Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished?

by Donna Fontenot January 24th, 2008 

I dumped text link ads. I nofollowed paid links. I javascripted links that might be mistaken for paid links. I canceled my sponsored review accounts. I switched to a different method of monetization (Scratchback) that serves Google-friendly, nofollowed links. (And btw, Google, that put a huge dent in my revenue, just so you know). Finally, after I cleaned up everything that might possibly make you hate me, I filed a reconsideration request about 5 weeks ago.

And I did all that for...what? Did you give me my PR back? No, you did not. Did you even communicate with me to tell me that you still think I'm naughty for some unknown reason? No, you did not. You simply did nothing. Others knelt down to you and you promptly rewarded them by giving them their PR back. Why have I not been awarded the same mercy? Did I miss something? Did I fail to nofollow something that you felt should be nofollowed? Or do you just dislike SEO Scoop and want me to forever grovel in my pitiful PR-ness?

In all fairness, it really doesn't matter what PR SEO Scoop has. It is meaningless and valueless. Still, I can't help but feel as though I've been slighted or overlooked, whilst all the other poor souls who have begged forgiveness have been noticed and forgiven? Why not me? Just curious, Matt...

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124 Responses to “Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished?”

  1. Yeah, well, when you get an answer to this question, can you please ask them why the same thing has happened to me?

    I foolishly relied on my TLA income to pay my authors. Now my site is barely breaking even. :(

  2. heh I enjoy the little trackback/referrer nudge there at the end.

    The fact is though, SEOs have given Google the power in our relationship.
    When it started, we were the ones holding the proverbial pimp cane, smacking Google when it misbehaved. They were profiting off of OUR content. And beyond that, we were making the web crawlable for THEM. If we didn't do our jobs, the accuracy of it went to hell.

    Well, you're seeing the effect of the complete 180 of that position.
    Why would Google care about SEOs anymore? Their algo got good enough it can survive without us, no matter how legitimate the claim, we'd be laughed out of any court we went into complaining they copyright our content without permission, and we are 100% at your mercy.

    Matt Cutts is the only remaining token that says Google gives a flying rats hindquarters about the SEO community. We're just not a priority anymore.

  3. If the Googlers were doing THEIR jobs, they wouldn't be running around the Web spouting nonsense about "links are votes and endorsements" (which is absolutely false) and they wouldn't be posting bogus defintions of doorway pages on their site and they wouldn't be selling undisclosed paid links on their site ("You should use nofollow tags on paid links" — they should have added "even though we won't use nofollow on OUR paid links").

    Google needs to focus on promoing the most relevent listings to the top of their search results. They need to stop their propaganda campaign about paid links.

    Paid links are not the reason why Google's search results suck.

  4. rmccarley says:

    Paid links are not the reason why Google’s search results suck.

    But they are the reason Google can afford its own 747 "party plane" and rent space on NASA'a turf.

  5. Christine says:

    Hear, hear!
    I'm not even an SEO, my sites not about SEO and I never sold a link in my life. My site must be quite good because it had a PR7 for 3 years – so I nofollowed any link they could possibly think was a "sold" link etc. etc. etc.

    Did I get my PR back? nooooo….
    (in fairness though my rankings have not changed and traffic is up +++) so maybe I should not say anything.

  6. Matt Cutts says:

    In general you want to go with the reconsideration request approach rather than invoking me (that's not scalable :), but since you submitted a request I'm happy to check on the status of the site in the reconsideration queue.

  7. Matt Cutts says:

    P.S. Wendy, I'll check on yours at the same time. Christine, you didn't leave your site name so there's no way to tell which site you're referring to.

  8. I… uh… wow, thanks Matt. ūüėÄ

  9. Matt Cutts says:

    P.P.S. Donna, I'm guessing your disclaimer might have been an issue; you still say "This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation… The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog…"

    I'd check if the disclosure policy you have is accurate at this point.

  10. graywolf says:

    Some folks might not have noticed this a confirmation Google is indeed "manipulating" page rank in instances where it thinks links have been "sold"

  11. DazzlinDonna says:

    Ok, I've added a clarification to the disclaimer. I still accept advertising (via scratchback), etc., but the links are google-friendly now. That good enough? I mean, the disclaimer was still true…it just didn't add the nofollow bit.

  12. status_girl says:

    Hi Donna. Not much to add here except a) I think its shitty what happened to your site, b) I think it's cool that Matt is here and willing to help and c) I hope everything gets cleared up.

    I'm also pondering what graywolf said. It makes perfect sense.

  13. Douglas Karr says:


    Can Google answer why it's okay to sell advertising based on our content in Google's index? If you want people to stop selling links – then Google should compensate people for the value they have brought to Google. That would stop people from having to sell links on their own sites – like the person above that can no longer break even.

    I really do believe what Google is doing IS 'evil'.

    And how about the A-list that have business arrangements (passive income) with the companies they link to. Are they punished? Nope. In fact, some of them are on a very cozy basis with your blog. I especially like the ones with a PR6 that disguise their advertising links (without nofollow).

    It's wrong. You're picking on the little guy. You're picking on the guys that don't know how to usurp the system.

    I can point to more if you'd like… Oh wait.. that's right, they have a 'powered by Google' so we won't pick on them.

  14. Matt Cutts says:

    Hey Donna, I chatted by email with the person who looked at your reconsideration request when you submitted it. They pointed out e.g.
    where you're still flowing PageRank in a paid post (you mention in the post that it's a sponsored post).

  15. DazzlinDonna says:

    See that's why this kind of thing is so hard to deal with. I missed one. Oy. I found all but one…seems like I could have been trusted enough to say, hey, I see you tried hard, and all, but you missed one. Instead, it's just assumed that I meant to miss it? Well, anyway, I've condomized it now. Thanks for letting me know.

