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|Google's 950 Penalty - Part 5|
< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >
< related threads: -950 Quick Summary [webmasterworld.com] -- -950 Part One [webmasterworld.com] >
"That's exactly the sort of sites I'm referring to"
Unfortunately some comments about this issue apparently can't be bothered to actually, horrors, look at the serps. Authority has a specific meaning with Google, and its plain that authority sites are what are commonly, mistakenly hit by this penalty. I don't think this is a good summary of the effect, but one simplistic way to look at would be to say authority sites with volume of quality in-links are being confused with spam sites with a volume of rotten quality in-links, sometimes.
One of the most interesting phenomenons is how an authority site can be #1 for red topic, blue topic, green topic and purple topic, but be 950 for orange topic, even though the linking, page structure and keyword usage is basically the same for all of them. Clearly a a ranking mistake is being made (either the 950 result, or all those #1's).
[edited by: tedster at 9:17 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]
thats sounds as a good idea...
ihave a very simple website wich is exactly #1000 on its rather unique kw, my familyname,
and it has a list of links on it, outgoing, not to my own websites though
ill go and remove them now
ill report back
I don't think anything extreme needs to be done. Just think of your visitors. What few additional pages would a visitor to an individual page most likely be interested in?
If they are looking for outdoor widgets what else might they like to buy? If they are reading an article about presidential widgets what other pages are closely related? Give them links to what they are interested in instead of a long laundry list of links that may well look spammy to Google.
This penalty has made me organize my topics and navigation better. That's not a bad thing really, as long as it gets the missing pages back too. ;)
|If Google would stop PAYING people for putting up scraper sites, there wouldn't be any more motivation, so people might stop - except the ones who get swindled into it. |
In my experience the Adsense does disable scraper accounts, but you have to report it and be clear and descriptive, instead of saying: this site is scraping, now you guys find out how and why.
|I've noticed for a long time that large sites like "wikipedia" and "about" are able to get near or at the top on just about any search they have articles on. There is something about these huge sites that gives them an advantage but I think it's just a result of the overall algo. |
There are those that say it's a matter of internal linking, considering the huge number of pages that about and wiki have.
As for my new pet theory: wiki has no Adsense and don't think about has any either.
|I don't think anything extreme needs to be done. |
Amen to that. This isn't a penalty.
I was hit with the 950 penalty late Jan, it affected every page on my site and every keyword. No matter what keywords I searched for I always came in the late 900's.
My site is not spam, all content is my own work, I have links in from respected sites such as wiki, I do not buy links, I do not run any link exchange program and do not have a links page, and the site is over 5 years old.
I made the following changes, my page headings where set out with 1 h3 tag for the general subject matter, and 1 h1 tag for the page subject, so the change I made was to drop the h3 tag and change to a css controlled font size and bold weight, then I dropped the h1 to a h2.
These are the only changes I made and the site is now back in the top 10 for all my test keywords.
Hope this helps
[edited by: tedster at 12:59 am (utc) on Feb. 24, 2007]
[edit reason] post moved from another location [/edit]
My site has resurfaced at about page 3 today. All I really did for what it was worth was remove some of the internal linking for second level sub pages that didnt all need to link back to main category pages, but it ended up being 234 pages in total.
john28uk and CainIV - I suspect many sites will have popped back in today and will be out again in a few days time, sadly.
Let's hope that isn't going to be the case. I had always thought there to be some data migration still to be merged to create a new decent set of results before the update started to draw to some sort of conclusion.
Happy to see my site effected by the +950 back in there and doing well right now as we speak, touch wood.
The simple fact of the matter is that Google looked hell of a lot better and relevant with alot of these sites in there and not getting filtered like they are/were.
Hope alot of you's have recovered and I hope we all start to see some stabilization starting to occur over the next few days/weeks.
This is good news! We're still two weeks away from re-publishing our site since the Jan 20th penalty. We've removed H1 tags, cut down on heavy internal linking and added more unique content.
Really hope this works unless it's just more wasted time.
Let's go Google! work with us just a little.
You should be hoping it was a total waste of time. It's not a "good" thing to escape a misapplied penalty by making your website less logical and less user-friendly.
Of course you want to escape the misapplied penalty how you can, but the hope should be not that people screw up their websites because Google sucks as a search engine. The hope should be that Google becomes less inept and starts judging well-designed content better.
|john28uk and CainIV - I suspect many sites will have popped back in today and will be out again in a few days time, sadly. |
The site came back about a week and a half ago.
