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This 176 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 176 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 > >     
Google's 950 Penalty - Part 6
Miamacs




msg:3277920
 10:16 pm on Mar 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >
< related threads: -950 Quick Summary [webmasterworld.com] -- -950 Part One [webmasterworld.com] >

I've been so quiet because MHes has said most of the things I would have said anyway.

Mind me, part of this is theory. I see instances, experience certain patterns and behaviours, then analyze what's in front of me. And the end result is what I call SEO. For the rest of the day at least.

Some points to remember...

As Martin mentioned, the anchor text of links from trusted/locally trusted sites is what decides 98% of what's in the SERPs. Title and body text are criteria to be relevant/filtered, but are thus binary factors. If present, and are matching the incoming anchor, or even the theme of the anchor, the page will rank. Meta is optional.

Title and the content text have two characteristics that are connected to this problem.

One being, that every single word, and monitored phrase gets a scrore. 7 word phrases are not monitored. Monitoring is probably decided based on search volume and advertiser competition, ie. MONEY. So there's no infinite number of them.

Second is, should the page gather enough votes from inbounds / trust or localrank through its navigation for any single word/watched phrase, it passes a threshold that will decide the broad relevance of the page. The page could be relevant for more than one theme. It could be relevant for "Blue Cheese" and "Blue Widgets" if it gets inbounds for both themes. ( Note I'm over simplyfying things, relevance is calculated long before that. ) If it's relevant for "Cheese" Google knows it's probably about "food".

The theme of the page now will make it rank better for certain queries. These aren't necessarilly semantically related. A site that ranks #1 for "Blue Cheese" may rank relatively better for "Azure Cheese" than before, even though this phrase in nowhere in the anchors or titles, and only appears in parts of the content.

If you cross a certain line of on-page factors, another theme might be evident to you, based on the title/content. But if the page does not have any support for that theme in the incoming anchor text, this may be viewed as trying to game the system if Google doesn't understand the relation. "Blue Cheese" IS relevant to "Kitchen Equipment" to some degree. Google might not know this.

Another, blunt example is mixing up "thematic relevancy" with "semantic relevancy", when your "Blue Chese" page starts to have an excessive number of instances of blue things, like "Blue Widgets", "Blue Hotels". Google will think that this is because you have noticed you can rank well for Blue. And tried to add a couple of money terms that are semantically relevant. But what AdWords, Overture or Trends, or in fact Google Search does not show... is that the algo now knows these things are not related.

Question is... to what degree is this filter programmed.

...

1. If you have N number of kinds of phrases on a page that are only semantically relevant ( ie. as "blue cheese" is relevant to "blue widget" ), and you don't have support for both, your site gets busted. If popular phrases, that you know to be thematically relevant to your page, aren't in the Google database as so, you're busted. Based on the previously mentioned problem, if you have a website that's relevant for modeling, and add internal links with names of wars all over, Google may not find the connection.

2. If you do a search on AdWords for "Blue", you'll get a mostly semantically relevant list of keyphrases that include/are synonyms/include synonims/related to "blue". A human can identify the "sets" within these phrases and subdivide the list into themes. Spam does not do this, or so Google engineers thought.

3. So there are subsets in the hands of Google that further specify which word is related to which. These are themes. You'll see sites rank for synonyms within these sets if they're strong enough on a theme, even without anchor text strenthening the relevance. A site that's #1 for "Blue" might rank #9 for "Azure" without even trying too hard.

4. If you have a site about "Cheese", you can have "Blue Cheese" and even "Blue Cheddar" in the navigation, titles, text, for they are included in the same subset. You can't have "Blue Widgets" on the "Blue Cheese" page.

5. What constitutes these sets? Who decides on themes and based on what? What is the N number of "mistakes", how well determined are these?

But then, so are the SERPs right now. There's at least 4 different kind of ranking I see in the past 3 days.

...

So far I've only seen instances of filtered pages when 5 to 6 themes collided all at once. Quite easy to do by chance if you have completely legit "partners" or "portfolio" page with descriptions, and/or outbound text links. But only a single theme that's supoorted with the navigation/inbounds, and only if there is a decided theme for the page. If there's no theme ( navigation and - lack of - inbounds doesn't strengthen either ) I'd say Google passes on penalizing.

