Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An Easy Way To Get Banned From Google

I regularly use the Google Webmaster Tools. The information they provide is invaluable.

Yesterday I was surprised to see that one of the web sites I manage was listed as being banned by Google! What was going on? I never use black hat SEO. Not only that, the banned site is a very simple web site with essentially no SEO. Why did Google ban such an innocent web site?

A deeper look into the information provided by Google Site Maps revealed the problem.

Going to "Page analysis" under the Statistics Tab revealed that the content Google was seeing was all mortgage and travel related. However, all of the links were Bible related (this is a Christian web site.) Google had determined that there was a significant difference between what Googlebot was seeing and what visitors saw. This is a major violation of Google’s rules and had resulted in the site being banned.

The problem was, I had never put mortgage or travel information on this web site. The web site had been online for about eight months, and it had had Christian content from day one… or did it?

When the domain was registered we were not sure what it would be used for, so the domain was parked at SEDO. This is a service that puts ads on parked domains and splits the income with the domain owners. I have no doubt that many of those ads were travel and mortgage related. But why was Google picking up the SEDO content as being the current content of the web site eight months after unique content had been developed for this site?

When the content for this site was ready we uploaded it to our hosting provider and set up their DNS records to point to the new web site. The result is that browsing to www.911christ.com brings you to the correct web site. However, Google does not look up web sites the same way a browser does. Google remembers the IP address. Google had used the IP address for SEDO; found a SEDO DNS reference for the web site (I had neglected to delete this web site from SEDO); and read the SEDO content. The result is that Google was seeing different content than visitors see and the site was banned.

I have submitted a reinclusion request through Google’s Webmaster Tools and, of course, deleted this web site from SEDO. So now we’ll see how the reinclusion process goes.

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