Matt Cutts Opens Up About Google PenaltiesBy: Doug Caverly - June 3, 2009
Not long ago, another installment of the wacky car race known as the LeMons was held. Rule-breakers are penalized by being forced to do things like paint Bob Ross landscapes on their hoods and participate in conga lines. Google’s punishment system isn’t quite as obvious, though, so Matt Cutts discussed the matter at SMX Advanced.
Cutts started by giving a rather witty answer to the question of “how can you tell if your site is in the penalty box?” He replied, “One really good way is if it disappears completely from Google. That’s what we call a leading indicator.”
After some laughter subsided, Cutts then shared additional details. He said, “We make the penalties public where we think it can give the most help. So if you’re a small mom and pop, and you didn’t even realize (this happens a lot) – I hired a webmaster, and he put some hidden text on the page in 2003, and it was like 3 sentences, and they didn’t know – that’s the sort of thing where you want to tell them [through official channels].
“But if you see a sustained drop in ranks, or if it drops completely out, that’s the sort of thing where . . . there’s lots of forums on the web, including the Google Webmaster Forum, where you can go and ask for some help.”
Cutts noted that Google’s employees will often respond with some “very, very blatant hints” about what’s gone wrong on such forums. And here’s one more important detail: unlike the LeMons judges, Google isn’t trying to toy with anyone. Cutts said that the only reason all of this isn’t conducted out in the open is because scammers and black hats would use the info to their advantage.