Google On Can You Redirect A Penalty To Another Site

Jun 30, 2014 • 8:51 am | comments (27) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Penalty CardsCan you redirect a penalty to a new or different domain name? Let's say site A has a bad link penalty, either manual action or algorithmic issue. And you or a competitor decide to use a 301 redirect from site A to a site without a penalty (i.e. site B). Would site A's penalty cause site B to get a penalty also?

This is not a new question and we know penalties may follow you even without redirects. But if done in a negative SEO way, will Google catch it?

John Mueller of Google answered this in an unofficial Google Webmaster Hangout Friday afternoon at 27 minutes and 30 seconds in.

John said:

(1) Google is usually good at catching these cases.

(2) He has personally never seen a case where this caused an issue for a good site.

(3) If you are worried and you want to ensure nothing bad happens, you can disavow the links pointing to the penalized site (i.e. site A). Disavowing the domain that was 301ed to you, seems like it wouldn't help.

Here is the video:

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Hangout.

Previous story: Let Google Know About Your Negative SEO


Barry Schwartz

06/30/2014 04:04 pm

Clarify what? The video is there for you to watch.


06/30/2014 04:19 pm

I believe you. I get attacked almost weekly. It is very real for me too. I've had luck on a couple fronts thwarting attacks. Make sure every page has a canonical tag. Make sure you use meta noarchive tag to stop google from sharing your cached data. Then when toxic websites get redirected to you disavow the whole domain. If it is just toxic backlinks then you probably have to wait for penguin which sucks.


06/30/2014 04:31 pm

@rustybrick:disqus thanks for reply but in video they are saying, google can show your page in SERP still if you block them in robots. And @disqus_yGidF8bIIO:disqus says that we can only block by putting meta robots tag...So can you please tell me how can i restrict google bot?

Barry Schwartz

06/30/2014 05:03 pm

robots.txt helps also. 404 the page. block it via password.

Spambob Durant Pants

06/30/2014 05:13 pm

Yo mummy, I am starting a new business know anyone who has any experience in this area? ;)


06/30/2014 05:20 pm

Your logic says negative SEO is both possible and easy. Google doesn't know whether an attacker is a well meaning junior employee or otherwise. You can't have it both ways. Either 1000 spam links cause a penalty or they don't. Which is it?


06/30/2014 05:23 pm

"We're pretty good at catching this" is a "blind to all else" approach that Google seems to take when they're cornered with an issue like this. They shift the responsibility for the negative unintended consequences of their actions to us brickmakers. They say, in essence, "Just go ahead and make extra bricks to compensate for this- with less straw."


06/30/2014 05:26 pm

I also really appreciate the way he says, "...we don't have a way to take out these algorithmic actions... you kind of have to let the algorithm run through that." That's what I call a Google-wide responsibility disavowal.

Yo Mamma

06/30/2014 05:27 pm

Try Durant. He had one of the vintage reciprocal link sites he has since converted. Maybe he can shed some light. Also MM has still a small link network he may share notes on. In fact its most likely that most SEO's still have link networks because it seems G$$gle in all its dumbness, still relies on links for SEO


06/30/2014 05:31 pm

Oh, and this notion that you need to stay on top of your website to continuously disavow attacks by competitors really goes off the beaten path of "Just create such awesome content that people will naturally want to link to you." Mantra. This current system is about as functional as the government healthcare website in its first month.

Yo Mamma

06/30/2014 05:35 pm

Just admit it. Google rules and everyone else drools. Reminds me when Bill Gates started pass-wording EVERYTHING. The passwords got longer and longer and they bought all the small companies out and put their passwords on it, like MSGOLF and FLIGHT SIMULATOR. Eventually no more interesting ideas were buyable, because they bought them all. Now look at MS - Its a joke. A PC is and always has been a joke filled with viruses all because Gates crushed all innovation. G$$GLE is doing the same thing now


06/30/2014 05:48 pm

"(1) Google is usually good at catching these cases." Usually means not always. "(2) He has personally never seen a case where this caused an issue for a good site." A good site to Google is a big Adwords spender and other not so good websites appear to be disposable in Google's eyes - even if they did no wrong. "(3) If you are worried and you want to ensure nothing bad happens, you can disavow the links pointing to the penalized site (i.e. site A). Disavowing the domain that was 301ed to you, seems like it wouldn't help." The overwhelming majority of people say that the disavow tool does not help. It mostly likely would be true for 301ed domains too. John Mueller and Matt Cutts are both propaganda machines. While people are busy disavowing this, that and the other, Google continues to rank their corporate buddies and investments pages above small businesses. Instead of disavowing links, it may be best to simply disavow Google.


