An open letter to the Google search quality team:

Dear Google Search Quality Team,

We have been very transparent about our current strife with a penalty that has been imposed on our site. I wrote a blog post at that summarised a few theories regarding why we may have been penalised and I was interviewed last week by Econsultancy, where I outlined the frustrations of dealing with a ‘kafkaesque’ organisation.

Such frustrations have been exacerbated this morning as a second reinclusion request has been met with the same standard response that informs us that our site fails to meet your guidelines.

Following an alert for unatural links on the 19th April 2012, the following screenshot shows the subsequent communication through webmaster tools:

Webmaster Tools Messages

We remain in the dark as to why we have been penalised. We have always practiced ‘ethical’ seo and absolutely support your guidelines – we hate spam as much as you do and believe that efforts should be directed at creating industry leading websites with fantastic content rather than trying to game the system.

Following the first attempt at the reinclusion request, we spent a long time trying to explore the possible root cause of the problem. During this process, we created the following documents and included them in the second reinclusion request:

We are naturally frustrated that you still believe that our site fails to meet your guidelines, and the fact that we are no closer to understanding why (despite a direct request in the reinclusion request), but I am especially frustrated that the documents listed above were not viewed by anyone at Google.

We use Google Analytics to track Google Docs page views, so unless you suggest that Google visits are excluded from such reports, we can see that they have not been viewed as part of the reinclusion process.

I hope that you can appreciate that this is very frustrating when we wait over 4 weeks for the process to spit out what appears to be an automated message. We have followed your advice, so I would like to understand why these documents were not considered as part of the reinclusion request process.

As I suggested in the Econsultancy interview, I believe that it is in everyone’s interests to improve the level of communication / transparency through webmaster tools. I accept that we should be penalised if we have done something wrong but we have not (knowingly) broken any of your guidelines and I feel that the reinclusion process is flawed if you ignore any of the material that is prepared to support a request.

This is an issue that is larger than the pain we are currently experiencing with our site. If there is falling confidence in Google’s ability to accurately identify spam (e.g. the recent examples of poor results for ‘payday loans’) and if the reinclusion process is automated / not thorough, then the reputation of the search quality team is naturally put under the spotlight.

I would therefore like to appeal to a member of the search quality team to explain why supporting material is not considered as part of a reinclusion request or explain why visits would not be recorded in Google Analytics.

I will be more than happy to expand on any of the above and answer any questions that you may have.

Many thanks,

Joe Friedlein

  • High-profile employee of a big evil search engine

    On behalf of my employer, I hereby waft my magic wand – your third attempt at re-inclusion has been ‘manually’ processed. Sorry we failed in over month to fix this the easy way. Thanks for running PPC ads in the meantime; we appreciate the extra money during your difficult time. ;-)

    • admin

      That is very kind of you to participate! Why do we suspect that you are not actually from Google? :-)

      Touch wood, the penalty appears to have been lifted. It is still a bit early to be sure, but we hope that the worst has past as we bounced back last Thursday and, despite a fair degree of volatility, we can still be found.

      There are definitely some lessons to be shared and we are planning on writing a summary post this week, so watch this space…