What percentage of the site's pages were affected when the penalty hit?
I still have one subdirectory gone except for the index page which came back a few days ago.
The whole site got hit, and the index and a few other pages are ranking better, but nothing is where it was at previously. Still it is a positive move so I am hoping for more over here :P
We were affected first in December for approximately 2,400 of our 2,600 pages which had been in the top ten - down at bottom of results (ie, go to last page of results, there we are at the bottom of that page).
A few pages, at random, were not affected at all by this - in fact, they went to the #1 spot.
We bounced back up (to top 10s) and down (to bottom) a few times in December, then stayed on the bottom consistently until two days ago.
During that time, our uniques from Google dropped from over 20,000/day to under 3,000.
Now we're back up again, and actually better than before. We made no changes to our site's contents, coding or linking structure whatsoever.
Here's (part of) what I think happened - Google put in an aggressive new algorithm to get rid of duplicate content / junk pages / etc. After some testing which seemed to show good results, they implemented it - and it bombed out millions of good pages. However, the ones that were not fully penalized ended up on the bottom of search results - kind of like a purgatory / pending status, where Google still felt they were relevant, but did not know how relevant they were.
As everyone probably already knows, whenever Google makes major changes, it results in massive instability at first (sites bouncing up and down like yoyos) followed by poorer results for about a month or two (during which they are re-evaluating purgatory pages), followed by a reindexing.
I would say that if you can find your pages at the bottom of the last page of search results (search by 100 then click the last page), you've got a good chance of returning mysteriously (and in our case, very suddenly!) to your previous placements.
If you can't find your pages anywhere in your key phrase searches, those pages are in trouble.
Patience and no panic paid off for us (we made no changes). But then again, with only having been restored for two days or so, I certainly can't help but wonder if it's only a temporary upsurge to be unceremoniously replaced by bottomdom again.
But the point is, we made no changes to our pages and our bottomdom has been lifted. So it's not necessarily an issue needing changes, unless you've disappeared from results altogether for your page(s).
This penalty(?) is like something out of "Three Faces of Eve." One of my sites lost all pages EXCEPT the four big money phrases that provide most of the revenue for the site. All long-tail searches are parked squarely at 950+/-.
I don't think this is an intentional penalty on Google's part. I think it's an unintended result of a combination of other factors/filters. If Google had flushed all of a site's pages completely out of the serps, that I could understand. But it's just not logical for Google to decide overnight that 99% of your pages (in my case) deserve to be at 950. I don't think that was their intent.
What's bugging me is that I can't define any difference between the flushed and non-flushed sites. I lost all long-tails and retained the big money searches, but my competitor lost the big money searches and gain all long-tails. Obviously Google is seeing some difference between the two sites that I'm not seeing.
OK! If this is a rollercoaster filter/algo that lasts 2-3 months... why some sites are having this issues since October or even August?
[edited by: Biggus_D at 9:39 pm (utc) on Feb. 25, 2007]
Another thing I find interesting...
A page only gets sent to the 950+/- position if Google returns a full 1000 results. If Google only returns 800 results, a page gets sent to the 750+/- position.
IOW, affected pages get sent to 50 positions (approximately) from the end of the serps, no matter how many results are returned.
We've bounced back up from 950 to #3 to 5 in many of our rankings today. A couple of our rankings are above where they had been pre-slam.
Don't know if it's permanent, but one thing I noticed was that today Google has just started to show in their cache our redesigned layout. When we'd been knocked out on 2/16 and about 4 days ago I replaced all the ancient table elements with a completely modern div/css layout.
While I'd be very surprised if there was causal relationship, but we seem to be getting some added love on the side from Google because our adsense avg. cpc has gone up by 50%. Conversely, this might be a reflection that they realized we started playing with non-adsense advertisers last week. More likely it's just statistical bumps, but I'd rather get that warm fuzzy by thinking it's the holistic happy Google we used to count on showing their appreciation for us making the world better one div at a time.
|affected pages get sent to 50 positions (approximately) from the end of the serps, no matter how many results are returned. |
You're right - that is a very odd symptom. Why doesn't at least someone get sent to the very end? What's that "padding" all about? The recent spam detection patent doesn't seem to present anything that would account for that piece of the puzzle. Except, maybe, if the url's "natural" relevance factor is multiplied by a nasty percentage?
The behavior of this penalty(?) has got to be an unintentional by-product of an algo change --there's no other logical explaination for the way it behaves. If these pages ARE being identified as spam, wouldn't they be flushed completely out of the serps, rather than placed at the end? Just not logical.
