Dispelling the Myths - Will WebPosition Get My Site Banned from Google
by Matt Paolini
In mid November of 2003, Google seriouslyrevamped their ranking algorithm. As a result, many sites were dropped from their index, or felldramatically in rank. This infuriated many Web site owners at the height of theholiday buying season. Since thattime, many accusations have been thrown at Google as to the reasons why thishappened. Some say it’s a plot to encourage people to buy Adwordslistings. Others have eventheorized WebPosition is somehow to blame. Still others cite more traditional causes.
As soon as Google changed their algorithm,many WebPosition Gold customers whose sites had dropped contacted me demandingan explanation. They wanted to make sure their sites were not dropped becausethey had used WebPosition Gold. Ireassured them that this was not the case. I went on to explain that many thousands of sites were dropped thatdon't even use WebPosition Gold. Many of our customers even saw their rank increase. In addition, most ofthe time the site had not actually been banned from the index. It had simply dropped in rank.
In this article, I will attempt to dispelmany of the pervasive myths regarding WebPosition Gold and Google. I’ve used WebPosition for years onmy own site and for clients. I’ve also helped provide technical support to others using theproduct. Therefore, I’ve beenon both sides of the fence, and thereby feel uniquely qualified to address themost common questions that tend to come up:
- Will running automated Reporter Missions on Google get my site banned?
No. Despite repeated rumors, whenrunning a Reporter Mission, WebPosition Gold does notpass personal information, such as your name, address, email, Web site URL ordomain name to Google. Instead, itconducts queries as a normal browser would, and then examines the resultsoffline. With that in mind, Google cannot determine if you're running a queryrelating to a specific domain. The only information that is passed to Google isyour "IP" address. Inmost cases, your Web site's IP address is different than the IP address of yourISP (Internet Service Provider). So, how can Google connect the two? Simply put, it can't.
Google states ontheir FAQ page that they do not recommend automated queries to be run on theirservice because it utilizes server resources. Yet, most businesses find it impracticalnot to measure their search engine rankings at least occasionally. It’s also hardly reasonable tocheck ranking by hand in Internet Explorer, which for the same keyword list,would yield the same number of queries on Google anyway. Therefore, most businesses optimizingtheir Web sites find it impractical not to use some kind of automated tool tomonitor their progress and to measure their visibility.
Working as a searchengine marketer myself for many years, I’ve found that the best policy isto simply be sensitive to the needs of the search engines. Avoid being “abusive” inyour practices, whether it is your optimization strategies, your submissions,or your rank management.
Therefore, whenusing WebPosition, I often recommend the following strategies:
1. Avoid excessivenumbers of queries if you choose to check your rankings on Google. Most people do not have time to improvetheir rankings on hundreds of keywords. Therefore, there’s no need to rank check on hundreds of keywordsif you don't have the time to do anything about that many different rankingsanyway. While your site won’tbe banned from excessive queries, Google could block your IP address that youuse to connect to Google, if it found your query volume to be excessive. This is true regardless of what tool youmay use, even if it’s a browser.
It has been my experience that a blocked IP is extremely rare even amongconsultants conducting rank checks for dozens of clients. Presumably, Google would not want toaccidentally block an IP that does a large volume of queries simply because its shared by many different users. Even so, it’s always a good ideato practice a little common sense.
2. If you choose torun queries, try to run most of your queries at night and during off-peakperiods, which is something Google has suggested in the past. This is when many of their servers arepresumably standing idle, waiting to handle the increased volume during peakperiods. The WebPosition Schedulermakes this easy to do.
3. Do not run yourqueries more often than is really necessary. Since Google normally doesn'tupdate their entire index more than once a month, there's limited benefit tochecking your rankings more often than that.
4. As an alternativeto Google, consider checking your Google rankings using Yahoo Web Matches oranother Google “clone” engine in the Reporter. Although theserankings can vary slightly from Google.com, they're normally close enough togive you a very good idea of your actual Google rankings without checkingGoogle directly.
5. With WebPositionGold 2, you can also use the "Be courteous to the search engines"feature on the Options tab of the Reporter so you don’t query theirservice so quickly. This gives youadded peace of mind not found in many other automated tools, assuming you don'tmind your missions taking longer to run. The Submitter has a similar feature to submit randomly at various timeintervals.
- Can I use WebPosition Gold to get my competitors' banned from Google?
No. If running automated queries on Google with WebPosition Gold wouldresult in your site being banned, you could use it to get your competitors'banned from Google. However this is not the case.
Google even verifiesthis on their web site. They don't specifically name WebPosition Gold in thissection; however, they do mention that there is nothing you can do to get yourcompetitors' banned from Google. For more information on this, please see the"Google Facts andFiction" document at Google's site.
