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Michael’s call to arms digs into the issue of how Google’s influence and policies affect the future of monetized web properties in a "top-down, dictatorial manner." Is Google scaring people into a particular way of doing business that benefits Google? Why are some paid reviews allowed while others are penalized?
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from dannysullivan 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 9

"Google has one goal, ruling the internet in an unchallenged top-down dictatorial manner. If you stand up for yourself and challenge them, they will do everything in their power to smack you down, until you submit to their will."I like Michael, I really do. But if he wants to stand up to Google, take the lead and block him from crawling his site -- and encourage others to do the same.It’s like a broken record. I lost all my Google traffic. Google’s telling us what to do. The two don’t equal. You can’t complain that you lost traffic from Google and then complain that you’re upset that Google has guidelines that they want followed, if you want traffic from them.I don’t even see what’s new here. She had a disclosure that there might be "paid insertions," and I’m assume that she also wasn’t using nofollow or blocking link credit from being passed from such in the way that Google wants. It has made no secret that it might drop PR or actually penalize a site, in these cases. This all came out in October. What’s new?I’ll reserve my concern for the fact that sites might get hit with a penalty incorrectly, and that this might be difficult for them to determine, especially since Google is deliberately not degrading PR for some site so that sites selling links can’t tell if they’re getting away with it or not.

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from graywolf 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@danny it may indeed be a broken record but it was wrong when they first came out with the "we make the rules on the internet" approach and it’s still wrong now, and until it’s fixed, it’s just not going away.It’s not about blocking Googlebot and cutting off Google’s traffic, Google does a lot of good for everyone. However in some cases it’s policies are wrong and people need to speak up. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who will tell you dumping your liquids before you board a plane is anything other than "security theatre" but we all still have to fly in planes. Never boarding a plane because of the ban on liquids is foolish and over reactionary, speaking out against it isn’t.With Google’s FUD approach why would they want to disclose if in fact a penalty had been given, it’s much powerful to keep everyone in the dark and guessing, this way everyone is paralyzed with fear and afraid to do anything that might get them a penalty. Revisting Donna’s thread you can see she missed one post, which Matt was able to locate rather quickly, Google has the data, and could quite easily give it you in webmaster central, but instead they choose more "security theatre" with public scaremongering statements like "google senses much"http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/006170.htmlGoogle says it’s about about the internet, but first and formost it’s about protecting their algorthym from it’s achiles heel, and only by doing so can they keep their market share, high stock prices, and profits. When you remove the window dressing of "building a better internet" and expose the reality of it being about business models and profits, it becomes much less palatable for people to comply to google suggestions.

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from dannysullivan 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Michael, I agree that there are big issues with the entire "you should slap nofollow" on stuff push. In particular, it’s so flipping complicated now to know what Google’s going to decide is commercial. As you and others point out, it slaps back at them when they list enterprise customers. Are those paid links?But I’d rather see the difficulty of those distinctions attacked on their own merits. It’s when it is coupled with this "oh, big bad Google stole my traffic" that I start to tune out. To go back to your plane argument, it’s the difference between saying "this security check doesn’t solve anything" and someone who gets tossed off an airline for drinking too much and then complains they had a "right" to fly anyway they want.No one has a right to Google traffic. Follow the rules, as stupid as they are, if you want it. If don’t like the rules, sure, complain about them -- but don’t argue they’re robbing you of anything that is supposedly "yours."As for why not tell people, I agree -- they should. In part, it’s FUD. In part, it’s concern they have about giving hints to people that will help them stay under the radar.As for helping the web, yeah, I’ve seen that card get played a bit, but far more loudly they’ve said this is what they do to preserve their own search quality.Anyway, I just want something fresh at this point. I swear, there’s nothing new. It’s like going back to 2003. Look, image you run Google. You paint the policy you’d follow. And Michael, you be fair in doing that. You sit and seriously consider the types of gaming you know that will go on. Would you decide you don’t need to address it or not?

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from smoMashup 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I don’t think the issue (in cases like this) are whether or not there should be guidelines that need followed or even what the guidelines may be. It’s that there is a cloud of secrecy around these guidelines, which only come out when this record you keep listening to starts skipping. Donna got caught up in this mess and worked to correct it. She may gripe about it and it’s her right to do so but, how many others have been caught up in this mess and don’t even know that the issue exists because Google is in love with FUD and they aren’t SEO’s. Why, as Michael suggests, can’t Google notify you of your slap on the wrist in it’s Webmaster Tools? Why should someone just trying to keep their ball rolling have to invoke Matt Cutts to personally come in and diagnose their problem? Surely he has other things to do with his time and someone else on the 747 could take a turn..