So, I believe we should be directing our thinking towards the question of: What exactly is it about these affected pages that is making them appear as spam to the algo.
On the other hand, if the penalty IS intentional, you have to admit that many (most?) of these pages WERE built specifically to target a commercial phrase. So, the question would be, what makes it so obvious to the algo.
Ok So what you are asking is for people who have been hit to list the subject matter of their sites? Am I right
|A page only gets sent to the 950+/- position if Google returns a full 1000 results. If Google only returns 800 results, a page gets sent to the 750+/- position. |
IOW, affected pages get sent to 50 positions (approximately) from the end of the serps, no matter how many results are returned.
|Except, maybe, if the url's "natural" relevance factor is multiplied by a nasty percentage? |
That's right! Google is doing something to the affected sites' natural ranking. There are also authority sites that drop from #1 to #10, or from #5 to #8 (in normally very static search cats), while other sites get unexplained temporary boosts. The link with the -950 thing is that it affects authority sites (but not all authority sites).
Well back in the penalty box . . . . again.
When I was first hit in mid-December, I tried all sorts of things to my site such as repair any html that Google identified in the Google toolbar and other coding that Google might think was "bad," removed the key terms from the pages where I could (If I have an article about "Widget X," it is hard to write about it without mentioning it by name, I even changed my navigation view from same level to global (via FrontPage).
Came back almost better than ever in early January. Then in mid-January, I tanked in the serps again. Terms that were within the top 3 of the Google serp were again 950'd. I was fed up, and besides doing the regular maintenance and adding news updates, I did not do any type of SEO. In early February, the site rebounded to about 80% of the December traffic levels and remained there until a few days ago when traffic dropped 50% and search terms were thrown back into the 950 pergatory. Except for regular content updates, I had not performed any changes for SEO.
1)Although I am only one case, for me trying to be Google compliant works as well as just doing nothing - I am still penalized.
2) I have been following this thread since #1, and have seen all kinds of lists for issues that seem to be the cause of this penalty, and it does not remain consistent for anyone.
3) White hats such as most of our sites and black hats seem to affected by these penalties.
4) We are all very frustrated as to why this is happening and even more frustrated by the lack of communication by Google to directly adress this issue. We are all looking to "official" forums, such as Matt Cutts' site for clues, but either we are all just missing it, or it is being side-stepped.
5) My two largest sites (1700 + pages) were the only one to really be hit by this penalty. My other smaller sites (mostly under 300 pages) were not really touched.
6) In reference to #5, above, the two largest sites were created using FrontPage and many of the smaller ones were created using DreamWeaver (FrontPage came in a deal with my PC). Since the size of the sites are so different, I cannot really compare it. I know that this is just a shot in the dark, but I was just wondering if the method used to create your sites (FrontPage, DreamWeaver, fully hand coded, etc.) has any bearing at all on these penalties.
7) I was also wondering if there are any new readers to this post that have not been affected by any penalties (+30, 950, etc.) until the last few days. This might give us a better level of the extent of changes.
I was hit for the first time 4 days ago "Black Monday". I used FrontPage to create the site. Site has (had) been ranking well for at least 5 years. Scratching my head a bit too.
"7) I was also wondering if there are any new readers to this post that have not been affected by any penalties (+30, 950, etc.) until the last few days. This might give us a better level of the extent of changes. "
I was hammered Sunday and I have no idea why.
So far I have cleaned up my HTML to the point it started bleeding. I'm also adding new links from blogs to see if that helps me get out.
My site is a yahoo store so there was no FP or DW involved.
I still show when you type my domain name but all major keywords have dropped and are bouncing from page 4 to the bottom all day long.
Just today I'm starting to see my PR bounce from PR7 to PR5.
Hope someone has an answer.
<<So what you are asking is for people who have been hit to list the subject matter of their sites? Am I right>>
No, I'm saying we should be asking "What is it about the structure of these sites that makes them appear to be spam in Google's eyes."
I also believe (as does Tedster) that it has something to do with Phrase-based ranking.
<<The link with the -950 thing is that it affects authority sites>>
There's another factor at play, too. I'll bet there's a great many people who haven't gone through the exercise of going to page 10 of the serps; clicking the link that shows OMITTED results; going BACK to page 10, and noticing that their page is now at number 950. Unless a person knows to go through this process, it is easy to simply assume "well, my rankings are back in the crapper," without knowing that they are being affected by THIS -950 penalty.
