of 0 and add a link to slashdot on every single one of them. Will slashdot all of a sudden find itself in the supplemental index ? I HIGHLY doubt it.

Of course, slashdot has thousands of high quality links from all over the internet. So those might kick the "attack" in the butt.

So perhaps new domains with a PR of 0 and a ton of inbound links from other UNRELATED PR 0 pages in a very short period of time is what hurts. In that case such an attack would not be successful against any well established site with high quality inbound links.

Re:New Business Model (1)

the_lesser_gatsby (449262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940505)

Do you think slashdot needs a high google rating?

Re:New Business Model (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940107)

Yes, very insightful. That's where this all falls down.

It's great that (as in this case) Google sends the Blackhats in to Google hell, although it still doesn't actually do it as successfully as many would like.

But since Google rankings are somewhat esoteric, it's hard for Whitehats to stay white. And in the parent's example - even if you are doing everything honestly there's nothing to stop a competitor killing your business in exactly the way described.

I see three real problems here:
  • 1. Search is still not good enough to meet people's needs - very little tech advance in the past 10 years in fact.
  • 2. Google has too much power.
  • 3. No ability to appeal Google's decisions.
No.1 is obviously very hard to solve. No.2 Depends entirely on No.1 - or on Google losing brand power due to a number of factors (being evil not one of them - doesn't stop Yahoo or MS) - not likely any time soon. But No.3 should be possible for a company of Google's size and stature to address.

Technology is fallible, humans are fallible, weird things happen - it should be possible to have someone at Google address these issues in person. If Google's algorithms are right most of the time, then that appeals dept is going to be very underworked. If however, they are not getting it right, then at least the appeals dept can address this directly.

It's only fair, not evil, and win/win all round really.

Re:New Business Model (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940417)

But since Google rankings are somewhat esoteric, it's hard for Whitehats to stay white.
Perhaps, then, SEO is an inherently grey-hat or black-hat business?

Search engines retain users by showing users the results that they need. They develop and tune algorithms that determine what a user needs by the contents of the sites they index. If your site is important, search companies will eventually tune their algorithms to properly index it.

As for document.write() and other Web 2.0 problems, I predict the algorithms will be fixed as more and more important sites use these methods.

Yes, I'm giving Google et al the benefit of the doubt, but it's their business, their service. As a user, I expect nothing from them but the ability to find what I'm looking for. As a webmaster, a third of my hits are from Google, but two-thirds are direct or by referral. And I'm happy with that ratio; it means people are talking about my site.

Re:New Business Model (1)

Jbcarpen (883850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940439)

then that appeals dept is going to be very underworked.

No, because as soon as such a department is set up everyone in the supplemental index will appeal, even those who belong there.

Business meets technology (-1)

Bigmilt8 (843256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939677)

This has to be one of the worst things for the internet that I have ever heard of. The internet is a GREAT way for small business to thrive and compete. I'm not sure if the individuals at Google understand the term "free market". I give it a year before there are claims of kickbacks. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends in some sort of class-action lawsuit. Or it will boost Yahoo revenue (assuming they aren't doing the same thing).

Re:Business meets technology (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939869)

Your post makes no sense.
I'm not sure if you unserstand the term 'RTFA'.

I am not sure why the hell you think google it doing this to these sites as an attack of some kind. OH right, didn't RTFA.

Re:Business meets technology (5, Insightful)

hmbcarol (937668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939949)

I don't think you understand what "free market" means. Google owns the index, Google decides how it works. The searcher is their customer, NOT the "small business owner".

If they please their customers with the best possible results they will make more money. If they allow themselves to be gamed, searchers will go elsewhere and Google will lose money.

If you don't like that, go start your own search engine.

BTW, they have been sued over this kind of thing and they have always won. The ranking is their opinion and they are entitled to it.

Re:Business meets technology (3, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940345)

The searcher is their customer, NOT the "small business owner".

That's not even close to true. Your customers are, without fail, the people that pay you (or at least, the people you're trying to convince to pay you). Searchers are Google's product; advertisers are Google's customers.

This is no different (in this respect) than radio and ad-supported television: your listeners/viewers are the product you sell to your advertisers.

Don't ever think that Google wants to make you, the searcher, happy - they want to make their advertisers happy. If the best way to do that is by making you happy (and so far, it pretty much has been), then lucky for you. If it isn't, tough cookies: you're not the one keeping the cooling on.

Re:Business meets technology (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940537)

You misunderstand slightly.

Companies which pay Google to place advertisements are Googles customers.

Companies which do not pay Google for advertisements are not Googles customers.

Random people looking for websites are not Googles customers either.

