Tagged ads

Almost a month ago, I dropped Text Link Ads after I found out that Google had applied a manual action to my site for having what they define as a link scheme. I removed the advertising links from my footer, and applied for a reconsideration request with the hope that Google would overturn their decision.

I just found out today that they reviewed their decision, and as of January 22 my site is all clear in the Google search index. In fact, it’s even jumped up a few spots since. I applied for the reconsideration request on December 27, so it took just under a month for them to reach my review request. I’m guessing the winter holidays got in the way, also.

The full text of their response:

We received a reconsideration request from a site owner for

Previously the webspam team had taken action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this action.

You can use the Manual Actions page in Webmaster Tools to view actions currently applied to your site. It may take some time before recent updates to your site’s status are reflected on this page and in our search results.

Of course, there may be other issues with your site that could affect its ranking. Google determines the order of search results using a series of computer programs known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking will happen from time to time as we make updates to present the best results to our users.

If your site continues to have trouble in our search results, please see our Help Center for help with diagnosing the issue.

Thank you for helping us to maintain the quality of search results for our users.

While googling myself here and there over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that this site has gone farther and farther down the Google search results. I originally attributed this to the lack of frequent updates, which seemed reasonable.

Then I happened to log into Google Webmaster Tools and found out my site had been flagged for having ads that seemed like link selling. They had noticed, of course, my Text Link Ads at the bottom of my site.

After doing some research, it seems Google would prefer for those links to have a rel="nofollow" attribute, if they had to exist, but this is against the Text Link Ads terms of service. Which makes sense, since having search engines follow those links is exactly why they sell them. However, this makes for poor Internet etiquette.

Google’s Matt Cutts (head of search spam at Google) even called TLA out specifically: