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What’s Up with Google and Thinkhouse PR?

Posted in: Blogs,Google,Search Engines by Richard Hearne on December 3, 2006
Internet Marketing Ireland

Is someone in Google de-indexing pages which are less than flattering in their reference to Thinkhouse PR?

Going back a couple of months now, but you may recall a small fuss over Damien Mulley’s Thinkhouse PR post disappearing from Google’s SERPs.

Although the page was re-indexed, Google were never forthcoming about what caused the issue to occur:

Hey, I like a good conspiracy as much as the next guy (big X-Files fan… well, of the early years at least), but I must respectfully note that there’s no nefarious banning that’s gone on here.

While it may be seen as unfortunate timing, some pages of mulley.net are currently not shown in our search results due purely to algorithmic factors… nothing manual or otherwise intentional about it.

It’s quite possible that this may change as we continue to update our algorithms regularly.

Adam, on behalf of the Search Quality Team at Google.

P.S. — Ironically, with the online attention you’ve received about this issue, your pages may automatically end getting crawled more frequently or deeply, resulting in more of your pages being shown in our search results… so I humbly recommend a bit of patience.
Source: Adam Lasnik comment on www.mulley.net

Tinfoil hats ready

Now call me paranoid, and perhaps on that occasion it was just coincidence, but I find it very curious that my post about moviestar.ie was crawled, indexed and ranked #3 for a Google search on ‘moviestar.ie’, but very shortly after was completely de-indexed from Google (site:, cache:).

In case you’re wondering if I’ve gone completely batty moviestar.ie are a client of Thinkhouse PR.

Just too many coincidences?

My site is actively crawled and indexed by Google. Every page is indexed. Except one.

I am purely white-hat. My site complies with all Google guidelines. Their are no bad links either into or out of the absent page in question.

Some questions for Google

Perhaps I’m just a crackpot… but I’m not buying this as a coincidence.

I would really like to know the following:

  1. Do any Dublin-based Googlers have the ability to remove pages from the index?
  2. Under what circumstances would an indexed page be de-indexed?
  3. Does Google have any relationship with Thinkhouse PR?

I will be posting this over at the Google Webmasters Group in the hope that Adam Lasnik might answer some of my questions.

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  1. [...] It seems to be Richard’s turn this time. He has had just one single post removed from the Google index. He points out that it was his post on Moviestar.ie that was removed. A post which wasn’t that flattering of their “award winning” site. (Since changed and made much better but the award went to the old site) Guess who does their PR? I honestly think it is a coincidence. There’s no way a multi-billion dollar company could have such a weak system in place that would allow a human to interfere with their search godmachine. Afterall and by all accounts, Google really don’t have time for or trust these humans. Many know and have experienced the massive disregard Google has for anyone human that tries to connect with them. I doubt an actual answer to Richard will be forthcoming. When my post was removed the excuse/reason a Google employee gave wasn’t at all convincing. [...]

    Pingback by Damien Mulley » Blog Archive » Moviestar.ie Tinfoil hattery: Google remove another blog post? — December 3, 2006 @ 1:37 pm

  2. I reported it to their search quality team.. Dunno if it will make any difference though

    Comment by Michele — December 3, 2006 @ 2:00 pm

  3. I think they know who I am (I help out a fair bit over on the Google Webmaster Group), and I will quite surprised if they don’t respond to my thread in the group.

    Of course what the response will be…..

    Comment by Richard Hearne — December 3, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  4. Sound similar to my post “Yo-Yo Search Results Experiment & Rankings”


    My guess is the page will show up cached and ranking within 3-4 weeks.

    Comment by Jason Roe — December 3, 2006 @ 3:33 pm

  5. Also could this be a sign of duplicate content (maybe filtered)? Your main page still ranks #6 for “moviestar.ie”. What I do find interesting is that the cache for your main page shows the post. However this post seems to have been revised after the post was indexed..

    Your linkbacks both in and out seem to be fine (compared to other posts).

    I had to redo the link/index structure of my blog to remove a lot of dupe content. A prime example is content getting duplicated in categories. I have set my blog up to no-cache, follow these kinds of pages. The only things that are cached are the posts or pages.

    Comment by Jason Roe — December 3, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

  6. Hi Jason

    The problem with the yo-yo theory is that the page in question was indexed and ranked. Now it simply isn’t indexed any more.

    If it were a honeymoon, as Dave suggested in the comments of the post, then the post would simply drop in the rankings. The page would not be de-indexed though.

    The main page was around #32 for the phrase. But the post in question was #3. There is zero dupe content as I use custom snippets on my homepage.

    I sometimes revise the content of a post, but never the URL (well very rarely and always with a 301).

