Does Google Penalize Site Wide Webmaster Tools Accounts?

Jan 12, 2009 • 8:17 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

There is a webmaster at DigitalPoint Forums who is convinced that Google has penalized all his sites that were verified in his Google Webmaster Tools account.

This webmaster claimed his sites are clean and he complies with Google's terms of service. But they were all penalized soon after adding them to the same Google Webmaster Tools account. I find this all hard to believe.

It is possible that they were linking together in a weird fashion, but I am not sure - since I don't know the site's URLs. It is possible they were violating the terms of service. It is possible he accidently excluded the pages in his robots.txt. It is possible he had server issues. It is possible he spammed the heck out of his pages. I don't know.

But it is common sense, if you are doing anything borderline with Google. Please don't tie those sites to others via Webmaster Tools. Even more so, why are you verifying a site that is borderline spam with Google in the first place? To me, that seems like you are testing Google, teasing them to ban you. If that is what you like, then go for it.

Do you think Google does site wide webmaster tools account penalties? I guess this is an obvious question. Google sees spam, a human looks at it, it notices the site is verified in webmaster tools, then looks at all the other sites by the same account holder and sees the same type of spam on those sites. The Googler clicks the big red blinking button and bam - goodbye sites.

Forum discussion at DigitalPoint Forums.

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01/12/2009 04:03 pm

I'd go one step further than "Even more so, why are you verifying a site that is borderline spam with Google in the first place?" -- Why are you spending time creating and promoting spammy sites in the first place? Seriously, why not just spend that time working on quality sites for the long run instead? :-) Make great sites, not spam.

Barry Schwartz

01/12/2009 04:03 pm

John, no such thing as great spam? :-)


01/12/2009 04:04 pm

PS If these are clean sites, I would recommend posting in the Google Webmaster Help forum with some of the actual URLs so that any issues can be diagnosed and resolved. Discussing them without URLs is somewhat difficult.

Michael Martinez

01/12/2009 05:41 pm

I am reminded of a comment Matt Cutts reportedly made at a PubCon (I think) a few years ago, where someone complained that his new site wasn't doing well. Matt supposedly looked up some information on his magic GooglePC and found there were many identified spam domains that he controlled. Matt said something like, "If you create 200 spam domains, we're probably going to take a closer look at your 201st domain." I'm not suggesting that whomever complained about "clean sites" all being penalized necessarily violated any guidelines. But it does appear to me that Google has its ways of figuring out whether you're operating a network. Not all networks are bad but bad networks can certainly spread their karma.

Cure Dream

01/12/2009 05:44 pm

Rankings fluctuate. You hear stories like this because webmasters don't post to forums to bitch because their rankings went up.

Affan Laghari

01/12/2009 05:53 pm

@JohnMu. "Why are you spending time creating and promoting spammy sites in the first place." Sorry to be blunt, but the answer is simple: IT PAYS. You make Google infallible to spam so that no spam site would ever be promoted to the first page, and you won't see any more spam. Until then, it will be like this. I recently saw a serp for a prescription drug, where 6 out of 10 results were from .edu pages, and all redirected to the same site. They stayed there for 1-2 days maybe, but it pays (though less). And you know they were software generated, so no cost. Again, it pays.


01/12/2009 05:56 pm

Something else which could be a part of the issue (and is something that is more common than you would imagine) is that there are technical issues surrounding the change in rankings. That could be as simple as a malware-infected server or as complicated as a server accidentally cloaking to Google's IP addresses. By posting the URLs involved in our help forum, we (and the other expert users there) can take a look and check to see what's really happening. However, without a URL, all speculation is useless. :-)

Louis-Pierre Dahito

01/12/2009 08:39 pm

This is really scary... Does that mean one bad move on your behalf and you're doomed for the rest of your life ??? I know Google is really unforgiving on some issues... I'd rather create multiple accounts...


01/13/2009 01:37 pm

I doubt Google is doing this, and if they are it's only to take it into consideration when it's extreme like Michaels comment explained. I have multiple sites in one account, and many of them are for clients that I take care of, and I have yet to see a relation.


01/13/2009 02:29 pm

No URLs. There isn't much to discuss about.


01/13/2009 04:00 pm

Well, it does sound scarry! Google should state clearly what their intentions are. But then again, do they ever? :)

Billy Ye

01/13/2009 09:27 pm

Certainly very interesting. Search engines have been know to hand filter results, so anything is possible. The best defense is to put out quality websites and not worry about anything coming back to bite you.

Jaan Kanellis

01/13/2009 09:45 pm

The definition of SPAM has always been in the eye of the beholder. What I , Barry, John, Michael and Google think may constitute SPAM is probably completely different.


01/13/2009 11:28 pm

I know some people doing spam. And when i sometimes what they are earning i'm asking myself "why did you start with this white hat site some years ago?" It's still a fact that spammers are earning much more than the honnest webmasters...


08/14/2011 06:25 am

John, some people bite off more than they can chew when they start developing.   An account wide penalty is severe and discourages people from using webmasters tools.   All this does is get spammers to go off the radar with their sites.   Legitimate users do webmasters because they desire to make good sites.   Feedback is important to make this happen.   Broad penalties are like taking a quote out of context.  Evaluate each site on its own merits.   Specifically to your question, a person might start ten or twenty sites before realizing where there interests are.  That site may be great, particularly if it gets positive feedback as it improves (from webmasters).  If you apply broad penalties you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.   By penalizing sites individually and notifying them, you motivate people to apply higher standards to the ones that remain.   By allowing room for improvement, you can help people create better sites.

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