Another thing I noticed was that in Webmaster Tools' "PageRank" display where it shows a greenbar estimate of the number of pages with "Low Pagerank, "High Pagerank," etc. my site is showing 80% "Pagerank not yet assigned." And this is on a site that's been on the net since 1996. It never was like this before.
What does that mean? I have no idea.
|I also believe (as does Tedster) that it has something to do with Phrase-based ranking. |
Ok, but what leads you to that conclusion?
|Another thing I noticed was that in Webmaster Tools' "PageRank" display where it shows a greenbar estimate of the number of pages with "Low Pagerank, "High Pagerank," etc. my site is showing 80% "Pagerank not yet assigned." And this is on a site that's been on the net since 1996. It never was like this before. |
What does that mean? I have no idea.
I wouldn't take that too literally just yet. Webmaster Tools is erratic.
<<but what leads you to that conclusion? >>
I'm not stating it as fact, I'm saying it sounds like the most likely culprit. It could just as well be due to Google's Googlebomb fix, or a number of other things no one even knows about.
A page can rank number 950 for a commercial 3-word phrase, but number 1 when you add another simple word to that phrase like "in" or "at." IOW, there appears to be something about that particular commercial phrase that sends the page to 950.
Is one occurrance of that notable? No, not really. But, it IS notable when 99% of a site's previously #1 ranked pages ALL wind-up at 950, especially when all those pages were specifically designed to target those commercial phrases.
I don't put any importance on the fact that a page loses it's number 1 position, that happens all the time. I put GREAT importance on the fact that ALL these pages are winding-up at 950. Why 950?
"IOW, there appears to be something about that particular commercial phrase that sends the page to 950."
But that phenomenon is not the norm, so obviously you can't draw a conclusion from it. Most pages die for everything. Some pages apparently die for specific terms, but that seems to be a very tiny minority. It's been quite some time that I've even been able to find one such page.
"I put GREAT importance on the fact that ALL these pages are winding-up at 950."
That's the least interesting aspect I think. Penalizing a domain is basically a normal thing, even if the penalty is a mistake. The more interesting/weird aspect of the penalty is when it effects some pages on an otherwise healthy domain, one that has hundreds of #1 and top ten rankings, but some pages that are pinned at 950. How/why does Google pull these out of its butt? Why are they judging these pages wrong? Can a webmaster do anything to get Google to stop screwing up?
Any sitewide penalties of course are horrible, but at least that is straightforward, the domain has a penalty.
I saw the 950 thread in here last week and read a couple posts, didn't want to get involved. I know how lengthy these things can be.
Then, Saturday, I saw a 90% drop in traffic. I immediately searched for my keywords, and found my pages, which were previously top ten, back at the last page of the omitted results (i.e. 950+/-). A check at mcdar.net showed my site at position 900 for all of them.
I thought, "Gee, those folks at WebmasterWorld are on to something."
It was Saturday, so I didn't do anything, and Sunday I saw traffic slowly come back, then Monday, traffic came back hard, 20% higher than it had ever been.
I checked my keywords and I was top 3-5 for most of them on most DCs.
Mid-day Wednesday, I saw traffic drop again, but this time my keywords were not 950'd, they were stuck at 90+, some at 250, some at 490.
That's where they are today, and that's where they will stay, unless G changes something, because my strategy won't change. When you're on a roller-coaster, and the ride is rough, do you want to start tinkering with your seatbelt?
|A page can rank number 950 for a commercial 3-word phrase, but number 1 when you add another simple word to that phrase like "in" or "at." IOW, there appears to be something about that particular commercial phrase that sends the page to 950. |
You observed well, but be careful to note that #1 positions tend to stick. What I'm seeing is that downward tendencies are site-wide and key-phrase-wide, because the homepage is affected and the internals rely on the homepage for.....whatever...PR, link juice, relevance, you name it.
IMO it's not a site-wide penalty, it's just the homepage that has a problem and internals with external IBLs are far less affected.
So this thing only looks key-phrase based because #1 positions stick. It you never had any #1 positions, then all your key-phrases are in trouble. But sites without #1 positions are lesser sites that don't seem to be affected, so there you go.
I'm making such a big point of the key-phrase based thing, because I think it makes this forum's top dogs barking up the wrong tree.
For me the question is becoming: why can we find neither rhyme nor reason to this Google update? Until June 2006 SEOs would be able to dissect an update.
[edited by: Martin40 at 10:46 pm (utc) on Mar. 1, 2007]
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