The amount of emails I get pointing to a large or small site getting penalized is somewhat insane. There is often a spike in these emails after I cover a penalty on Search Engine Land or here. It is a bit overwhelming at times and making judgement calls on what to and what not to cover is often hard.
This is why Danny Sullivan wrote, Open Letter: Why Search Engine Land Will & Won’t Cover Someone Being Penalized By Google.
In short, we likely won't be covering the vast majority of penalties at Search Engine Land. Why? As Danny summed up, Google penalties are not always and most often not, newsworthy. Why? Because sites, both large and small, are penalized every day by Google. Of course, some of the circumstances within some penalties might be worth covering. But most cases are not.
That being said, it would make our lives easier to report on penalties if Google would confirm them with us or give ways for us to validate if a site is indeed penalized. Danny wrote:
Google: You need to publicly report if you’ve hit a site with a penalty....Why shouldn’t searchers and consumers know if a particular publisher has a bad record with you? Why shouldn’t regulators and others, who might be concerned you’re abusing your dominant power, be able to review actions easily?....Open up. Find a way so that people can definitively know if you’ve acted against a site or not."
There are many reasons why Google wouldn't want to do this. (1) Legal issues, (2) It is a tremendous amount of work, (3) there can be lots of financial reasons not to do this. Plus much more.
But at the same time, it would let a company wrongly accused of being penalized prove they are not. It would let you differentiate between penalties and core algorithm changes.
I would love a way to look up if a site is penalized, it would make my life a lot easier. But what do you think?
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.