As for the themes, I was thinking perhaps Google went back to the good old directory age, and started from there. Remember how you started with the broad relenacy, then narrowed it down to a theme, then an even closer match? With cross references where applicable.

...

This isn't new. Penalties that are based on it are.

If there is such a penalty it is by these lines.

[edited by: tedster at 9:16 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]

 

steveb




msg:3283389
 2:53 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

"it is all about phrases and links"

It's easy to test that this is much too simplistic to say, by changing the entire content of a page. A penalized page about apples could be changed to being about physics and have every link to it changed too, and still stay penalized.

annej




msg:3283443
 4:23 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I mentioned this a few hundred messages ago. I was frustrated that one of my contents page had brought the whole section down so I just dumped it and made a new on on a different URL. The old page just had a couple of links on it. Otherwise there was nothing. No title, no text no nothing but the links with a word of two of anchor text.

A few days later the page came back as strong as ever. So there must have been something on that page that caused the problem.

I redid the page leaving out some phrases I suspected to be the problem. That page is still doing fine now.

Sometimes it seems like it's on page factors and other times it seems to be internal linkage that causes the problem.

tedster




msg:3283457
 5:29 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

A penalized page about apples could be changed to being about physics and have every link to it changed too, and still stay penalized.

That sounds dark and hopeless. Are you seeing a permanent penalty, placed forever on the url? What factor would trigger a penalty like that?

fraudcop




msg:3283460
 5:36 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

the 950 penalty couldn't simply be the result of google not allowing a page to rank for more than a sigle combination of keywords?

- why should we give this little people so much for free.

CainIV




msg:3283464
 5:49 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

A penalized page about apples could be changed to being about physics and have every link to it changed too, and still stay penalized.

Have you tested this personally? Noone has any real proof, but from what I have seen shifting the page to be more themed and have more themed consistent linking may help escape some of this.

However, anyone could argue that the changes in the status of any given page could be due to a different DC, a change in the algo etc etc, however I believe these is some method to this madness, even if inherent with it is some sort of bug or incorrectly working parameter.

tedster




msg:3283465
 5:51 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

fraudcop, I think a look at almost any server log can turn up example of urls that rank well for several phrases.

MHes




msg:3283513
 7:53 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

>A penalized page about apples could be changed to being about physics and have every link to it changed too, and still stay penalized.

Yes, it could. The 950 penalty is not exclusive to apples.

The important thing to consider is that links pointing to a page can create further phrases for that page... phrases created by word proximity.

steveb




msg:3283621
 10:48 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Have you tested this personally?"

Of course.

There are two things at work here: Google penalizing pages it seeks to penalize, and Google penalizing pages it is mistakenly penalizing.

I personally couldn't care less about the first. The second is much more complex to address. URLs can be penalized for any search, regardless of the content and linking. URLs can recover with nothing done to them. URLs can recover for months, and then get penalized again. URLs with only a half dozen links to them can get penalized. URLs can change content completely and stay penalized. Etc etc.

Google is attempting to apply a spam penalty to some pages. Sometimes it makes mistakes. Unfortunately it seems it can make mistakes in more than a dozen ways.

MHes




msg:3283705
 12:43 pm on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

>URLs can be penalized for any search, regardless of the content and linking.

Not what I see. If the content and linking does not cause suspicion you don't run the risk of being hit. If you are labelled as suspicious, the search phrase dictates whether 950 is applied or not.

>URLs can recover with nothing done to them.

This depends on how far they apply the rules. The variables are controlled by google.

>URLs can recover for months, and then get penalized again.

As above. We are still seeing some searches jumping in and out, but these are not important to us and account for 6% of traffic. I hope this is a sign that for our core searches we have escaped but it is early days.

>URLs with only a half dozen links to them can get penalized.

A lot depends on the content of the page (is it deemed suspicious) and the redeeming potential of the links and/or do the links have a negative or positive effect.

>URLs can change content completely and stay penalized.

Changing the content does not change the rules.

CainIV




msg:3284178
 7:56 pm on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

There are two things at work here: Google penalizing pages it seeks to penalize, and Google penalizing pages it is mistakenly penalizing.

Agreed, and I would also agree there is a whole lot of error and mistaken penalties applied with this one.

