When I was on my multi-month critical review of Google a few months back, I frequently highlighted how the perception of spam or quality was often associated with the brand (or lack of brand) behind the content. Stuntdubl wrote a post about brand size reviewing engineer double talk and how brand perception may control the sustainability of your site.
Many people and many sites disappear. For how long just depends on who was behind the infraction and how real their site looks and feels.
About a month ago I asked a friend of mine if he knew that one of his sites got banned from Google. He said no. Then he went and looked at it and asked "why the f*ck did they do that?" His site that was penalized was exceptionally similar to his sites that still rank, with one big exception. It used a default Wordpress theme. Thus it looked like it was probably spam to a search engineer or under-waged remote worker judging a bunch of sites in a rush.
As soon as human editing becomes a big piece of search, humans start thin slicing and start making errors. Once you are gone will anyone notice? Can you escalate the issue to a high enough priority to get your "glitch" fixed?
If you have any top ranking income earning site that exhibits the following traits, look for your income to drop sharply sometime in 2008.
- has a default Wordpress design
- has multiple hyphens in the domain name
- exclusively monetizes via Google AdSense, placed top and to the left in the content area of the page
- does not have a clear way to contact you
- lacks an about us section
- is registered with fake whois
Some cops enjoy handing out speeding tickets. Thin slice your site as though you are a search engineer who enjoys killing spam, but has a quota to kill 1,000 sites a day. Does your site pass the sniff test? Are there areas that could use some improvement?
The democratic nature of the web is a unique concept, but Google no longer uses that line in their marketing brochures. Sometimes the web needs defused.
If you have something that makes money, you need to make it look like it is worthy of its position and earnings. Or else Google will exert as much editorial influence and quality scores as they can to take $$$$$ from you, all in the name of what's good for the customer and helping out "mom and pop webmaster".
After all, when Google Local, YouTube, Google Knol, Google Shopping, and Google Checkout are fully integrated next to AdWords, mom and pop webmaster won't even need to own a website. They can do everything they need on Google.com. How benevolent.
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