58% Say Google's Penalties Are Immoral

Jun 5, 2014 • 8:18 am | comments (40) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Google Dr EvilIn May, we wrote twice about the ethics of Google penalties and covered the debate around that, asking you to vote and let us know if you think Google penalties are unethical or immoral.

We have over 200 responses now, I am actually surprised by the lack of votes, but I'll share them with you anyway.

58% of you said you do think the penalties issued by Google are unethical or immoral. 34% said you do not think they are unethical or immoral. Finally, 8% said you are unsure if they are or are not.

Here is the pie chart:

Google's Penalties Are Immoral Results

Forum discussion continued at Google+, Google+ and Twitter.

This post was scheduled to be posted today but was written at an earlier point in time. The author is not around on June 4th or 5th to respond to comments.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: June 4, 2014


Dave Fogel

06/05/2014 12:36 pm

I don't think they are immoral, but Google needs a better way of helping people remove the penalties in a timely manner. It shouldn't take 5 months to get a penalty lifted, or a year to get an algorithmic penalty lifted. If they want to penalize you for doing wrong.. fine, but give us a fair chance to fix it.


06/05/2014 12:47 pm

The reason why i find Google Penalties are immoral because its not uniformed. We often see our competitors doing the same thing and they haven't got a penalty. Its not a leveled playing field. Even after submitted spam reports, they are aren't being affected. Sometimes we can assume, they might have disavowed the domains, but their spammy techniques is still the same for getting new links. It should be leveled.


06/05/2014 02:10 pm

Penalties applied unevenly (big brands having penalties lifted in just a couple weeks when small businesses keep trying for years), the birth of negative seo, link removal tasks assigned to penalized webmasters, etc. are some of the reasons why Google's penalties are immoral. If a competing company slashed your delivery trucks tires, it would be investigated by authorities and the criminal brought to justice. But if someone sends thousands of spam links to your site and hurts your search positions, possibly putting you out of business, it's perfectly fine in Google's eyes. Google can't be transparent enough to overcome the problems surrounding their penalties because Google itself has financial stakes in many industries where penalties are given out. Because of their dominant position in the search market, and their financial stakes in many other Google owned/invested/partner companies, Google needs to be regulated. Only through regulations can a fair and impartial penalty appeal process eventually be developed. As it is now, Google is the enforcer, judge, jury and parole board in cases of penalties. Giving this amount of power to determine who can and can't survive online, especially within industries that Google has invested in, business owners have a right to demand a government regulated/sponsored appellate process. Restoring consumer choice and a fair marketplace begins with regulating the Google penalties that are heavy handed on small businesses while their large corporate competitors get a slap on the wrist for employing even more sophisticated types of link schemes (multi-million dollar link purchases, extensive/exclusive link networks, etc.).

Durant Imboden

06/05/2014 02:22 pm

I wonder what result you'd get if you surveyed users with the question, "Is it immoral for businesses to violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines so they can make more money?"


06/05/2014 02:23 pm

Regulation is not the answer. This is a company not a public service. If you violate the Google rules it is their prerogative to do what they want. Do I like that the enforcement of the rules changes? No of course not but is called adapting.

Mike Friedman

06/05/2014 02:30 pm

And 100% of those 58% own sites that were penalized.


06/05/2014 02:39 pm

When a company can affect the GDP of a nation it is time for regulation. This is not some small mom and op that has no influence, this is a mega monster with far too much power for one company. They should be regulated as they are in Europe and the US should benefit from the same protections that the EU are insisting on. Just because the US is weak willed on the matter does not make googles abuse of power right.

Nick Ker

06/05/2014 02:58 pm

And a large number of those probably voted more than once.


06/05/2014 03:00 pm

You call it abuse of power. I call it being a successful business. Now I agree there are problems with the system and what money can by like lobbyist but that doesn't mean more government will fix anything.

F1 Steve

06/05/2014 03:22 pm

And the 34% who voted no are from Mountain View, Durant, a company shill or benefited from a competitor receiving a hit!

Andrew Girdwood

06/05/2014 03:40 pm

It's a crazy world where SEOs believe Google has some sort of obligation to protect spam and spammers.