  16. Matt Cutts says:

    @graywolf, we've said as much on our official Google webmaster blog ("Google officially confirmed to Search Engine Land that we were taking stronger action on this issue, including decreasing the toolbar PageRank of sites selling links that pass PageRank").

  17. Matt Cutts says:

    Thanks, Donna. Before I go back to the person doing the reconsideration request, I also noticed this one:

    "when I was first approached about a sponsored post for a new revenue stream for publishers that involved insurance, mortgages, etc., my first inclination was to turn it down. However, I decided to accept it after all for two reasons. … So here it is. SureHits Ad Network provides publishers with a revenue stream directed at the following markets:

    Auto insurance, health insurance, home insurance, life insurance, motorcycle insurance, small business insurance, home purchase, refinance, home equity, and auto finance."

  18. graywolf says:

    @matt my bad then I missed that one on SEL

    but I still think you guys have overstepped your bounds …

  19. DazzlinDonna says:

    Geez, I should have paid you to find 'em for me Matt. I'm obviously not very good at it. That's one's taken care of now too.

  20. […] I admire you. You sure do have some stamina, the way you've had them Louisiana lips of yours puckered so firmly to Google's evil ass this long. I dumped text link ads. I nofollowed paid links. I javascripted links that might be […]

  21. Matt Cutts says:

    Happy to try to help, Donna. The people that process reconsideration requests are some of the most skilled people on the webspam team, so it's good to do a full review before submitting a site for reconsideration, especially with something like paid posts.

    I'm not sure whether it will make it through the reconsideration queue tomorrow, but I expect the reconsideration request will be processed in the next few days.

  22. Robin Good says:


    I am absolutely amazed at the fact that here I find a kind of back garden where there is Matt Cutts giving specific feedback and supposedly checking on penalized web sites while sharing the specifics of why they have been penalized.

    I have a site since 2000 with over 5 years of PR7 that was wiped to PR4 last August. I have done everything in my power to attend Google expectations, including complete cleanup of anything that could have been even barely suspicious, have eliminated and no-followed my own links to my other sites, have submitted re-inclusion request but I didn't have any feedback. Nothing.

    Now, I am not based in the US, I am not friends with Matt Cutts or any of the SEO guys that often write about him, but I am getting seriously disappointed by Google stance and actions on this front.

    If you help individuals like Donna understand what's wrong with her site you should do this with everyone who gently ask. Otherwise this is more than unfair.

    The more time goes by the less I am proud of this relationship where I feel that the little transparency and support is never corresponded and the little help I ask is given out to others even when I have asked and awaited much longer the same answers.

    How can Google keep my own trust and daily investments if it treats me like this?

    I am really disappointed by what I am seeing.

  23. Sam I Am says:

    So let me get this straight. You gave up the MAJORITY of your income just to get back a few px of green in the toolbar that you acknowledge is worthless when it comes to rankings? Interesting! I assume this is not your money site and it's a vanity thing or else this just makes no sense whatsoever.

    Matt, did you really have an issue with the disclaimer? That comment is surely going to be dug up by a lawyer at some stage. I'm not seeing a similar disclaimer on Google?! I mean "The compensation received may influence the advertising content" is EXACTLY *letter by letter* what Google Adsense (that thing that pays everyone's salaries at G) does. Pay more and it influences the advertising content on Google too. Not only that, but I don't see how Google forking over money to politicians/lobby groups – just a fancy American way to say bribing – to get their votes on things like the Doubleclick case constitutes any difference in practice?

  24. […] to an interesting situation that I was alerted of in twitter, saw in Sphinn, and then saw unfold on Dazzlin Donna¬ís take on SEO news, tips and theories SEO Scoop Blog. If you take the time to read Donna's post you'll see that she was caught up in the paid […]

  25. […] I came across a post from Dazzlin Donna entitled Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished, there are several points in that post worth noting and discussing in more […]

  26. Bruno says:

    Matt, i think you should say your Web Spam Team to start with Google, with Google partners sites, with Yahoo, MSN and first top 10000 sites by Alexa. They all have atleast 1 paid link somewhere. Not with sites that earn 200$ per month., that's just evil.

  27. Loretta says:

    So, Matt, tell us when is Google going to stop playing playground bully and play nice again? The internet used to be a free and happy place where people could earn a living, then Google decided that wasn't good enough.

  28. gabs says:

    If the links arn't paid for but "look" paid for and just go to your own projects then can you submit whois info in the reconsideration request ?

    Also lets say more than 10 sites you own got hit ūüėČ best plan is submit a reconsideration request for each ?

  29. […] – I have seen this poster before -methinks!! This might help the topic to branch out a little Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished? | SEO Scoop __________________ We have a record Company […]

  30. 5ubliminal says:

    Way to go @Matt!
    Wipe out all Paid Reviews with linkjuice flow.
    A lot of cr4ppy services get advertised this way and cost (Evian drinkers – N.A.I.V.E.) people money with no ROI. At least let's keep those "burned" people within the subscriber list of the blogs with the reviews and not to everyone else due to the high rankings of cr4ppy services in search engines.

    Regards and keep it up!

    PS: I h8 the very concept of paid reviews.

  31. Christine says:

    I was going to keep my mouth shut but now I'm getting a bit tired of the Matt bashing – Matt was cool enough to come here and help Donna get her PR back. So even if we don't all agree with the links/paid links/losr PR saga, I honestly don't think THIS is the place to rant about it. I want to come here in two weeks time and see Donna's greenie's back to where they should be – not totally gone because we managed to totally pee them off ovewr at the big G.

    Hush now puhleeeeze!!

