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This 57 message thread spans 2 pages: 57 ( [1] 2 > >     
What to do about Google Penalties
Will Spencer

 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?



 2:15 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

You didn't mention why you think it's a penalty -- did rankings for those sites drop a lot, or did they disappear completely? At any rate, here's two good threads to check out:

Checklist for Sudden Drops in Rank [webmasterworld.com]
Dropped Site Checklist [webmasterworld.com]

Will Spencer

 5:14 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

SERPS for the two sites dropped an average of 10 pages (100 places) each.

Each site chased a few hundred mostly uncompetitive SERPS.

Google traffic for each site dropped off around 75%.

[edited by: Will_Spencer at 5:31 pm (utc) on Feb. 6, 2006]


 5:18 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you're still in the index, then sending reinclusion requests probably won't help you, because as far as Google is concerned, you're not being penalized per se, you're just not ranking well.

Will Spencer

 5:35 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you're still in the index, then sending reinclusion requests probably won't help you, because as far as Google is concerned, you're not being penalized per se, you're just not ranking well.

I believe that was true at one time, when Google only had the ability to deindex sites they didn't like.

I do not believe that is currently true. I believe that reinclusion requests are now the proper mechanism for penalties as well as complete deindexing.

Of course, I could be wrong. If I knew anything, I wouldn't be getting traffic only from visitors who had bookmarked my sites. ;)

Ah yes, here is a quote from Matt Cutts on this very point:

If you’ve been experimenting with SEO, or you employ as SEO company that might be doing things outside Google’s guidelines, and your site has taken a precipitous drop recently, you may have a spam penalty. A reinclusion request asks Google to remove any potential spam penalty.

Not that I have been doing anything outside of Google's Guidelines, but it appears that Google may believe that I have.

So yes, according to Matt, a Reinclusion Request is appropriate for penalties as we as for complete deindexing.

Will Spencer

 6:48 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

At any rate, here's two good threads to check out:

Checklist for Sudden Drops in Rank
Dropped Site Checklist

tedster, thanks for the links. I read both of those threads end-to-end and my two penalized sites are clean for all but one issue mentioned.

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.

My other penalized site has no similar duplicate content issues.

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

So here is where I am:

1. I believe that my sites are penalized.
2. I believe that my sites are clean.
3. I believe that my reinclusion requests are going unread.

#1 is inarguable. I've gone back to #2 hundreds of times. I have gone so far as to remove the link to the parent (publishing) company from the penalized sites, worrying that Google could see that as inappropriate interlinking. I've tried #3 many times, all with zero effect.

What should be my next step?


 8:21 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

What should you do "if" you have duplicate content penalties.

Will penalties be removed automatically if you remove duplicate content.

We used to be in the to 30 for most terms until update, late last year.

We have two simular websites, one for our retail store that we advertise locally, and one for our mail order business. (mail order is more competitive and has lower prices)

(YES, we have two site with almost the same content)

I was blocking google from one site, but accidently let google in both.

Now most search terms are 100 or lower and get almost no traffic. Now I'm Stressed out like you would not believe.

I have been trying to block/remove one sites content for the last few months.

Wonder if we will come back on top in next update?

Anyone have simular problem.


 10:44 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

As one who's been there and then recovered, I'd suggest hiring someone from outside your organization to take a hard look at your site and offer recommendations. Sometimes we're too close to our own sites to pick up on the things that are causing our sites to self-destruct in the SERPS.

Will Spencer

 3:25 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

What should you do "if" you have duplicate content penalties.

Well, it's my content. I would prefer it if the people who cloned my entire web site would remove their copy instead. ;)

I'd suggest hiring someone from outside your organization to take a hard look at your site and offer recommendations. Sometimes we're too close to our own sites to pick up on the things that are causing our sites to self-destruct in the SERPS.

I've e-mailed a couple of well-known SEO's asking them if they would be interested in a contract to do so, but have received no response from either of them.

The trouble is that many of the folks in the SEO world are dishonest and clueless, and that makes me a wee bit shy of hiring another SEO. I know that sounds bad, but that's just the way it is.


 8:35 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

You could try some of the forums that allow site reviews...

Will Spencer

 11:59 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I guess what I am really asking is beyond step two.

Let's assume for a moment that the sites are, in fact, innocent.

How does one contact Google to say "Hey, what's up with this? I think we have a software bug or human error causing a problem. Can we work together to correct this? Or, can you tell me what I am missing in communicating properly with your algorithm?"

Google doesn't seem to have any personnel assigned to reading the web form they have implemented for this purpose.


 12:42 am on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Will Spencer,
I doubt you can do anything but wait. Usually sites /penalties come and go every few months. Google has its algo, and that reins supreme. I don't think they adjust results manually even if they see a fault, however they will adjust the algo based on that. That is if your email ever reache to that level.

Will Spencer

 4:29 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

help@google.com finally responded, but their response raised even more concern. What they wrote is not logically possible. Google referalls dropped from approximately 7,500/day to approximately 2,500/day.

