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Q: My site has disappeared from Google - I need guidance. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: My site has disappeared from Google - I need guidance.
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: d_springer-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 23 Jun 2004 12:08 PDT
Expires: 23 Jul 2004 12:08 PDT
Question ID: 365207

I noticed a DRAMATIC drop in my Google rankings within the last day or
two.  I had many top 30 placements and they all vanished.  My PageRank
of 5 which I have worked incredibly hard at obtaining is now 0.  Also
when I do a search for my website it doesn?t even show up in a Google
search whatsoever.  Clearly I have been penalized by Google for
something reason or another.

I am not very web savvy so I had someone build my site about 2.5 years
ago.  My website really wasn?t showing up much on the search engines
so about 1.5 years ago I hired to do some SEO work
for me (They were ranked very highly in a Sherpa SEO Buyers Guide  I definitely noticed
some improvements in my Google ranking after their work was completed.

About 6 months ago I got a call from  They
guaranteed me on paper a lot of top 10 Google positions.  I was
skeptical but I looked them up on the Better Business Bureau and they
had a satisfactory record as you can see here:

I always made sure to ask the SEO consultants if their work is search
engine friendly and not considered some sort of Search engine spam. 
Both SEO consultants said that there work was COMPLETELY search engine

Now that I have been penalized I have spent the last day researching
exactly what is considered SPAM by Search engines.  I have come across
web pages like :// and I am
worried that Traffic-Power?s pages (which are like doorway pages that
automatically redirect to my site) are what might of got me into

When I emailed Traffic-Power today about my concerns this was their reply:

From: Violet Olson
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 12:40 PM
To: 'Sovereign Funding Group'

We are currently looking into the Google situation because we have
noticed a great many people disappearing from them.  This is something
that happened in March and April as well but it was a bug in Google
that was causing the problems, not our code.  Nothing we do would get
you removed from any search engine.  Here is the link that explains
part of the situation with Google,  we thought
they had it fixed but maybe not.  We are looking into it.  As soon as
we find something out, we will let you know.
Violet Olson
Lead Customer Support Specialist

I will gladly have my Webmaster remove any Google-offensive pages and
I will file a complaint as Google recommends with the Federal Trade
Commission against if they have caused the problem
especially since they specifically told me that their work was
completely search engine friendly.

The majority of my business comes from Google searches and my family
and I are going to be in deep financial trouble unless I can fix this
problem.  Yesterday I emailed &
but they have not replied back.  My question is how can I find out why
I was removed from Google and other than removing any Google-offensive
pages what else can I do and/or who do I need to contact at Google to
get the ban on my sight lifted?

Final Thought ? This is the first time I have ever used Google Ask.  I
wasn?t sure how much to offer so I thought $25.00 was reasonable just
to ask a question.  If someone could guide me through the process of
fixing this I would be happy to offer substantially more or to provide
some sort of tip at the end of the process.  I have always run a good
and honest website and I am really out of my element right now and I
could really use someone?s help fixing this.

Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 23 Jun 2004 14:45 PDT
I'm looking over your website right now. I'll do my best to help
figure out what is happening to your Google listings, and if needed,
come up with a plan to set things back to normal for you.

To beginning interactive troubleshooting, I'd like you to read over
the first posting in this WebmasterWorld Forum thread, and see if any
the situations posed are applicable, beginning with "Start with the
basics: Was your server down recently?"

You will (likely) need to register at WebmasterWorld in order to
access this checklist. Basic registration is free, and will allow
direct access.

I am particularly concerned about cloaking, rather than, technically,
spam, since you mention Traffic-Power. For many, many moons, certain
types of cloaking have been undetectible to search engine spiders.
This is apparently changing, as sites are spidered more often. What
pages are being spidered, and are those same pages the ones that are
first reached by those clicking the link from Google Search Engine
Result Pages (SERPs)? Is there a hidden redirect in place?


Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 23 Jun 2004 14:46 PDT
I suppose it would help to post the url. :)

Webmaster World | A Dropped Site Checklist


Clarification of Question by d_springer-ga on 23 Jun 2004 21:27 PDT

Traffic-Power (as you can see in their email) is swearing up and down
that nothing they do would get me banned but it looks like my hidden
links are "cloaking" as you put it

TP is telling me that this is a Google update similar to the now
infamous Florida Update and to wait a week or two for things to

The work they did on my homepage is all hidden from view.  You can see
it if you view the source code.

The changes that they made are as follows:

<p class="klose">
<a class="klose" href="">Site
Map</a> -
<a class="klose" href="">Our
<a class="klose" href="">Viaticals</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Buyer
of structured settlement</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Business
<a class="klose" href="">Accounts
receivable factoring</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Cash
flow notes</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Accounts
receivable financing</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Accounts
receivable management</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Factoring
<a class="klose" href="">Invoice
<a class="klose" href="">Angel
<a class="klose" href="">Structured
<a class="klose" href="">Angel
<a class="klose" href="">Viatical</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Business
<a class="klose" href="">Real
estate notes</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Cash
for structured settlement</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Factoring
<a class="klose" href="">Personal
injury settlements</a>
<a class="klose" href="">Structured
<a class="klose" href="">Sell
structured settlement</a>
<a class="klose" href=""></a>
<a class="klose" href=""></a>
<a class="klose" href=""></a>
<a class="klose" href=""></a>
<a class="klose" href=""></a>
<a class="klose" href=""></a>

Do you think that there is any chance that they are telling the truth
and I should simply sit back and wait a couple of weeks?  What are
your recommendations?

I am going to need heavy doses of Xanax to get through this one.

Clarification of Question by d_springer-ga on 23 Jun 2004 21:33 PDT

Sorry for spelling your name incorrectly in my post to you above.

I should point out that I read the article on Webmaster World and the
only thing in question are the TP links above and whether or not they
got me banned or if this is just an normal Google update as TP

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Clarification of Question by d_springer-ga on 23 Jun 2004 21:37 PDT

I changed web hosts about two weeks ago but the transfer went
smoothly.  Other than that my site hasn't been down to my knowledge.


Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 23 Jun 2004 22:37 PDT
Just to let you know, I've received your responses--what you've posted
is helpful, and I want to compare it carefully to an earlier copy I
saved. I'm not seeing a Florida class update, nor is that sort of
'buzz' out there at the moment.

The spelling of my name is of consequence. I misspelled (mistyped it)
when registering for Google Answers, so I'm in no position to be
offended. I settle for anything that starts with "L".

Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 23 Jun 2004 22:38 PDT
--NO-- consequence. *laughing* I'm mistyping tonight, as well. 


Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 24 Jun 2004 00:13 PDT
Hi David, 

Take that Xanax. I don't like what I'm finding as I page through the
site. I believe that the redirects and the link farms and link
networks are "killin' ya" at this point.

I don't think we're seeing a Florida type update. Based on what I'm
hearing from others around the 'Net, it appears that new filters are
being applied. Filters that are able to detect page redirects that
have previously passed muster. I'd love to see daily versions of your
.htaccess file.

Believe me, I don't think you're one of the bad guys, nor do I think
you've been duped by your SEO partners. It's my opinion that the
standards are tightening daily. Google's algorithms and filters are
catching up with some of the more sophisticated SEO techniques. SEOs
are always looking for the edge of the envelope and trying to ride
safely just inside of it.

I know it's difficult to just wait it out, even overnight. I
understand your situation very well. But -- before I advise you to
make changes, I'm looking for confirmation that this isn't just a

Another reason -not- to quickly change? Think about the cat and mouse
tactics between the search engines and SEO industry. If you wanted to
flush the game, you might filter out a particular profile, then watch
to see what happened to those sites that were penalized. Action might
provide confirmation. I'm not sure this is a valid scenario, but I
have heard it told too many times from experienced sources to
completely discount it.

