Google: No Whitelist For Search Algorithms

Mar 3, 2011 • 8:56 am | comments (2) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google white list algorithmAbout six weeks ago, we asked if there is such a thing as a Google Whitelist or not.

There were some sites that claimed they were whitelisted by Google after a penalty. When Google's Matt Cutts was asked about this on Twitter, he responded, "typically I try to avoid commenting on legal complaints on Twitter. I'm weird that way, I know." So we do not have official word on that, or do we?

JohnMu from Google wrote yesterday in a Google Webmaster Help forum thread that they "generally don't have a white-list for our algorithms, but our algorithms are regularly updated."

Of course, John used the word "generally," which can be taken to mean they sometimes do whitelist sites or that some people might confuse what a "whitelist" means, at least the definition. Example of confusion? As Allistar commented, maybe a whitelist is considered a removal of a manual penalty, which is likely not considered a "whitelist" or "blacklist" by Google's definition.

Other evidence of Google not whitelisting? Maybe from Danny Sullivan's story from yesterday on the farmer update, where he says, "There's no "whitelist" that people are being put on, nor is there some type of "blacklist" that the Farmer Update went after."

What do I think?

I do not think there is a whitelist for Google's search algorithm. I believe there are tweaks Google makes after seeing specific sites hit by updates that should not have been, but those are attempts to fix the algorithm, not whitelist one specific site.

What do you think? Does Google have a whitelist or even a blacklist?

Forum discussion at Google Webmastewr Help.

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03/03/2011 03:23 pm

I suspect that the terms are the misleading feature of the conversation. Blacklist, and conversely Whitelist brings forth images of a file containing a list of URLs that Google checks off like Santa checking his list of Naughty or Nice kids. While I doubt such a file exists (though I'm sure it could be generated) I think its clear that Google have the ability to treat individual domains differently to all others, meaning either an exception rule to a general algorithm (which would constitute a whitelist) or a change to the general algorithm that is focussed on a such a specific set of responses that only one or two sites are affected by it. Can anyone propose an experiment that could determine which case is more true? Rich

Michael Martinez

03/03/2011 05:47 pm

I think it's interesting that they are not flat out denying the *possible* existence of whitelists, which it seems to me they used to do. John's comment, of course, could also be construed as meaning, "I (John) don't personally know of any whitelists but it's a big company so I'll leave room for doubt just in case...." Maybe he was just trying to use soft language to deflect a potential point of debate.

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