Dear fellow SEO-s and Webmasters,
This is a hard-to-believe story of (100% proven) large scale power abuse by Google. But maybe the damage was not in vain, because in our desperation an idea was born, an idea that everyone at Google right up to Larry Page and Sergey Brin will find disturbing.
Google went too far and the SEO community has to take action. Even if Matt Cutts tells you they need SEO-s, we are taking potential Adwords revenue from Google and their natural economic goal is to destroy us. In fact they are doing a good “divide and conquer” job and we now officially have the “Live together or Die alone” choice.
But I refuse to believe Google will have their evil corporate wishes fulfilled. I have never seen a community as strong and smart as SEO-s and webmasters in my life. We have all the resources to fight back, we just need to realize the time has come and do it. Today I will tell you my story and how I think we can decrease and balance Google’s power for good. Despite the economic war Google is waging against SEO and small business, we can stand our ground. Despite their overwhelming monopoly over web search and advertising, there is a way out and it’s not a hard one to follow. We have no choice, but to fight back – not only for ourselves, but to help countless virtually helpless small business owners, that are looking at their website visits, shattered by penalties, wondering if it’s worth starting over. They were our first clients and helped us become the SEO experts we are. We owe it to them.
And you Google, you have lost the key factor to success. You lost everyone’s trust. 10 years from now history will look back at Matt Cutts and conclude lack of two-way communication and transparency were the main reasons for your downfall.
Several days ago our small SEO freelancer team received a final blow from Google. After years of slowly increasing bullying, they decided to destroy our websites and manually deindexed most of what we have for being “pure spam”. We lost everything.
Our websites are NOT a network, not interlinked, nor integrated in any service, use a common basic WordPress installation leaving no fingerprints and are scattered among shared hosting services with thousands of other websites. They are not listed anywhere nor have the same links. Google probably tracked them by whois data, Analytics and/or Webmaster tools data, though we have diversified that too. They went our of their way to manually fight and destroy a small freelancer team in a country where the medium net salary is about $400. This is so “nice” from a corporation with $50 billion of yearly revenues. Three of the people in our team are living in rural areas of Bulgaria, where they are almost no jobs available and they all have to support families.
My team has been working in SEO for the last 5 years. We were hit by the Penguin updates and have since changed our SEO strategies to rely on supporting websites on strong dropped domains (it works!). We spent 2 years working hard on dropped domains and currently have amazing lists of (mostly) CCTLD domain names with history, backlinks and authority ripe for the picking. Needless to say Google doesn’t like this.
Profit is not everything for us. We are trying to do cool stuff, in the rare times we can afford it we donate to charity, we have helped NGOs improve their websites and we try to give society a fair share of our knowledge and skills. We recently caught our first high traffic dropped domain and we redirected it to this wonderful video http://vimeo.com/36789712, instead of profiting from it.
We also deeply value the Internet. We have our own beautiful black hat SEO script for content generation, that works in all languages for all keywords and requires no time/money investment (other than domain name) to generate content and ultimately long tail traffic. It has been through successful testing and we are NOT using it because we don’t want to pollute the Internet with meaningless content for profit only. We are not the bad guys.
But the Google manual actions team has done everything in their power do destroy us. For we have committed the worst crime – we… sell backlinks. Of course this does not break a single law of the real world, nor does it do any harm whatsoever, but Google, who sell A LOT of ads themselves, some very annoying (like Youtube pre-rolls), have decided, that whoever sells these non-obstructive SEO targeted ads has to be manually penalized. But in fact Google in a way relies on paid links, because they separate the guy with budget (the big one, The Brand) from the guy without budget (potential scammer, reseller, affiliate -> maybe lower quality website). And the guys with budget often offer better services. So paid links bring Google high competition serps more good than harm. But they channel more budgets away from Adwords and into SEO, so Google in very hypocritical fashion has been condemning them. Ever wondered why:
- Recently (in the last year or so) when a link seller is being penalized, the links buyers, even ones who bought en masse, had no harm at all (if they didn’t do something silly like similar anchor texts)? I thought the link buyers manipulate the serps, because they are the ones who actually RANK somewhere? The answer is – Google actually likes paid links for stabilizing serps, that’s why.