Either this site is penalized or this site's records are corrupt in the Google database. If this site is not penalized, then Google has some serious data integrity issues.

Google wrote that my site is not currently banned or penalized
and gave me a search that showed my site in the results.
[end paraphrase]

<Sorry, no personal email quotes.
See Terms of Service [webmasterworld.com]>

[edited by: tedster at 5:57 am (utc) on Feb. 23, 2006]
[edit reason] paraphrase email [/edit]

Will Spencer

 4:32 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just noticed that I forgot to mention that, after approximately four months, the other site just magically reappeared in the SERPS.


I hope that happens to this site soon, but I'm not exactly holding my breath.


 4:56 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

like I said before, whatever the algo does, short of banning your site, will not be considered a penalty by Google. Not ranking as well, while it has the same effect for us, is not considered a penalty by them.


 5:58 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Have you checked to see if you have lost any significant backlinbks recently.


 6:23 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

The same thing happened to one of my sites last year. It dropped from the #1 to #3 slots for main keywords to "not to be found without putting a long text string from one of the pages in search". Google said the same thing, no ban or penalty. Just a canned response from them.

BUT, there had to be some kind of penalty. I believe I was being caught in some kind of Google spam filter for something totally innocent on my part.

I spent months adding content to pages with thin content and changing all metas to be distinctive for each and every page. In other words, no more cookie cutter pages and cookie cutter metas. This site came back fully and in fact it has continued to climb and gain traffic steadily. (Knock on the proverbial wood)

I have another site which is experiencing the same phenomena now. I am doing the same with it and am curious to see if it works with it as well. Will let you know if it comes back too.


 6:29 am on Feb 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Forgot to mention, I also did the 301 redirect to take care of the non www and canonical issues. But this was done for both of the sites so this doesn't seem to be the major issue.

Will Spencer

 10:54 pm on Feb 24, 2006 (gmt 0)


Thank heavens that's not the issue. These sites are both 5+ years old and they have thousands of stable backlinks from a good range of authority sites.


When you say "BUT, there had to be some kind of penalty", I know exactly what you mean.

Some folks, inside Google and out, bury their heads in the sand and say "these are just normal fluctuations in the Google SERPS." That's obviously not true.

Normal fluctuations will move your site up or down for 20 or 30 places in the SERPS for many keywords in a single day.

Normal fluctuations will move your site up or down for 200 or 300 places in the SERPS for a few keywords in a single day.

Normal fluctuations will not suddenly drop hundreds of keywords hundreds of places in the SERPS, and then suddenly reverse the drop four to sixteen weeks later.

Normal fluctuations fluctuate. That is, they change from day to day. These changes do not "fluctuate." If they did fluctuate, this would be much less of an issue.

These changes are unrelated to any changes to on-page content or inbound links.

These changes are either:

1. The result of a penalty -- which Google denies.
2. The result of data corruption in the Google database -- which Google is unwilling to discuss.

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.

Trust me, I don't have "thin content" pages. :)

On the positive side, improving your site is always a good thing. :)

On another positive note, if you do nothing, these errors are eventually cleaned from Google's database. Your site will eventually return to its "natural rankings." Unfortunately, this also means that the corruption can then hit your site again in the future.

These instances of corruption in the Google database appear to be occuring to more and more web sites. Eventually, Google will be unable to deny their problems and will be forced to devote engineering resources to finding and fixing the bugs which are causing these errors. In the meantime, Google is serving sub-standard search results and will suffer damage to their public image when that becomes public knowledge.

It would only take a few well-written and well-placed news articles to cause these bugs to negatively affect the price of Google stock.


 11:54 pm on Feb 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

We have a similar problem with our high profile 400 page PR7 white hat financial site.

For many years we have been considered an authority by Google and maintained 1-3 positions on many extremely competitive financial terms, then poof several of our main pages dissapear altogether with resulting total loss of SERPs for the keywords related to those pages.

We checked everything but could not find any guidline errors and got a standard google reply. Then poof pages back again for 6 weeks before poof gone again.

Along come Big Daddy and the site is perfectly indexed and the pages are back again for 6 weeks before yesterday poof gone from Big Daddy but wait for it...

Back again in the default index. Now I am sure you will agree this is not penalty related so it must be down to serious google indexing errors that have not been fixed by Big Daddy as I originally thought.

Oh I nearly forgot - poof the pages are back in the default index but not yet in Big Daddy...

Any comment?


 4:59 am on Feb 25, 2006 (gmt 0)


I am getting some strange results for the last 3 days. My website which was ranking No.1 for the targeted keywords, now its no where in the Top 1000. Even it is showing that site is not listed at all.

The datacenters where the site had been dropped are : (little daddy) (Big daddy)
However apart from the above two there are some other datacenters also where my website got dropped from their index.

The Datacenters that still show my website topping the SERPs some are unable to find the google cache for that specific site. Position is fine, Has been cached on 17feb06) Position is fine, Unable to show cached results)

Is this a temporary effect due to some update?
Or there is something else responsible for such a sudden change.