Tinker a bit with your AdWords campaign, maybe up the bids a tad for
this interim, see if you can find additional keyword phrases to
target. When the free SERPS are in trouble, it's time to hit the PPC
harder, fine tune with landing pages that convert the sale.  Think of
as a hedge against dependency on search ranking.

Google isn't out to punish anyone. Their business plan calls for the
best possible search results for their users. Their goal is not
precisely compatible with your own at this stage. When you bank on a
search engine, long term it becomes more important to make sure that
you're heading in the same direction, rather than fighting the
current. I will go into greater detail on how to achieve that
compatibility as I study your site.

Hang in there, overnight at least. I'm very glad you've chosen Google
Answers.  I'll do my best to assure that you're absolutely thrilled
with us.


Clarification of Question by d_springer-ga on 24 Jun 2004 08:16 PDT

With the help of my web host I have zipped copies of the .htaccess
file and my website log files.  You can download them here.

My web host asked us the following: "There are no daily versions of
the .htaccess file. This file is created by FrontPage and it is
updated when you change some of its settings only. Please, tell us of
the goal you are after, so we can advise."

Thanks for your help.  I'll work on my ppc campaigns as you recommend
and continue popping Xanax in the meantime.



Request for Question Clarification by larre-ga on 24 Jun 2004 09:30 PDT
Thank you. I've accessed the file. 

In checking the .htaccess file, I was looking at possible methods
behind the redirects, to (hopefully) verify that what's in place -is-
the type of redirect considered benign by Google and other search
engines. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It might also be helpful
to examine your robots.txt file in order to determine if some of the
difficulties originate there, as well.

I'm preparing an analysis, and a list of steps that need to be taken.
I will post this as an Answer this morning (my morning Pacific time).
That won't signify the end of the Q/A process. It only means that I
feel I have enough information/research available to provide
substantial guidance. We can continue the dialog though Answer
Clarifications, similar to the Question Clarifications we've been
using so far.

You asked originally about the Question bid/payment amounts. I can
understand the difficulty in deciding what to bid. There's a process
available to raise the question price, before it is answered, and the
ability to tip up to $100 when the question is closed (rated). I
anticipate that the value of my work product will exceed the original
value of the question. I'm also confident we'll be able to agree on
compensation. Not to worry for the moment. I'm more concerned with
getting your site back in Google.



Clarification of Question by d_springer-ga on 24 Jun 2004 10:19 PDT

I checked and I don't have a robot.txt file.

Regarding a tip I agree that one will be in order.  I don't believe we
will have any problem coming to a mutually agreeable figure.  Just the
savings in Xanax will make it worth it :)


Subject: Re: My site has disappeared from Google - I need guidance.
Answered By: larre-ga on 24 Jun 2004 12:12 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for asking!

As we have discussed, there are some questionable SEO tactics being
employed on your website, Sovereign Funding. While Google doesn't
specifically name or provide exact details of techniques that cross
the line, use of the same and similar techniques have been cited by a
number of webmasters of sites dropped out of the Google index. From
that evidence, logic says that these particular practices are now off
limits, and sites using them are subject to removal from the index.

I have no doubt that many single techniques slip past the algorithms
and filters undetected, but there now appears to be a "threshold"
upper limit. No one questionable item, but the sum of all are
evaluated against a profile of what constitutes "Over-SEO'd". The
filters are constantly under revision as techniques are reviewed and
added to the lists of disallowed actions.

There is still speculation that this most recent crop of "drop outs"
is due to a glitch, and the sites will be returned to the index when
fixed. You can cross fingers and wait. Or you may elect to proactively
bring the site into compliance with Google's stated best practices,
and apply for readmission to the index.

