Google blocks popular Dutch website for many years
I am an internet development specialist with 10 years experience and would like to share my story.
For many years Google has been blocking the popular Dutch website I Love Holland, an online platform that offers a devoted internet portal with quality insights into the social aspects of every city and village in The Netherlands, among information and services such as news, weather and an event agenda.
The website main domain is www.ihvn.nl with a subdomain for every city and some major cities have their own domain, such as www.ihvamsterdam.nl, www.ihvgroningen.nl, www.ihvutrecht.nl, www.ihvdenhaag.nl,www.ihvhaarlem.nl, www.ihvleiden.nl, www.ihveindhoven.nl, www.ihvbreda.nl, www.ihvmaastricht.nl and 40 others).
The website exists since 2007 and has more then 100.000 fans on Facebook and more then 10.000 followers on Twitter. Visitors often send a comment by email just to say that they find the website beautiful or handy, which indicates that people want to find the website.
However, for many years the website can’t be found in Google. Massive amounts of effort and work by over 70 people among the owner and technical developer did not have an effect on the amount of traffic from Google, which has been the same about 1000 to 2000 visitors per day, which is an absurd low amount relative to the market perspective and the fact that the website is really one of the best out there for some queries.
The website has never been involved with dubious practices to get high Google rankings. The focus of the development has always been 100% on quality service and content to win the (presumed) ‘corresponding’ high rankings and traffic from search (in The Netherlands over 90% of users search via Google, 2011).
An example query is “news Arnhem”. Arnhem is the capital of the province Gelderland. The website has it’s own domain www.ihvarnhem.nl and has over 7000 fans on Facebook and almost 400 followers on Twitter.
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There are 5 editors for this city that daily select news articles that highlight beautiful or special aspects of Arnhem which are then shared on social media, by a newsletter, RSS feeds and on the website. The publications are highly popular, however, the website can’t be found in Google for the query “news Arnhem” while it is one of the best websites for news about Arnhem.
Google is blocking the website, for many years, and I could only wonder what the reason or motivation could be and kept focussing on building quality and technical advancements.
Because of the bad findability of the website it did not became the intended financial success. To pay the bills I therefor worked as freelance SEO and website development specialist via the company www.whseo.nl.
During the past two years I noticed more indications of low quality search results and recently I found an example that clearly shows that Google is deliberately providing low quality search results, most likely to increase ad revenue by forcing both companies and search users to ads.
I developed the website www.stockbusters.eu, an e-commerce website that really is about a 10 in 10 in website quality. It is impossible that the website or content can be seen as low quality, everything has been setup really well and no faults have been made. The webstie is live for more then a year.
When you search in Google for products that are offered on the website, often ‘sitemap.xml’ (XML file) is listed in the top 10 results while the product pages rank very low or not at all. The following is an example. The query can be seen via the following link and has been tested with proxies. It occurs for any user.
The sitemap is added and accepted as valid XML sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools. It is certain that is has been correctly setup. Many browsers, such as Google Chrome, do not support XML and show scrambled XML text in the browser, leading to a bad user experience and causing visitors and potential clients of the e-commerce website to get the impression that the website contains errors or is unreliable, causing damage to the company/domain/brand.
It is to be expected that Google has made enough technological advancements to know the difference between an XML sitemap and a HTML page. It is therefor pretty obvious that Google is delivering low quality search results on purpose.
After a half a year of work on the website www.stockbusters.eu, during which high quality content was added and the website was promoted via social media and YouTube, the amount of visitors from Google Search remains the same at about 150 visitors a day, indicating that Google keeps the amount of visitors at a fixed level, just as seen with www.ihvn.nl and other projects/websites that I have worked on.
This example indicates that Google is manipulating the search rankings based on factors that are not transparant and do not seem to be honest, and that they deliver low quality search results on purpose, most likely to increase ad-revenue for themselves.
Why Google is blocking the website I Love Holland may remain a mystery, but for me as an expert in the SEO field and 100% clean reputation and intentions, it is pretty clear now that Google is not a honest company and that the market chances are not fair for internet businesses that want to serve the public in their unique way.
Why do you think that Google is blocking my website? And is it legal? (can they just do anything as they like as a company?) Any advice or comments are very much appreciated!