Banned from Google Base

Was I being naughty to assume that I could upload a few web hosting reviews to Google Base? Most, not all of the reviews had 1 or 2 affiliate text links appearing in context. As most of you probably know, the affiliate relationship helps compensate our expenditures to hire an objective reviewer to log in and test each host and report back the findings to Clickfire visitors. The reward of making even a small profit helps justify those sunny weekend afternoons spent in front of the PC.

My bulk upload of about 10 web hosting reviews was declined and account “disabled” because my Google Base account was being used to:

direct Google users to affiliate or commission-based programs. We have therefore disabled your Google Base account. Please know that we don’t allow the promotion of affiliate products or sites.

I was referred to the program policies where the only thing about affiliates that I could find was this statement:

Posting is not permitted for the promotion of affiliate sites or products sold through an affiliate marketing relationship. This includes item pages that are made up primarily of advertisements, or pages where advisements obstruct the view of the item.

While Clickfire does rely on advertising to support the site (I think most sites do), we certainly don’t have pages that are “primarily” advertisements or obstruct user views. In fact, most of our advertising is through Google AdSense (2 ads per page) at the time of this writing.

I noticed that my login still worked fine. I still have permission to post items on Base. So, I tried uploading individual reviews with no affiliate links such as the one below, but was disapproved:

Google Base Stats

The Chitika eMiniMalls review at Clickfire contains no affiliate links for a very good reason. I was banned from Chitika!

Searching Google Base today for Lunarpages review, BlueHost review, HostGator review and so on shows web hosting affiliate sites listed in the results. I am not really complaining because getting into Google Base is not part of our business model. I was just trying to test the results. I know that not long ago Google Base was getting spammed pretty heavily by affiliates creating fake dating profiles. So, it seems for now, they are adopting a zero tolerance policy… toward me. This whole experience highlights the problems Google is having as their customer base and product offerings grow at such high velocity.

So what to do? Ask Google to re-enable my account? Try submitting again later? Report the other affiliates?

I’ll just sit this one out.

Update 6/22 – It’s three years later and just for the heck of it, I thought I’d try and upload a datafeed file of web host reviews to Google Base. Same story. Disapproved.

Emory Rowland

Emory Rowland is editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire. He's a fanatical blogger, entrepreneur and builder of Internet things from way back. Emory's love for social media and success with organic search led him to start a SEO consulting venture. Apart from the Internet, he could be considered by many as pretty worthless. More...

7 comments

  1. D L Harnden

    I’m still waiting for a reply on my disapproval. And, Google Base is a venue I could use for my business, see the following Emails:

    Original Email:

    Hello,

    While reviewing your data feed we noticed that your site is not compliant
    with our Program Policies
    (http://base.google.com/base/help/base_policies.html ). We have therefore
    disabled your Google Base account.

    You must own any products that you submit to Google Base and ship these
    products directly to the buyer. We are not accepting sites which sell
    products on commission, including, but not limited to:

    -Affiliate sites
    -Comparison shopping sites
    -Readymade “wholesale” or “drop ship” sites

    If you feel that we’ve evaluated your site incorrectly, please reply to
    this email. Otherwise, please know that we’re working hard to make Google
    Base available to as many providers as possible.

    Sincerely,

    The Google Team

    My request for a reason:

    To whom it may concern,

    I’m a disabled combat vet, whom recently returned home to the States and am trying to get my business off the ground to subsidize my income. But, for some reason googlebase won’t make my items searchable.

    I’ve thoroughly read through all your policies and don’t see how I violate anything. I practice business in my own name and sell everything myself. I accept payments via authorize.net and paypal, both reputable companies. I process the orders I receive and update all the inventories daily. I don’t sell anything offensive or illegal. I have complete control over my merchandice and watch out for such products. However, I may have missed something.

    Please, try to give me more specific reasons why I can’t advertise my products through googlebase, because your short reasons below don’t make sense to me.

    You state that I must own the products that I sell and ship them directly to the buyer.
    While it is true I don’t own all the products I sell, I do keep quite a supply. And, do ship those items myself.

    In addition to that I have not found where it states the above in your Content Policy, Google Base Program Policies or Google Base Editorial Guidelines.

    You also state: We are not accepting sites which sell products on commission. That’s not true! You advertise Amazon.com and Ebay for heavens sake! They don’t own the products and market them for a commision. And, I know for a fact that there are a number of people who get their products from the same suppliers I do and you link to their sites. Many of them have Yahoo sites and or Ebay stores.

    I sell everything in my own name on my own Domain. I feel that’s much more open and reputable than selling on a trumped up Ebay store. Plus, you link to products that are being offered on sites like mine, which are receiving their items through the Amazon.com Associate Program. Again they don’t own the products, but sell them on commision.

