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Banned By Google?
Dealing With A Google Ban
By Esoos Bobnar
Originally Published: February, 2005
Picture this: You're a successful entrepreneur running a bustling online business. You've paid your dues, put in a lot of long hours, and your hard work is finally producing profitable returns. You have a steady stream of nicely converting traffic, excellent cash flow, and the power to be your own boss. Life is good.
One day you turn on your computer and because, like most of us, you're obsessive about checking your search engine rank you do a quick search and poof! ...your site, which was ranking #1 on Google's results just the day before, is now suddenly nowhere to be found.
You check your logs and find that traffic is tanking at an alarming rate. Online sales have slowed to a trickle. Suddenly, life ain't so good anymore.
Like most online entrepreneurs, your website is your livelihood – and getting kicked out of Google may be one of the most terrifying business setbacks imaginable. You need to know why it happened. You need to know the quickest way to get back in. Perhaps most importantly, you need to know how to keep it from happening again.
With that in mind, we present to you the complete guide to
getting banned from Google.
How Do I Tell If My Site Has Really Been Banned From Google?
First, let's point out that having a site banned from Google is a fairly rare event, reserved for particularly egregious behavior. Usually, most objectionable offenses result in a reduced search engine rank; not an outright ban. Your page may still be in Google's index, it's just no longer residing in the upper echelon of the search results.
At one time, the Google toolbar was a fairly easy and effective way to find out if you had been banned from Google: A completely gray PageRank toolbar meant that Google did not have that page listed in their index – either because the page was too new to have been indexed, or the page had been banned by Google; a completely white tool bar meant that the page was listed by Google but had almost no PageRank, or that the PageRank hadn't been calculated yet.
To a large degree, however, these guidelines are no longer reliable. The PageRank reporting, as indicated on the Google toolbar, has been inconsistent for the past several months now. PageRank updates have been taking an inordinately long time and often appear to be flatly inaccurate. Adding to the confusion are reports that banned pages are sometimes showing a white bar, sometimes gray, and sometimes even
green. We're not sure whether Google is having technical issues or if Google is purposefully crippling the PageRank feature to make search engine optimization more difficult.
Whatever the case may be, we can no longer consider the PageRank feature of the Google toolbar to a reliable indicator of whether or not a page has been intentionally dropped
from the Google index. Fortunately, however, there are much more effective ways to determine if your site has been removed from Google.
The easiest way to tell if your site has been banned and completely removed from Google's index is to enter the following into the Google search bar:
with the domain name of the site you think may be banned)
This will show you most of the pages that Google has indexed for this domain. If this doesn't produce any results, try searching for some text – such as an address or phone number – that you are
is unique to pages from your site and were previously indexed by Google. You could also try searching for a short piece of text. For example, to see if this page is indexed, we might search Google for the opening phrase of this article...
"Picture this: You're a successful entrepreneur running a bustling"
Be sure to include the quotation marks so that Google searches for the entire string. And, limit the phrase to Google's 10-word query limit.
If your page shows up in Google's search results, then you have
been banned. If neither searching for a unique string of text
search produces results, then your page/site is definitely
in Google's index.
Don't panic yet... this still doesn't necessarily mean that you've been banned by Google. There are several other causes for a site falling out of the Google index.
If I Haven't Been Banned, Then Why Am I No Longer Listed?
The most common reason that your site might disappear from Google is that
your server was down when googlebot came calling to re-index your site. If their spider tries to download a page but instead gets either
or an excessively
response, it will assume that site or page no longer exists. Presto! ...you're deleted. To prevent this from happening, maximize your site's uptime.
Another common reason your site can disappear from Google is a faulty
file. We recommend
files as a great way to keep portions of your site off limits to search engine spiders. For instance, there's probably no reason for Google to index your images directory or your cgi-bin directory, so why waste their time and your resources by allowing spiders to access parts of your site you don't need indexed.
However, it your
file is written or set up incorrectly, you could be inadvertently shutting googlebot out of your site altogether. One common mistake we see is where someone places the following code in their
These two lines, when placed in a robots.txt file located in the top-level directory on your server, are enough to exclude every search engine spider from your entire site! Not only will you
get indexed by Google, you probably won't be indexed by
other search engine either. And even if you
indexed previously, a poorly done
file can easily get your site deleted from the engines.
To insure you are crystal clear about the correct procedures, be sure to familiarize yourself with the
robots exclusion protocol.
to check your robots file for errors or create a new one from scratch using the
Simple robots.txt Creator.
Another commonly overlooked reason for dropping out of the Google index is that your site recently lost some links. If your site was made up of pages that had almost no PageRank to begin with, and those pages lost some of their incoming links, it's possible that your PageRank dropped so low that your site was removed from Google's index. While rare, this does occasionally happen, so check your incoming links and make sure you still have enough good ones to keep you well-listed in Google.
Finally, sometimes getting booted from Google can simply be chalked up to faulty behavior by the Google spider. It's not easy to maintain an index of over four billion pages every month. Sometimes things go wrong. If you think this may be the case, your best recourse is to contact Google directly at
explain your situation.
ask them why your pages were removed from their listings. If it
their fault, they will usually reinstate your site fairly quickly – that is, once they've responded to your email, which can take up to a week or more.
Why Google May Ban You >>>
Copyright 2005 by Planet Ocean, reprinted with permission.
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