Hi again Nina ~
Please remember that Google Answers researchers are independent
contractors, and we do not have privy to insider information about
Google, and especially about its well-guarded search algorithms.
Therefore, this answer is based on personal experience as a
designer/SEO specialist and information gleaned through conferences
and seminars (such as last week's SES conference in New York), and
other reliable sources of information.
I can see that you are aware of Google's PageRank?, which is better
explained in Google's "Our Search:Google Technology",
The fact that you're not listed in Google's search index nor its
directory, yet have page rank for your site (examples below)
* index.htm - 6/10
* access_gaming.htm - 4/10
* casino_software/index.htm - 5/10
* casino_directory /index.htm - 4/10
would indicate that something was amiss, and the last time Google
crawled, it was unable to access your site. This isn't conclusive, as
it sometimes takes a few weeks for PageRank changes to catch up with
the Google indexing.
Reasons Your Site Isn't Listed
Under Google's "My web pages used to be listed and now they aren't",
"Your site may not have been reachable when we tried to
crawl it because of network or hosting problems. When
this happens, we retry multiple times, but if the site
cannot be crawled, it will not be listed in our current
index. If it was a transient problem, your site will
likely show up in the next index, which will be completed
in a few weeks." [from No. 3, "Other Reasons"]
"A technical glitch on our side may have caused us to
'miss' your site. In crawling more than 3 billion pages
every few weeks, our system experiences hiccups from
time to time. Again, this is a transient problem, and
your site will likely show up in the next index. Please
be patient with us during this period, as we are not
able to modify our index by hand to add sites missed in
this way." [from "Other Reasons"]
"Occasionally, websites are not reachable when we try to
crawl them because of network or hosting problems. When
this happens, we retry multiple times, but if the site
cannot be crawled, it will not be listed in our current
index. If it was a transient problem, the site will likely
show up in the next index, which will be completed in a
few weeks." [from "What else can I do to get listed in
After considering the obvious (that is, your site wasn't available and
got dropped because of that), I then undertook some research on online
casino and casino sites to see what the competition is doing to get a
high ranking in Google's search engine results pages (SERPs).
Using the search terms in your clarification, "online casinos" and
"casinos", and comparing other sites to the content in your site,
www.excellent-online-casinos.com (I'm taking the liberty of referring
to your site as "EOC" in these discussions in order to keep things
straight), I find that EOC seems to be a very comprehensive
compilation of online casino and gaming information.
Compared to some of the other sites, EOC contains a great deal more
(and better) information, so I agree that it should be included in
Google's search results. In case factors other than your site not
being available on the last crawl came into play, we need to look at
potential problem areas of EOC's site.
What Google Wants -
Google is passionate about delivering relevant content in response to
a searcher's query. It even states that in its Mission Statement,
which may seem a bit hokey, but gets the point across:
"The perfect search engine," says Google co-founder Larry
Page, "would understand exactly what you mean and give
back exactly what you want."
As you can see, Google clearly states that its responsibility is to
the searcher, not the website owner. If you want your site to be
included in Google's results, it is incumbent on you to provide the
most relevant information available for that query.
Frankly, I am surprised to see sites similar to your in response to
the query "online casinos" and "casinos", as a searcher would be more
inclined to be looking for an individual casino's site being first,
and not reviews or directories of online casinos.
For example, one would expect to find the individual casinos, such as
those you list among the first results,
* Club Dice (search term I used was Dice Club)
- www.casino-club-dice.com and
* Captain Cook's Casino
* Casino Tropez
- www.tropez-casino.com and
instead of the 'reviews'. Some of these review sites seem to be thinly
disguised lists of affiliate links to online gaming. If that's the
case, it is definitely NOT want Google wants to present to the query
"online casinos", and sooner or later, those sites which use their
"directories" or "reviews" to put their affiliate links in will no
doubt be relegated toward the bottom of the list with actual casino
sites being listed first.
There is already anecdotal evidence that this is happening in other
industries, such as travel, real estate and insurance. There is
mention of this happening in discussions on Webmaster World
and in Jill Whalen's High Rankings
In many cases, affiliate sites with no real content of their own are
being dropped from Google's listings altogether.