Kindly help.

Thanking You


 5:52 am on Feb 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Short answer IMO - either:

1) Your site was on the fringe of tripping algo flags/filters, and you pushed on the string or they tweaked the algo. Poof, you dropped off the legde. Look for the issues that rest on the fringe and try backing off one at a time

... or...

2) There's a site out there that has stolen too much of your content, and G is confused. It's happened to me before, more than once...


 7:15 am on Feb 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Established sites dropping siddenly in rankings - definitely there are no simple answers to this.

My site which went down the pits in rankings and traffic in September 2005 still pretty much stays there. New pages do not rank at all anywhere significant, but a few very old pages still retain their no.1 ranking. Mind you, these are all news articles.

Let me clarify a few things.

We are talking original content.

We are talking journalists being paid to write them.

Duplicate content is almost an impossibility.

Spam or playing with the algo - no way. Homepage, section pages, stories. Stories link to sections and homepage, sections link to homepage and stories. Most normal and natural internal linking.

2-3 recip links acquired when the site started 3 years back. And thousands of natural links from universities, .gov sites, blogs, and anywhere else you can imagine. We have never bothered to get any kind of links.

So what can go wrong?

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

Other sites copying my content - yes.
Copying, and cloaking and presenting that content to Googlebot - yes.
301 from non-www to www effected on site after noticing some non-www supplementals almost 6 months or more back.

Now hear this. I started two other sites recently. One is a PR5 website with 20 or so links. Converted that to a news website. Instant top rankings.

Started a totally new website with news about a niche. 2 months, decent rankings.

But my established, old site with massive content and thousands of links cannot rank for the least competitive story I put on it now!

I am sure we can agree that this is illogical.

And in this situation, what is the next step?

(Lets not please start talking about checking if your site follows guildelines etc. They do as far as I know. And if it doesnt in some obscure way my human eyes can see, can we have an algo that talks back to you and explain the mess at Google?!)


 8:24 am on Feb 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Site Dropped! Site Droppped!

Same problem everywhere. What Is the reason behind all this? My Home page doing good, getting crawled, as usual, receiving hits from the bots and ranking well. But suddenly some internal pages have been de-indexed, i.e removed from Google's index.
I was ranking good for a majority of my targeted keywords and all of a sudden those pages are nowhere at various DC's.
Yeah there are other sites with similar content, copying and spamming but still there. Why are my pages getting penalized?
Losing patience, and these changes are reflected in Big Daddy DC too.
Is this alarming? If so what step should be taken.


 11:16 am on Feb 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

ok some of my experience..

A drop of 100 ranks is not an algorithmic change, it's a penalty. I have had a few sites suffering that as a duplication content penalty. As my websites always have unique business names, it's easy for me to check if there is a penalty or just another!#%^&(* google update (pardon my portugese), using a search of my site name without any extensions gives the site on bottom of serps; a definite penalty!

Also tracking google referrals, when all of your referrals come from the 100-200 serps, your site doesnt rank #1 for even one keyword; a definite penalty!

Ways of getting rid of the penalty? Removing the duplication content, either duplication of another site or duplication of your own site content, doesnt solve anything!

I havent tried a reinclusion request as I thought those are dedicated for sites that are completely banned, not just being penalized. But reading that note of matt cutts makes me think twice.

Just my two cents



 9:59 pm on Feb 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

Has any one really recovered from a duplication content penalty?

Will this penalty always stay with a url?

Would it better to just start over again with a new url?


 11:59 pm on Feb 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

< Has any one really recovered from a duplication content penalty?

Will this penalty always stay with a url?

Would it better to just start over again with a new url? >

I've added new pages to my dupe-penalty-ridden site and they are figuring ok - I haven't yet tried creating a new page to replace an old one because G doesn't seem to want to drop the old pages and might see it as yet another duplicate page! Can't redirect to it either as that would just redirect the penalty. My new pages are 're-arranged' content from pages which have suffered.

The only sites I have not been able to do anything at with are those with all-supplemental pages (old oscommerce sites). G simply refuses to index them since last august.


 12:10 am on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Are you cross-linking your sites? Basically, do you have a link on your sites from another one of your sites (which share the same IP address). I know Yahoo penalize for this, not sure about Google, but it could be possible.

Also, I know a PR update is taking place, because one of my sites went from PR0 to PR4 in the last two days. Not sure how the PR update affects the SERPs (instantly)...just a thought!


 12:16 am on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've also had a similar problem in the past few days. Pages totally disappeared, disappeared from site: and not in top1000 from previously top-10 ranking keywords. Absolute bizarre, nothing has changed, homepage ranks higher than ever but yet all internal pages that used to rank high have been de-indexed.


 1:15 am on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)


you can have a few links from the same IP address, you just don`t want to have too many, that would send up a red flag. there are a lot of sites that have multiple links coming in from the same IP that are ranking well in google. i would just limit them if possible. if it wasn`t possible you could wipe out a lot of competition by simply pointing links to a competitor from the same IP`s.

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