    I’m quite probably seeing things that just aren’t there, but I cant help but feel it’s a one-in-a-million coincidence.

    Comment by Richard Hearne — December 3, 2006 @ 4:47 pm

  7. Google appear to do quality control stuff here, yep. Now whether an Irish Google worker can, by themselves, make an entry vanish, I don’t know)

    Comment by Robert Synnott — December 3, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

  8. (Your comment protection may be excessive, by the way. I just tried to post from a dynamically-assigned eircom address, and was told I was on a blacklist. I was able to post through Trinity’s proxy, though).

    Comment by Robert Synnott — December 3, 2006 @ 5:20 pm

  9. Hi Robert

    I noticed that a while back when I had to use dial-up recently. It appears that Bad Behaviour has blacklisted large blocks of eircoms IP pool. (Michele might know if there’s a valid reason for this.)

    I might flick it off and see how much extra spam I get.



    Comment by Richard Hearne — December 3, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  10. Richard

    Bad Behavior doesn’t do anything with IPs. It only analyses user agents. See:


    Comment by Michele — December 3, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

  11. Thanks Michele

    Strangely it mentions blocking IPs – “This reason means the IP address was previously identified and is being temporarily blocked, and another entry will have the real reason for the block.”

    Not 100% sure how to interpret that?

    I wonder do eircom bastardise the requests going through their dial-up proxy?


    Comment by Richard — December 3, 2006 @ 11:12 pm

  12. Actually, Google’s automatic page removal tool can do this. Of course, you need to be registered for that…

    Comment by Robert Synnott — December 4, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

  13. Guess who was on RTE last night?
    Thinkhouse PR were talking about their PR work in SecondLife promoting “3″ the mobile network.
    An advertisement if there ever was.

    Comment by David Doran — December 5, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

  14. Hey there,

    Just wanted to chime in again and note that I’m not aware of any relationship between Google and ThinkPR, but… if such a relationship existed, it would make no difference in the context of search quality issues.

    Our Search Quality department is delightfully independent from partnership and advertising concerns, and I’m confident that will remain the case. We’ve not hesitated to remove sites from the index even when those companies are high-spending advertisers, for instance.

    I realize you’d also like to read an answer giving detailed explanations for the status of specific pages, but that’s not something I’m going to engage in here or elsewhere on the net. That, as you can imagine, isn’t scalable (“Could you comment on these pages? Those pages? My friend’s aunt’s gardener’s pages?…”)

    Lastly, I’ll just reiterate that there are (and have been) no editorially-based decisions at play in this situation.


    Comment by Adam Lasnik — December 8, 2006 @ 7:39 am

  15. Adam

    Thanks for dropping by.

    As you probably know, I am very aware from the Group (I’m Red Cardinal over there) that you cannot comment on many of the Google-specific issues that arise. I understand this.

    But when this issue occurs twice and in relation to the same subject matter I have cause to be concerned that something other than coincidence is at play.

    I am left gasping completely bewildered as to how any technical or algorithmic effect could possibly de-index this page. But when this same issue affects two pages on completely unrelated blogs I am left somewhat incredulous.

    I suppose it serves me right for playing with Google so much :grin:

    Thanks for your comment Adam



    PS my My sister-in-law’s cousin’s friend’s postman has a prob…

    Comment by Richard Hearne — December 8, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  16. Pages get de-indexed for a lot of reasons.

    It’s not as if Google has a single server providing results. They have multiple data centers, and it’s just a matter of them not being in sync. Data center A has page, Data center B doesn’t. User A connects to DC A, user B connects to DC B. User B is paranoid and has to blog about it.

    Additionally, there’s the fact that Google crawls sites periodically. Perhaps upon re-indexing the site it wasn’t able to validate the page’s existence, but later it was found.

    Also, As mentioned on Matt Cutt’s blog in the past, if Google finds that your site [was hacked and] has malicious content index, they’ll attempt to notify the web master and de-index the site to prevent users from being attacked.

    Furthermore, Google shows different pages to users in different geographical locations. (There was a post regarding that on digg several weeks ago.)

    Some paranoia is justified. Some is just ignorance and stupidity.

    Google’s search is a free service. Unless you’re paying for advertising on the site, they are not obliged to list you. If you don’t like their practices, don’t use it.

    Comment by anonymous — December 10, 2006 @ 2:19 am

  17. Thank you anonymous for your insights into Google.

    I’m not sure why I sense some bitterness in your comment – perhaps connected to your comment on the ‘Ireland.com search is broken’ thread?

    The post in question was removed from ALL data centers.

    Thankfully I haven’t been hacked (yet).

    I’d almost think you worked for Google. Except I think maybe it’s more likely you have some connection to ireland.com.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Comment by Richard Hearne — December 10, 2006 @ 10:50 am

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