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Site dropped due to "Gaming Google"
Are you gaming Google without being aware of that?
reseller




msg:708902
 7:17 am on Aug 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Folks!

We read it on several threads; Why has my site disappeared from Google? or why my site lost most of its ranking on Google´s serps?

And we guess and suggest reasons in addition to few things to avoid told by our good friend at the plex GoogleGuy.

Actually the list is growing and I can mention few of the reasons suggested by fellow members:

duplicate contents
canonical (www vs. non-www) issues
spam articles
linking to spam sites
using any “cloaking” technique
etc.....

The problem at present is that we read about sites which are dropped without having the above mentioned "incidents". And as usual we suggest and guess new reasons to explain that. And maybe there is no explanation other than; occasionally innocent sites just get a hit in random keeping in mind that they already in accordance with Google´s own Quality Guidelines.

[google.com...]

And then we still have that famous "Gaming Google" business which is a general term still not sharply defined.

In this connection I just wonder whether changing only the title or description metatags of the pages occasionally considered as gaming Google. People may do that for several reasons and mostly in good faith in an attempt to make their pages rank better on SEs if they feel that their pages contents deserve better place on the serps. Nothing "blackhat" about that, IMHO.

And how about number of internal links included in a menubar. Is there a magic number beyond which one might trigger "Gaming Google" filter?

etc..etc..etc...

Its therefor of importance to cover as many factors as possible related to "Gaming Google". Otherwise we shall end asking each other:

Would your site be the next to be caught gaming Google without you being aware of that?

Thoughts?

 

reseller




msg:708903
 2:52 pm on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

To be more precise, let me put it like this; would it be considered "Gaming Google" if for example:

- you only change/update the title tags of 25+ pages at once.

- you only change/update the description metatags of 25+ pages at once.

- within the page body text, you only change/update the titles (which could be within <h1></h1>) of 25+ pages at once.

Thoughts?

wanderingmind




msg:708904
 3:34 pm on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Maybe.

But there are very legitimate reasons, as well as pure-SEO reasons to do such things.

And perhaps those things matter if you have a site that has 50 pages. I don't know.

What about sites - full original content sites, with daily updated content? I have a site where 30-50 stories go online everyday. What if I want to change the name of a section from Airlines to Aviation? That would in an instant affect not just the 25 pages you mention, it would affect close to 2500. Then what? Am I gaming Google?

How about the related stories box I have it every story on my site? It contains 25-30 links to related (really related, not just SEO-wise) stories, and every week I change them by changing an include? That's gaming?

The gaming you mention happens in every regular news website every other day for hundreds of editorial reasons.

Or do you have only highly optimized, commercial sites in mind?

reseller




msg:708905
 3:48 pm on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

wanderingmind

>>Or do you have only highly optimized, commercial sites in mind? <<

What I have in mind are 25+ pages (could be 100 or more of course) which are already indexed with specific factors; titles, description metatags and the title of the page at body text. Then a sudden change/update happen to one of the said factors.

I´m investigating this matter because I have the impression (though not sure at present) that the "Gaming Google Filter" has been tightend recently and might cause a site to be sandboxed or drop in ranking on the serps because of such sudden changes/updates.

jbinbpt




msg:708906
 11:55 pm on Sep 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

An interesting topic....

I have been making changes to a static site and lost my tool bar cache to the site for the first time. I wondered if I had screwed it all up because of the type of changes I was making. I was moving <h1> tags around and adding new navigation. I also was experimenting with my .htaccess file.

However I show a serps cache and that has shown a new cache date for the last three days. I'm hoping the toolbar is just lagging behind.

kaled




msg:708907
 12:25 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

It is unlikely that the editing history of pages will trip filters. To implement this would require Google to keep a history of each page in the index which would require vast resources and provide little or no benefit.

Edit your pages as much as you like, but don't do anything silly like use hidden text or keyword stuffing. (However, keyword stuffing seems to be highly effective at the moment, but eventually Google will realise they've stuffed up and fix this.)

Kaled.

reseller




msg:708908
 6:10 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

kaled

>>It is unlikely that the editing history of pages will trip filters. To implement this would require Google to keep a history of each page in the index which would require vast resources and provide little or no benefit.<<

If we take a look at Google´s United States Patent Application 20050071741, we shouldn´t dismiss the possibility of Google keeping history of web pages (documents). And in this connection, Google just need to compare the content of a page after a sudden change in title, description metatags or title on body text with its previous cache ;-)

[google.com...]

kaled




msg:708909
 9:42 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

1) In the world of big business and patents, many ideas are mooted but never implemented.
2) Google cannot even distinguish the original from a copy of a page, therefore the idea that they will compare a page with old copies to see if search engines are being gamed is, in my opinion, laughable.

The resources required for this are so huge and the benefits so small, that whatever patents may say, this is not going to happen in the near future. And even if the resources are allocated, the algorithmic problems are enormouse.

Kaled.

