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|Google's 950 Penalty - Part 3|
What do we know about it, and how do we get out of it?
< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >
< related threads: -950 Quick Summary [webmasterworld.com] -- -950 Part One [webmasterworld.com] >
I was just wondering if we could get an update from the people who said they recovered from the 950 Penalty. Are your sites still doing OK? Any new pages replace the old ones at the bottom of the SERPs?
And, do you still believe that the main cause for the penalty was overuse of the keyword/keyphrase on the page, or were there other issues that you feel contributed to it?
(My pages are still buried at the bottom, so the penalty is very much alive and well, and I suspect, lots of new sites are being added every day, they just don't know it yet. I'm seeing new sites listed at the bottom for some of the terms I watch, and they appear to be clean sites with decent PR.)
[edited by: tedster at 9:20 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]
My missing directory index page came back on the 24th. 2 or 3 days later one article page came back then yesterday another article page returned. The others are still gone.
It's so frustrating as on most of them when I search their topic other pages on my site will come up in the top 10. Most of these pages only link to the missing page. So just the term in the anchor text is enough to get the page to rank. So I know beyond a doubt that the missing pages are penalized.
This is the point im making about the results not being as relevent. results now are in the ball park but not on target because google will now show a page in the results that is not as specific as your authority page.
Im seeing dedicated sections to a subject matter not ranking in google anywhere yet a bit of scrapped text from those pages on a directory will rank in its place or as you say a text link to that page on another of your pages will rank instead.
It will be interesting to see if results for Q1 will be strong or not, based on the current serps they deserve to be down this quarter because the serps at Yahoo are currently much much more relevent and im one of googles biggest fans but currently the serps are not good imo
Rich, My guess is that the reason we are seeing this is some shift on the Google algo or line for penalties that is cutting out individual pages across the Internet. It doesn't seem to be related to the kind of site (business, content or whatever). I think they are doing it to stop spammers but the net is catching a lot of regular pages that are usually quite high in the serps.
Now I have a question for everyone. Are any blogs getting caught in this? I'm thinking since they tend to be long and discuss a variety of things perhaps blog pages are not as targeted as an article page or a page telling about a product.
I find it's pretty hard to write a 700 to a 1,000 word article on a specific widgeting technique without mentioning "specifickindof widgets" several times in the article. So the article is naturally well targeted. I guess that may look like spammers but I can't figure out how to change it and still have the article make sense.
With one article I was able to completely get rid of one phrase I suspect is a flag phrase. It makes the article less interesting but doesn't ruin it. Now I just have to wait and see if that gets the page back from oblivion. If so we are on to something.
|shift on the Google algo or line for penalties that is cutting out individual pages across the Internet |
I'll say, one of the biggest shifts I have seen. Wether your sites have been hit by this thing or not you would be well served to study it.
I was just wondering if we could get an update
yes andy - 4 good days so far
Are your sites still doing OK?
Any new pages replace the old ones at the bottom of the SERPs?
I am not sure I understand the question.
And, do you still believe that the main cause for the penalty was overuse of the keyword/keyphrase on the page, or were there other issues that you feel contributed to it?
To the best of my knowledge, I see a major Google glitch - lost data. Made no changes at all, did nothing different and so far the glitch has been fixed.
Check out this thread about drops occuring right after site maps being downloaded.
This just happened to us. Our google sitemap was downloaded, and boom, terms started dropping.
I don't have google sitemaps so it isn't what has caused my problem.
Good to hear you're hanging in there. I hope this is over for you.
What I meant was, are you seeing other (different) pages get penalized at the same time others are returning back to normal?
I'm truly shocked at how much garbage is in the Google SERPs. I suppose it's always been there, but I normally don't dig this deep so I haven't seen it. Totally useless pages, but there they are: one after another, junk, junk, junk. I suspect most of them are template/database pages that the webmaster's eyes have never even seen, because they were generated one after another automatically.
It really bugs me that my pages that I worked so hard to build are ranked the same. It really is an insult.
|To the best of my knowledge, I see a major Google glitch - lost data |
I couldn't agree more. What I am seeing is pages being penalized, then recovering, and then penalized again, then recovering, and so on.
I have pages that, when recovered are in the top 10, and immediately after a "data refresh" are pushed into oblivion (not necessarily 950, but enough so we get no referrals to these pages). This happens on almost a weekly basis, and has been occuring for a few months now.
Though I fully believe our site follows all of Google's webmaster guidelines, whether or not we do is completely irrelevent. If they want to penalize, then penalize. I can not understand the logic of what the algorithm is doing with our site, and I firmly believe that this behavior is unintentional.
The question I have is what did I do to trip this crazy filter (or penalty I guess), and what can I do to get out - or am I stuck here until they fix the bug?
