Hello Paul ~
A check this morning (May 1, 2004) using Google's link: tool shows 10
links to your site,
This would give less credence to any belief that using the same
keywords for linking to a site could result in a penalty. But there is
anecdotal evidence (plus some reasonable examples to support) the
theory that Google probably does give a higher value to a 'natural'
link than it might to a link that exists among a page of scores of
others - in other words, inclusion on a "links" or "resources" page
with no particular regard to why a site is there.
It's interesting to note, too, that Google has left in tact those
"Google bombs" (mentioned below) which produce satirical or humorous
results, but will penalize websites which use the same technique to
try to "game" or "spam" the system. In fact, Google clearly states in
its Webmaster Information and in its Guidelines that it will penalize
attempts game the system through the use of linking schemes,
From Google's "Quality Guidelines - Basic principles:",
"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
From Google's "Other Reasons [your site may not be included]:
"setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling
search engines may result in permanent removal from our
Notice, too, that Google clearly states that such practices "may
result in permanent removal from our index".
Now, what does Google consider a linking scheme? I can certainly point
to the following page entitled "What Makes Us Different",
Any page whose only criteria for the "Best In Business" is the ability
to pay for a listing, makes statements about improving linking, and
then goes on to extensively quote Google (without properly quoting
Google and/or giving credit to the source, by the way), such as:
"*Search Engine Optimisation Benefit
Your company listing page will provide an invaluable
and important back-link to your website. Each company
listing page in the Officefile UK business directory
will be awarded a Google? PageRank?."
The first quoted paragraph is just not true. Only Google will and can
issue a PageRank, and it may issue none at all. To claim that it will
happen makes claims you cannot substantiate.
To lift material from Google's own website without quoting or
crediting the source will not place you in good stead with Google. For
that matter, it wouldn't place you in good stead with any site you did
Whether or not it is your intention to create a linking scheme, your
choice of words, your claim that it will help with their Google
listing and quoting from Google's site with attributing the source
would be enough to get you penalized. The fact that you are charging
for listings PLUS making statements about link and PageRank can only
lead one to think this is a linking scheme with a twist. You have to
pay to be included.
While "penalty" is a harsh word, the fact that your site doesn't
appear among the first 500 listings when searching for your search
term in Google should be some indication that Google doesn't consider
your site *relevant* - or that you're being penalized by not being
listed among the first 500 listings.
So far, your site has not been removed from Google's index; but I
would take a long look at how you present reasons for joining your
directory. I would guess all it would take is for one competitor to
turn you in for running a "linking scheme" to put Google in the
position to consider keeping or dropping your listing.
To address your questions and concerns:
1. It is difficult for your competition to adversely affect your
Google rating, but they do have one tool, the Spam Report Page, where
they can report you for an infraction of their rules,
2. With regard to the backlinks, as you can see, Google now includes
10 backlinks to your site. There is some comments on various search
engine discussion boards that the backlinks have recently been updated
by Google. That inclusion since you asked the question would indicate
this is so.
3. You stated, "I would like to know how best to take the site forward
in terms of getting a better Google Page result - i.e Content, Back
I have taken the liberty of 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
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 Resources and
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.
You might want to take advantage of the title tags, which Google
explains in its Guidelines (referenced above).
You might also want to take a good look at those sites which Google
does rank in among the top in response to your search query and
include the good points they employ which you don't.
I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but in all honesty, the add
your site to our "best" list for a fee, and then explaining how it
will help my Google PageRank can only be seen as a linking scheme. I
cannot fathom any intelligent person - let alone Google - as seeing it
as anything else.
There should be a legitimate criteria for inclusion in your 'best of'
and then your design should include reasons those sites are allowed to
be a part of it. In any case, using Google's PageRank as a selling
point or benefit will not endear you to Google. I would totally
rethink how you wish to present your 'best of' categories.
Search Terms Used
Part of what I do when not answering questions on Google Answers is
consulting on web design, marketing and search engine optimization.
Toward that end, except for those specific searches mentioned and
listed above, I relied on my personal experience, and bookmarked
resources and information to answer this question.
Again, please don't think I'm being hypercritical. It is merely that
the information discussed above is probably hurting you more than you
realize. Understanding Google's responsibilities to the searcher makes
it incumbent on you to follow Google's suggestions, recommendations
and guidelines if you wish to rank well in Google's SERPs.
Best of luck to you,
Google Answers Researcher