Trypticon Strudel.

Goddamnit, Google

So over a month ago, I was searching for sites with Idolmaster 2 walkthrough and reference information, and found to my dismay that the best option was a Wikia which only had information on the Xbox 360 version. As someone who owned the PS3 version, this was a pain... and to make matters worse, they only carried the reference information and none of the walkthrough content.

I wanted a solid guide to get S Rank on Hyper difficulty, so I referred to the Japanese wiki on the subject and ended up translating it into Google Docs. I had a little too much fun doing that, so I later created a site on Google Sites and started translating some of the other content.

A few weeks ago I arrived at a point where most of the content was translated (the only page that isn't complete is currently being done by someone else... I figure I might steal it from him in a while.) I started wondering whether Google was indexing the site already. There were links to it only on Twitter, which is of course using rel="nofollow"... but that attribute doesn't mean not to index the destination page, it only means not to count it for pagerank, so I figured it might appear.

It didn't appear. Well, no big deal. I will just submit the site manually and see what happens. And just in case popularity hits, I will put AdSense onto the sidebar as well. It's in a place further down the page so that it isn't in people's face, but who knows? Maybe someone will click on an ad if it's relevant to their interests.

When I submitted the site for AdSense, I was told that the site didn't meet Google's "quality" standards. Since the Google crawling itself supposedly has these quality standards as well, I became convinced that the same kind of automatic quality measure is in use for both and that something about the site had tripped it.

So I went through the list.

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."

Not doing it. Not even sure it's possible on Sites in the first place. If it is, maybe Google could prevent users doing it in the first place. :)

  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"

Yeah, from the start I have been focusing on making the information more easily reachable for a human being, since it started out for my use and I'm a human being.

  • Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

Not participating in any link schemes at all. On the other hand, that means I don't have any good links either. That's to be expected because nobody has found the site yet.

  • Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

Not using any.

Okay, so the basic principles are covered. What about specific guidelines?

  • Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.

Well, this one is hard. Because you see, on Google Sites, your entire site is duplicated at no matter what you do.

  • Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  • Don't use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  • Don't send automated queries to Google.
  • Don't load pages with irrelevant keywords.
  • Don't create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
  • Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
  • If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

Not doing any of the above.

So as far as I can tell, I meet the guidelines -- or at least, any guideline which I haven't met is only like that because of Google themselves. But as a friend pointed out to me, Google don't publish all the things they consider to be violations. Another way of interpreting this is that Google can remove your site from their search engine without telling you why, which is exactly what they're doing here.

To put things in perspective, when Apple's App Store team reject an application, people often rage, right? But Apple at least tell you exactly why you were rejected. With Google AdSense, you get rejected without an explanation. When you email them asking for more details, they don't reply. And allegedly, people who repeatedly ask them for an explanation simply get their entire site blacklisted (so I won't be sending them any more than the one email I already sent.)

Fantastic service you got going there, Google. Yet for some reason people love you so much.