MHes




msg:708910
 10:13 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

The one factor which is often left out of these types of discussions is that the site in question is in fact ..... not very good, despite the claims of "useful and unique content" by the owner. As more and more sites come online and google can find and index them, the competition grows for the top rankings. The overwhelming importance of inbound links dictates to google whether the site is any good and their analysis of links in is probably more sophisticated then we know. Having 30,000 traded links or links from 'links pages' is just no longer good enough to signify quality.

If your site drops despite you having no black hat tactics, then 99% of the time it will be because you have no links in that are deemed as having any real value. The other 1% will be a technical issue.

reseller




msg:708911
 10:15 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

kaled

>>2) Google cannot even distinguish the original from a copy of a page, therefore the idea that they will compare a page with old copies to see if search engines are being gamed is, in my opinion, laughable.<<

But do you agree that Google is able to:

- discover duplicate contents and classify them accordingly (supplemental results)?

- measure the keywords density in a webpage (documenet)?

- discover cross linking?

etc..etc...

If it is capable of doing that, why it shouldn´t be capable of identifying two different, titles, description metatags or titles on body text?

>>The resources required for this are so huge and the benefits so small, that whatever patents may say, this is not going to happen in the near future.<<

If you read GoogleGuy´s and Matt Cutts posts you will see that fighting "Gaming Google" is a high priority and I don´t think that the two shall agree with you that "benefits so small".

stinkfoot




msg:708912
 10:38 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

This discussion is just proof of the lack of working google technology. Why is it the most used search engine in the world cant deal with sites adding more than 1 page a day? Whats that all about. Changing small part of a site the same?

Come on google get your act together or loose your crown.

Iguana




msg:708913
 11:53 am on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

This discussion is just proof of the lack of working google technology

Not really, this discussion is just proof that we still don't know how Google's technology works since Florida.

I don't think editing titles/descriptions of 1,000 pages at one go will trip any filter. Adding/editing 1,000 pages so that all link to another site in your ownership - definitely.

europeforvisitors




msg:708914
 3:00 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why is it the most used search engine in the world cant deal with sites adding more than 1 page a day?

If I add 5, 10, 20, or 50 pages, the first page (the one that's linked from my home page) gets indexed within 24 hours and the rest generally make it into the index within a few days.

topr8




msg:708915
 3:17 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I´m investigating this matter because I have the impression (though not sure at present) that the "Gaming Google Filter" has been tightend recently and might cause a site to be sandboxed or drop in ranking on the serps because of such sudden changes/updates.

if you use a templating system single changes would be sitewide instantly, any subsiquent changes in serp could be due to the literal change rather than the fact that it was changed if you get what i mean

europefor visitors said If I add 5, 10, 20, or 50 pages, the first page (the one that's linked from my home page) gets indexed within 24 hours and the rest generally make it into the index within a few days.

ditto ... there is no reason why sites cannot produce 100s of new and unique pages a day - not all sites are one man operations.

reseller




msg:708916
 3:35 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

topr8

>>if you use a templating system single changes would be sitewide instantly, any subsiquent changes in serp could be due to the literal change rather than the fact that it was changed if you get what i mean <<

I see. But how about lets say we have 25+ (could be 100+ pages of course depending on the size of the site) static HTML pages which are already indexed with different titles, different description metatags and different body text title(<h1></h1>).

For one reason or the other we either change few words- or the entire title of each of the 25+ pages and upload them in one batch.

Would that cause Google to sandbox the site or causing the site/pages to drop in ranking?

longen




msg:708917
 4:28 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

you only change/update the title tags of 25+ pages at once

If the site has 100 pages that 25% of the site changing the same day, or if the site has 5000 pages its 0.005%. Quite a difference.

topr8




msg:708918
 4:46 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Would that cause Google to sandbox the site or causing the site/pages to drop in ranking?

many people at WebmasterWorld could offer you a credible (and different) answer to that question.

imo there are too many factors in play for there to be an answer.

europeforvisitors




msg:708919
 5:03 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

If the site has 100 pages that 25% of the site changing the same day, or if the site has 5000 pages its 0.005%. Quite a difference.

Plus, other factors might come into play, such as an overall "spam score" or profile for the site.

reseller




msg:708920
 6:12 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

longen

>>you only change/update the title tags of 25+ pages at once

If the site has 100 pages that 25% of the site changing the same day, <<

But does that mean; changing the title (or description metatags or the title on the body text) alone of 20% or 25% or X% of pages at the same day might trigger a "Google Gaming Filter"?

reseller




msg:708921
 6:21 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

europeforvisitors

>>Plus, other factors might come into play, such as an overall "spam score" or profile for the site. <<

Should that mean site [A] with "clean profile" might change the titles of X% of pages at the same day without trigger a "Google Gaming Filter" while site [B] with "less clean profile" will trigger the said filter for doing the same changes?

europeforvisitors




msg:708922
 6:58 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Reseller: Yes, that's what I'm suggesting about filters and penalties in general. It would be a logical approach, and it would help to explain why some people get whacked for doing X, Y, or Z while others are unaffected.

reseller




msg:708923
 7:21 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

europeforvisitors

>>Reseller: Yes, that's what I'm suggesting about filters and penalties in general. It would be a logical approach, and it would help to explain why some people get whacked for doing X, Y, or Z while others are unaffected.<<

Very interesting indeed and that makes sense.