  32. Pops says:

    Christine: OK, so Matt Cutts will come to Donna's site and offer advice. In case you haven't figured it out Donna is highly respected and well known in the search community. And Matt Cutts comes here and offers her help. This makes him a good guy? I guess it does if you're on his radar screen but what about the thousands of innocent webmasters who aren't. If Donna can't figure this out without the help of Google's lapdog and a couple of their engineers, what chance do the rest of us have.

    So sorry, Christine, Google doesn't give a tinker's d*mn about you, me OR Donna except when it looks like they can get some good PR (public relations) out of it.

  33. Rich says:

    Wow! Sorry Christine – but I have to say this is the healthiest discussion I've seen on this topic for a long while – if not ever.

    And Matt, thanks for engaging us on this topic – you truely do represent the side of Google that we'd all like to see more of, once again.

    I think we're all on the same page here, but please – if Google wants to make it's own rules – let it. Surely it's not the ultimate answer to Search?

    I mean – these are early days.

  34. Dave Dugdale says:

    Donna sorry to hear about all this that you are going through. But on the other hand it is nice you are getting special treatment from Matt because you have a top SEO blog.

    I am sure Matt is using you to set an example for the rest of the SEO's.

    Perhaps you have bad karma right now because you are moving from Coldfusion to PHP. :)

  35. Matt Cutts says:

    Sam I am, I mentioned the disclaimer because I noticed it before I talked to the reconsideration person and thought that might have been an issue. After talking to the reconsideration person, I knew that there were still paid posts on the site, so I came back to give Donna more information.

    Robin Good, there were two main reasons I wanted to participate in this thread. First, it's important for people to know that we take reconsideration requests seriously; reading Donna's post, you might come away with the impression that the requests are ignored or just fall on the floor, and that's not the case at all. Second, the information that I gave to Donna can be helpful for other people who are considering submitting a reconsideration request.

    For example, now Wendy from the first comment has a lot more information about how Google views a reconsideration request for paid posts/links. She can go back and ask "Do I want to change that eBay arbitrage post for Salehoo, or the Babychums post, or the one for the home-based magazine so that the paid posts don't flow PageRank?" She can ask herself that without me explaining why her reconsideration request wasn't successful, and based on this comment thread she'll have more information to make her choice.

    In your case, your reconsideration requests look like they came in August at a point when your site had no penalties. It was only a couple weeks later (in an unrelated matter) that we were checking on a particular signature that we looked at your site. So I can give the general advice of "If you've removed any/all paid links from your site and it's been 4-5 months since the last reconsideration request you did, it doesn't hurt to do another one." That would apply to your site, but also as general advice to other people's sites as well.

    Hope that helps,

  36. Yeah, when you pointed out the ones that Donna missed, I realized that I had a few back there as well. But that doesn't explain the page rank loss on all of my internal pages in /blog/, does it?

    Additionally, there is a blog at /craft-boom/ that went down to a PR of 0, but we have never sold a review over there. We had an advertiser that paid for a certain amount of banner impressions, and because the service was relevant to the audience, the author wrote up a review anyway. That wasn't solicited nor paid for by that advertiser. I know it is slippery ground, but it was not a paid review in any way.

    I think this is why this is touching such a nerve with people (myself included). It's hard to draw a line between advertising and editorial content sometimes, but I assure you, I take relevant, quality advertising seriously, and I take unbiased, valuable content seriously as well. I turn away more advertisers than I take on (even for banner ads run through my adserver). And if I think something is valuable for our audience, we will write about it.

    Thank you for the feedback and help, Matt.

  37. Bruno says:

    Matt, isn't easier to tell us more about paid links then give people tips how to send reinclusion request after you slap them with something?

  38. Matt Cutts says:

    Bruno, I wanted to make sure that people knew that submitting a reconsideration request while your site still has paid posts that pass PageRank can be a reason why the reconsideration request doesn't get approved.

  39. Robin Good says:


    I am finally pleased to have someone from Google addressing my issue. Thanks, from the heart.

    For everyone's knowledge: I submitted a reconsideration request in August as Google had taken Master New completely out of the search results. The story is public and costed me over 10,000 (some more to Google itself). – it may not have been right to do it but magically after a week I was back in.

    In September then Google came down again penalizing the same site by lowering all my sites PR from 7 to 4 or from 6 to 4. As I had already cleaned up anything that was possibly wrong and even made it public I have been baffled ever since at what is one to do when, nonetheless serious and repeated efforts to produce very high quality content on a daily basis for multiple years, one is penalized with no way of knowing what to correct or do.

    Now, I couldn't believe my eyes seeing your responses and genuine desire to help out our friends here, but the simultaneous feeling that someone here was being helped on a less than fair or orderly way rose very strong in me.

    People like me are more than willing to provide a perfect platform for Google and its advertising strategy, and I have tangibly proven this, but if I am to be treated like a participant in a billion dollar lottery because there are too many players to be fair for everyone, and I am left to be pleading for help when it would be both of our interest to be clear with each other, I really lose all my love, motivation and passion and start seriously to evaluate better and more profitable ways.

    I know I am not alone.

    2008 will positively mark, as I have already written, a major re-evaluation of Google relevance in many a business strategy as well as attent re-evaluation of what it means to in terms of economic risks to invest so much in a partner that isn't there when you need it, or that can stab you the moment you get to look too much the other way.

    I wish that this situation could be improved and that Google took the necessary steps to avoid this.

    Frankly I have lost much confidence that this will happen but will positively take the steps and recommendations made here above as the best I can work with.

    Who works so hard for you Google, shouldn't be treated this way.

  40. PS – all NoFollowed now.

  41. Matt Cutts says:

    Good to know, Wendy. I'll pass that on.

  42. Robin Good says:

    Matt, just to be fair and to see whether this has any effect I have just resubmitted a reconsideration request as you have kindly suggested.