- How come Google never actually destroyed all the link selling networks?? Some got hit here and there so Matt Cutts has something to tweet about, but these are just PR stunts to scare people away. In fact the link buyers and link sellers in a network can be identified with Google’s resources for a day using a simple algorithm, that any kid, who studied graphs in school, can think about. And I mean a day for all links networks in the world together. They just don’t want to destroy them! This is not an isolated example – Yandex and Sape.ru have been in a similar symbiotic relationship in Russia for ages.
So Google tells you: Don’t buy backlinks (use the money for Adwords), but if you already bought them in the right way, you will rank, thanks for stabilizing serps.
Actually some years ago Google was treating link sellers in a very fair way by giving them Pagerank penalties if they went too far. They remained in the index and could rank. This has come to an end and now websites are often deindexed for selling backlinks, as if quality of content has something to do with link trade, that is profit-driven, just like having Adsense on 99% of your website above the fold (much more annoying, also profit-driven, but websites don’t get deindexed for it – worst case scenario is Panda). Still tons of people are selling backlinks with no consequences like the networks I mentioned.
We were not that lucky…
The Google manual actions team has investigated manually (must have been hard, involved digging personal data from whois records) all of our websites (about 1000), has deindexed almost all of them, including websites with no links, (that have never ever had links), that in no way are against Google webmaster guidelines. Even a domain, 301 redirected to a relevant resource has received a manual penalty (on a… non-existing website? Should be a joke, but it’s real!)
They also refuse to remove the penalties on websites, that have no sold backlinks and have some unique meaningful content 100% covering Google webmaster guidelines. Obviously if you once made the huge sin of selling backlinks (that are mostly good for Google Serps, remember), in such way possibly taking away Adwords money, you are deindexed forever. Or you just have your reconsideration request denied because you’re… well, you
I’m sure the European Commission and other authorities will be thrilled with the idea, that according to Google the websites of some people do not deserve a place in the index, because Google doesn’t like the people, although the websites are fine. How fantastic is that for a policy Focus on website quality, Google says. Really!?!?
Here are some of the websites that Google still thinks are “pure spam”. The first three are centered around hand-picked videos of the highest quality about very important world problems. There were also more about education, relationships, global health issues…
Poverty? Google doesn’t care…
Ecology? Google doesn’t care…
Really serious issues about girls and women? Not important enough for Google
Come on Google, not even actual missing children are good enough for you?
Google also filters hand-picked criticism links, smells like outright censorship
But of course Google has to be right about something? They are right about one thing, the one and only fair decision of their editors. Ever. Here it is:
Ha! Google editors think a complete list of videos by Matt Cutts is spam Couldn’t agree more, they are like the SEO Fox News Channel – it’s easier to find water in the desert, than genuine information in them.
So Google either doesn’t give a shit about Nature, Women, Girls, Relationships, Education, Pollution and Poverty… or this is much too personal against my team. More personal than the European law does allow in my opinion, considering Google is a complete monopoly in search.
In fact we have more than a hundred very good articles (very factual, Wikipedia style), that were good enough for removing a website penalty sometimes, and not good enough at other times. This proves Google just hates us and has no problem in disregarding its own guidelines to hurt our websites.
Our vast experience with penalties shows Google editors hardly follow any guidelines at all. Once (for test purposes) we tricked them into believing we are a government agency in the reconsideration request and they removed the penalty of a website with ZERO content.