Something is initiating the conditions for this penalty to be triggered against page a versus b. In the work I do very few websites are suffering this, however, when I dig deeper, I do see inner pages from some of my sites suffering this penalty. I have also sen this penalty lifted on some of my pages over the matter of weeks, and believe it is not coincidence.

[edited by: CainIV at 7:58 pm (utc) on Mar. 16, 2007]

steveb




msg:3284299
 10:59 pm on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

"If the content and linking does not cause suspicion you don't run the risk of being hit."

Nonsense. Pages can even be penalized because of where they are in a /directory/ level, regardless of any content or linking.

"If you are labelled as suspicious, the search phrase dictates whether 950 is applied or not."

What are you talking about? URLs are most often penalized for any phrase.

It seems you are in the wrong thread here.

trakkerguy




msg:3284329
 11:27 pm on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nonsense. Pages can even be penalized because of where they are in a /directory/ level, regardless of any content or linking.

Yes, I have pages penalized for everything due to their directory, but believe it is due to the phrases and linking of the pages above and around them

URLs are most often penalized for any phrase

It depends on the severity of the problem. Nearly all pages were hit for nearly all phrases on the site I've been working with. As we've removed internal links and duplicate content, all pages have recovered somewhat so that now they are penalized only for certain phrases.

Surely you've read the posts of people with only a small number of internal pages being hit for certain phrases, while others are wiped out for almost all.

tedster




msg:3284413
 1:59 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

"If you are labelled as suspicious, the search phrase dictates whether 950 is applied or not."

What are you talking about? URLs are most often penalized for any phrase.

It seems you are in the wrong thread here.

As I read it, this is what many people are discussing here. It's the "something new" that people began reporting in Dec-Jan [webmasterworld.com]. You made a similar comment back on Jan 12.

steveb: Right now it is even weirder than usual. A LOT of pages are penalized for specific keywords, but rank fine for others. It doesn't seem to reflect anything I can make sense for -- like penalized for "word1 word2", ranking in top five for "word2 word1", when previously top five for both.

That's the situation that continues for many. It's not the old style "this url is always penalized" thing. What we need most of all now is reports of more successful fixes, so we can zero in on the causes.

steveb




msg:3284423
 2:17 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Surely you've read the posts of people with only a small number of internal pages being hit for certain phrases, while others are wiped out for almost all."

That is the point of my reply. While there are the most common situations, there are many other phenomenons.

Some folks want to make sweeping generalizations, mostly based on "our sites", which is not helpful at all.

"That's the situation that continues for many."

Again, obviously. And it isn't the situation for many others, so sweeping generalizations are not just foolish, they are flat out wrong.

"What we need most of all now is reports of more successful fixes, so we can zero in on the causes."

No that is again the principal problem with these threads. The need for these simplistic statements that try to generalize. "Successful fixes" in itself is a fool's errand. Yesterday I saw a directory get repenalized that had been healed for a few months. Additionally, some of the "fixes" are totally useless to look at as "fixes". It should be plainly obvious by now, but of course is not, there is not just ONE BIG THING going on here. Someone might remove a verb from their title and two days later be unpenalized, while others might completely change the content on a page and every single link, and that URL can be dead for any search for months.

Once again, you are just running around in circles until you understand that there are two things happening here: pages penalized by design, and pages penalized by mistake. Again, it should be clear that dealing with the former is a totally different issue than dealing with the latter.

Insisting one size fits all just makes analyzing the problem far more difficult.

Google may have a 950 penalty for repetitive stemmed phrases on a page.
Google might have a 950 penalty for redundant linking and page titling.
Google might have a 950 penalty for multiple mispellings.
Google might have a 950 penalty for use of purple backgrounds.
Google might mistakenly penalize domains for any one of these distinct things it does penalize domains for.

Insisting there is ONE THING with ONE SOLUTION FOR EVERYBODY is totally wrongheaded and prevents real analysis of the situation.

tedster




msg:3284469
 3:21 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

There certainly are different things going on. One of them is a major ranking drop that only kicks in for certain keywords. And a second is a drop that hits a url no matter what the search terms are.

From the beginning of this 6-part discussion, most of the reports were about the first kind of problem. The second type seems likely to be more than just one phenomenon, because the few details being reported are not yet grouping in any obvious way. But the first type does seem pretty precisely defined.

