Getting Delisted By Google

A few weeks ago, Google decided to drop TPN from its index. Why? They apparently think we’re lowly spammers. I need your help.

First, a little history –

As some of you may recall, back in March, on the day I was leaving Melbourne to relocate to Brisbane, I found out that TPN had been massively hacked. We’d parted ways with out IT partner a few months prior and had spent that time waiting for our new IT partner, a large firm in Melbourne, to get their act together and provide us with a contract to begin work. In the meantime, our servers weren’t upgraded with the latest patches, someone got in through a security hole and went to town exploiting the hell out of our backend. Almost every one of TPN’s 100+ sub-domains had hidden pharmaceutical spam all over it, our email server was sending out spam, there were even a couple of banking phishing sites.

So I spent the first week waiting for the new IT partner to help us out. As it turned out, they were useless and did nothing. So I started looking for a NEW partner. As you know, TPN runs on the smell of an oily rag, so finding a new IT partner wasn’t going to be easy. I can’t just call up IBM Global Services and offer them $1 trillion to create miracles.

However, after I called for help on Twitter, the guys from Pollenizer quickly introduced me to a firm in India called XMinds. Xminds jumped straight into our system and started cleaning it up and re-building it. They were Oscar Goldman and TPN’s servers were their Steve Austin (but they didn’t cost anywhere near six million dollars).

We cleaned out our servers (or so we thought) and re-built and re-launched. The process took about 3 weeks.

Fast forward to Nov 5 when I was notified by a few people that TPN wasn’t listed in Google’s index. I jumped into my Google web account where I found a notification from them saying they had discovered pharamaceutical spam on one of our old, long-dead sub-domains and, as a result, had delisted our ENTIRE site from their index. Not just the one sub-domain, our ENTIRE site. No warning. No communication. Just delisted us, a war of shock and awe launched on our site.

I immediately had XMinds delete the old sub-domain completely and then I re-submitted TPN into the Google index. That was 13 days ago. We’re still not listed.

I’ve asked around, trying to find someone at Google to talk to, and I’ve been told that I’m wasting my time, that the process will take 30+ days and even then there will probably be a penalty to our googlerank.

Now, I know TPN isn’t the biggest and most important site in the world. But, on the other hand, we’re not totally small fry either. We’ve got about 400,000 – 500,000 unique visitors a month and over 6 million page views a month. We’ve never done anything illegal or even dubious. I’ve always maintained a clean site. No gambling, no porn, nothing.

And, like many sites, a great deal of our traffic comes from Google. Fortunately, iTunes is probably a bigger referral of traffic, but Google is #2. And being dropped from their index is hurting us.

So… if anyone out there knows of anything we can do, or anyone we can talk to, to get TPN re-listed in Google’s index, I’d appreciate the help.

13 thoughts on “Getting Delisted By Google

  1. Hi Cameron

    Good luck with getting back into Google – can only imagine how disruptive it is to your business.

    Make sure you keep an eye on your Google Web Master center now that you have (further) cleaned out your site. That way you will know if anything else crops up but should also show if the Googlebot is continuing to crawl your site.

    Let us all know how you go.

    Cheers

    Warren Duff
    CEO – ineedhits.com

  2. Thanks Daniel. I read through that yesterday too. It doesn’t offer any advice other than what we’ve already done, which is go through the normal channels for “reconsideration” which apparently takes 30 days or more.

  3. Only just read this now.
    As you know, similar happened to me, except I didn’t get a message in web central so didn’t know the reason!
    But I got lucky with Duncan writing about the issue(kinda!) on Techcrunch, someone discovering the spam links by looking in my source code, and Matt Cutts taking special notice(I think), and got back in within 2 or so days of me submitting for reconsideration.

    Seems quite unfair they delisted your entire site.
    I guess it’s not good we rely on Google this much(my biggest referrer), but.. *shrugs*

    Hope it’s back in soon!!

  4. I have had troubles too but it only took a day to get delisted on both sites. What I did was quite drastic though as I moved hosting providers. That has not been easy either though with disruptions to email etc.
    What I think helps is that when I resubmitted the site I told them all the actions I had taken.

  5. Allison – I don’t know if it was a coincidence or not, but about 25 minutes after you left that comment, someone told me we were back in Google’s index! So if it was your great work reaching out to @mattcutts, then I owe you. 🙂

  6. Hey Cameron,

    If you have had this problem for weeks, and have managed to get special help from Matt Cutts, quite frankly you deserve to be delisted and have to wait months if you want to run around wasting people’s time asking for reconsideration whilst you can’t even be bothered making sure you actually aren’t still publishing spam.

    Zoon

  7. Gee thanks Zoon, that’s really helpful. I’ve asked my IT team a bunch of times to make sure we’re clean and they had assured me we were.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to how I make sure more of our sites aren’t compromised, please let me know.

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