[edited by: JerryRB at 7:04 am (utc) on Feb. 2, 2007]
It's obviously unintentional in some cases, but at this point they clearly think the breakage is better than turning off the drunken penalty as too many sites deserving a penalty would be benefitted.
I really believe that the ups and downs we are seeing during the past month or so are not related to any changes that webmasters may have made to avoid any penalty, but are simply due to Google changing its mind about what penalties to apply.
I have not made any changes to my sites (apart from routine updates) yet pages bounce up and down seemingly at random.
Either the guys at Google are in panic mode making constant tweaks to their algorithm to try to get it right, or they have introduced some fundamental instability to the system that is causing small data changes to lead to huge ranking changes. In science, this has a name: "chaos".
JerryB asks: The question I have is what did I do to trip this crazy filter (or penalty I guess), and what can I do to get out - or am I stuck here until they fix the bug?
Maybe nothing. Since I am a believer in the "glitch theory," all I can say is that there is no pattern to the madness. Very new websites with no incoming links are doing great while established websites have been hurt.
I can understand that your rankings change for some of the keywords by 10-20% daily but it does not make sense that one day you suddenly lose thousands of visitors on a daily basis and a few days later you get them back as if nothing happened. So it is a glitch that some data is not counted in serving results.
I'm still at the very bottom of the serps for most search phrases. For a few, I am still at #1 or in the top 10.
If you type in my domain name, you still see my site show up with the 5 extra links. Plus, I still have the few terms on my site that still show up for define:keyword.
Many of my previous top 10 search keywords that used to show two of my pages (one indented) in the results, now divide those 2 pages in the results. One is about number 100, and the other 950. I can't help but think that is significant, but what it means, I don't know.
I don't see any commonalities of the sites at the bottom. I see Google groups, Google books, .edu sites, plus well-established, well-thought-of sites in my field in the 900's now.
Some escaped last Sunday, but some did not including me.
The only pattern that I see is that this penalty affects directories. When the penalty is applied, all pages in the directory are affected, when the penalty is lifted they all return.
It used to be 2 directories on the site that jumped around like this, and with the latest data refresh another one has joined the mix. Last weekend when everyone got excited that their 950 penalty was removed, all 3 of my directories recovered their rankings. Before that all 3 were penalized (which was very unusual because usually at least one remains ranked) Then, yesterday, one was hit again with the other 2 remaining stable.
I agree with Steveb, I am sure Google is well aware of these occurances, but lifting this penalty completely would probably open the flood gates on tons of spam sites. But we're not a spam site.
I guess for the "greater good" of the internet a few innocents have to fall.
At first I thought it was related to directories as most of my missing pages were in one subdirectory. But now I'm not so sure. I'm finding more missing pages in other directories. It might be a factor but not the whole story.
|or am I stuck here until they fix the bug? |
I miss the days when someone from Google would come by let us know they are listening to our concerns and perhaps make suggestions. I don't expect then to give away their secrets, just tell us if we should wait to change things while they are finding the right algo or whatever or to let us know we may have really done something wrong.
I think its clear there are several similar penalties. One definitely is directory-wide. Other people say they have pages below a penalized directory page that are unaffected (I personally have not seen this ever). Some people have most-of-the-site problems, others have only a few pages effected. Not a good idea to generalize too much... (other than Google blows at whatever they are trying to do here of course :)
Don't know if this means anything but I have been at the bottom of the search results for the last month for selected keywords.
Domain at least 4-5 years old. pr 4-5 and I have never had any trouble with google.
Changed my sitemap to xml from html about 5 days ago.
Made a couple of changes to the title and description of 4 pages about 5 days ago, they were duplicate, doubt this was the problem.
Changed my "Preferred domain" to www.site.com 2 days ago, and since then my site has returned back to the top results.
Any one else see this.
On my site, the penalty is not directory wide. In fact, I have two pages whose titles differ only by two numbers. ( Widget Page 1239 vs. Widget Page 1240), one of them is at the bottom of the results, the other is at #1. Both are of similar construction, although have unique content.
Matt Cutts on his blog looked at a couple of sites where people complained about dropping (thinking it was related to the Googlebombing fix) and he found common problems with all of them. Pages that were incomplete (not having promised information indicated by anchor text in link to page), large amounts of copied text found on lots of other sites, etc. In general, common issues of quality.
I don't believe any of these issues relate to my site, but I'm going to take another look at it this weekend.
My first message,
I got the same problem since feb. 1
My web site in french has been first for many keywords (and two or three kw) since 4 years
No wrong issues with GG
PR 5 since 4 years
More than 6000 pages (5200 indexed in GG)
Top position in Yahoo and MSN for my keywords
Suddently, around noon feb 1, i see that i am on this penalty
French forums do not have any clue or informations
This may be a shot in the dark, but has anybody had (or seen) a site that was hit with this penalty that was *not* top-10 ranked for a "good" keyword(s)/phrase(s)?