  43. […] those of you who have missed the stories behind Google making Donna Fontenot jump through hoops and taking her prisoner of war, where's a brief rundown. At one time Donna accepted money for […]

  44. chantal says:

    pls Matt, can you take a look at my site pls? (under my nickname)

    I have a pagerank penalty (thats not that bad), but also a penalty -50

    I have changed my website to a article directory
    al links are nofollowed now.


  45. Champi says:

    I like the fact that matt takes the time to respond here.. things can go wrong.. sometimes a reconsideration is not well processed. But everyone sold in the past, did boost others for money. Can happen. You make mistakes.. you get punished. After that, simply wait like anyone else…


  46. Pops says:

    But wouldn't it be nice if Google responded to people in some way. Even an auto-generated email, "your request has been denied" would tell people more than silence.

  47. I have to say that getting a 'request has been denied' would have helped tremendously, because I could have asked a few friends for help and they very likely would have reminded me of or found those old posts.

    The silence made me wonder if it had ever been reviewed at all, and I didn't dig deeper to figure out what I could still have been doing wrong.

  48. Suresh says:

    The comments here are great and useful for anyone. Matt, How does someone who submited a reconsideration request know that the site is being reviewed or not. Not only Reconsideration but I have seen so many people writing their issues with URL's in your little Black book you always carry in the conferences?
    Not only SEO's and search marketers attend the conferences, I have seen business owners who attend the conferences and they all cant be active as we all be in this industry. It might be of great help for those who are not active like us in the SEO world.
    Thank you for your comments with useful information

  49. NejcPass says:

    Interesting article. Well my pag rank is low but I still get lot's of google referrals.

  50. Yaro says:

    Matt – I'm in the same boat as Wendy so let me clarify one thing so I understand –

    Any links in a sponsored review post or sold text link must have no follow to pass the test?

    I also agree with Wendy about receive a "failed test" notice with perhaps a sentence or some dot points to explain why. I've had a request sitting there that I just thought no one had got around to viewing yet, I didn't realize there might be more to be done to my blog.


  51. I hate to harp on the issue, but I would like to point out that Donna, Yaro and myself (and many others) are people that I would consider have advanced level knowledge of SEO and internet marketing.

    If even we can't get a reconsideration request right, I do believe it suggests that a clearer policy is in order. I think it is also clear that we are not here to game the system, and in good faith are working hard to comply with Google's terms.

    I guess that is why Matt is helping us out, but I do think that we are a very small percentage of people who need the help, yet aren't getting it. But maybe that's just the mommy in me coming out, wanting to be sure that everyone is taken care of. =)

  52. We started a network of about 100 business-related blogs in late 2005. Following Google's rules, we built nearly all of them to a PageRank of 6. A couple of weeks ago most of our blogs were suddenly reduced to a PR of zero. No warning. No explanation. Little hope of a speedy response or help figuring out what went wrong.

    We're a small business that is trying, like so many others, to earn its keep by offering a valuable service. Google has made this both easier and harder. Right now we just feel frustrated.

    Needless to say, we're following this conversation closely.

    My best to Donna.

  53. Ouch, Google is located in California, now the Dead Kennedy's "California Uber Alles" is ringing in my head… I wonder why? Shall we raise our arms and salute mein fuhrer ?

    Sounds like an S&M discussion here rather than an SEO discussion. Oh Bondage, Up Yours!

    @Matt Cutts – If the affected bloggers close their eyes, click their heels three times and mutter "There's no place like home", will you grant their wishes for the little emerald bars to reappear or will you just send your flying monkeys after them again ?

  54. DazzlinDonna says:

    UPDATE: little green pixels have returned.

  55. Dave Dugdale says:

    Wow, that was fast! Matt is all powerful.

  56. Christine says:

    Yay Donna!!
    Congrats, I'm very happy for you.

  57. Christine says:

    I have a question for Matt (in case he pops in here again) – If we don't post our website here for you to see and check and solicit you for help, but we have done all the right things (or never did sell links in the first place!!) and we don't submit re-inclusion requests, will we eventually get our PR back through standard google crawls / PR updates etc?

  58. Super-Glad to report that my pixels are back too, but not on /craft-boom/. Perhaps the rest of the community can chime in – would you consider an editorial review of an advertiser's product a paid review, if the advertiser neither requested nor paid for said review?

    Again, it's not about the pixels, I honestly want to know what Google and my peers think on this issue. link to review in question

  59. Allow me to add (as I should have earlier):

    Thank you again Matt. Your help is much appreciated!

  60. DazzlinDonna says:

    I'm certainly thankful as well, Matt. Now everyone, what is the takeaway to be learned here?

    If you choose to render your site Google-friendly (and I won't argue the pros or cons of that decision atm), and then subsequently submit a reconsideration request…

    1. Don't expect to get a reply of any sort.
    2. Don't wait forever. If nothing happens within a few weeks, assume that you missed something. Go back and find whatever you missed and fix it.
    3. Resubmit the request.

    Lesson over. :)

  61. Dave Dugdale says:

    Actually I think the real lesson learn is place Matt's name in the title of your posts so he see it and then work an angle where he needs to defend this spam team to get action.

  62. 5ubliminal says:

    I do believe in the FINGER theory which states:

    "If I give you my finger you take my whole hand!"

    That's what happend here Matt. You should not have posted here but you should have made an inconspicuous post on your blog talking about Reinclusion Requests and how you take them seriously hence provide people with a certain degree of comfort and confidence that their issues are treated seriously. EMail replies with your decisions on those requests would also rock.
    On the other hand, issues like this could be resolved by personal email and not exposing urself to haters and interpretation which always happens in such a discussion.