In order for googles adverts to be productive people have to visit websites, if they visit a website which actually matches with the sort of website they were looking for then googles adverts are more powerful.

Anyone gaming googles system to drive people to their websites without taking account of whether this is the best website matching the surfers requirements is hurting googles customers by not maximising the effectiveness of the audience for their adverts.

Re:Business meets technology (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940021)

No, what google understands is that there isn't any such thing as a "free market" so their doing their best to squeeze dollars out of their market. Which means to return relevant search results more often than their competitors. They do this by punishing people who try to game the system to seem more relevant than they really are.

Besides who made google the "free market" police? Google can do whatever they want, and as long as it makes searchers happy they are doing the right thing. They could easily redirect every search to auction.google.com, and it wouldn't be unethical, but they don't because they know people want to find what their looking for.

A class action lawsuit would be interesting. If the judge were sane (which I wouldn't bank on) he'd laugh the plaintiffs out of court. Google is under no obligation to index your site. That they do is a happy bonus, but if they stop you have no recourse. Does this make hitching your wagon to google a little risky? Sure, but there are worse bets out there.

On top of all this google offers a great way to increase your visibility - buy ads.

Re:Business meets technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940547)

This is the sort of person the Forbes's article was aimed at.

How's that for a hidden insult!

Re:Business meets technology (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940737)

Okay, there are 17000 small businesses in the US selling diamonds and jewelry. How do you get them all to fit in the first page of search results?

That's why.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939679)

The world needs two or more independent, similarly popular engines. That decreases the likelihood of legitimate sites getting so thoroughly whacked.

Play By The Rules (5, Insightful)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939681)

I am by no means an SEO expert... but I've had VERY good luck with google indexes for the small sites I build for people. I've even gotten some business from it, because people some how think I'm some sort of genius. So what's my secret?

I READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AT GOOGLE FOR WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO AND I FOLLOWED THE RULES

If you simply follow the rules that google lays out, you won't get sucked into google hell. If you try and game the system by paying for consultants to "juice" your site, you gambled and lost. Bottom line: Don't be evil, and google will not punish you

Re:Play By The Rules (5, Informative)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940033)

Yup - Agree 100%.

My personal check-list for this kind of thing is..

1) Make sure that the site design is sensible and contains valid html + valid css. (if used)
2) Make sure that all the text is relevant and not overly complex for the sake of it. (nice clear simple language..)
3) Have a site map. (A normal one - I don't know if google sitemaps, i.e. the xml stuff you can add to your site are useful)
4) Use all the useful meta information, (description, abstract etc..) ...But don't duplicate content or meta information for no reason (500 random key words really wont help you)
5) Make sure that the links on site (internal and external) are valid and go where you think they should ...But don't have link page upon link page to random sites
6) If you use a CMS or any content generation (i.e. data driven sites) make sure that the generated page addresses are neat, rewrite them if neccessary (possible). www.whatever.com/about.html is better than www.whatever.com/generated/pages/index.php?page=ab out&theme=pretty&data=-1&uid=14568681.
7) Update the content on your site on a regular(ish) basis.

8) Never ever let an SEO company that claims it an get you X hits per day/month anywhere near it, most SEO techniques involve gaming search engines in one way or another, whether through comment spam, blog spam, dodgy link farms or other nefarious methods. If an SEO company comes to you and says it will look at the layout/content of your site to optimise it to your sites demographic (by cleaning up the language or the code) you should be golden, anything else is a disaster waiting to happen. You should launch your site expect a few visitors and if it is a useful and usable site, then your user base will find it, as they find it, the links and traffic will come naturally.

One quirk that I noticed a while back whilst writing a company site that listed news headlines from a couple of news agencies, was that the site was appearing in conjunction with some weird search terms, like "$companyname terrorists" and "$companyname organised crime". Its not just the search terms you want to be associated with that will work - but anything that is available on your site, dynamic content and all.

Re:Play By The Rules (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940713)

One quirk that I noticed a while back whilst writing a company site that listed news headlines from a couple of news agencies, was that the site was appearing in conjunction with some weird search terms, like "$companyname terrorists" and "$companyname organised crime". Its not just the search terms you want to be associated with that will work - but anything that is available on your site, dynamic content and all.

This can happen to any site with lots of words. I was once worked on a site that had a bunch of classic philosophical essays, and noticed that it was getting hits on things like "sex on a billiard table" and "sex with elephants". It turns out they were hitting on things like Locke's Essay on Human Understanding, where sex is sometimes mentioned as a means of categorizing things, in close conjunction with other forms of categorization involving biological species and the purpose of manufactured artefacts.