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from graywolf 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Google has everyright to determines it’s own policies an include or exclude whatever sites they want from their index, although Google abuses their power regularly. Case and point they claim link buying is an illicit behaviorhttp://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769Illicit is defined illegal or morally reprehensible. Last time I checked we hadn’t given google the ability pass laws ... yet anyway ;-) . 95% of the population doesn’t understand link buying enough to have an opinion on whether it’s moral or not. If Google claims they are taking the moral high ground why allow advertisements for things like adultery, which 95% of the population will agree is immoralhttp://www.google.com/search?q=cheating+wivesTo presume that hundreds of manhours didn’t go into crafting and approving the language on that page on webmaster guidelines would be niave, and gives a real insight into how google sees itself and it’s role in society.It’s getting to the stage where Google can get away with saying whatever they want and people blindly follow without question. It’s to the point where it’s bordering a cult like devotion, and some fringe factions are even forming religons and offering proofs and theroms that Google is a dietyhttp://www.thechurchofgoogle.org/Scripture/Proof_Google_Is_God.htmlI can completely understand your frustration at having seen this debate hundreds of times, without any resolution. The real soution is for google to fix the problem instead of creating digital boogeymen, and using pack alpha male scare tactics like slicing someone’s pagerank in half. If Google were to do this all of this back of forth banter would become academic, and we could move onto other things.

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from Rich 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Amen brother.<div></div><div>It’s like a ruler in a world without a law, the dark ages of the Internet</div><div></div><div>People will look back upon these times with wonder and amazement - heroes exist among us today, their tales are yet to be written in the pages of history; possibly in Wikipedia (oh pls not Knoles!!!)</div>

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from DazzlinDonna 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Danny, I hope you understand that my post had to do with the fact that I was wondering why the penalty hadn’t been lifted, despite the fact that I believed I had changed everything I needed to change to satisfy Google’s rules.  I wasn’t bitching about the rules to begin with.  The fact is, I apparently overlooked a couple of things in the thousands of posts I’ve made over the years.  My bad.  But please don’t assume that I was whining about being punished.  I absolutely did not.  I was merely wondering why my cleanup efforts had not had any effect.  The real issue here (since you are looking for something "new") is that of communication.  I thank Matt for his communication with me.  But it wouldn’t have been necessary if the person reviewing my request had simply pressed a button for a form letter to be sent to me saying something like, "Good try, but you missed somethings.  Try again."  Surely a small percentage of Google’s gazillion dollars could be applied to creating some form letters, no?  Just a thought. 

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from smoMashup 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

they could even off set the form letter cost with ads...

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from graywolf 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Matt said he isn’t scalable, which is completely true, and you do have to give Matt a gold star for being out on the front lines and trying, but lets look at the communication aspect.OK maybe giving everybody hey you’ve been banned for X,Y, and Z in the webmaster central panel is giving away the goods, but how about an email. If the person at google doing the review after a reinclusion request has been made, has a "checklist" of offenses, and can see the person made an effort to clean up 70, 80 or even 90% how hard would it be to communicate back "hey looks like you missed a few things here they are" obviously the data is there since Matt was able to pull up the few spots she missed with ease.

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from smoMashup 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think it’s why you say, cause even then they’d be giving up the goods.

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from TimDineen 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I think you all should be happy that they are willing to let you back in once you fix things. Sure, it’s hard to figure out how they caught you and on what page... But you got caught cheating and to be let back in, or de-penalized, so soon after covering up your cheats is pretty forgiving of The Google to do. Personally, I think the penalty should be applied for as long as the "crime" persisted.  If you got away with doing something you know (come on, you knew) that you shouldn’t have done then you should be penalized for the same amount of time that you benefitted from those cheats.

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from JohnWeb 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Danny said, "I agree that there are big issues with the entire "you should slap nofollow" on stuff push" I completly misunderstood your stance on this issue a few weeks back and seen it clarrified twice since. I personally respect sites more that make the effort to police what links go on their pages rather than depend on autogenerated nofollows, but I’d love to read a Danny Sullivan take on the issue.  I think we are in agreemant, but don’t know for sure.Back to the conversation on hand, many of these same thoughts inspired a some concerns on my part as well. Matt isn’t scalable, having him help people is wonderful, but I think a lot of others are being missed that don’t have the good fortune of getting his attention. I blogged about it last night, but will spare the link drop :)

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from DazzlinDonna 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Caught cheating? I would hardly call not putting a nofollow on a link "cheating".  Not abiding by a rule that Google has recently put into place...yes.  But cheating????  I don’t think so.  Non-condomized links were the standard LONG before Google ever existed.  Cheating is by far the wrong terminology here, imo.  I am not a cheater.