Business Insider

06/05/2014 04:16 pm

73.6% of statistic are made up

Goes nowhere

06/05/2014 04:51 pm

Depends. Sometime it is moral and sometime it is immoral (vivint case). @ Durant's wonder: Sometime it is moral and ok while other times not. If someone has actually a better product that can actually help the people around the world, there is nothing wrong with violating google guidelines. If you are trying to scam it isnt moral and ethical. Here is the truth tho: Google can do whatever the ... they can and website owners can also do whatever the .... they want. Google cant call owners scammers and owners cant say google immoral.


06/05/2014 05:13 pm

What! Google shareholders would never!


06/05/2014 05:15 pm

Is it immoral for someone else to tell you who and when you can link to something on the world wide web and to financially punish you if you don't comply? Is it immoral for someone to punish you for something someone else did? like linking to your website?


06/05/2014 05:21 pm

I got hit hard. No black-hat link building at all, just didn't pay attention to my site's forum which got spammed for a long time. I don't care if it's immoral or unethical, because it's simply painful. The worst thing that you don't exactly know what is wrong and what to change, Google doesn't give you any clue.


06/05/2014 05:24 pm

Google currently punishes the recipients of spam backlinks. The sites that get disavowed do not currently get punished...So technically Google is protecting the spammers and punishing the spammed... And no they aren't always the same people. This continues the pattern that Google punishments affect white hats mostly and are typically irrelevant to blackhats who never had a long term investment in mind to begin with.

Durant Imboden

06/05/2014 05:25 pm

No one is entitled to free traffic from any site (including search engines). You're free to link wherever and however you like, just as the other sites (including search engines) are free to link wherever and however they like.


06/05/2014 05:29 pm

You are confused. Google is responsible for hurting lots of businesses by cutting off their traffic. You are right that they weren't obligated. They still did it and they are still responsible for it happening... the QUESTION was is it moral?

Durant Imboden

06/05/2014 05:37 pm

So, Steve, whom are you shilling for? Since you post under a nickname, why shouldn't we assume that (unlike me) you're on someone's payroll?

Durant Imboden

06/05/2014 05:38 pm

It was far more "moral" than the actions that got the sites penalized in the first place.


06/05/2014 05:44 pm

bullshit... you wrongly assume that everyone who is penalized caused it.

F1 Steve

06/05/2014 05:51 pm

Why shouldn't we (the fan boys) assume that (like you) i am also shilling for someone? Well sir, 99.9% of my posts revolve around ragging on you, which I would happily do for free. If you think someone would pay to have me anti shill your shilling self you may have delusions of grandeur!!

Durant Imboden

06/05/2014 06:12 pm

Sure, everyone who's been penalized is as pure as the driven snow. Google just punishes people to be mean, right?

F1 Steve

06/05/2014 06:16 pm

It entirely possible Durant Imboden is a shill for Bing or another search engine as his narrow minded "defend everything Google” attitude continues to perpetuate resentment to Google across the online community. It’s also possible he is just a “positive troll” as he clearly loves the reaction he receives. Of course he could also just be mentally unstable and becoming a caricature of himself was just the end goal, in which case Durant I salute you, mission accomplished!!!


06/05/2014 06:33 pm

Actually Google only punishes white hats... innocent, guilty, mistaken, or victimized... A black hat is only $10 away from a penalty free existence doesn't care about google's guidelines or punishments because they don't affect them. The punishments for black hat activity only hurt someone with white hat interests.


06/05/2014 06:45 pm

Read David Beart's comment. A LOT of people are in that boat. And NO they didn't all do it themselves. http://www.seroundtable.com/google-negative-seo-easy-18655.html

Mark Warner

06/05/2014 07:45 pm

I respect you Durant. If I was you, I would not respond as often to the comment threads here.

Yo Mamma

06/05/2014 11:44 pm

Google is like sour milk and the entire world, yes world is really sick of it. There is a huge shit hole and Google is pulling all Americans down with it

Yo Mamma

06/05/2014 11:45 pm

I called you on your phone you silly man and you sounded like a real snot

Yo Mamma

06/05/2014 11:46 pm

So, durant, got a blow job from Larry, Serge or Matt today?

