A post at Threadwatch discusses a new initiative being tested by Google to notify webmasters when Google finds certain “black hat” type techniques being used that are against its guidelines. In essence, Google would send an email to the webmaster notifying them:
1) that the pages have been removed
2) what pages and generally what violations there are
3) how to request a re-include after removing the violations
The overall reception to this idea seems very positive, as it helps those webmasters who really focus on building a great site, and are cognizant and aware of their rankings and search engine traffic, to “optimize” or hire an SEO firm without worrying excessively about getting banned for something that is not intended to artificially manipulate results.
I had one such experience lately. My largest client had a META redirect on their homepage, and put it there without my knowledge. They had a very legitimate reason, as its purpose was to send all visitors from www.sampledomain.com to a specific page on the site. All visitors from www.sampledomain.com were referred as part of a promotion, and the page they were redirected to was associated with the promotion. I forget the specifics, but for some reason it was necessary that they be routed through the homepage. Anyhow, they had no idea or intentions of this being in any way related to search engine rankings.
Suddenly their homepage disappeared from Google instantly, they dropped from a PR 6 to PR 0, and their number of pages indexed began to decline. I discovered the error, we removed the redirect, found an alternative method and contaced Google explaining the situation. I believe within a couple of weeks the homepage was indexed again and number of pages indexed started to increase. A couple of months later there was a PR update, which restored the site to its previous PR.
Anyhow, I haven’t read the whole Threadwatch thread and cited sources off that site, but I believe they are using the domain name registration info to identify site owners, and then perhaps the DNS servers to identify hosts to CC. This is one possible use for Google recently obtaining domain registrar status (and thus access to such records). This is also likely to get me to update my domain name contact info!
I think this is a welcome initiative, in that it serves to help legitimate sites/pages to produce legitimate content for their visitors with less fear of being banned permanently for something unintentional. It only helps to improve the good pages to bad pages ratio of the index. That’s a good thing.