  63. Matt Cutts says:

    Christine, if the issue was paid links/posts, I would do a reconsideration request.

    chantal and Easton Ellsworth, my advice is to take your questions over to Google's Webmaster Help group. That's the more scalable option that I should have suggested earlier on in the thread. For example, if Easton took his site over to the webmaster help group, someone might say "Hey, lists sponsored reviews flowing PageRank from even within the last week. Maybe that's your issue?" whereas I don't have the chance to look at everyone's site.

    Donna, your points are not bad ones. We've talked seriously about giving feedback from reconsideration requests. The main problem we're worried about is leaking information to the hardcore spammers that would use lots of requests to probe Google for anything that they could exploit.

  64. BG Mahesh says:

    The comments thread was very useful. I guess the original posting got buried by the comments ūüėČ

    My 2 cents,

    – Google should get back with the status of reconsideration.
    – We submitted our sites for reconsideration ( starting early December. No idea what is happening.
    – For users of GWT, I think it would have helped if we had received a message stating we have been penalized for such-an-such reason. Everyone was running in all directions to figure out what went wrong.
    – Learnt about Then we saw we had 2 links that were in bad neighborhood. Immediately deleted it in all pages (atleast we think we have deleted in all pages!)
    – So far no news from Google if we have done our job right

    Webmasters would appreciate if google releases a utility for checking if a link is in bad neighborhood or not.

    I personally feel there is nothing wrong in having sponsored posts "provided" it is relevant to the portal on which it is being hosted. After all the webmaster needs to bring food on the table.

  65. 5ubliminal says:

    @MattCutts: Spammers could not probe your system as common sense and a quick look at those websites could really tell you if those sites are legit or spam. Then a quicklook at backlink profile … and that's it. Sites can be labeled as spam or not and you could chose to whom you send feedback. You don't need AI for this and, as Reinclusion Reqs are human-handled (right?) then they also see those websites.

  66. Yura says:

    This is so sad.

  67. mvandemar says:

    The main problem we’re worried about is leaking information to the hardcore spammers that would use lots of requests to probe Google for anything that they could exploit.

    Matt, see this is where I simply cannot understand where you are coming from, period. How is it possible in your mind to equate the phrase "hardcore spammers" in even the tiniest way whatsoever with people who give a damn about PageRank, or who would waste any energy whatsoever on reinclusion requests?

    I mean… are you kidding?

  68. geri says:

    Wow, I did a one paid post. It got so long to get reviewed and even longer to get paid. So I pulled the Pay Per Post article. However, I had placed their link on about a dozen of older posts that were popular.

    Then I read on a blog somewhere that Google was not happy with this process.They were gone real quick. We didn't get smacked down because we acted early. Since, we don't sell links the problem was eliminated.

    This is another good example of why I blog, almost daily. We consider it part of our continuing education. We are not a big fan of finding things out too late. In this industry things happen daily… If your not blogging or reading daily the advantage goes to your competition.

    Thanks, I really enjoyed this conversation… I would like to write about the reconsideration process. Could you provide a link? Thanks again!

  69. Khabri says:

    I differ from Matt Cutts here.

    Check out They don¬ít have rel=¬Ēnofollow¬Ē and also accept advertising links , yet they continue to rank higher because they break news first, atleast few times a week.

    Google as an Engine has higher weightage for BREAKING NEWS rather than stupid SEO stuff which you guys are taking too serious rather than being fair journalists.

  70. chantal says:

    [quote]chantal and Easton Ellsworth, my advice is to take your questions over to Google’s Webmaster Help group.[/quote]

    Been there, done that… no answer :(

    i just dont get it, i have no more links on my site (followed).
    Google doesn't answer, webmasterhelp same …
    i don't know it anymore :(

    Is it my backlinks? Strange, if i look to my backlinks, many are not made by me. People try to copy my site, steal my content and are now higher in google then the orriginal site (my site).

    Al my content is unique written by myself. 240 articles with 1000words each.
    And websites copiers are now making money with it.

    Sorry for my English, i'm Dutch.
    I give up

    Google is the best place for stealers.

    Sorry, no more respect from me :(

  71. Matt Cutts says:

    Michael, I'm not kidding. Maybe we see a different sample of spammers? Because we still see a lot of activity directed at ways to exploit search engines. You only need to remember the .cn spam from last quarter to realize that there are a whole host of folks who are trying very hard to corrupt the search experience for everyone. Anyway, I just wanted to explain why we haven't given decisions back for reconsideration requests.

  72. Dave Dugdale says:

    I will have to agree with Matt, Google shouldn't play that type of game with the spammers.

  73. Tyler Dewitt says:


    I know this is a bit off topic, but Matt if you could you need to contact me directly at 765-274-6877 or shot me an e-mail using our contact form on our website and I'll reply. I'm having some issues and very displeased on something that happen like i said I don't have an issue with you or anything, but I would like to have a moment to talk with you (So yes its urgent).

    Thanks Matt

  74. Tyler Dewitt says:

    Yes when I said Matt I was referring to Matt Cutts my apology

  75. Matt, thanks for personally responding here – I appreciate your diligence and patience. I'll take my questions to your webmaster help group.

    And thanks again to Donna for providing this space to chat.

  76. DazzlinDonna says:

    I'll probably moderate comments a bit heavily from here on out, in that I think we know all we need to know at this point. Matt's made it pretty clear what the issues are, and what the steps to be taken are. We know what to be looking for if we don't hear back from a reconsideration requet. We know that if all else fails, that we should be seeking help at the webmaster help group.

    So, I think we can wrap this up now. Thanks to everyone for the participation. It was very productive all round.