    I think you are trying to say that I am an Affiliate site. I didn’t know what that meant, so I’ll quote your definition: “Affiliates – Posting is not permitted for the promotion of affiliate sites or products sold through an affiliate marketing relationship. This includes item pages that are made up primarily of advertisements, or pages where advertisements obstruct the view of the item. ”

    I’m not sure what an affiliated site is, unless it’s like I pointed out earlier selling products offered from a different company like the Ebay stores selling my products or the guys that sell through Amazon feeds. Which you already authorize others to do! I market and advertise very little on my site. As a matter of fact the majority of my outside advertisement comes from you. I have 3 Ads by Google links, 1 Google Adsense link, 1 Google Search bar and a free download for Firefox with Google Search Bar. The only other links I have are one for live chat for customer support offered free through Volusion, and my PayPal Verification Seal. I use frames on my site and none of this blocks my site or product descriptions. By the way I get a small commission from your links, and I don’t even block the content from my competitors sites coming up through your links. Would that be an affiliated commission from Google AdWords? The only other link that will be on my site shortly will be my link as an authorized Authorize.net Reseller.

    As far as comparison shopping sites. I have nothing to do with that at all. My site is not set up for something like that. All I do is try to sell my products at a low mark up.

    Where in your Content Policy, Google Base Program Policies or Google Base Editorial Guidelines, does it say anything about Readymade “wholesale” or “drop ship” sites?

    First off, when did the business terms “wholesale” or “dropship” become disreputable? I do have a wholesale company that sells to the general public at a very small mark-up. As a matter of fact most of my products could be resold for a profit competitively. And, while dropshipping companies have had issues at times with product availibilty, this is the fault of the sellers. If you deal with products that get sold in mass, you have to stay on top of the inventory. That’s why I check inventories every morning and update my site accordingly.

    As far as a readymade site, you would have to disallow every person that used any website development software or used a template. While I did purchase my domain name, and used website development tools. I hardly call that readymade or finished, I’m consistently trying to improve my site, and beleive it’s quite well put together. I spend several hours on it everyday.

    Please review my site http://www.dlharnden.com and tell me why I can’t offer my products on GoogleBase.

    Please send me an actual reply rather than an automatically generated one. I took the time to write this so I would like the equal respect of a proper response. I would like to know exactly what I have to do to make my products searchable in Googlebase.

    Thank you in advance for your time,

    D. Harnden

  2. Emory Rowland

    Mr. Harnden,

    I think you have made a strong appeal and I hope that Google will allow your website products to be listed in Google Base. Please post back here and let me know how things go.

    On a whim, I just checked Google Base for “web hosting reviews” and believe it or not, web hosting affiliate sites like the ones I mentioned are still showing in the results. I even see a new competitor or two there. I wonder how much revenue they are earning from those listings.

    It seems Google does a much better job with automation than with human editors.

    Best of luck.

  3. D L Harnden

    Update!

    Hey a small victory has occured. I received a response:

    Thank you for your email. I have had another look at your data feed fil’ToysGames.FGL.18602.615.786.txt’ and approved it. Please note that your items will go live on Google Base within 24 to 48 hours.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Atanu
    The Google Team

    I’m very happy about that, but let’s see if I can win the rest of the battles.

    My next mission:

    Dear Atanu,

    Thank you so much for your review and approval of this datafeed. I really apreciate it.

    However, I did submit several other datafeeds at the same time. Could you review those as well and see if they could be approved. If there is something wrong with any of them just let me know and I’ll correct it.

    [file names removed for privacy]

    In addition I uploaded [file name removed for privacy] through you’re FTP server as it was too large of a file to upload through the normal feed link.

    After, approval or disaproval of the above mentioned datafeeds I would like to renew them every 30 days or so. But, to be professional I would like to upload new feeds to keep the information current. Will I have to go through this re-approval process via Email everytime? Or, is there a way to update my feeds regularly and simply?

    Once again thank you for your approval, and your time on these new questions.

    Sincerely,

    D. Harnden

  4. Emory Rowland

    Thanks for the update. At least things are looking better more hopeful now for you. It’s also encouraging that someone at Google would take a closer look based on your sincere appeal.

  5. Directory Submission Service

    I came across this thread while searching for information on Google to know if Google Base was still being exploited by dating affiliates. Thanks for the update and your story of how you could unban yourself from the Google Ban. Congratulations ! It’s a helpful lesson for others.

  6. Joe

    Your site is an affiliate site for amazon, What?

  7. Toni

    Google has a double standard. They don’t allow duplicate listings EXCEPT if you are a large public company with lots of dinero. Case and point: GSI Commerce (NASDAQ:GSIC) is allowed to list the same items, at the same prices, over and over and over and over:

    http://www.google.com/products?q=site:www.sportsauthority.com+baseball+glove&hl=en&scoring=pd
    http://www.google.com/products?q=site:www.dickssportinggoods.com+baseball+glove&scoring=pd
    http://www.google.com/products?q=site:www.fogdog.com+baseball+glove&scoring=pd

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