My general advice for people who want lots of hits: lots of on-topic, original words are the way to go, as well as submitting to legit categorized indices in only the appropriate categories. If your site is easy for spiders to find and has lots of relevant words for them to chew on it will rise in the ranks pretty quickly.

Re:Play By The Rules (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940037)

Ramen brother:

Read the rules and you shall win. I did everything that Google ask of me, and I got exactly what I needed. Now over the next few years I know I'll get some ranking that is proper, but for what I already needed goggle did it. My place already has a ranking that works for it's name.

Re:Play By The Rules (1)

pvera (250260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940381)

That is correct.

These days it seems it is too much to ask people to bother reading the instructions. This whole search engine optimization as a business model movement is going too far. I have a small blog (1500 or so original articles spanning 5 years) and I have never had trouble with Google indexing me. As far as I can tell from my traffic logs, most of my articles get indexed within 48 hours of publishing. I don't do anything special, I don't even have custom meta tags, just whatever is placed by Wordpress.

What about those not trying to game anything? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940691)

I READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AT GOOGLE FOR WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO AND I FOLLOWED THE RULES If you simply follow the rules that google lays out, you won't get sucked into google hell. If you try and game the system by paying for consultants to "juice" your site, you gambled and lost.

While I see you mean with trying to "game" the system, these guys are a bit of a straw-man. Why? Sure, they tried to "game" the system. But there are many of us who don't, and have been arbitrarily hurt. Possibly because we did nothing, instead of following Google's "rules". Pardon my french, but when the fuck did Google get to set how sites are made? Answer: when they became the Microsoft of the internet.

I help run a site for car enthusiasts. We've been around since the mid 1990's. Remained fairly strictly non-commercial. We have mailing list archives stretching back that far, that are a treasure-trove of useful information. We use Google's branded search. And one day, we noticed that the branded search wasn't returning many results. We tried exactly the same search on the main google page using "site:____.com". We got ten times the results. Huh?

Then one day, people started to complain that they couldn't find recent posts. We looked in the logs; Google was crawling the site, but we did a dozen searches for specific posts and couldn't find any of them past a certain date. Google simply binned us.

I filled out the "contact us" form, and didn't get anything more than a form reply telling me to take a long walk off a short pier and stop complaining about how we didn't like our search positioning. We didn't give a shit about where we appeared in searches. We just wanted to get current content indexed, period.

Push vs Pull and Demand Density (4, Interesting)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939695)

I think this is evidence of a couple phenomena in modern business:

The first is what I guess I'll call push vs pull, and that's the difference between business that cater to people who have a specific need "Hey, I need food, so I'm going to look for a place where I can get it" and businesses that create things they try to sell that people don't necessarily need but will buy on impulse - for instance, those businesses that are always sending fliers in the mail to get you to buy things you might not otherwise need.

The other issue here is what I would call demand density - if a business has to be online to reach people across the globe, that means that demand density is very low. However, a grocery store has very high demand density - advertising is only necessary (if at all) over a very small geographic location because the market is local.

Now, I'm not sure if I fully understand all the pros and cons of trying to support businesses with very low demand density - is society as a whole better off with the mechanism to provide goods and service to very disperse locations, or is the effort required to distribute the goods / services over such a large location really worse than not supplying that demand and eliminating the transportation / communications infrastructure overhead?

More to the article's point, though, if I had to depend on a search service to get my business revenue, I would rethink my business plan. While I understand the ideas behind 'global economy' I am still a bit conservative in my belief in the merits of self-sufficiency; relying on a search service means that my business would be at the mercy of that service which I may not be able to control. Control is fairly important in businesses, I would think.

Insequitir (5, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939705)

Here's a summary of the article (which I incidentally read yesterday):

Why sites go in Google hell is a total mystery.

Story 1: A guy sold diamonds on his site. One day he went to Google hell, but he had no idea why. Why is Google not telling him? He had no idea why this happened... ok... ok... so he paid 35 grand to a SEO "expert" who filled his pages with trash. He removed the trash and few months later he went out of Google hell. To this day he doesn't know how he went out of Google hell.

Story 2: A guy had a site with lots of visits from Google. One day, he went to Google hell, but he had no idea why. Why is Google not telling? Ok... ok... so he had paid for a ton of links from spam sites, and he had to email each of the sites to get the links removed. Few months later he went out of Google hell, and this guy also has no clue what helped him.

Summary: It's a total mystery, that Google hell, I tell you.

Uh Duh?! (2, Insightful)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939759)

So they list two cases of people whining that they paid "consultants" to optimize their sites but got caught. And then make Google out to be the bad guy?

