Google Bans and Buries Web Sites: 6 Search Engine Showdowns

"We did not provide different content in the search results to the final Web site," Markus Sagemann told the BBC News. "However, if Google says all doorway pages are illegal we have to take this into consideration."

In a matter of days, however, Google restored the Web site to its index.

Traffic-Power Banished From Google

Google doesn't usually comment on specific sites that flout their guidelines (even Cutts' blog posts usually don't single out trouble sites) but in January 2006 they broke with tradition.

In a post, Cutts confirmed that Google had banned Traffic-Power.com and sites affiliated with it from their index.

Traffic-Power.com appears to no longer exist, but it had been a search engine placement firm that helps other Web sites boost their ranking. Google said its tactics rigged the system to help its clients and removed it permanently.

GoCompare's Traffic Tumbles After Google Rap

So, what exactly happens if a site is just punished, but not totally removed, by Google?

In February 2008, Hitwise, a firm that measures Web site traffic, took a look at GoCompare, a U.K. insurance comparison Web site, to figure that out.

After Google found irregular inbound links to the site, which help improve the ranking but are not necessarily relevant to the rest of the content on the page, it reduced the company's ranking.

In the week ending Jan. 26, 2008, GoCompare was the number one site receiving traffic from the search term "car insurance" and capturing 17.49 percent of the all search traffic from the term, according to HitWise.

But by the week ending Feb. 9, 2008 -- after the site was "blacklisted" by Google -- it dropped out of the top 10 and captured only 2.31 percent of the traffic from "car insurance."

Google Vs. Google

But though it may rule the Web, Google isn't beyond reproach.

In 2006, it punished itself.

Text intended to be internal was showing up on public pages. But, to be consistent, the company removed the pages from its own index.

"When it was noticed, people in the space who sometimes fight with Google said 'why don't you ban yourself?' And then they did," said Danny Sullivan, editor in chief of the industry Web site Search Engine Land. "That was indeed quite a chuckle."

In December 2008, it penalized itself again -- temporarily, at least.

Because of a glitch, searches for "google," "analytics," "google adwords," and other terms didn't return the normal Google.com result.

But soon after noticing the mistake, Google issued a statement saying, "Unfortunately, for a short period of time yesterday, we experienced an issue where our search engine wasn't returning some pages hosted on google.com in users' search results.

"We've since fixed this problem, and users can now find all Google-specific sites they are searching for. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused," the statement continued.

In February of this year, however, it faced a different situation.

The Web spam team learned that Google Japan was paying for blogger reviews, which violates the company's search guidelines.

Google's Cutts tweeted, "Google.co.jp PageRank is now ~5 instead of ~9. I expect that to remain for a while."

Barry Schwartz, owner of Web consulting firm RustyBrick and executive editor of Search Engine RoundTable, said the penalty lasted for a few weeks.

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