To have some anecdotal evidence from those "Type 1" cases - changes that were followed by ranking improvement - is helpful. No, it certainly is not "proof" of anything. Proof is hard to come by in such a fluid system with so many variables. But those anecdotes are potentially valuable data points.

This +950 is a tough it to crack. I appreciate hearing more information from those who are fighting the battle.

Spine




msg:3284490
 4:01 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Where Google gets some of the blame is the complete crap that starts to creep in on page 2-3 of the results. It gets worse and worse as you get deeper - until you get to the quality sites cowering in the damp dark back of the SERP tunnel - as if any surfer goes down there.

At least things bounce out of there now and then, giving some vague hope, but I dunno. I think it's a combination of on-page factors, architecture/linking, and historical info that combines to screw you - whether the foot print is evidence of shady practices, or just a false positive.

[edited by: Spine at 4:05 am (utc) on Mar. 17, 2007]

steveb




msg:3284503
 4:56 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

"But the first type does seem pretty precisely defined."

More the pity that you think so. Anecdotes can be useful, but they aren't useful if you simplsiticly think everything is the same. I would have thought by now that the wildly different, often directly contradictory, experiences and anecdotes would have shown by now that looking at this simplisticly means you aren't even looking at it at all.

tedster




msg:3284525
 6:23 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm only looking at urls that have been dropped from high to low for one phrase but still rank well for another. I now know of several cases where good rankings returned and stayed, within days of making changes that were motivated by the phrase-based patents.

So I'm saying if you've got these specific symptoms, then this phrase-based approach is worth a look. If it didn't seem to help in some cases, I wouldn't post about it.

Using the model of many individual penalties does not produce fixes for some ranking troubles these days. In fact, there are cases of severe ranking drops where Google has told the site owner that "there is no penalty". This indicates to me that some new "not-a-penalty" factor is involved, at least for some ranking changes.

Using this approach to analysis is also using Occam's Razor. Hundreds of patched together penalties, or a shift in the overall paradigm, where many factors are take into account at once?

Phrase-based reranking could also make for faster processing on Google's back end. In theory, it would not only combat spam (only a secondary purpose) but it would fine tune the relevance metrics between urls that do rank well -- and we know that is Google's main focus.

steveb




msg:3284577
 8:08 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Occam's Razor is the answer for many people, but clearly not in a simplistic way. You are talking about a sliver of one small aspect of the problem. Trying to carry that over to the entire discussion is not useful, just like the idea of "fixed" is delusional until at least six months pass.

Google is not a simple, infallible beast. It does some things well, and it does some things absurdly bad.

tedster




msg:3284621
 10:30 am on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

Steveb, let's move on. I agree that there is something absurdly bad going on - even in the phrase-based area I've been looking at, and maybe even especially in there.

Do you have any help to offer other types of +950 sufferers? What might they be doing to trip a false positive on some penalty test or other?

zeus




msg:3284743
 3:19 pm on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

this theme base thing >I dont believe it, I think a theme based site will rank good no doubt, but if your site is not theme base it can also rank good and there is no filter there, i got a ex.

In my category, imranking 6 out of 40mill, the site infront of me has nothing to do with this category, but they do have a single page on that topic, but they rank good and are not dumb to the last page.

trakkerguy




msg:3284752
 3:32 pm on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

the site infront of me has nothing to do with this category, but they do have a single page on that topic, but they rank good

If they have inbound link(s) to that page, with relevant anchor text, that would serve as a perfect example of how you can "expand" your theme without fear of the -950.

Or, if they have enough trust in general.

Even if neither of those reasons fit, an example where a filter is not applied does not prove the filter does not exist for others.

zeus




msg:3285016
 9:59 pm on Mar 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

phrase based new filter which results in lost ranking, is this real or another thing to confuse us, from the google plex.

if its real, does it mean you can not use other words for a keyword on your site, means I have to go back to first grade to write text.

The site has to use the same word all over / theme

CainIV




msg:3285128
 1:48 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nonsense. Pages can even be penalized because of where they are in a /directory/ level, regardless of any content or linking.

And how do you know this? Have you moved pages that were penalized to different directories and seen changes? How do you know those changes weren't caused by other reasons?

URL's are often penalized for any page

Yes, but is simply not a random event. There is a threshold that has been broken in regards to phrases, possibly excessive use of related phrases, either based on a bug or mistake in the application, or algo.

