I once got slapped really hard by a girl once. Actually, it was more of a punch/slap hybrid. It would have made a good photo for this post.
From memory I hadn’t really done anything wrong, although I’m sure I must have done something to deserve such treatment. My attacker was then shepherded away by Gerit, the German foreign exchange student. We used to call him “Gerit the woman beater”, or words to that effect (we were very mature). So it was rather ironic that he decided to protect her (as if I was going to retaliate).
Just to clarify, I was 17 at the time. Playground politics, eh? That reminds me of a post I wrote on this blog many moons ago, the subject matter of which slots in with today’s topic rather fittingly. See how I’m weaving this all together? It’s a thing of beauty.
I don’t login to Google Webmaster Tools as often as I feel I should. But just last week I did, as part of the research I was doing for this article. And I got a rather unpleasant surprise, in the form of one of Google’s now infamous canned messages:
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.leavingworkbehind.com/,
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
Yep – Google has penalized Leaving Work Behind. I cast my mind back through the blog’s short history, trying to think of what I could have done to offend Google. Then I remembered – a few months ago, I built a few links using the now defunct Rank Jumpers. Since Google deindexed that private blog network, my guess is that they have penalized any site who used it (a wild assumption, but that’s how I roll).
The message was received on 8th April. Here is how my search engine traffic levels have fared over the past 60 days, with the penalization date circled:
Yep – the day after the message was sent, I had a big spike in search engine traffic. But since then, there has been a decline.
It is not possible to draw a solid conclusion from the above data – especially since my site’s traffic numbers have been declining too (it seems my new casual approach to blogging is taking its toll). What I can draw a safe conclusion from though however is how my keyword rankings have been affected:
I am only tracking three keywords (my SEO work on this blog is pretty woeful), but it would appear that Google has gotten a bit slap happy with my poor little blog.
I am surprised to be honest. There are plenty of completely natural links pointing to this blog, and the effect of those 20-30 links I built back at the end of last year must be absolutely minimal. In fact, I am pretty sure that Rank Jumpers said they would be removing the links (although whether or not they have done so is another question altogether).
I think we can see here another clear example of Google’s absolute ruthlessness in penalizing any and all sites that engage in any kind of overt link building whatsoever. There would appear to be little in the way of human consideration (as in a recognition of the fact that this is a site of substance). Robot says kill the site, and the site shall be dead.
The first obvious step would be to submit a reconsideration request. I have heard so many stories of this having absolutely no effect, but I can’t see any harm in doing so. I have no problem with being up front and confessing to building the Rank Jumpers links.
But there is one thing holding me back at present. I would like to think that Google would see sense and lift whatever penalties it has imposed on the site, but I would be really pissed off if it didn’t. The whole canned message followed up by a canned message really gets on my nerves. If an actual person takes the time to manually review a site following a reconsideration request, you would think that they could take an extra 10 seconds to briefly inform you of the reason for their decision.
Of course I am anticipating something that might not occur, but just thinking about it gets me irritated. Some people argue that you shouldn’t complain, as Google owes you nothing, but that is absolute rubbish. Google wouldn’t exist without websites. Collectively, your blog, my blog, Amazon, theChive, Cheese.com and every other damn site out there facilitate Google’s existence. So yes, if I submit a reconsideration request which is subsequently rejected without a human response, I do feel that Google is being an asshole.
What Do YOU Think?
So what do you think I should do? Submit the request? I guess I have to – but how should I phrase it – what should I say? Have any of you had success in submitted reconsideration requests? Let us know in the comments section!
Oh, and in case you were wondering – that girl who slapped me? We’re still good friends. I don’t know what happened to Gerit.
Creative Commons image courtesy of peterp