  77. Gizmo says:

    Wow I wish I could get some kind of answer for my blog. It's almost 4 months old, has plenty of traffic and legit links and comments and was missed in the PR about two weeks after it was brought online. This latest PR put my slightly older blog from a 2 to a 3 which has less traffic than my Gizmo blog. My Gizmo blog (two weeks younger than the other blog) is still a zero despite a few requests for reconsideration. There are no paid links of any type on the site. NO Google violations of any kind. What do I have to do to get a rank? No one at Google will respond and this is very frustrating. It's a good blog. Way more traffic than the blog with a 3. The other day I came across a blog with obvious PPP and paid post banners, many paid posts and generally a spam blog but it had a PR of FIVE!!!!!!

  78. Dave L says:

    First, Google needs to indicate the area causing the site to be penalized if a site owner requests it. They don’t have to share specifics, but they should give an overview, ESPECIALLY when Google has changed its policy and something that was okay yesterday is not ok today. There should be a generic report of some kind available through webmaster tools.

    Second, no one with a clear-cut issue should be left guessing. Did they simply overlook something? Google should make that information available. If it’s a case of borderline violations, or borderline detection methods, Google can be more obscure so that spammers don’t abuse the feedback.

    Third, there are Google AdWords certified professionals, why not Google SERPs reinclusion certified professionals? Google can provide them more advanced tools or have the relevant Google employees interact with them. Part of ongoing certification could be to help an assigned case a few times per year pro bono.

    And when Google changes their policy, they need to provide a single, clear document on the policy, and tools assist in compliance, in ADVANCE. No one should be left interpreting an interpretation of something Matt Cutts said in a video in order to determine details of Google’s policies.

    And last, Google should not provide methods or tools that CAUSE sites to be penalized. Explanation:

    My least read blog (on blogspot) recently lost all Google traffic when I changed the blogspot template. Almost certainly a duplicate content penalty, as I didn’t have any posts sorted by topic before, and now do (and not using any suspicious page elements, etc.) Google traffic dropped to zero within a couple hours of changing the template, and it has remained at zero for weeks since. So Google (probably) killed my Google results by oferring the blogspot template. And pages are still indexed, but sending zero traffic (and no, there was never a zero traffic day before.)

  79. g1smd says:

    It is interesting to see that just one or two paid posts can get you a smackdown… Many people might have assumed you would need to be doing this on a grand scale, and now we all know that is not correct.

  80. Matt Cutts says:

    chantal, you know your own site as well as anyone. When you do a reconsideration request, I would include as much detail as possible. For example, mentioning that as recently as December there were links on pages such as , but that now those links are nofollow'ed or gone, would help when assessing the reconsideration request.

    And with that I'll wind down commenting in this thread. Donna, thanks for starting this thread and keeping the comments productive.

  81. Tyler Dewitt says:

    Matt Cutts,

    I don't even know how you manged to read that language LOL :) , but seriously don't forget to give me a call :)

    thanks Matt

  82. […] Blogger gets Google Page Rank with the help of Matt Cutts […]

  83. […] was just reading this blog post… "Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished?" where Donna asks why her blog, which I presume had its PageRank decreased because it ran […]

  84. Robin Good says:

    Wow, my PageRank is back to 6! – It isn't my original rank (7) but it is tons better than nothing. :-)

    Let me say a couple of things now that I have cooled off and thought about this experience a bit more.

    Matt: thanks for your help. People like me can get very pissed but I understand perfectly you are trying just to help. Thanks for that and for not loosing your cool. That is valuable.

    I gather that if I have now been returned to a 6 (and not my original 7) there must be still something bothering you guys.
    Is this correct thinking?

    Given the new confidence gained by this round of exchanges should I try to find something I may have missed that is small and hidden somewhere? :-)

    Donna: thanks for the opportunity. This is certainly memorable for me. You have really done a great job and you are a great host. Keep it up.

    Morale: Matt's recommendations are to the point and they do produce tangible results. I will write a post in a few hours on Master New Media to summarize all that was learned here.

  85. DazzlinDonna says:

    Robin, very happy for you. My guess is the PR6 is not a function of there still being something wrong, but merely the fallout of lots of other sites getting lower PR over the last few months, thereby causing a domino effect all round. Of course, I could be *wrong* but that's my two cents worth nevertheless. :)

  86. Sam I Am says:

    Robin, I'll second Donna there. Even sites like Apple lost a point of PR in that round of updates and you can bet they don't care about PR or link selling. But I have to ask why you'd get bothered by a PR drop if you are NOT selling links with search engine benefits in mind? As far as I see it, it's really not worth the time and frustration getting upset over a px of green that SEO have already agreed for years is worthless for ranking purposes. Spend some time on Google Groups and see how annoying it is to answer all the PR questions – plus we can always use more people helping out over there :)

  87. Google Penalization: Matt Cutts' Updated Recipe To Get Your PageRank Back…

    The Google penalization on Master New Media has just been lifted has been returned a PageRank of 6. The merit for this goes first of all to DazzlinDonna of SEO Scoop who opened a uniquely valuable conversation with Google's Matt……

  88. Matt Cutts says:

    Robin, happy to try to help. I don't have the cycles to be scalable for everyone's questions, but the ones that point out where Google could improve or that can help a broad class of people are the ones most likely to pull me in.

    By the way, I liked your summary and the points you pulled out and posted at

  89. A Suggestion for a More Scalable Reinclusion Request Procedure…

    Last week, DazzlinDonna wrote an open letter to Matt Cutts asking him why her PageRank has been impacted when she's already removed all wording to the effect of accepting paid links and submitted a reinclusion request. John Honeck writes about……

  90. […] sometimes nothing will happen. And that's what happened to Donna over at – see¬†– as it turns out Matt Cutt's actually participated in this discussion (I guess he has […]

  91. Grid Six says:

    Maybe us webmasters should unite and create our own version of adwords/adsense? Something similar to

  92. Tyler Dewitt says:


    I don't mean to be a nuisance by any means, but I have still not heard anything from you I need to ask you a few questions about one of our sites that I don't feel is appropriate discussing in front of the whole world, plus I would like to set a friendly interview up with you, but right now my company has some issues (big issues) that have cause a big headache and if at all possible could you shot me an e-mail and give me a call.