At the present time, I think the online directory sites are ranking
higher than individual casinos because of their links, both incoming
and outgoing; but it is also becoming evident that Google's algorithms
are being altered to drop those "directory" results, despite their
having more links (and therefore a higher PageRank) to a lower SERPs
In the meantime, sites similar to EOC are being ranked highly in the
SERPs. Again, I think EOC meets or exceeds the content on those sites,
'meat' of their content. This also points to the availability of your
site when it was last crawled as being the problem.
What Google Doesn't Want
In a nutshell, Google doesn't want to present sites which obviously
try to 'game' the system and mentions some specific practices which
will get you penalized,
"* Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't
deceive your users, or present different content to
search engines than you display to users.
* Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine
* Don't participate in link schemes designed to
increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular,
avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on
the web as your own ranking may be affected adversely
by those links.
* Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit
pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume
computing resources and violate our terms of service.
Google does not recommend the use of products such as
WebPosition Gold? that send automatic or programmatic
queries to Google." [From "Quality Guidelines - Basic
"* Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
* Don't employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.
* Don't send automated queries to Google.
* Don't load pages with irrelevant words.
* Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or
domains with substantially duplicate content.
* Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search
engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such
as affiliate programs with little or no original
I am assuming that you are NOT using automated software to check your
ranking or to submit your site. If you are, that could easily be the
answer to why your site disappeared from Google's index. The
recommendation would be to submit an apology to Google and explain you
won't continue that practice.
A search (albeit a more cursory search than an in-depth search) failed
to show any duplicate material, with the exception of some information
on specific casinos which is also on several other review and
directory sites, so I think it safe to assume you are not employing
any of the other specific recommendations listed above.
I will mention links and link farms with more specificity below. If
you are employing any of the particular practices above, there is no
time like the present to cease.
Other factors ~
Since Google wants to deliver relevant results to a searcher's query,
it stands to reason that there are certain sites which Google doesn't
want to deliver.
As mentioned above, it might be questioned if "best results" for a
searcher's query for online casinos would or should include a
directory or reviews of casinos. If that were the case, it would seem
more likely that the searcher would enter a query for "casino reviews"
or "casino comparisons", or something similar.
The fact that so many such review or directory sites are ranking
higher in Google's SERPs is a testament to Google's PageRank algorithm
- because many of those review sites and directory sites have hundreds
of links which weighted in their favor, even though those sites really
aren't the most relevant results for a searcher's query.
The fact that they may not be the "best" or "most relevant" in terms
of what the searcher is looking for is one of the reasons Google is
constantly tweaking and improving its search algorithms.
Some evidence of this "shifting" or change in weights in the travel,
insurance and real estate sectors has been noticed to some degree, so
I would expect other sectors, including online casinos, will be
similarly tweaked to ensure the searcher receives the results he is
Directories and reviews in other sectors are starting to be relegated
to lower rankings for their subject matter, although they still do
well for the subject with the term "review" or "directory" or
"comparison" added to the search query.
Google wants sites which are designed well, using good, basic HTML,
and even suggests using the Lynx browser (a text browser) to see what
you site looks like to Google and search engines. If you're not
inclined to do that, there is a Lynx browser simulator which is close
to what a search engine crawler would see.
The simulator can be found here,
Running EOC's index.htm page through the simulator may be a real
eye-opener for you. One thing you will notice, though, is that it
doesn't really get down to relevant content until after a great many
links, both internal links and links to other sites.
You are already utilizing internal styles to define certain elements
(such as links, etc.), you might want to look into adapting some of
those internal elements into CSS in order to reduce the page's actual
size and to position the relevant content better.
I have no idea if this is causing your particular problem, but using
friendliness, you might be unpleasantly surprised to view your page in
Remember, the browsers we use to view a website are very different
than search engine crawlers. One misplaced semicolon can effectively
stop a crawler in its track. Whether or not this has anything to do
with EOC's going missing is unknown; however, it is recommended you
run your pages through a Validator in order to check for potential
In Marketing Wonk's 3/9/2004 issue of I-Search, Andrew Goodman
remarked on links when queried why a site had dropped considerably in
"... what I am saying is that Google is likely now
bending over backwards to neutralize the benefit of
link swaps and link schemes of all kinds, so that
they can reward legitimate linking as they have always
tried to do via PageRank. While there is nothing
intrinsically wrong with linking to such semi-bad
neighborhoods, this might indeed be part of the problem.