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from SamFreedom 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@graywolf - I noticed you found conflict with Google’s use of the term "immoral" where they consider link buying to be immoral yet they allow adultery ads which you consider immoral.  I think the difference is in the fact that their "immoral" is relating only to what matters in the search world - not what matters to evangelicals.

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from baiduyou 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@JohnWeb - Thought it was worth reading so I have taken it upon myself to Sphinn it. Not buying you a beer though ;)

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from dannysullivan 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Michael, illicit as used on the Google Webmaster Guildelines page is defined by however Google wants to define it -- in that case, doing stuff against the guidelines.As for the guidelines, to presume hundreds of hours went into crafting them would actually be naive. In general, the guidelines seems to get an update once per year (if that), and they usually aren’t massive changes. Often, guidelines sometime have lagged well behind reality. But regardless, you’re stretching it trying to say that what Google defines as good behavior for being listing in its own pages is somehow a moral commandments list for the web. The page starts: "Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site."Not the web. At best, if you head over things that Matt has said to push the use of nofollow, he’ll sometimes get into that he thinks it’s a good think for either the web in general or to follow FTC guidelines. Yes, I know he’s like the word of Google, and even if he speaks personally on his, well, personal blog -- that can also be Google talking. But I’d still say no, this page and in general, I don’t buy into the Google is dictating the web. It is simply dictating what it wants to have sites listed in Google. Don’t like it, you don’t have to play."The real soution is for google to fix the problem"And I ask again, if you’re suddenly went through a Freaky Friday moment and became Matt, what would you do?@Donna, didn’t think you were whining at all. Was talking about Michael argument that you have to obey Google or get smacked down, as if those wanting to be on Google shouldn’t have to care about its rules.I have great sympathy with your concern that the penalty took time to get lifted and with John’s follow up on the convoluted process. Over a year ago, I wrote Wish List: Interactive Help From Google’s Matt Cutts & MattPasses. In that, I proposed:"You sign up for Google Webmaster Central. That entitles you to one or two MattPasses for fast support on a problem in a given year per account or maybe per unique domain. You can use standard support, which might get back to you promptly or not at all, depending on various factors. But if it’s super urgent, super crucial, cash in a MattPass that Google gave you for registering with them. It would be an easy way to ensure everyone has a shot as fast support for those crucial problems but also avoid the entire paid support stuff that Google doesn’t want to do."@JohnWeb, in terms of nofollow, I think it is first and foremost a site owners decision. I like having nofollow because I might, as a site owner, choose to use it as a deterrant. If I sell ads, I also have the option to deliberately say to Google "no harm meant." Before it existed, I had no easy ability to do this (unless I did redirection or whatever). But I do get concerned when we also see sites slapping it on without thought. Wikipedia is an authority site. It gets that from contributions from across the web. An across board nofollow application doesn’t give back, and it seems like the community there could put some effort into whitelisting sites that wouldn’t need nofollow applied.

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from graywolf 2280 Days ago #
Votes: -6

sorry you don’t get to define words on fly or redifine them to suit your business model or whims. If we do then hencforth the term "good paycheck" means i get 10%.Shockingly something can break Googles guidelines or TOS and not be illegal or immoral, maybe I’m unique but I don’t let McDonalds, Coke-a-Cola or Google define my moral barometer.As for a freaky friday moment I say to google exactly what I tell my kids you made the mess you clean it up. It’s not my fault you built a flawed algorthim based on links = votes thinking it would never be corrupted, when thousands of years of human history have shown us that people act in their own self interests first, especially when there is finacial gain. Google has the largest collection of PHD’s and smart people of any company on the planet, if the best solution they can come up with FUD then they really have a problem. I may be a hard nose but i think it’s professionally irresponsible for corporations to create or encourage the creation of polution real or virtual, profit from those conditions, and then look to the public/government/citizens to clean up the mess for them while they keep the profits.

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from sza 2280 Days ago #
Votes: -2

"No one has a right to Google traffic"A major argument that’s widely accepted without a thought, even though it’s not true.Nobody goes to Google because seeing ten blue links with some snippets makes their day. Nobody goes to Google because it offers entertainment, education or help with their problems.People go to Google on the premise that Google will help find what they need (be it entertainment, education or help with their problems).That’s the only reason a huge portion of internet traffic goes through google.com (or any search engine, for that matter) instead of just randomly wandering from site to site.When I visit Google, obviously I expect to find what I need at that moment. But assuming that a webpage (or two or three) actually exist that provides the goods for me, that webpages does deserve the traffic it receives from me. Even though technically my traffic is channelled through Google, really that traffic is coming from me, not Google.It’s me who has created that traffic, and if I’m satisfied with the destination page, it has the right to my traffic. And also, if I’m satisfied, Google deserves a repeat visit next time. But the traffic that’s created in my browser, with my clicks and my intent, is mine, not Google’s gift to the world.