    I feel like I'm literally being dodged, but maybe your busy which I wouldn't doubt that one bit because you seem like you have a lot of responsibility to take care of, but if you could please get a hold me

    Thanks Matt

  93. Snitch says:

    I can point you to two very high profile websites yahoo and 10best that use links to affect their Google Search rank. The terms they use are some of the bigggest in the industry like "Cheap Flights" "Hotels" etc. I can't believe Googlers do not see it so I can only assume they turn a blind eye for some reason.

  94. Christine says:

    Hi Matt

    I filed a reinclusion request although my issue is not because of paid links (have never sold in a link 9 years). I mentioned this post in the request because I don't want to post our site in a public forum.

    I would be ever so grateful if someone looked at the request and told me what caused the site to go from PR7 to PR5.

  95. Sean says:

    I hope everyone thanks Matt for his help and work with dealing with these questions. This is by far not his job and he is going above and beyond his responsibilities in fielding questions and complaints.

    Also, on the topic of paid links, etc – anyone who knows SEO beyond reading a book should be knowledgeable of what to do and what not do. If you do something that every good SEO knows could get you penalized you should be prepared for the consequences.

    Google is the big dog in search and if you dont like their rules get out of their yard and head on over to Yahoo, MSN, Ask, etc.

  96. Sergey Rusak says:

    It is great that Matt Cutts joined this conversation.

    My own opinion is… it takes time to pass Pagerank after site was punished. During last update popular sites like StatCounter got their deserved Pagerank back after they fixed all mistakes. For smaller websites it will defenetly take 1-3 updates.

  97. SmartTroll says:

    I don't see why people stress it out.

    1. SEOs should not care about PageRank (unless they care about the [quote] toolbar Pagerank[/quote] which is just a bogus representation of the true pagerank):

    ¬ĒGoogle officially confirmed to Search Engine Land that we were taking stronger action on this issue, including decreasing the toolbar PageRank of sites selling links that pass PageRank¬Ē

    2. SEOs should continue selling paid and FOLLOW-ed links – as long as they are smart enough not to EVER mention the link is for advertising or monetary purposes. Do NOT mention it anywhere on your site, nor next to the link, including TOS or About Us page. Do not even create "Advertise with us" page. Those interested will find your email to inquire about advertising. Forget about "Sponsored by" or similar wording. Then you'll be fine. Because Google will then not have a hard proof you're actually being paid for outside FOLLOW-ed link.

    Be smart, you are not guilty unless you admit or mention you are guilty. You need to forget about honesty and truthfulness on the Internet because otherwise your only chance to exist would be to advertise on Adwords. Google will not be able to play the devil's advocate if you don't help them. They won't teach you what your parents tried to teach you about honesty and truthfulness, but hey = "Do not do evil."

  98. Anisa says:


    Need your help.

    No response after re-inclusion request


  99. Google Dropping Atomic Bombs In Paid Link War…

    Serious controversy in SEO land. Google is handing out manual penalties by the truckload, and fellow SEO's are steamed. SEO's are like soldiers on the front line, we always get hit first and take unrelenting punishment for pushing the line …

  100. […] thing is, today while I was reading DazzlinDonna¬ís blog I ran across a post that really raised some questions to Google and their new […]

  101. Chris says:

    Wow, I think I just read through nearly all the 100 of these replies – what a roller coaster. Two quick points before I get on to the unrelated reason I'm here this evening. 1) Google local results are now much more prominent on local search – great move – hits the business directory monopoly on local search right where it hurts 2) rel nofollow – I hate it – it allows the business directories to charge for taking rel nofollow off links – the opposite of what rel nofollow was supposed to be about i.e links without rel nofollow now have a monetary value and are therefore paid links or treated as such.. Can we please say goodbye to rel nofollow.

    Anyway, finally the reason I stopped by was to ask – Donna, did you really endorse this?

    the link back here from them doesn't work and I was suspicious. Maybe its been removed as a pacifying Google measure but I just thought I'd check.

  102. DazzlinDonna says:

    Chris, I did preview that and say that about it. I removed the link you put in the comment because that was a link that wasn't supposed to be shared as it was for members only. But the answer to your question is yes, although I'm not sure "endorse" is the right word. But the quote was accurate.

  103. Sean says:

    that is pure blackhat and people wonder why they get their PR taken out?

    Come on.

  104. DazzlinDonna says:

    No it's not. Not at all. Could someone take that method and use it in a blackhat way? I suppose, just like someone could turn blog commenting into a blackhat tactic. But blog commenting in a normal, natural way, is not blackhat. And that method mentioned in and of itself is not blackhat.

    And the next person who includes that link here is going to get a whuppin!

  105. […] articles on the topic, including an article of DazzlinDonna¬ís of SEO Scoop, titled "Matt Cutts, why Am I still being punished? […]

  106. I would have to say that this post is in my all time top 10 blog posts. I have been preparing for a reconsideration and trying to guess what could be wrong with my site. I fear submitting my site to Google and then getting no feedback because I will effective have to abandon the site after investing hundred and hundreds of hours. I sure with Google could give reconsideration feedback into the reason for a failure: duplicate content, paid links, lack of links. I allow people to add content to my site so should I flush all the content to make sure there is no duplicates? Anyway. This information has been very useful.
    Thanks, Donna.

  107. Christine says:

    Matt if you are still reading this thread – Surely there has to be a way to let webmasters know "we got your request & are ignoring you".

    It is soul destroying when you tell me to submit a reinclusion, I do so, and diddly sqwat happens – the message sits in my "google" message centre laughing at me.

