Google to notify some webmasters of penalizations!

20 comments

Matt Cutts today announced that Google is starting a trial program to notify some webmasters if their sites have been penalized. To be eligible, one must register for the Google Sitemaps service.

From reading his blog entry on the notification service, it sounds as if they do not intend to notify black-hats of penalties, but only white-hats or people who are guilty of relatively benign or minor infractions.

I think this is a really great move by Google! Obviously, they're also seeking to increase registrations with their Sitemaps service, but this additional feature offering is making that overall program look increasingly worthwhile to me.

I met Vanessa Fox from the Google Sitemaps team at SES in NYC this spring, and I told her I was impressed at the new features she presented for Sitemaps: they are now providing webmasters with reports on various errors and impediments to spidering pages as well (errors are reported such as invalid formatting of robots.txt, etc). Previously, I hadn't seen a lot of benefit to using Sitemaps.

I think that we're in the midst of an ongoing sea change wherein the SEs are no longer considering SEOs to be pesky irritants, but beneficial collaborators. The white-hat SEOs, of course. I really hope this trial program is successful, and that more visibility might be provided for SEOs and webmasters.

Comments

Great Idea

I think them telling webmasters of problems by email is great thing and I hope they do it often enough that it becomes almost public knowledge.

I'd also never want to suggest that anyone register an official Google sounding domain and send out bogus emails to competetitors warning them they are in violation of getting banned for nope never suggest that at all ...

"I think that we're in the

"I think that we're in the midst of an ongoing sea change wherein the SEs are no longer considering SEOs to be pesky irritants, but beneficial collaborators."

I couldn't agree more, Silver. Vanessa will be glad that she talked to you at SES; this may be her first TW mention. :)

What I Don't Understand

is why if I keyword spam a page with hidden text, cloaking etc all I have to do is remove it and I'm back in, no problemo.

But, if Google thinks some pages look too much alike, even though no human would because with some commercial aspects I have to use certain words and descriptions, they get dumped and will never return?

I now put useless blurb on these pages, useless to the viewer, makes pages bigger, slows seach etc but G prefers it.
Why when I alter an old page and it is recrawled do they not lift the penalty ? If I had been spamming they would!

cool, but

quote from Matt's post:

I recently saw a small pub in England that had hidden text on its page. That could result in the site being removed from Google, because our users get angry when they click on a search result and discover hidden text–even if the hidden text wasn’t what caused the site to be returned in Google’s results.

Does the average user actually care if there is relevant hidden text on a page? Did they do an actual study that proves this "fact"?

In Matt's post does our users mean Google engineers?

Hidden text?

You mean metatags? Of course not, but the difference is slight if any at all. Hidden text and metatags are both used almost exclusively for SE purposes. The average user has no use for either, webmasters use both to drive the SERPS. I guess the only real difference is that one is a sanctioned use of hidden text, the other isn't.

Try and find a real-world and common use for metatags that isn't exactly what people are trying to accomplish with hidden text. Hard to do. Yet SE's ignore metatags at worst. Hidden text, considered naughty. (gimme a break on the 'metadata is used for some wierd indexing/meta purpose. Nobody actually uses it for that).

Throw title tag in there too

Title tags are just bizarre. Again, does the common user use the title tag? No. The overwhelming majority of surfers have absolutely no idea where the title tag is. It's a struggle to even describe where it appears on the page. For most users other than designers, the title tag is hidden text. Yet again, SE's like title tags. Sanctioned hidden text.

Does the average user

Does the average user actually care if there is relevant hidden text on a page? Did they do an actual study that proves this "fact"?

What average user (or for that matter, how many of us "pro" users in casual browsing) even check for hidden text? I don't - if the visible portion of the page gives me what I want, that's all I care about.

Not that I doubt the truth of Matt's statement, but I don't understand it. Perhaps he could elucidate?