I found the following on

INTERSTITIAL PAGES designed for search engine spiders, rather than
human consumption. These are the "added" pages you listed above. They
need to be removed. This sort of redirection fell out of favor with
the search engines some time ago. You're lucky the site lasted in the
index so long. These particular pages are relatively sophisticated,
keyword densities carefully calculated, and human language word
frequencies taken into account, but I'm sure you realize that they
aren't terribly effective sales tools. Human customers reading the
information are unlikely to be enticed by the content. They were
created specifically to manipulate the search engines.

LINKS TO LINK FARMS designed to artificially inflate the number of
links to your site by unrelated websites or those established solely
for the purpose of linkage. These links need to be removed.

These domains are listed by WHOIS as owned by a single entity, and the
Domain Servers shown as EASYHOSTINGNOW.COM, which is identified as a
blacklisted spam domain.

HIDDEN LINKS are found on nearly every site page. This practice has
been banned for years, regardless of method used. Remove these links.

Your own RECIPROCAL LINKING PROGRAM also contributes to the impression
of over-optimization. The fact that Page Rank of 4 or greater is a
condition for linkage would be a red flag. It could easily engender
spam reporting by those eliminated from applying. If reported, then
checked by a Google minion, it's likely to count as a black mark. A
directory of sites is perfectly allowable, but references to Page Rank
requirements and trading linkage is considered to be another method of
artificially inflating page rank.

Evaluate all pages of your site in comparison to the Guidelines. When
you feel confident that the site meets Google's criteria, write to to apply for readmission to the index. Professionalism
and repentance are key elements.

Sample letter:

Dear Google,

I am the owner of .

I did not realize that participation in Link Exchanges and
Traffic-Power programs could cause problems for my website. I was
assured that these techniques were Google-friendly by BBB listed
providers of Search Optimization Services.

I now understand that the practices used are not acceptable. I
apologize for having allowed them to be placed on my website. I've
removed the questionable pages and links from  the site. I promise not
to repeat such mistakes.

I am asking you to please consider reinstating my website, into the Google Index. 


[ Your Name ]

There's no guarantee that you will be reinstated, or any indication of
how long the process might take, but I would estimate the chances as

This pared-down website will need further work to get it back to its
former level in the SERPS. I will gladly provide references for
do-it-yourself guidance, plus referrals to reputable advisors, if
you'd like.

This is a good point to pause for questions. Is there anything I
haven't covered that you're curious about? I'll be happy to clarify as


Answer Strategy

The information provided is based upon personal and professional
experience as a web designer, working in tandem with search engine
optimization specialists.

Request for Answer Clarification by d_springer-ga on 24 Jun 2004 13:28 PDT

Thank you for the detailed information!!!

One last question - what email address do you recommend I send the
Google letter to?



Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 24 Jun 2004 13:37 PDT
Write to: 


Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 24 Jun 2004 13:55 PDT
I also have two recommendations for you. One an excellent newsletter,
the other, a step-by-step program to grow your site into a very
profitable one, without the need for any questionable tactics.

High Rankings Advisor | Jill Whalen

Webmaster World | Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone


Request for Answer Clarification by d_springer-ga on 24 Jun 2004 14:08 PDT
Thanks Larre!  I truly appreciate all of your advice!!!

What kind of tip did you have in mind taking for granted that I have a
non-income producing Internet business at the moment & a requirement
for large quantities of medication.   => Pity factor :)

Clarification of Answer by larre-ga on 24 Jun 2004 14:32 PDT
Putting me on the spot. :) 

I have no requirements, David. I provided an Answer for the face value
of the question. You're welcome to tip or not -- either way, it's
pleasure to provide useful information to a new GA customer!

d_springer-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $25.00
Absolutely top-notch answer!  Very quick replies.

Subject: Re: My site has disappeared from Google - I need guidance.
From: larre-ga on 24 Jun 2004 15:06 PDT
Awww, t'anks :))) For the kind words, rating, and generous tip. 


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