The Invisible ECW (on Google)

I want to let readers know about something that’s going on with the E-Cat World site. On Monday morning a reader contacted me and let me know that E-Cat World could not be found on the Google search engine. I thought that was strange, because normally the site shows up right at the top of the Google list if you do a search for say, “ecat world”. But after a short time of testing, it was clear that E-Cat World had suddenly become invisible to Google. As far as I can discover, not a single ECW page currently appears in Google search results.

Of course that got my attention. I hadn’t received any notification from Google about any problem with the site, so I went into the Google webmaster tools area and looked around for some clues as to what might be going on, and I came across a note that Google considers E-Cat World “pure spam”, according to this definition:

“Pages on this site appear to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping content from other websites, and/or repeated or egregious violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

After some more research I discovered that starting around the beginning of October there was a massive proliferation of referring pages to E-Cat World appearing on the web. According to the website there are over 2 million of them. Doing some research I discovered that this is a typical tactic of what is known as “Reverse SEO”, which is an attack on a site where someone posts lots of backlinks all over the Internet pointing to the targeted site with the intention of hurting their search rankings.

In this case the links point to E-Cat World, and from Google’s point of view it makes me look like a spammer, someone trying to boost my site in search rankings by sticking spam links to it all over the web to boost popularity in a fake way. Consequently, Google has delisted E-Cat World from their search engine. There is an appeal process which I am currently working my way through and hopefully at some future time the site will be indexed once again.

What this means in practical terms for readers, is that to get to E-Cat World, you won’t be able to do a Google search to find the site; you’ll have to know the exact address of the site — — and type it into the search bar, or use an existing link or shortcut. Or you can use a search engine other than Google to find content on the site. For example, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo search engines are all indexing ECW as normal.

So that’s where things stand at the moment, hopefully the Google invisibility cloak will be lifted after taking mitigating actions, but there’s no guarantee if or when that will happen.