    I'm sorry, but I am not an SEO, I have never sold a darn link in my life and we are dedicated professionals who have been working the site for 9 YEARS! To just be ignored is very uncool. Google has consistently been using our site in their SERPS since they started so why ignore us like we are some ….. jeeez, i don't even know what expression to use here. Sorry, upset, knew the re-inclusion request would be a waste if time.

  108. Chris says:

    Hi Donna,

    thanks for clearing that up – my main concern was that, since the link wasn't active, there was an outside chance that someone was using your name without you knowing. Glad to know that its nothing underhand.

    Can't even remember how I came across that web page now – one too many glasses of wine last night.

  109. supaswag says:

    "Actually I think the real lesson learn is place Matt’s name in the title of your posts so he see it and then work an angle where he needs to defend this spam team to get action."

    ..well said. Donna: The SEO value that you got from this one post is worth more than the bit of cash from any paid links on your site. Good for you. But this whole thing get's BORING now. Matt: My dishwasher is making a funny noise since yesterday ..can you help?

    PS: My blog is advertising free. My content is great. My comment section is do-follow. My PR is zero. I couldn't care less.

  110. supaswag says:

    PS: Donna: why do some people here get a no-follow on their name (probably me : ) and some people don't? Surely there is a logic answer to that.

  111. chantal says:

    Thank you Matt for your help !!!!

    I filled in a new reinclusion request …

    Thx million times …

  112. DazzlinDonna says:

    supaswag, because i employ a plugin that allows me to reward people who are loyal visitors/commenters with dofollow.

  113. supaswag says:

    A while ago you got kicked out of comments if you left porn links or blatant advertising. These times are kind of over. Nowadays there is a new system to patronize/award people in comment sections: It's called no-follow tag. I would only use a no-follow on people/sites that I really don't like. Like the KKK website or Mac Donalds. You make me feel like the KKK, Donna ..that's not a dazzlin' feeling. But it's your site and you should be allowed to do what you want to do.

    But wait a minute are NOT allowed to do what you want to do on your site, otherwise this post wouldn't even exist. Even after Matt gave you back your green Emeralds, you surely don't like him at all. No-one working in SEO or running a commercial blog likes Matt. Because he makes your job harder. So all of you: Please stop pretending and winging. Thank you.

    PS: And please don't tell me stuff about "If I don't have a PR, I can't earn money and my kids will starve". You all know the deal since a long time: Sell commercial links in an obvious way and you get the boot – sooner or later. I thought you are "SEO Experts" who know it all. Everybody tried (and still tries) to ride the wave as far as possible. Fair enough. But if you fall of the board, don't cry for mummy. Funny enough, his post is a really bad example because it shows that if (some people) cry, mummy will be there to help. I liked Matt because as from a user's point of view I want Google to return what's relevant to my query and not what's been paid for the most. I totally welcome this anti-capitalist approach. But Mummy Matt didn't do himself a favor to get personally involved in this discussion. But after all he's also working on his "Good Cop / Bad Cop" Rockstar image. We all want to be recognized.. especially in SEO. Because it's basically a quite unglamorous job.

    Beside all this I wish you all the best. May you live forever, in song, story, fable and myth and may your life be as sweet as a Peshwari naan bread.

  114. DazzlinDonna says:

    You see the cup as half-empty; I see the cup as half-full. You see the plugin as punishment; I see the plugin as reward. To each his own, I guess.

  115. supaswag says:

    It's not "The Plugin" Donna, it's you. Subconsciously you already distance yourself from it. Just let go – and let the link-love flow : )

    And be assured that my cup is nothing but full. I could even link to you from my blog. But as a true SEO professional you won't be interested in a PR 0 link. Do you want my link love, Donna?

  116. DazzlinDonna says:

    Not gonna engage in this little battle of yours, supaswag. You do things your way, I'll do things my way. It's all good.

  117. DazzlinDonna says:

    And with that, I think this thread has run its course, so I'll be turning comments off. Repeating what I said several days ago…

    … I think we know all we need to know at this point. Matt¬ís made it pretty clear what the issues are, and what the steps to be taken are. We know what to be looking for if we don¬ít hear back from a reconsideration requet. We know that if all else fails, that we should be seeking help at the webmaster help group.

    So, I think we can wrap this up now. Thanks to everyone for the participation. It was very productive all round.

  118. […] wonder what is going on anymore, b/c Donna has built enough of a reputation in the community that when she speaks, the right people listen (Matt […]

  119. […] blog post is here – Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished? – and kudos to DazzlinDonna from SEO Scoop for asking the […]

  120. […] Today I want to let you know about a very important post at Donna Fortenot (aka Dazzlin Donna)'s blog, Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished? […]

  121. […] suggested I look at the entire thread of this post in SeoScoop – Matt Cutts, Why Am I Still Being Punished?, which I did, as a place to start in figuring out what happened to the Google Penalty (or Good […]

  122. […] What you need to know about paid posts and nofollow links Posted by: dragonblogger  //  Category: Internet, blogging I have been doing a ton of research on SEO Optimization and how to restore my Google PageRank and avoid having my PageRank whacked in the future. I want to point out that this link tracks a conversation between SEO Scoop, Matt Cutts from Google, and other bloggers who were all penalized from having paid content on their site. This is a must read link: Matt Cuts Why Am I Still Being Penalized […]

  123. […] same of what we've seen in 2007. The great paid links debate will continue to rage on. More collateral damage. More hypocrisy. And more sophistication, complication and seperation of the wheat from the chaff […]

  124. […] SEOs look like fools. Some are, but some are simply privy to less information. Or, in some cases, thrown under the bus by a new wave editorial policy in the gray area. Inconsistent enforcement is a major issue, but […]