Maybe Google have a kind of "site behavior rating" incorporated within the algos. Google might use either automatic or semi-automatic procedures for rating a site behavior.

Take a look at what Matt Cutts wrote (on his blog) in connection to link buying, especially "semi-automatic" and "reputation":

"A natural question is: what is Google’s current approach to link buying? Of course our link-weighting algorithms are the first line of defense, but it’s difficult to catch every problem case in adversarial information retrieval, so we also look for problems and leaks in different semi-automatic ways. Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org. However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation(e.g. PageRank and anchortext)."

europeforvisitors




msg:708924
 9:26 pm on Sep 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Reseller, that's pretty interesting. And I've learned a new bit of trade jargon: "adversarial information retrieval." :-)

longen




msg:708925
 2:13 am on Sep 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

But does that mean; changing the title (or description metatags or the title on the body text) alone of 20% or 25% or X% of pages at the same day might trigger a "Google Gaming Filter"?

The problem is, we're talking about a moving target - controlled by google, so all we can do is choose a set of guidlines we are happy with for our own sites.
Google is probably building profiles of what spam site activity looks like - we could accidently stray into what looks like spam activity.

I prefer to, if possible:
Drip-feed global changes
Make bigger changes after a google update, not before or during a possible update.
Keep a log of changes made to the site so that you can study dates, traffic levels, PR, etc, should there be problems later.

A possible risk in global changes to <titles> is that if the content of the page hasn't changed, then, in theory, the Title shouldn't have to change - its best to choose accurate Meta Tags when creating the page and let them mature in the serps.

Another possible factor to consider is page size, If you have two pages, one 5K and the other 10K, and you make identical changes to the meta tags. The larger file has a better "content" to "html" ratio compared to the smaller file, so it might fly under a filter rather than trigering a filter. I'im just speculating of course, but i think we learned over recent years that just about every factor needs to be considered.

Something worth doing when you work on SEO is to imagine that your're a google software engineer working on the algo/filters. That makes decisions easier.

caveman




msg:708926
 5:21 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Over the past 12 months, I've noticed a lot of random posts from members noting that they had made sitewide/largescale changes to items like page titles, only to see subsequent drops in rankings. Most senior memebers dismissed the notion that two such events might be connected.

I'm not so sure.

But for perspective, I'm ultra paranoid. ;-)

reseller




msg:708927
 7:09 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

caveman

>>Over the past 12 months, I've noticed a lot of random posts from members noting that they had made sitewide/largescale changes to items like page titles, only to see subsequent drops in rankings.<<

In general we are talking about an ANTI-SEO filter (as per longen msg #:24 too)which might cause a site to be sandboxed or drop in ranking.

I guess the main key to trigger the "Google Gaming Filter" are sitewide/largescale as you mentioned correctly. Maybe we are talking about x% of the total number of a site pages.

The second key mightbe the sudden modification of ONLY ONE of the following factors:

- <title></title>

- <meta name="description" content="">

- The title in <h1></h1> within the text of the area <body></body>

[edited by: reseller at 7:13 pm (utc) on Sep. 6, 2005]

pontifex




msg:708928
 7:09 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)


Drip-feed global changes
Make bigger changes after a google update, not before or during a possible update.
Keep a log of changes made to the site so that you can study dates, traffic levels, PR, etc, should there be problems later.

well, that all is definitely more gaming google than acting as you work constantly toward the users...
i have now over 170,000 pages in google and during the last 6 month i HAD to update subpage templates (everything is DB driven), maybe updated so over 20,000 pages at once, but I did that for the sake of the users, not to game anybody... if google flags this and considers it "cheating": forget about them, i have principles which can not be dictated by some search engine, only by my users! and if they think it has to be green and on the left, i think about google AFTER thinking about my users...

just 2 pennies,
P!

longen




msg:708929
 7:18 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

... have now over 170,000 pages in google and during the last 6 month i HAD to update .... over 20,000 pages

Thats still only 12% - so not a global update.

jomaxx




msg:708930
 7:19 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

A lot of sites -- probably the majority of very large sites -- follow a template. Thus any change to H1 or TITLE or META tags will propagate to a large proportion of the site.

It's possible that such changes could cause a short-term interruption in Google rankings, but I doubt very much Google would seek this out specifically. This sort of thing is a normal and frequent occurrence, not spammy or indicative of excessive SEO at all.

2by4




msg:708931
 7:33 pm on Sep 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Most senior memebers dismissed the notion that two such events might be connected.

I'm not so sure."

Caveman, I'm not so sure either. We just saw this type of drop today. It's not certain that sitewide changes caused a keyword serp drop, but it's definitely high on the list of most likely culprits. Only one keyword was affected however.

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