- Will over submitting my site get me banned?
No. Many people think that Google will banyour site if your submissions exceed the recommended daily limits. If this werethe case, we could over submit our competitors' sites and easily get thembanned from Google.
Google is very clearon this and even states that over submitting will not get you banned. Even though over submitting will not getyou banned, some of your submissions might still be ignored or discarded ifthey break the rules. Therefore, Irecommend using the "Slow Submit" option in WebPosition Gold'sSubmitter and staying within WebPosition’s recommended daily limits. Some people argue that manualsubmissions are best. However,manual submissions can’t warn you if you inadvertently over-submit, makea typo in your submission, or forget what you submitted and when.
For achieving toprankings, and staying indexed long-term, the best submission technique may beto not submit at all. Instead, tryto establish third party links to your Web site and wait for Google’sspider to find you on its own. WebPosition’s Page Critic offers numerous strategies for doingthis.
- Will Doorway or Entrance pages get me banned from Google?
That depends onwhether these pages contain spam. If your definition of a doorway page is a page full of irrelevant orduplicate content, and excessive keyword use, then yes, you could find yoursite banned. That’s howGoogle often defines a doorway page. Consequently, the term doorway has developed a negative connotation overthe years.
If your optimizedpage is nothing more than an extension of your main web site that happens tocontain search engine friendly content, then you’ll be fine. In fact, you’ll be rewarded forthe effort through top rankings. The key is not whether you label a page a doorway, entrance, optimized,informational, or “whatever” page. The key is whether the page contains quality,relevant content that provides the search engine with what it wants tosee.
Google mentions thatthey discourage the use of “doorway” pages because they fear thatwebmasters will optimize for keywords that are not relevant to the page’scontent. This is a legitimate fearas they are in the business to provide relevant results to their visitors. However, if you create pages thatcontain what Google is looking for, then obviously Google will not penalizethis page, or view it differently from any other page on your site.
With this in mind,here are a few of my tips on creating Google-friendly pages:
- Always Include Relevant Content - Make sure that the content on each of your pages is relevant to your site. Many sites have various resources on a number of different topics. This is fine, as long as the overall theme for your Web site is solid. I would also suggest that you organize your related content into individual directories. Some businesses find it beneficial to organize each sub-theme of their site into a separate domain so they can cross-link the domains. If you do this, make sure you have links from other sites as well.
- Avoid Duplicate Content - Create each page with unique content. If you are targeting different search engines for the same keyword, then you may find that you have some very similar content between certain pages. If this is the case, you can always create a robot.txt file to tell each search engine crawler not to index a page or directory that was created for another search engine. See the October 2000 issue (http://www.marketposition.com/mp-1000.htm#THREE) of MarketPosition for more information on creating a robot.txt file.
- Avoid Keyword Stuffing - Creating pages that excessively repeat your keyword phrase is definitely not a good idea. This almost always will throw up a red flag to the search engine and is one of the most common forms of "spamming." How many keywords is too many? See WebPosition’s Page Critic for up to date, specific recommendations regarding how many words and keywords are recommended in each area of your page.
- Design Good Looking Pages - Although Google cannot tell if your page is aesthetically pleasing, it is recommended that you create pages that look good and fit the theme of your Web site. This will definitely increase the click through rate from the arrival page to the rest of your Web site.
- Avoid Using Hidden Image Links - Many site owners think they can fool Google by including transparent 1x1 pixel image links on their home page that point to their optimized pages. These are very small images contained in a hyperlink that are not visible to the naked eye. This can get your page dropped from Google's index.
- Avoid using links that have the same color as the background on your page - Many site owners try to hide the links on their home page by making the text color the same as the background color of the page. As with the scenario above, this can also get your page banned from Google.
The rules regarding each search engine changeroutinely. That’s whyWebPosition’s Page Critic is updated monthly to keep pace. As a search engine marketer, it’scritical that you keep informed as to the latest search engine rules andstrategies.
It's also important to understand thatWebPosition Gold is only a tool. When used properly, it will not get you bannedor blocked, and will in fact improve your rankings dramatically. However, as with any tool, you canchoose to ignore its recommendations and to go your own way. For example, youcan use a hammer to build a fine house, or you can take that same hammer toknock a bunch of holes in someone’s wall. Ultimately, this call is up to you, theuser of the tool.
This article is copyrighted and has beenreprinted with permission from Matt Paolini. Matt Paolini is a Webmaster andsupport specialist for FirstPlace Software, the makers of WebPosition Gold(http://www.webposition.com). He's also an experienced freelance Search EngineOptimization Specialist and Cold Fusion/ASP.NET/SQL Server Developer/Designer.For more information on his services, please visit http://www.webtemplatestore.net/ orsend him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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