I said BMW would be back soon after they got banned on Saturday. Matt Cutts over at Google lets everyone know they are now back in. So, they got a three day slap on the wrist. It demonstrates once again how public spam reports can be so effective and how big major web sites really don't get the "death penalty," when it comes to spamming.
Spam always seems to get removed faster after a big dose of publicity. Back in 2003, I wrote Google Kills eBay Affiliate Spam Quickly, Others Survive for Search Engine Watch members that looked at how an eBay affiliate using doorway pages was quickly removed by Google after public exposure. In contrast, people still complain that nothing happens when they file spam reports with major search engines through official spam reporting feedback forms.
BMW's situation proves once again that the best spam antibiotic is a good topical application of publicity. So did you spot spam? Blog away. Get others to blog, and that will probably help get the spam removed.
Are you spamming? If you're not hiding your tracks well, be forewarned that the publicity monster might roll over you at some point. On the flipside, we'll eventually have so many public spam reports that not all of them will be dealt with.
For example, More European Automaker Sites Do Doorways & Should Search Engines Be Able To Enforce Spam Rules? on the blog from yesterday covered spamming spotted by Porsche Denmark and Chevrolet Sweden, but those two automakers remain listed. I expect they probably will remain listed, too. If BMW took a ding for being banned, Google took some hits from those who feel spam removals ought to happen after a warning. Google's probably thinking about ramping up the spam notification program it was testing before wiping out any more big time sites that might push back on no warning wipeouts.
Meanwhile, a second spam truism gets proven. Big companies hardly face a "death penalty" on Google. They get back in and fast. Let's do some timings. In the Spam Olympics event of getting back in after being banned, we have....
- WhenU: Banned in 2004,
after 42 days
Banned in 2005, back in after 2 days or less
- BMW: Banned in 2006, back in after 3 days
What if you aren't a big company? Matt covered the timeline on getting back into Google in his prior Filing a reinclusion request post.
How long do you have to wait now? That depends on when Google reviews the request and on the type of spam penalty you have. In the days of monthly index updates it could take 6-8 weeks for a site to be reincluded after a site was approved, and the severest spam penalties can take that long to clear out after an approval. For less severe stuff like hidden text, it may only take 2-3 weeks, depending on when someone looks at the request and if the request is approved.
So while BMW was upset that Google didn't give them a heads-up about being banned, at least they didn't have to wait 2-3 weeks to get back in. Over at Matt's blog post, you can see some of people commenting who aren't happy with such express service. Matt responds:
Our main goal has to be to give the most relevant results to our users; there is currently a trade-off between taking action to remove spam from our index vs. removing sites that lots of users look for with navigational queries.
That brings me back to the advice I've long given to those thinking of skirting search engine guidelines. How big do you think you are? If you really think you're running a crucial site, you can sin against Google and gang and probably be forgiven in short order. They do need you. Absolution will be provided. Maybe put you back in so that you don't rank well for generic searches, but you'll be back in and find for navigational ones.
Running some small web site that no one's going to miss? Don't expect express treatment nor gamble you'll be reincluded.
Meanwhile, Barry points to a WebmasterWorld thread finding that the same thing that got BMW banned is still happening. Well, not quite. As Philipp at Google Blogoscoped points out, the pages are gone from the live site but Google is still retaining cached copies of them. Those cached pages should be dropped over time.