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Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Google Nightmare Is Over: Robin Good Is Back Inside Google SERPs - A Call To Action To Stop This

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Master New Media is back inside Google search results.


This is great news for everyone working here and it is truly a day to rejoice for us. This last week has been a very tough challenge for everyone here to be confronted with, and while I yet do NOT know which specific error or mistake was the cause of my temporary banning from Google search page results, it is absolutely great that whatever I, or someone else did, got us out of this very nasty situation.

The problem is that while I could dance joyfully for hours on my terrace thanks to my re-gained visibility, I have learned little about what caused it, can't be sure I am now shielded form this and I am very concerned for whoever else, in a similar position, may fall victim of this same terrible situation.

Is it right that Google has so much power over my ability to "exist" as an entity over the internet? Isn't this the case, as Fabio Masetti says, of Google being able to play with the same net neutrality issues we fear from large telcos, for by having the mere possibility to switch off any content without official justifications, while asking me to plead guilty before I am even re-considered?

I know that sounds excessively paranoid, and many of us don't like to even think of such a possibility, but if you shed yourself from emotional attachments and geeky preferences, and look at the issue in a straightforward rational way, the fact of the matter IS that GOOGLE CAN and DOES arbitrarily penalize sites without being transparent about the reasons it does so. If it openly notified sites while reporting what was wrong, I would have nothing to object to such penalizations, as long as guilty sites were provided with the opportunity and time to correct them.

Many of us doing this independent publishing work are not born webmasters, SEM specialists, server managers or comment-spam cleaning script writers.

We are just courageous, entrepreneurial spirits with a voice and a desire to innovate. I like to create new opportunities online, that provide me with the ability to be in tune with what I really like and care about while helping me to actively contribute to the development of a much more democratic, varied and distributed media ecosystem.

But this is no good reason to penalize us in such anonymous and unjustified ways.

I think it would be nice that some of you did stand up to say something about this, before you find yourself caught in my same and just-ended misery.

Hitbox stats of Google search results kicking back in early this morning

Small online independent publishers are a new breed of media professionals and should be helped, supported and encouraged for the new opportunities they create and the useful information or entertainment services they provide. Holding them hostage of heavy sanctions caused by errors they are not even aware themselves seems not to be the best way to support them and their significant contribution to Google search and advertising success.

Take my case for example.

For those of you that do not know it, this micro enterprise which I presumptuously call the Robin Good's Media Network, has grown quite a bit from the one-man blog that I started a few years back out of mere passion for sharing my professional work discoveries.

Today, over 13 people around the world, contribute and get paid monthly to this small online publishing enterprise, and the number keeps slowly, but steadily growing. I have no media company behind, am not in Silicon Valley, have had no funding or economic support from anyone, am not US-based, English is not my native language, and I have no close friendship with those in power in media or politics.

At the same time in the arc of a little more than 2.5 years Master New Media has earned itself quite a few serious decorations by becoming:

a) a PR7 site as ranked by Google itself

b) one of the top 10,000 sites on the whole Internet, as reported by Alexa

b) a Top350 blog in Technorati with over 2400 live incoming links in the last 6 months alone (though that shoud be much higher, but Technorati seems to have no ears for my repeated feedback on this)*,

c) a Top15 ranker among Italian blogs,

d) a Google AdSense Premium Partner,

e) a first-page-ranker in over a hundred Google pages with no SEM or SEO tricks being played

f) a content resource in multiple languages that counts over 17,000 article pages indexed by the search giant.

g) an online journalism pioneering model and trend-setter that has been serving well many of the new and most popular US-based blogs.

This is why, being not just another site that popped up yesterday on the web, an undocumented, unspecified and unacknowledged penalization like the one that Google just threw at us is so difficult to absorb.

Yes, I do take the criticism: I do need to differentiate more our incoming revenue streams, as well as strengthen my technical support and quality control activities, but even if I had made only 40 or 50% of our revenue from Google (instead of 85%) having a customer in a near-monopolistic position who can close me out of the loop without any warning or explanation is truly an evil thing.

Not only because it jeopardizes in the space of a few hours/days the incredible voluntary work that unpaid individuals have done over many years of their lives, but because it risks of killing high-energy, high-quality content production outlets like this one which are core to Google's own search and advertising success.

This is why I think that more of you should stand up and make your voices heard on this topic to Google, before it does to you and your online publishing business what it just did to mine.

I am not arguing that sites or webmasters managing them should not be penalized if they do things that are unfair, or in breach with Google Guidelines. I am actually in favour of clearer guidelines than we have now and clearer rules of how and when such guidelines and relative penalizations are to be enforced.

There is very little information and often explained in unclear, ambiguous terms on this topic while individuals in difficulty need specific and clear answers.

This is why I demand that any site or webmaster is directly informed by Google (or any other major search engine) of the breaches to technical or legal/ethical rules that may occur on her site, while being given a solid, though finite, amount of time to correct it before any penalization is assigned to a site. This is the only educated and civil way of behaving while building loyal and grateful partners.

(By the way: Google has also activated a messaging facility inside its GWT dashboard, but at least in my case this has not been used to help identify any issue or to resolve any problems Google had encountered with my site).


Online independent publishers wake up! The Google business equation includes also you... don't forget it.

Make your voice be heard. Write a post and let Google know what you think of this and of its present policies in banning a site.