But we wanted to have a 100% proof this is personal so we moved the content of a 3-article blog about preserving nature, that Google considered violating guidelines, to a Blogspot blog. So the same website, actually worse – with content stolen from the actual source. It was indexed, so we wanted to see what Google editors think of it, so we… reported it (first time ever we report anything, had to search where the damn form is) They still think it’s OK. They don’t know it’s ours
We tried to reach them and solve it like civilized people. I tried contacting a Google employee on Google+ and when there was no result the top Bulgarian SEO expert notified the Google Bulgaria team of the situation, but again there was no contact made. No problem can be solved when you ignore it and avoid all communication. This is a dictatorship, that has no place in the 21st century.
We have no question that this is a personal war against our team with the goal of draining us financially and emotionally. Do you know the feeling of hundreds of your websites disappearing from the index in a flashlight? Probably not and you are lucky. I have experienced this 7 times. And we have more than 8000 reconsideration requests denied for no obvious reason. Google wants us to give up.
Will we give up? NO.
Unfortunately Google, you just made a very big mistake. You just gave a team of smart, creative and stubborn people the motivation of their lives. We are the now the cornered tiger, that will fight to the very end or until the enemy runs away for good.
We no longer have a job, because almost every website we own is deindexed. So Google, we decided that because you hit our profits, we will hit yours, while making the world a better place.
See, Google, you broke a golden business principle, that is taught in business class for dummies – diversify your income. Almost all of your profits come from Adwords, so it was pretty easy to think of a way to hit you where it hurts. Let me introduce you to Ad filtering - a great concept in a world where annoying ads are crawling all over the place while Youtube wants to make us see unwanted pre-roll ads. And if you say they are targeted – not only they are not, buy how could you let the worst musical performers in Bulgaria buy so much pre-rolls… they make my years hurt Ah, yes, I forgot – MONEY. Only Ad filtering removes even pre-rolls so we can make your MONEY become LESS MONEY, while of course we are doing the world a favor, by saving people: website loading time, energy, CPU load, bandwidth, all while improving user experience. My personal favorites are AdBlock for Chrome, Safari and Opera and AdBlock Edge for Firefox, they don’t download the ads at all – this also greatly improves privacy by not downloading some questionable cookies. Just compare:
Without AdBlock – What a mess and which Download button should I click!?
The same website with AdBlock on – any better? The Download buttons decreased like ten times!
I bet guys trading Google stocks would love to see a team of dedicated top-notch SEO and online advertising professionals working day and night to decrease Google profits by telling the whole world how great Ad filtering browser plugins are. Nothing spells a better future for a company than this message, right? By the way did I mention, that we will inspire a lot of other webmasters and small business owners Google crushed manually or with Penguin to join the party and promote Ad filtering too What if it becomes viral and starts an avalanche? For every percent of global market share growth for Ad filtering browser plugins, you Google will lose in the long run more than $ 2 billion (yes, billion with a “b”).
I think just with the guys in my team, we can achieve this Ad filtering 1% growth in an year, but with the help of all SEO-s around the world… this is where even Matt Cutts will get the shivers, not to mention Google shareholders.
We came up with a name for the process, we call it “crowd defunding” – the media will love it, also makes a great hashtag #CrowdDefunding – useful whenever a lot of people decide to take corporate money back
Google, you are now at the mercy of webmasters, and if they treat you like you have treated them in the last 2 years… God help you.
And to make you even happier Google, I will track our progress right here on karakehayov.com and every day I will update you with how much we have managed to rid you of unnecessary future profits, that will go instead to free clicks in organic search, thus supporting struggling local businesses and the SEO community you are trying to destroy. Turning us SEO-s on one another by introducing reports and disavow tool and making negative SEO an option HAS NOT worked. Today we stand united and the message you’re reading is a call for the community to fight back. I hope you all share it until more Webmasters/SEO-s have seen it than any Matt Cutts video!
