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What to do about Google Penalties
Will Spencer




msg:717486
 9:54 am on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have a couple of sites which have been penalized heavily in the Google SERPS.

I've checked 'em over and the sites appear to be in full compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

I've sent numerous reinclusion requests to Google, but have not received any responses from Google.

I have now waited several months for resolution. Waiting doesn't seem to be a winning strategy.

What is a good next step to take?

 

walkman




msg:717516
 2:34 am on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm getting sick and tired too. I think I know why I got penalized (sitewide link from another domain of mine), and fixed the issue back in mid-october. I think, a set time penalty is in effect, and I'm hoping that when Big Daddy is spread, it ends.

Lorel




msg:717517
 4:11 am on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)


One of my two penalized sites has another site which has copied it -- and then cloaked on top of the content. The search engines see my content and regular visitors see spammy pages about teleconferencing.

I do not believe that the duplicate my content issue is the cause of my current difficulties.

I would say it is more than likely indeed the cause of your difficulties. I had a client's home page copied 13 times on a culprit site and my client's site totally dropped out of SERPS and lost their PR which was PR 4. Google said it was not penalized. The site was totally white hat. The drop in serps occurred arounnd the same time this culprit bragged about their "review" of my client's site (which had no links to the site). I reported this to the host who requested a DMCA report. We also sent one to Google. The culprit site disappeard about a week later and my client's PR came back and the SERPS came back slowly about a month later.

Don't let anyone copy your content.

seochristine




msg:717518
 6:22 am on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

This time it is getting seriously troublesome. The "site:mysite.com -inurl:www" returns wierd no. of results from the various datacenters.
A analysis of 30 DC's yielded a few returning 36,000 pages indexed and the rest of the DC's returned 3,90,000 results.
A majority of my sections do not appear in the googles index any more.
What I want to know is am I getting penalized?
I have my Home Page Listed with a "www" and the internal site pages without a "www" but with a proper 301 permanent redirect.
What could be the appropriate reason for such a sudden overnight disappearance of the URL's from G's index.
Should I be more patient and wait for this storm to settle?

seochristine




msg:717519
 7:10 am on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Can someone please tell whether the results in the Big Daddy Center (66.249.93.104) and the one following it i.e. (64.233.179.104) gonna get reflected across all the data centers after this so called "searchquake" settles.
Then it seems we are seriously in to deep trouble.

MissusC




msg:717520
 3:47 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Will Spencer,

"Unfortunately, your plan to upgrade your site is almost certainly off-target. When these Google failures affect your site, all you can do is wait"

I have been waiting for some months, without making changes. The site in question has come and gone a couple of time in the past few months. On Sept 23rd it suddenly regained momentum and again was showing up in #1-3 slots for keywords but this lasted only a few weeks and then back to the "seeming penalized state".

In the last two weeks as I have been making changes to increase content and change metas, I am seeing some pages moving up in ranks so apparently, I am on the right track. At least I hope so. Anyway as you said improving my site is always a good thing. And I don't give up the ship easily.

Will Spencer




msg:717521
 9:41 am on Mar 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Wandering Mind:

An excellent post, and one which closely matches my experience.

This is clear evidence, not of a Google penalty, but of a technical error on the part of Google.

It looks like database corruption. It seems that the problem is too difficult to define for the Google engineers to admit to it, much less to find and repair it.

Most pages lose a 100 places in SERPs, but a few pages remain exactly where they were. How come?!

Yes, that is exactly what I see. Pages with direct inbound links continue to do well, but they do not pass on any amount of authority to the other pages on your site.

Google appears to use some sort of "site rank" in their sorting algorithm and this bug appears to accidentally zero out site rank.

And then... magically... the bug disappears again.

I have one site in this hell right now. I'm down around eight thousand visitors a day on that web site.

JuniorOptimizer




msg:717522
 12:22 pm on Mar 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't think your site is penalized. I've had the same thing happen a few times and I don't believe it's a penalty. Get yourself some nice fresh links in and you can restore yourself, at least partially.

wanderingmind




msg:717523
 1:47 pm on Mar 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Will Spencer,

Here is my update.

The tanked site bounced back on 8th march - almost 6 months later - at exactly the same rankings. Traffic back to same levels as was before 6 months.

What did I change? Nothing.

What has changed at Google's end? Big Daddy. It is supposed to fix some problems, and probably has to some extent.

What else do I notice? On a couple of other new sites of mine, with Page ranks of 2, 3 etc, pages going supplemental and in one case, disappearing. These sites have almost zero SEO and maybe a dozen or so natural links. This too I believe has been noticed by Googleguy and Matt Cutts and some fixes are in the works/ already fixed acc to them. Who knows.

What will I do? Just hang in there and wait forever, because that is the only thing that seems to work.

Lorel




msg:717524
 4:08 pm on Mar 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Will,

The site in question has come and gone a couple of time in the past few months. On Sept 23rd it suddenly regained momentum and again was showing up in #1-3 slots for keywords but this lasted only a few weeks and then back to the "seeming penalized state".

You said you were changing meta tags and noticed an improvement. Are your descriptions the same on too many pages? I read somewhere that Google was penalizing sites with this problem.

Lorel




msg:717525
 4:14 pm on Mar 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

I manage 32 sites and none of them have been bouncing around in the serps with the big daddy update. When this happens I would suspect that there is something wrong with my site and I would be searching for the problem--not letting it sit for 6 months and expecing google to "fix it".

Google changes it's algorithm often and thus some sites go down and the kind of sites I'm seeing go down lately are those with JavaScript navigation or another problem like session IDs on links to track traffic and so Google can't follow links on the site and with those same kind of features on inside pages the home page doesn't get a link back either. Make sure Google can follow all links.

ichthyous




msg:717526
 6:00 pm on Mar 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have had the same problem with my site. It's been going strong for some years now with definitely top 5 placement on most keyowrds. Suddenly in the last month the number of pages indexed has plummeted and traffic is down by a third. I am wondering if someone has copied and cloaked my content, but how would I be able to check this in Google?

g1smd




msg:717527
 6:50 pm on Mar 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Check using CopyScape and see what you can find.

ichthyous




msg:717528
 9:07 pm on Mar 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the link...i used it and found no copies on the pages I searched for so I guess that's out. My guess is that Google has somehow changed its algo and for some reason the pages were penalized. They used to rank in top five pretty much across the board, now they are nowhere to be found in the results except for a few exceptions. I am going to freshen them up and make them less cookie-cutter...let's see if that helps.

BillyS




msg:717529
 10:38 pm on Mar 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

My site also dropped in the Septemeber 22nd update. Matt never did say what that update was all about other than acknowledging that it existed.

I spend nearly 19 months in the Sandbox before that time. I got out then two months later went back only to emerge again about two months ago. The site is coming up on it's two year anniversary. My point is simply this... There is something in Google's algo that trips a filter or penalty.

I felt that my problem was getting into DMoz so quickly - after only a month or two (It happens.) Getting into DMoz that fast means you accumulate a lot of links quickly - which I did. I alway thought the pattern of linking was "unnatural" to Google.

The funny thing here (if you can call this funny) is that I totally gave up on looking for links about four months ago. I've gotten several .edu and .gov links since giving up. RK showed PR6 last time it was visible.

My advice:

1. - Stay clean
2. - Keep working on the site
3. - Write Google and tell them if you think something is wrong
4. - Make sure your site is not producing duplicate content itself.
5. - Make sure 404s, 410s and 301s are working as you think they should.
4. - Rinse and repeat

RichTC




msg:717530
 10:55 pm on Mar 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

g1smd

Have been following this thread

That was a great site ive not seen - a real help - thank you!

Question is - what can be done about these scum bags copying your pages?

On one of our sites i have found two or three coppies of certain pages from the site- in one example its the page duplicated with a re-direct on it!

The cheeky so and sos cant even be bothered to change any of the text its 100% duplicate!

Its just something else to contend with!

Lorel




msg:717531
 12:27 am on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Question is - what can be done about these scum bags copying your pages?

Gather data from the whois of the thief's site --the host--and then go to the host site and look for ther TOS (terms of service) or it might be called something else pertaining to rules of use.

Look for rules about breaking laws, etc.. Copy that into a letter to the host, giving your URL, and the url of the site that is copying your data.

If you've been online over a year search the WayBackMachine for your site and look for the earliest date you had that data online and give them that URl also.

Tell them how this is affecting your site (if it's a 301 redirect, explaining that a 301 redirect tells the search engine that your content now belongs to the other site, etc.) and this is hurting your rank in the search engine.

The host may insist on A DMCA Report--which is just a more formal statement sent by postal mail. However this often results in the thief's site being taken down.

Usually a deliberate thief hides all contact data, and if so mention that also. Don't bother writing the thief. Anyone who doesn't know they have stolen content has no business on the Internet.

wanderingmind




msg:717532
 3:48 am on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Lorel,

My site didnt bounce around in the SERPs. It tanked. For 6 months, almost exactly. And then came back exactly where it was, maybe even a bit better.

I do not think anything was wrong with my site. Everyone I asked for advice agreed they couldn't see anything wrong. Yes, there was the www and non-www issue whcih I fixed within a week of the problem, but the site stayed where it fell. (And www / non-www is not MY problem really, it is GOOGLE's problem -- which I end up fixing anyway :-))

And the way it came back without any modifications - it is just not logical that a site is excellent by google's (and also by the natural links to it), is crap the next, and is brilliant again the next. A service or company which produces such inconsistent results are instantly fired.

Will Spencer




msg:717533
 12:28 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

And the way it came back without any modifications - it is just not logical that a site is excellent by google's (and also by the natural links to it), is crap the next, and is brilliant again the next. A service or company which produces such inconsistent results are instantly fired.