06/30/2014 05:53 pm

"I think that in most of these cases, it really wasn't negative SEO." Penguin and manual link penalties have been widespread for years. I think it's foolish to think that many people are still blasting their own sites with links in hopes of ranking better. Given the blog and news coverage regarding unnatural links, and the disavow tool too, it makes more sense for spammers to target their spam at competitors. The end result is more predictable and even if the attacked sites don't tank, some poor saps are spending hours disavowing all the new spam links they have pointing at their sites. Either way the spammer wins.


06/30/2014 06:43 pm

Durante reminds me of a young sergorney weaver in gorillas in the mist, I don't know why?


06/30/2014 07:29 pm

Google penalties only hurt white hats... A black hat is only $10 away from a clean slate with a new domain and hosting provider.

Cristian Sepulveda

06/30/2014 07:40 pm

Since Penguin 2, Google has serious issues with negSEO. They never asume their errors. I will try this and then i'll post on our blog

Marie Haynes

06/30/2014 08:06 pm

I may not have explained myself fully. In cases where there were 1000 spam links accidentally made by a junior employee, I'm not saying that those links are the cause of the penalty. Rather, those links are the ones that are making the site owners think that they're being negative SEO'd. Here's an example. We removed a manual penalty from a site and that site now does monthly backlink audits and disavows. They were noticing spammy directory links coming every month and they said, "We're not doing ANY link building! These links have to be coming from our competitor trying to negative SEO us!" We were able to track down the source of these links. It turns out that the company itself had paid for a directory submission service many months ago that would continue to produce new links each month. In some cases, what people think is negative SEO is actually the result of a hacking. If you suddenly see links pointing to your site with keywords like "viagra" or "payday loans" then this is not negative SEO. This is someone who has likely created hidden pages on your site and is trying to rank them and then redirect them to their sites. I'm not saying that sites don't get attacked by negative SEO. I'm sure it happens. But, I think that a lot of the time when people are thinking they're being negative SEO'd they're not.

google-used-to-be good

06/30/2014 08:32 pm

A lot of people are confused by what negative SEO really looks like and assume they have it when they see a pile of crap in their link profile. These people are web site owners trying to earn a crust and they get labeled as spammers. Google themselves advertise these spam services via adwords. Many of the spamming service providers mislead honest businesses by showing google certified badges and skewing the relationship between SEO certified and adwords certified. They mislead to deceive. So joe public buys some seo and ends up with a load of spam. You say the links were not responsible for the penalty, how do you know that? If like you say, google just ignores them, so why the need to disavow? Do you see how that is contradictory?


06/30/2014 09:11 pm

That's true, Durante is a spammer ;)


07/01/2014 06:11 am

Hi Barry It was me who tweeted you about the 301 - thanks so much for bringing it up in the Hangout. I have no doubt this was a neg SEO attack, I had no connection to the penalised domain. It has 12,081 backlinks - all pure spam - and was #1 for 'payday loans' for several weeks before being taken down. Since the Panda update my own website has been performing really well, which is why I believe they targeted me. Both our sites are in the payday niche. Since the 301 was implemented I have lost about 10% of my traffic, however I cannot say for certain it was because of the 301 or just a slower traffic week - serp positions didn't seem to vary too much with the exception of a couple of keywords. I have now successfully tracked down the people responsible and had the 301 removed (it now points to Google). The redirect was on for about a week so I hope I have avoided any potential issues now. There needs to be a lot more support and resources out there for people experiencing this type of issue, very little information on the web about it.


07/01/2014 10:54 am

Before you call other people spammers, please explain why you promote "cheap Twitter followers", "Facebook likes", "payday loans", porn, and crazy quack medical remedies: I think the reasons for your behavior are becoming clear.

yo yo dine

07/01/2014 11:50 am

@rustybrick:disqus Why your comment showing (0) ?

Barry Schwartz

07/01/2014 11:51 am

Cron job died, need to reboot it. Part of how I set it up

yo yo dine

07/01/2014 11:54 am

I see.Good luck.

Seo Specialists India

07/01/2014 12:32 pm

appreciate "simply disavow Google"

Yo Mamma

07/01/2014 02:34 pm

My twitter account is hacked and I don't use it but to login to disqus and could care less if the POPE spams it with pedophilia content. All that is 'clear' is that JAMES, STEVENLOCKS, ETHALON and DURANT suck G$$GLE's d*ck

Marie Haynes

07/01/2014 05:37 pm

I'm pretty sure those links were not responsible for the penalty because the client had other links that were very obviously made by them and this is what would have gotten them the manual review. John Mueller mentioned something before about how they look at things like how long a site has been making unnatural links to help determine whether it's an attack or self made. So, the links responsible for the penalty were most definitely widescale guest posting, microsite creation and directory submissions that had been going on for years. I know what you're saying about the contradiction. But, I think that when John responds to questions like this he is saying, " don't have to worry about the attacks. Google is really good at knowing that it's an attack and 99.9% of the time we recognize this." (I'm making up the 99.9% number.) "But, if you want to be absolutely certain there's no harm in disavowing."

blog comments powered by Disqus