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from dannysullivan 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Michael, of course you get to define words on how you want them. Don’t make me get all English major on you and start talking deconstruction. Just consider any contract. They typically explain definitions of words so it is clear what is meant. If Google wants to say something is "bad" in their guidelines, yeah, they get to define what is bad.And not shocking at all, you can violate Google’s or any search engine’s guidelines and not be doing anything illegal as defined by actual laws. So what? That also doesn’t prevent Google from throwig you in Google jail. Or Disneyland into Disneyland Jail. Or that fake Disneyworld place.On the solution, OK, keep going. I mean, I’m with you on the idea that you can’t expect the world to police its links. But is that your solution to improve relevancy? Remember, you’re Matt. OK, you’ve decided to skip FUD. But there’s this guy out there who keeps buying links and throwing off your systems. What do you do now (and yes, figure out a better algo is an acceptable answer).Sza, you didn’t create Google’s traffic as a site owner. You did as a searcher, absolutely. And you did the search because Google gave you good results, and you trust it to continue doing so.As a site owner, you don’t own that traffic. You get it given to you. But you do have a relationship in that you can at any time withdraw your content, which if enough people did it, Google would degrade. So that’s how in some degree you get that traffic. But to date, all the people talking about the traffic they supposedly own from Google are doing nothing to actually take it away from Google.And with that, I’m off for the weekend. Son in my lap, pointing out that daddy is leaving typos everywhere. And he thinks Dosh Dosh has a cool avatar.

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from graywolf 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

>Michael, of course you get to define words on how you want them.Sister Egan who I had for 9th and 11th grade english never let me make up my own definitions as I pleased I always had to use the ones in the dictionary ;-)I’m quite willing to accept the definitions google is scraping from other sites in this case:http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Aillicit

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from graywolf 2280 Days ago #
Votes: 0

hey wait a minute did you just call disney world fake? That’s like when the klingons called the enterprise a piece of garbage to mr scott ...

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from searchcommander 2279 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Good discussion - I asked Matt at Pubcon about whether notification of penalties through WMT was a likelyhood or possibility, and while he made NO commitment, he did sound like it was on the table. 1But first, he implied, they wanted to clean up the majority of the problem, and I think they’ve taken a big chunk out of it. (i.e. driven it deeper underground)Michael says "...first and formost it’s about protecting their algorthym from it’s achiles heel,..." and I couldn’t agree more. C’mon, we all know that don’t we? Matt? wink wink...? But the truth is that they simply CAN’T allow paid links, or what’s the difference between that and advertising? They are protecting not only their algo, but the integrity of the user experience too.Dany makes a good point though, Michael - "if he [you] wants to stand up to Google, take the lead and block them from crawling his site -- and encourage others to do the same." To me, it almost sounds like Danny may even agree, but theres not much we can do about it, and I sadly agree. We have familes to feed and kids to educate (not to mention the cost of video games) and Google holds 52% of the cards... for now.While it was never that much money, my wife did lament the loss of TLA money I told her was pending after the October PR slaughter, and I decided to take ’em down in most places. Trying to explain to her that the income was going away was a challenge. Saying that I COULD keep the TLA money if I wanted to, but Google won’t "let" me, and I sounded so ridiculous... so... GooglewhippedI (heh - I just registered it ;)Michael, I admire and respect your ability and your willingness to continuously sound off about Google wanting to control the internet, our lives, and pretty much the world. I’ll stand RIGHT behind you (that is, DIRECTLY behind you, just out of sight, so they can’t see me cheering ;)

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from DazzlinDonna 2279 Days ago #
Votes: 0

searchcommander, i had to rep your comment, cuz that gave me a good laugh.  Yo, michael, move a little to the left, I think I see something behind you.  :DOh, and registering googlewhipped - way too funny!

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from graywolf 2279 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I don’t know why everybody sees it as an all or nothing thing with Google. They do a lot of good things and overall have made the internet a better place, but that doesn’t make them perfect. They are going to make mistakes and overstep their bounds from time to time. That’s the time for the people who really care to call them out on that behavior.

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from Halfdeck 2279 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Though Graywolf is singing the same old tune, his post is useful in that it prompted Matt to post specifics about why Donna’s site is still penalized. One thing I learned in GGWH is that out of 100 webmasters that come looking for help claming they’ve done nothing wrong, 90 of them (figuratively speaking) have some kind of issue with their site that they’ve overlooked.

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