What I'm getting at is if it's possible this penalty was targeting sites ranking well, either specifically, or applying an extra-strong filter in targeted areas - i.e. competitive terms, industries, etc.?
I know it's naive and presumptuous to assume my own experience is symptomatic of others, but I do seem similar observations: "I was #1 for ... I was top 10 for ... etc.)
My penalized site didn't have *any* issue with Google penalties or being supplemental-ed to death *until* I hit the first page for some competitive keywords. Then all hell broke loose (and still no end in sight).
Coincidental timing or ...?
|Matt Cutts on his blog looked at a couple of sites where people complained about dropping and he found common problems with all of them |
Thats fine. I am sure most sites, ours included, have skeletons in the closet, current issues, etc. The point is you can dig up dirt on pretty much any site if you dig deep enough. You don't have to be the world's biggest spammer to trip a filter, and its very evident that the spammers are doing everything in their power to look like one of us. I have yet to see a site that has been perfect from day 1.
The point is that the results of these penalties do not make sense, practically or theoretically. They are a result of an overzealous filter that needs to be toned down.
[edited by: JerryRB at 12:08 am (utc) on Feb. 3, 2007]
It's probably multiple "filters" being tweaked continuosly, but a big factor, IMO, is definately a change in how much keyword optimization is allowed before you have problems.
A site I had previously consulted on and keep tabs on was hit in December and has been fluctuating, but mostly down since then. This site has 4 subdomains with URLs like "bluewidgets.domain", "redwidgets.domain", "greenwidgets.domain", and "yellowwidgets.domain". The index pages are very similar, but optimized for keyword search to match the subdomain name.
The index pages for these subdomains ranked from #4-30 prior to December. Now on a search for "blue widgets", the domain.bluewidgets index page is buried deep in serps. All the other subdomain index pages rank much higher than the bluewidgets.domain index page. In fact, every page on the site ranks higher for the terms than the index page that is most optimized and used to work best for those search terms.
Even more interesting, is that the bluewidgets.domain index page isn't "penalized" for every term, just for a search on "blue widgets". If you search for "green widgets", the bluewidgets.domain index page, and every other page on the site, will rank higher than the greenwidgets.domain index page.
All the pages on the site follow this pattern. A page will rank ok for some search terms, but terms they are most optimized for are buried in the serps.
Notice how many posts here refer to losing rankings for selected keyword searches, even though they've done nothing wrong? Yet other keyword searches will still find the "missing pages".
Also, some have commented that the "competitive" terms, or those that they made the most money with are the terms that were hit. The keyword search specific overoptimization penalty I described above does seem to be applied only to more commonly searched terms.
For example, the domain.bluewidgets index page is buried in serps when searching for "blue widgets", but comes up #1 on a search for "bluewidgets". "bluewidgets" (without the space) is not a highly searched term, while "blue widgets" is.
G may be tweaking the cutoff point that they are applying this filter for. Would make sense that they wouldn't apply it to every search, but start with the most highly contested (which attracts the most spammers), and lower the bar to apply it to more and more keyword searches.
My site hit by the 950 penalty which got hit on 20th Jan 07 came out about 16:00 today although time will tell how long it will be out for.
I did not make any changes other than a few cosmetic changes.
I'm still getting pages in the top 10 of Google results that link to the missing pages with key words in the anchor text but the missing pages are no where to be seen.
I don't know how it could be more obvious that they are penalized as when pages barely mentioning the key words rank well and the pages that are actually about the topics are gone. I have tried and tried to figure out what I've done that is getting the penalty. Probably I should just give up for a while and work on content.
I've been reading the following thread
Could this be the problem? Are driving ourselves nuts trying to figure out what we did wrong and it's just pages that Google has missed in spidering?
I doubt that it's a spidering thing - because, for some people the same url will rank well for a different url. This keyword-specific behavior and the drastic nature of going to the end of the results are two of the most characteristic signs. The drastic quality makes me feel this might be some kind of "message" -- but what on earth is it saying, especially when some sites report that some of their urls go in and out of the "penalty".
[edited by: tedster at 8:07 pm (utc) on Feb. 4, 2007]
Here we go again, another directory booted from the top into oblivion. Whatever message Google is trying to send me is not coming out very clear, thats for sure.
The interesting thing is that any NEW directories I create are definitely exempt from this penalty (or bug) and rank well, and most importantly STABLE. Do I dump my current directories and create new directories and new pages in those directories? Or do I just wait for this bug in the algo to be fixed?
Our site has been around for 5 years and our information architecture is clear and well conceived. We have lots of inbound links to these directories, that we cannot afford to lose. I wonder if 301'ing the pages would pass the penalties along as well.
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