If you have not read the previous posts on this story, you may want to check out:

* Technorati ranking issue - as I have reported twice in writing to Technorati Master New Media is one site with one author, and its ranking and link count should not be separated into 4 or 5 sites as it presently happens. What Technorati does is to count each Master New Media language edition as a separate site when in reality the author and the content is only one. If corrected, MasterNewMedia would show a more accurate ranking of over 3000 incoming links for the last 6 months, placing us near the Top100 world blogs and in the same league as blog sites and blog networks employing tens or hundreds of contributors.

Recent related resources:

Original article written by Robin Good for Master New Media and entitled: "The Google Nightmare Is Over: Master New Media Is Back Inside Google SERPs - Lessons Learned"

Readers' Comments    
2007-09-20 05:58:13

Sam Daams

I think I'll be needing to make a few posts like yours too in the very near future. You can consider yourself lucky for only being dropped for one week. We were dropped for 4 months! Then back up for 2 days to be dropped again for 2 days. Then back up for nearly a week and for the past week have been dropped again. It's eradic behaviour and not becoming of what is supposed to be a stable system.

We comply with Google's terms and were previously bringing in over 30 000 uniques a day. We still have an active community so our entire business isn't shot, but it's certainly hurting.

It seems like great content and top relevancy isn't enough anymore :(

2007-08-27 13:52:38

Robin Good

@Cristoph - agreed. Not easy as you are growing to know and make all your steps right. Making these mistakes is also part of us opening up some new ground with a new kind of entreprenurship that doesn't come from being an MBA, but liking to share what can help others while making it sustainable.

So the mistake is fully there, and I have no justifications for having overlooked this, I am just underlining that I am also not a traditional business as you normally think of and have been learning the trade step by step. So finding out the hard way is sometime the only way to start realizing something needs to be changed.

Thanks for re-iterating this though as it is a great lesson for everyone out there too.


2007-08-27 13:46:26

Robin Good

@Gavino - that's great news to hear - yes also agree that it is not worth making a tragedy for it... I am just reporting :-)

Can you be 100 that if I didn't do all the changes I did and did not openly report on this things would have returned to normal anyhow?

I wish I could be...

2007-08-27 13:41:50

Robin Good

@Daniel - thank you Daniel for your very kind support. Much appreciated indeed. :-)

@Vinod, @Mike, @Leigh - thank you

@Daniele - ...speriamo...

@Chris Tew - I agree with you on all points. I have also expressed my concern to Matt but have had no tangible feedback yet.

2007-08-24 17:29:57

Christoph Cemper

Congratulations on getting back where you were... but I agree - the bad taste remains... I'd stick with my prev comment on not putting all eggs in a basket, aka being dependent on Google to feed you...


2007-08-20 15:19:46


Il problema da te lamentato è dovuto semplicemente al fatto che Google stà implementando dal mese di maggio, tutta una serie di nuovi nuovi software in un centinaio di cluster-server sparsi per l'Europa,è questo ha creato dei problemi tecnici non indifferenti a tutta la rete.

Non sei il solo ad essere sparito a Google.

Non facciamone un dramma.

La Googlefobia è un male che va curato con piccole dosi di sarcasmo. Del resto il servizio offerto da Google è gratuito e quindi noi webmaster non possiamo recriminare proprio nulla.


2007-08-20 05:39:59

Chris Tew

Its actually quite common for Google to make a mistake.

What happened to you could simply be a mistake in the Google Algo.

I've had Google temporarily deindex pages from my site for no good reason - only to find them return a week later.


I don't really think it is feasible for Google to react to every enquiry about a site being banned or losing traffic given there are millions of sites out there.

However, in the case of a top 10,000 site such as MasterNewMedia Google should respond and explain what is going on.

Matt Cutts works with Spam on Google and has a blog here:

He would be a good person to express your feedback to.

2007-08-20 03:24:02


A mio parere Google sta testando nuovi algoritmi.
Ho letto di altri webmaster che hanno avuto gli stessi problemi con le SERP.

2007-08-18 21:39:07


Really glad to see you have been reinstated Robin. Great news! I hope you are able to stay that way.

Lets hope Google can listen. I don't have a problem with the penalty, as painful as they are, if they are warranted. But Google HAS to give some idea of what caused the problem.

2007-08-18 19:36:54


Glad to see you're back in the SERPs, Robin, and that you've ascertained that it wasn't TLA to blame after all.

Sadly Google have the power to do whatever the heck they want with their index. They're now the default search engine for the majority of web users and will continue to be so for the forseeable.

I remember when Google first appeared on the scene. They were the small guys in the playground being picked on by the bullies of Hotbot, Lycos and Alta Vista. Now they are the bullies...

2007-08-18 15:10:50


Good to hear that you are back in search results.

2007-08-18 14:34:04

Daniel McBrearty

Congratulations Robin, I'm glad to see that your concerted efforts have paid off. I also respect you for having been so open and honest over the ways in which you think you may have offended the google system.

My personal feeling about this is that both webmasters and google are still learning the ropes, or perhaps more accurately, evolving between them a way of managing this weird and wonderful beast which is the net.

Let's hope that Google to begin to be open about why they penalise sites when they see fit to do so. Maybe they are putting such a system in place even now.

For my part, I will always be very wary when a large part of my income is heavily dependent on a relationship with a single private company. That which is given can always be taken away.

posted by Robin Good on Saturday, August 18 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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