If you ever got hit by Google – join the party, share the message and/or hit them where it hurts – promote Ad filtering with plugins, that filter Adwords in Search BY DEFAULT (Sorry, Google. That’s for being evil) like AdBlock for Chrome, Safari and Opera and AdBlock Edge for Firefox. If you haven’t got hit yet you still better join because:
- If you own a website, they will hit you anyway somehow. If you don’t believe this, try accessing your Google keyword data;
- Google monopoly is not only bad for the Internet and the privacy of users like you, it’s even worse for small businesses. I know a lot of people who give so much money for Adwords, that they make nothing in the end. Google is much like Walmart – a huge black hole sucking money out of small businesses and local economies. Wonder what happens with that money?
- They are very rich, but they use tax evading loopholes. I think that’s a shame. Enough with the “Google cares about the world” myth. Sadly, profits are everything.
- Google collects a lot of money, more than they can reinvest. If the money go to other (smaller) companies, they will spend it, boost the struggling economy and create jobs; And it’s not breadcrumbs we are talking about, it’s billions of $.
- Lets not even start the privacy discussion…
We share the same world, so lets do what’s best for us people, the economy and not the huge and increasingly greedy corporation that tested 41 different shades of blue to find out what makes you click on their paid ads the most.
Sadly for you Google, actually a world with less Adwords will be a little better for end users, much better for SEO-s, much better for small businesses and much better for the economy in general. No one will care for your loss, even if it is billions of $.
Here are some thoughts on promoting Ad filtering for Google to consider:
- Ad filtering improves user experience and privacy and reduces web page loading time, CPU load and bandwidth. It also saves energy and is eco-friendly. It’s free and takes 5 seconds to install on a browser. It’s the best product ever
- When you have such a great product like AdBlock every user you get brings you a lot more by word of mouth. So your losses Google, will multiply in time.
- Ad filtering browser plugins tend to be addictive. It’s like the beautiful feeling of migrating from Internet Explorer to a real browser – you know you’re not changing back. Ever. Seeing your favorite websites crumbling with annoying ads after a few months with Ad filtering is a shock and the plugin is installed again in a matter of seconds. So your losses Google, will add up in time forever.
- I bet a lot of people are looking for a way to remove the annoying Youtube pre-rolls. We will tell them how easy it is to get rid of them. Permanently.
- We will strive to include Ad filtering plugins in every free software package out there.
- We will team up with governments and NGOs and explain to the cybercrime authorities, that some ads in general are not safe especially for children and inexperienced users. Better install Ad filtering by default in all public institutions. In fact if Ad filtering were more popular, a lot of scams would be harder to execute. No more “Win iPhone” scams for your grandmother to fall for. And no more fake Download buttons
- We will suggest Ad filtering to be included in the IT classes of every school and university in the world. Most people don’t use it just because they don’t know it exists, that can be changed and will be changed.
- I have a strange feeling this website will get a lot of world media attention, driving direct attention to Ad filtering.
- We will use all the standard stuff – SEO, Facebook marketing, other social media, articles here and there and everywhere, press releases… the full package.
If you read this far you are my personal hero and I’m grateful to the bottom of my Google-broken heart. If you share this, we have a chance to make this uneven fight a more just one. Totally up to you though
If we reach the critical mass, maybe we can convince Google to open up a dialogue and eventually improve the system of penalties and reconsideration, instead of leaving us to bang our heads with automated answers or none whatsoever. And most of all we need a system, where they will have to act in a responsible way even for a problem on the small website of a crumbling small business, that has no choice but to be at Google’s mercy about making ends meet.
Although we are now broke, an achievement this big will mean the world to us. It’s up to you Also I would love it if you show support (or criticism of course) in the comments.
Kalin Karakehayov, head of a small Bulgarian SEO team of freelancers.
firstname.lastname@example.org (both contact email and Paypal email – in the unlikely case you want to donate for our cause – but really better donate to improve the lives of sick or starving kids, than to us. If you do anyway, 100% of your money will be used for spreading this message or promoting Ad filtering – you can tell us your preference between the two in the Paypal note).
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#SEO #Webmaster #Google #CrowdDefunding