Google simply doesn't accord your site the merit it once
did, for whatever reason..."
"What should you do? Add content, get more legit links in,
and stop linking out to other sites who maintain
"resources" pages that are packed with irrelevant links
that appear to be part of some premeditated scheme
intended to boost Google PageRank. Another name for that
is: link farm..."
The consensus from the session in New York is that you don't have to
be deeply linked in a link farm to be affected by the algorithmic
tweaks which are taking place to neutralize the former benefits (often
abused) from inbound links.
Please understand that this is NOT necessarily pointing a finger at
EOC or any of the other casino related site. On the other hand, with
search engine competition heating up, I think it is fair to assume
that we'll see more real 'content' and a lot less sites that managed
to use Google's algorithms to their advantage to gain a high ranking
in SERPs, whether or not they should actually have been there.
Sometimes these schemes work - at least for a time - and then they're
caught! Usually the experience isn't pleasant, and regaining lost
ground takes longer than building rankings with content and playing by
Google's rules try as much as possible to eliminate the ability of a
site owner to unilaterally decide how important and relevant their own
site is. Whether or not a page actually ** belongs ** in the top
ranking, attempts to subvert this process betrays the trust the
searchers have in the results. Google, and the other top search
engines are working to eliminate those who won't play by the rules,
because their entire business structure is built on the trust of the
Without that trust, a search engine will eventually fail and die.
I am not making a judgment call on the content of your links page,
however, now might be the perfect time to consider the relevancy of
those links, and which, if any, are truly pertinent to your site's
content and which may be there for the purpose of increasing your own
SERPs ranking. An easy way to help determine that is simply to do as
Google suggests and ask yourself "if they didn't help my ranking,
would I really include them in this site?".
[Just a side note - at present, of the top search engines, that is,
Google, Yahoo, MSN and the others, only MSN has made the distinction
in its search algorithms to rank the individual casinos first (not
"directory" or "review" sites). As mentioned, though, it will be
worthwhile to watch this trend, as soon or later I suspect all the
search engines will consider eliminating top ranks for review or
Online Gambling & Casinos
A "Touchy" Subject
I know this is not news to you, but "casinos" and "online casinos" is
one of the Internet's "grey areas".
In the US, which is a major part of the market, gambling affiliate
sites are highly regulated and watched very closely by everyone from
the FBI, the FCC, the SEC, the FTC, the IRS and any other combination
Even some credit card issuers will not honor spending at online gaming sites.
This doesn't discourage those who want to actually USE the sites, but
gives an overview of sometimes passionate decisions by those who have
moral and social positions concerning gambling.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not making any judgment
here, pro or con, but merely explaining why the issue is made cloudier
when it comes to casinos. The other "touchy" area is porn, and all too
often the two are lumped into the same category.
Casinos are an extremely lucrative business, but the problems
regarding negative connotations are discussed in various professional
affiliate organizations, such as the Internet Affiliate Marketing
A Google search on the term "casinos + SEO" is really revealing of the
mixed bag of judgment calls on the online casinos,
I assume none of this is either new or a huge secret to you, but it
does give you another consideration when it comes to a 'touchy'
I found it interesting that none of the first ten sites listed in
Google's search for "online casinos" is listed in the Open Source
Directory (DMOZ.org), either. It seems there IS some sort of judgment
call in that directory about advertising for online gambling.
The reason I mention this issue is that it will be something for you
to consider in your SEO efforts. If the tide changes, it will most
likely affect your site and search engine rankings.
I want to apologize for seeming to take so long to answer your
question. I highly suspect that this is a case that your site was not
available on Google's last crawl and that is the reason you are not
currently found in Google's index.
For the price you offered for this question, I also felt it necessary
to take a longer look at your site, the sites of your competition, and
other research to try to ascertain to the best evidence out there
whether or not this is so. Both of us depend on more than a guess.