That is exactly what I am seeing and exactly the conclusion to which I have arrived.

Google is just buggy and there is nothing that you or I can do about it.

I have written endlessly to Google about the problem, but I can't seem to get to an engineer. My e-mail is responded to, eventually by "customer service" types who cut and paste paragraphs of boilerplate text to me. They do not appear to be reading my e-mails before responding to them.

g1smd




msg:717534
 12:41 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have to say that the helpdesk at Google is probably just about the worst helpdesk that I have ever communicated with.

They send back cut and paste answers that bear no relation to the question that was asked. They blatently don't even understand the question most of the time.

Hopeless.

Lorel




msg:717535
 3:28 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Will and Wandering Mind,

When your site is up one month and down the next that that is telling me there is something wrong with your site and you should take it as a warning and the reason it goes up and down is because Google tests it algorithm trying to get rid of spam, etc. and sometimes withdraws an algorithm when too many quality sites go down.

Are your descriptions all the same? Do you have supplemental Results penalties? If so change your content and look for anything that Google might consider spam in your code. Also check all outgoing links to see if they have been bought out by bad neighborhoods.

Also the reason Google doesn't give out adivce is because it would betray what they are doing. The only way to figure that out is to hang around WW till we all figure it out.

wanderingmind




msg:717536
 5:52 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Lorel,

Nothing I have learnt or read in 3 years of WW will help in fixing anytyhing more on the site. I see external factors appearing and disappearing. I follow ultra simple, whitehat SEO and there is nothing I can go wrong on. I am super confident about that. Nothing that even edges anywhere near spam.

But I see others copying my content in ways i can do pretty much nothing about, my site dropping in rankings, google fixing them and my site reappearing.

I have believed for several years that when a site goes down, its the site owners' mistake - not anymore.

There could of course be google wires I am tripping - but if that is the case, those wires have yet to be even mentioned anywhere.

Let me quote myself once again. One of my sites with thousands of external natural links vanished out of the rankings (now back) while my own piddly little site with few links and few good stories ranked. Ridiculous is the only word I can think of. Fixed for now, but despite my gratitude and relief, I should say that I am clueless.

Lorel




msg:717537
 6:22 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)


Let me quote myself once again. One of my sites with thousands of external natural links vanished out of the rankings (now back) while my own piddly little site with few links and few good stories ranked. Ridiculous is the only word I can think of. Fixed for now, but despite my gratitude and relief, I should say that I am clueless.

Did you gather those links one by one yourself or did you subscribe to one of those "submit to thousands of engines" programs that produces thousands of links suddenly?

g1smd




msg:717538
 6:42 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would like to believe that the word "natural" in that post meant what it said.

If it did, then your question is unecessary...

Lorel




msg:717539
 8:31 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ahhhh. I didn't read that right.

If you have thousands of external links, is your site a forum?

If so check another thread on Forums.

Phil_Payne




msg:717540
 8:34 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

> I would say it is more than likely indeed the cause of your difficulties. I had a client's home page copied 13 times on a culprit site and my client's site totally dropped out of SERPS and lost their PR which was PR 4. Google said it was not penalized.

In my case it was a Wikipedia article that (legitimately) contained a link to an article on my site. Someone scraped the Wiki article and put it on 2,000 web pages, giving me 2,000 inbound links overnight.

As far as I can see, the only effect is that the link: search argument no longer works for me. Not at all - no links found. Yahoo and Lycos still find a couple of hundred, all genuine. I've never taken part even in manual link exchanges - every link to me was the idea of the linker; none were requested.

Lorel




msg:717541
 9:31 pm on Mar 27, 2006 (gmt 0)


In my case it was a Wikipedia article that (legitimately) contained a link to an article on my site. Someone scraped the Wiki article and put it on 2,000 web pages, giving me 2,000 inbound links overnight.

In that case I would write Google Spam department and tell them what that site is doing and while you're at it see if they do it to others, and check their code for other spam techniques.

Will Spencer




msg:717542
 2:04 am on Mar 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

In that case I would write Google Spam department and tell them what that site is doing and while you're at it see if they do it to others, and check their code for other spam techniques.

As stated earlier, writing to Google is almost completely useless. The folks who respond to the e-mails appear completely unable to comprehend the English language.

The symptoms we are seeing change occur with absolutely no changes to the sites in question.

1. A site exists
2. Google penalizes it
3. No changes are made
4. Google unpenalizes it
5. No changes are made
6. Google penalizes it
7. No changes are made
8. Google unpenalizes it

Worse -- when you write to Google and you eventually get a response -- Google support will tell you that your site is not penalized -- in spite of massive evidence to the contrary.

Therefore, if Google support is telling the truth and these are not "penalties", the only logical conclusion is that these are bugs.

The result of these bugs is a site that flips back and forth between 4k visitors a day and 13k visitors a day on a cycle of several months in length.

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