Todd Shimkus

06/06/2014 12:13 am

Ask 200 SEOs if they are having more trouble than ever gaming Google... What if you asked real end-users rather than the people that make their living trying to keep one step ahead of the next algo change?

Andrew Girdwood

06/06/2014 10:26 am

Google have it correct then. Punish or cancel the effect of poor quality links to sites. Do not punish the sites where those links are coming from. If some spammer runs amok in the comments on SERoundtable that does not mean SERoundtable is a spam site. SERoundtable should not be punished.


06/06/2014 10:51 am

Google is unethical. If you start a brick and mortar business, the rules and laws are available and apply to everyone. If you break them, intentionally or unintentionally, you will eventually know what law or rule you broke through some entity (ie: city hall, Sec. of State, SEC, court, police). If you break Google's rules, intentionally or unintentionally, you will never know exactly what you did and your income will NEVER be the same because of their massive internet market share. Also, large websites are fast-tracked and receive direct communication with Google (ie: RapGenius.com) to bring their sites back into compliance with Google's standards. While smaller sites are left to whither and die. Google -- "Don't Be Evil". Give me a break. Their organization perpetuates class warfare online by bailing out bigger sites and allowing the smaller sites to re-enter ICANN's pool of available domains for the next schmuck to register and repeat the process. I hate big government to the core, but government regulation is the only way to level the playing field because Google refuses to do so. All we get is Google's version of Iraq's Baghdad Bob...Matt Cutts.


06/06/2014 12:25 pm

In 58% most of them are those who got penalized by Google...


06/06/2014 02:07 pm

The only ones that seem to ever have a problem with Google are the ones that are either riding the line or are blatantly doing things they know are wrong and got caught. Google is a business like any other. They have their own rules and regulations that run their company. The way they run their company should in no way have an impact on how you run your company. In doing SEO for a number of years, I have learned a few things about SOME people. Those who have a sound business plan and integrity very rarely are worried about what Google is doing. The practices that we have in place to increase rank and build links are proper and sound and have never been penalized. On the other hand, those clients who are looking to "take over the world" and are always pushing for more, more, more are the ones who are getting hurt. Even with the practices that we have in place, some clients want it now and will do and are doing things that we don't know about, and when we do find out 9 times out of 10 then deny it. So I don't think that Google is doing anything wrong in the way they run their business. If their choices are affecting you and your clients, I would suggest looking in the mirror and asking yourself what it is that you are not doing, or are doing incorrectly to be affected.

Yo Mamma

06/06/2014 03:12 pm

We won't know if we're accessing the Internet or Google and for all practical purposes it won't matter. Google will become our phone company, our cable company, our stereo system and our digital video recorder. Soon we won't be able to live without Google, which will have marginalized the ISPs and assumed most of the market capitalization of all the service providers it has undermined -- about $1 trillion in all -- which places today's $500 Google share price about eight times too low.http://www.theguardian.com/technology/blog/2007/jan/20/googlesmaster Written 2007 "Google's master plan to take over the world" IMO there is nothing unethical or immoral in a publicly traded company from wanting and in fact achieving global authority


06/07/2014 03:33 am

You're describing a business monopoly. Bell System "Ma Bell" tried to monopolize one industry, the telephony industry. They were broken up. Google is Ma Bell times 50.

Mike Friedman

06/08/2014 12:09 pm

The telephone lines are a public utility. A search engine is not. Big difference.

Frank Fallo

07/22/2014 07:34 pm

Google Ad-words is service that you pay for. It is not free. They have to approve your ad before it gets placed. They approved my ad. According to them I accidentally violated one of their terms with one of my web sites. I could not resolve the issue with the Google representative on the phone to their satisfaction. I removed the site entirely from the internet as I was using Ad-words for other sites that I managed. My account was suspended "for life". Sounds pretty permanent. I understand their rights, and that I need to abide by their policies. I do not understand however why I am personally banned for a violation even though I went as far as removing the offending site. By the way if you want to get a good laugh. The reason they told me that I was suspended was as follows. I had a health information web site. On the site I stated in one of my articles that proper diet and exercise may lead to better health. They said that my site "gave people a sense of false hope".

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