Both of the "businesses" seem shady to me anyways, and their practices on optimization only appear to confirm that. They got caught, Google did what it's supposed to do. Now they're being punished.

Sure, they may have reversed any of said optimization, but as the article even says, it can take 6 months to a year to be indexed again anyways. So take two of these and call us in a year...

Diamonds?! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939789)

First, go watch Blood Diamond [imdb.com] and then come back and tell us why mean old Google won't let you scam the system.

Re:Diamonds?! (1)

ericlj (81729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940685)

This is insightful? After that, go watch "Titanic" to learn about shipbuilding and "The Day After Tomorrow" to learn climatology.

Inverse (3, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939791)

Skyfacet's consultant didn't improve their rankings at all, instead causing them to plummet. One wonders just how lucrative this sort of thing is? After all, if this consultant has done this for them, perchance he/she/they have done it to others? Perchance it would be a good idea to a) sue them, b) report them to BBB, and c) begin a this-google-consultant-sucks.com website.

The time is ripe (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939817)

for a real Google COmpetitor.
Right now it's Google and 'those others'.
MS hasn't even began to ctack the mind share, and they could if they did it right.

I could creat a company that competes with google and gets mind share, I only need 150 million to do it.

Re:The time is ripe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940357)

And maybe you could use some of the money to learn to spell and type.

So don't game the system (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939823)

So, these guys tried to game the system, got caught, and are now trying to play the victim?

They got what they deserved.

From Google's Webmaster Help Section (3, Informative)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939827)

For those that think perhaps that Google didn't warn people about disreputable SEO services...

Don't feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimization service. Some companies claim to "guarantee" high ranking for your site in Google's search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site's flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index.

Spending money the wrong way (5, Interesting)

timholman (71886) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939845)

After reading the article, I typed "diamonds" and "engagement ring" into Google, then looked at the sponsored links. No sign of skyfacet.com, Mr. Sanar's company. I find it hilarious that Sanar would pay $35,000 to some slimball "consultant" to try to distort the Google search rankings, but not spend one penny on Google sponsored links, which would put him on the first page every time.

I have zero sympathy for unscrupulous businessmen who try to game the system, get caught, and then whine about it. Kudos to Google for playing hardball and fighting to keeping their search engine useful and relevant instead of letting the spammers ruin it.

unscrupulous businessmen??? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939935)

Tere is no indications of that. The consultant sure is, but this guy couod very well be a guy that wanted his site to be improved and hired a consultant that turned out to be an idiot.

Not different then finding out the contractor you hired to do some work didn't build it to code.
Or a mechnic that doesn't properly torque the bolts in your engine.

Hitler was an SEO before he got into art... (0)

JacksBrokenCode (921041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940511)

NO! Gaming the system is the same as killing babies. And not just ugly babies, cute babies!

Just kidding (do I really have to say that?) Serious question though:

Searching for "mysolitaire" fetched 0 results. Searching for "link:mysolitaire.com" brought about 5 results, one of which was http://directory.iserv.com.au/?sub=Jewellery&in=bu siness_shopping [iserv.com.au] which looks link-farmish to me. The weird thing is that 5 minutes later I searched the same phrases and received 28.9k and 0 results, respectively, and a AdSense ad for MySolitaire. Wtf? Has anyone else had something like this happen?

Social Networking (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939895)

Google Hell is the worst fear of the untold numbers of companies that depend on search results to keep their business visible online.


In this age of social networking and Web 2.0, is your Google ranking as important as it once was for driving traffic to your website?

Re:Social Networking (1)

ericlj (81729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940805)

In economic terms, Google, which is used by practically everybody, is much more important than social networking sites and other Web 2.0 badger paws [theregister.co.uk] which are primarily used by students and low-money young people. This is not necessarily a criticism of those users; young people just haven't had time to build up economic clout for most purposes.

As a Webmaster (5, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939909)

This kind of thing has always baffled me. It is quite possible to conduct business online without relying solely on search engine traffic. While search engine traffic is valuable, if your business strategy is relying on that then you're placing your entire business in the hands of an independent party with it's own interests.

Google can do whatever the hell they want with their search index. Why on earth any company would place themselves entirely in someone else's hands, particularly someone else who doesn't have the slightest care in the world what happens to your business is really beyond me.

Any sane business person should enjoy search engine traffic when they have it, but place themselves primarily in the position where they don't need it. Relying entirely on an independent company with it's own interests for your business survival is beyond stupid.

