Has Google has blacklisted your website due to spam?

google-toolsMany people ask me about the ‘hidden world of Google’. A lot of SEO experts like myself have a clear understanding of what goes on behind the closed doors of this highly secretive and successful company because it is our field to track every change and update that Google produces.


To gain an insight into how Google is attempting to become more transparent, we can look at the process of blacklisting a website. This is a process whereby Google decides your website is spam and takes it off its search results.


The very first indication of your website being blacklisted and totally falling off Google is when you look at your analytics results and suddenly see the steady stream of traffic that Google was sending to your website disappear and reduce to zero. You could also discover that your website is blacklisted by searching for your company by name on Google, if you do not come up in the top places as you once did, then the answer is clear: BLACKLISTED. These are two ways companies used to find out (in shock and horror) that their website has been considered spam by Google and they have been blacklist.


But that is not the case anymore. The blackhole that used to be Google has now opened up a small window of clarity for webmasters who feel their site has been blacklisted as spam. This is just one of the many ways Google is trying to improve its image in the online world by giving more transparency to webmasters. The first step is that Google now email you to your Google Webmaster Tools inbox and tell you that you have violated its webmaster guidelines. I always suggest checking your webmaster inbox at least weekly (unfortunately you can not receive emails directly to your gmail). Know that if you have no webmaster tools mail, that is a good sign. The system that Google uses is that they will not communicate with you unless they have an issue with you. Hence no communication from Google is a good sign.


Your website can be blacklisted and considered spam in two ways:
1. The Goolge algorithm can decide that your website is classified as spammy and hence blacklist you (automatic).
2. Someone (usually a competitor or a Google user) can simply notify Google that your website does not comply with its webmaster guidelines and Google will perform a manual review.


google-webmaster-toolsBe aware that Goolge creates its own webmaster guidelines in isolation from any other body. This means that they don’t consult with ICANN or any other international or governmental body to decide what is fair or ethical in the online search world. The real test if these user guidelines are fair and coerce webmasters to create relevant and useful websites is by seeing if searchers still search using Google or if they deem Google’s’ results too limited. At the moment Google is the ‘golden boy’ of search hence the unequivocal vote is yes, Google can make up their own rules in the playground and everyone has to abide by them.


I wish to focus on what happens when Google is notified by someone that a site is spammy and they do a ‘manual review’ of your website. This is situation number 2 listed above.


Firstly Google are now trying to be more transparent with webmasters. This means Google is attempting to communicate things more to webmasters. Recently Google started sending emails to the Google Webmaster Tools inbox notifying a webmaster if their website was taken off Google due to a violation of its user guidelines. More recently Google has been testing, with success, actually giving reasons within these emails to webmasters. This allows for more clarity why a website was blacklisted and dropped from Google search results. It also gives opportunity for a counter argument that can be submitted by a webmaster to Google to encourage re-review. It also allows webmasters to fix the issue with their site and then re-submit for re-listing.


I am a big fan of Google becoming more transparent since many businesses and hence employee salaries rely on website traffic from Google. If a website is punished without due explanation, then peoples lives and business revenue are greatly effected without any clarity of why this action happened, not allowing for the issue to be rectified.


The last question most people ask themselves at this point is: “How can I make sure my website isn’t deemed as spam by Google and blacklisted?”.
The most simple answer is that your website should not use any tactics that try to ‘trick’ the Google search algorithm (known as blackhat SEO). But for a detailed idea of these tactics, simply check out Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Paul Vesely has over 12 years experience in the dynamic online marketing environment instigating marketing solutions for a wide range of businesses to suit their goals. Through understanding a company's target market and aims, Paul has managed to launch a wide variety of online marketing campaigns to increase sales, generate leads, and increase bottom line profit. Paul Vesely's expertise lie in inbound marketing and focus on utilizing search engine optimization, PPC, PR, Social Media and online campaigns to accomplish the client's business goals through online means. The author's views expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent anyone or any other organization's views even if the author is associated with those organizations.