You, as a Google Answers customer deserve the best information
available, and my reputation depends on it, too.
Here's the evidence to support my answer:
You are still listed in the following search engines:
* All The Web
* Alta Vista
* Teoma (Ask Jeeves)
If you were being penalized by Google for some infraction, it would
stand to reason that at least one of the other major search engines
would likewise be penalizing you.
Try as I might, I could find no obvious evidence of infractions for
which you would be penalized, such as duplicate sites, redirects, etc.
While there was some content identical to content on your site, it was
often on other directory or review sites with information about
specific casinos - that information being supplied by the casinos.
The fact you still have a good PageRank indicates it's more a
situation of your site not being available than your site being
penalized. If this is the case, you should resubmit your site using
Google's Add: URL page, but remember, it may take up to 8 weeks to be
reincluded. It takes sometime to crawl and compile the data from 4
Google's Add: URL page can be found here,
I tried it the first night I undertook answering this question, but
there is no Google penalty for resubmitting, so you can do so
I am assuming you are not using any automated software, such as
WebPosition Gold or relying on others who may use such software to
check on your ranking - this WILL get you penalized for the reasons
stated in Google's Guidelines.
If, after familiarizing yourself with the few infractions that will
get you penalized or banned, you determine you were guilty of an
infraction that I missed, you can quit doing it and email Google with
an apology asking to be readmitted.
The do not make any guarantee about when or if you will be reincluded.
Since I cannot determine any obvious infraction of Google's
Guidelines, and since EOC's site certainly contains extensive and
informative content, the only reason left is the possibility that they
were not able to crawl your site and that is the reason it isn't in
the latest Google index.
Important Google Links For Your Reference
I am including important links from Google's site. This information
will help you understand Google's goals and responsibility to the web
searcher (and not the webmaster or site owner).
Webmasters who follow the guidelines and avoid Google's "Thou shalt
nots" usually have no problem getting listed and showing up under the
search terms they desire.
* Google Today (absolutely the best information you
can read about the "how and why" of Google's results
* How Do I Get My Site Listed on Google?
* My Web Pages Are Not Currently Listed (a good 'primer'
on how and why Google works so well)
* PageRank Information (covers both Google's PageRank and
* Webmaster Guidelines (contains both the dos and don'ts)
* Google Facts & Fiction (can you buy your way to a
high ranking in Google?)
* Search Engine Optimizers (some good advice on what to look
for if you're going to hire a Search Engine Optimizer)
* Frequently Asked Questions (pretty much what it says, but
definitely worth wading through)
* Remove Content from Google's Index (just in case you feel
a burning need to start all over again)
Other Sources of Information
There is also good information from many of the top search engine
optimization experts, such as
* Detlev Johnson, Search Engine Guide
* Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch
* Jill Whalen, High Rankings
* Shari Thurow, Web Pro News (and quoted all over the Internet)
who all have columns or newsletters to which you can subscribe and
keep abreast of the best way to use good content for better
positioning in search engine results.
In addition, Webmaster World - http://www.webmasterworld.com/ - has
discussion boards on most of the search engines. While some of the
discussions are anecdotal and/or questions for information, there is
usually enough discussion to keep abreast of what seems to be
There is an entire section devoted to Google at:
It never hurts to keep track of the discussions; but remember, trying
to optimize for search engines only is like trying to hit a moving
target. You'll notice among the more experienced contributors to the
discussions - plus the SEO experts listed above - that there really is
no substitute for content, relevant links and good HTML.
Search strategies -
- casinos + SEO
- online casinos + SEO
- casino directories
- casino reviews
- marketing strategy + online casinos
- online casino affiliate marketing
- casinos + SEO
- online casinos + SEO
- casino directories
- casino reviews
- casinos + SEO
Nina, Thank you for the chance to tackle this "mystery", I learned a
lot about your industry, casino affiliate marketing, and the problems
facing online casinos. While the future doesn't look bleak, it does
appear that there will be a challenge for the industry and sites such
as yours, and I hope it works out in your favor.
Google Answers Researcher