A 21 year old ... (2, Funny)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939913)

with a $3,000,000 diamond business? He deserves to be in Google hell for that alone.
/goes to sit in the corner wondering what he did with his life/

Tag this googleisevil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18939953)

n/t

Economic nonsense (1)

tgv (254536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939957)

Oh, come off it! For every company that drops on the ranking, there is another one that goes up, so while that specific company might earn less, another one will earn more. Complete economic fairness. And while I'm not a great fan of the ever expanding Google, it is good to remember that they are there to serve *us*, the content searching end users, not product offering companies.

Terrible business model (3, Insightful)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940053)

Why would you create a business around your rankings on search engines which everyone knows can change from day to day depending on other sites and ever changing ranking algorithms? Even when you're not paying some SEO guy ridiculous amounts of money to scam the system and get you stuck in Google Hell that's a rather obvious huge risk to be taking.

I understand that proper advertising is expensive, I've got a failed business of my own due to not being able to put the necessary money into it, but guess what? That's business. You pick the risks you're willing to take and deal with the results. Basing the majority of your business on search result ranking is low cost (unless you pay an SEO expert $35k which would have been better spent elsewhere, like real advertising, or a new car, or a 35,000 cheeseburgers from a fast food value menu) but high risk due to the constant changes.

reap what ya sow... (2, Insightful)

dbmasters (796248) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940157)

have good content, based on keyword analysis, that people value, keep it current, organize your content properly, lay out your titles and page content strategically and accuraterly and you'll do fine on any search engine, try to game 'em, they'll get ya...

it ain't rocket surgery...

Been in Google's shoes, threw in the towel. (4, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940259)

I used to have a site reviewing free web page hosting, back in the '90s when that was a relatively new idea. I had a form where people could suggest sites, and every weekend or so I'd go check them out, try setting up a sample page, and add the results to the list.

All of a sudden, over a period of a couple of months or so, the "request" page started getting flooded with suggestions for "new" free web hosting sites that seemed awfully similar, and offers to exchange links, and what in retrospect were obviously the work of the kinds of parasites that Google's been fighting. Pretty soon maintaining the page wasn't fun any more, and I quit updating it and eventually took it down.

Given that Google has to automate this process, I think they're doing a pretty good job.

Forbes is *hugely* pro-microsoft (-1, Troll)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940453)

Every read anything by Dan Lyons? For example, Danny writes the most insanely over-the-top articles in praise of the msft backed scox-scam.

To Forbes, Microsoft infalibility is a law of physics. And there is always something terribly wrong with any msft competitor.

Fp Fuc4Er? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940575)

I don't wantG to [goat.cx]

Google has 2 incentives to GH sites (0)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940607)

(1) it shrinks their spider's workload

(2) if they want to sell adwords, they can disappear sites who don't buy adwords. My site, for example, is the largest repository of baby names on the 'net, but when you type in "baby names" you won't find it [just-think-it.com] . I put it down to my not buying adwords, where plenty of other baby name sites do (they typically have 300 to 500 times less names, yet rank higher).

No wonder the GH process is shrouded in secrecy...

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940651)

visited the site ss

The site has a Secret Service?

$500,000? (1)

writermike (57327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940687)

$500,000 is a lot of money. But is a loss of $500,000 more significant for a diamond-retailer or a baseball-card retailer? Granted $500,000 is $500,000, but when I saw what type of business realized that drop -- a business in which a single sale can be $5000 and more -- it seemed to me it would be much more significant for a company where a single sale is more in the $500 range.

I wonder if the writer used the most extreme example they could find, but one that doesn't amount to very much?

Waaaaaa, he tried to game the system (2, Interesting)

codepunk (167897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940767)

Looks like google's search algorithms worked perfectly, he tried to game the search engine results and
got sent to the black hole.....

No sympathy here!

Drop in revenue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940779)

a 500.000$ drop is meaningless without knowing how large their revenue was before. If we're talking billions, it's insignificant, if we're talking single digit millions or less then you may have a valid complaint.

AKA: The result of bad website redesign (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18940833)

The problem is not with google. The problem is with a bad website redesign by unknowledgeable people that do not understand how search engine placement occurs.

Cached url's can be kept functional through the use of apache re-writes and many other web tools. For example, when I was commissioned by a client of mine to redesign a web application critical to their business from one technology platform to something completely different, I made extensive use of the apache re-write module. Even though all their old urls no longer existed, I took the extra time of a good redesign to forward every pre-existing url to its new url equivalent. The end result was improved functionality of the new applicaton and better search engine placement without the loss of the cached urls during the sometimes lengthy search-indexing transition.

A company that is that dependant on web sales from search engines should have paid the small amount extra to make sure old urls remained functional. Fire the person who grossly messed up and next time hire better people.
A famous quote appropriate to the diamond company's situation... "God is in the details."
The diamond company got sloppy.
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