Hey, a google-sanctioned

Hey, a google-sanctioned testing grounds!

it sounds as if they do not

it sounds as if they do not intend to notify black-hats of penalties, but only white-hats or people who are guilty of relatively benign or minor infractions.

yes, if whitehat includes any website/company that spends money with them. Great way of not upsetting the big ad spenders when they get caught spamming.

titles actually matter...

Title tags actually do matter to users, I'd say. A user is less likely to click on a hyperlinked title tag in the SERPs if the text is bizarre/unusual.

Eggzactly

Quote:
A user is less likely to click on a hyperlinked title tag in the SERPs if the text is bizarre/unusual.

that's my point - it's strictly serp manipulation. Taking se's out of the equation, what user even realizes that you have such a pleasantly formed title tag when *looking at your site*? Nobody. Like I said, it's effectively sanctioned hidden text :).

BMW

So what is (or was) BMW - whitehat/blackhat.

Title tag is for user

that's my point - it's strictly serp manipulation. Taking se's out of the equation, what user even realizes that you have such a pleasantly formed title tag when *looking at your site*?

It appears at the top left, we read left to right, top to bottom, I would say it does have value to the user.

It appears at the top left,

It appears at the top left, we read left to right, top to bottom, I would say it does have value to the user.

I can't tell you how many people I have talked to that have not been able to find the page title.

me: top of the page
them: you mean x
me: no above that. top of the browser.
them: you mean y
me: no above that. top of the screen.
them: you mean z
me: no above that. the very very top...above the address bar. you probably usually ignore it.
them: oh I see it now. never noticed that before.

here is a split test opportunity for you. create a page title and an article title. after removing scrapers and spammy automated links see which one people will use more frequently for referencing your content, then you will see that to most people an inline article title is more important than the page title... and keep in mind that the average webmaster is more clued up to the web than the average person on the web.

I don't doubt

I don't doubt that it has less impact than an on-page header, but it is used by some I am sure. It is also the text that appears in taskbar tabs in windows, you open 5 browsers at once and look at your taskbar - if none of those sites set a title you are going to see 5 * 'Untitled Document'

Respectfully

if you deal with end users, you'll find that none of them have a clue as to the page title. You use it, I use it, Google uses it. End users, well, see seobook's post. I've had that same conversation many times. 'It's above the File Edit View menus -see it?' 'No.....'?

And end users aren't opening up multiple browsers either :). It was noted recently that one of most commonly searched phrases on Google was.....Google. Try and explain to people staring at Google and still doing a search to find it where the title bar is :). (ass, both hands comes to mind) Which as I mentioned, makes it effectively hidden text. The same people that see the title tag are those that also see 1 pixel images, white on white text, css off the screen, and 10X10 iframes with 10K of text in them.

the main place title tags are apparent

The main place that users see and interact with title tag text is on the SERPs.

So, it's not completely hidden, and if it's not effectively written, it can cause people to choose not to click on the link leading to your page.

I log spammed

Google: Hey we wacked you because you blog/log spammed, stop and we will erase all of backlinks and give you credit for new links instead of just banning your domain for life.

Me: Ok will do, sorry someone told me it was a good thing to do.

Oh if it was only that simple.

Respectfully back :)

I do work with end users and mostly over the phone and it is much easier to get them to tell you what the 'text in the blue bar at the very top of your page' is saying, than getting them to tell you what the 'url' is, or the 'web address', or what is in the 'address bar'.

In seobooks example that is just a case of not talking to a 'user' in a language they understand. Like, 'save it to your hard disk' - you may as well speak Vulcan, but say 'save it to My Documents' and no problem.

I also find many users, maybe not home users so much, but office users, who have multiple browsers open - they have not grasped multiple tabs yet, but multiple windows is ok.

Going back, just don't think you can say that the title tag is for "strictly serp manipulation" and therefor sanctioned hidden text - it does have a visible use.

Is this thing still on Matt

Is this thing still on, Matt ?

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