Sure, there could be umpteen other filters in place causing this same 950. But we have to start somewhere.

The point here is to break this penalty, or multiple penalties, into more concrete solutions, based on what we interpret might be the problem. For us, and for our websites, we have seen improvements in the websites where we have made specific changes to keyword text and links internally.

tedster




msg:3285129
 1:55 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Zeus, this is still an open question, and it's being discussed here: [webmasterworld.com...]

If the phrase-based patents are in play, avoiding problems would probably not require anything drastic -- just not going over the top so you don't look too close to a spam page. You could think of it most basically as avoiding "over-optimization".

It's important not to take any drastic steps based on a small (so far) amount of information. If you have some penalized urls, you may want to make a few informed experiments. In the examples I've worked with so far, I've made caution and balance essential ingredients in the experiment.

[edited by: tedster at 6:43 am (utc) on Mar. 18, 2007]

steveb




msg:3285326
 8:38 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Have you moved pages that were penalized to different directories and seen changes?"

Of course. And I've added innocuous pages below a penalized page and they are penalized.

"There is a threshold that has been broken in regards to phrases, possibly excessive use of related phrases, either based on a bug or mistake in the application, or algo."

This again is drastic over-generalizing.

"Sure, there could be umpteen other filters in place causing this same 950. But we have to start somewhere."

Start by not assuming everything relates to ONE BIG THING, and that Google ALWAYS applies its penalties accurately.

"For us, and for our websites, we have seen improvements in the websites where we have made specific changes to keyword text and links internally."

All your sites have you in common. Don't put blinders on or you will miss the forest for the trees. It's more useful to analyze multiple unrelated sites. (And the idea that what is happening to you is the exact thing happening to evrybody else is not very openminded.)

Nick0r




msg:3285361
 10:32 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

It seems one of my brand new directories has been hit. This is interesting because one page in this directory is on a very similar topic to the page of mine that has been having the 950 problem the longest.

Although it is not directly underneath it (e.g a sub-directory of the problem page), or linked to from sitewide, one of the files in this directory has the same filename and contains numerous similar terms. It is also cross linked from the long time penalized page.

[edited by: Nick0r at 10:33 am (utc) on Mar. 18, 2007]

Undead Hunter




msg:3285564
 5:03 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to add that we seem to be out of the "penalty box" or filter today. I've already had more traffic than I did all day yesterday.

To recap: We had booster traffic from Jan 1 - 19. Dropped on Jan 20, down 2/3rd - 3/4 of normal traffic for 11 days. Back up Feb 1, highest traffic ever 'til Feb 23. And down even further, 3/4 or more, 'til March 18 (coming back strong today, looks like.)

The big indicator for me was the search for my name: it was buried 110 results in, even though it had my name in the title bar, twice on the page, and once in a picture alt text.

Now its # 2 when you search for it. Interestingly enough, though, the page that has been # 1 for my name - which only mentions it twice, not in the title bar, and has a lower pagerank than mine - is still beating out my page. So I don't things are fully shaken out yet.

Here's the kicker: I haven't done a @#$@ thing. No deep links, no anything. I just sat back and waited.

jk3210




msg:3285718
 7:49 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Another thing I've noticed in many cases where a site is affected...

For certain searches, once you click the "repeat the search with the omitted results included" link, several sites will have 10, 20, sometimes 30 of their pages all grouped together toward the end of the serps.

I've even seen this occur with groups of Yahoo's pages scattered toward the end of the serps in groups of 25.

To me, that says that, for whatever reason, Google basically went through the serps with a broom and swept all pages from a certain site back to the end of the line.

proboscis




msg:3285741
 8:25 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's weird, I have a page that is affected by this. It used to be in the top 20 for a single word search, now it doesn't show up at all for that term - unless I "repeat the search with omitted results included" then it shows up back in it's original place. (I have checked for copied phrases and there aren't any that I have found.)

Also if I search for the term in quotes it shows up back in its original place which would almost make sense if it were a two word phrase but this is for a single word term.

This page still shows up for other searches. And other pages from my site as well as overall traffic are not affected that I have noticed.

JerryRB




msg:3285809
 10:52 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

There certainly are different things going on.

I couldn't agree more. I believe the causes are different, but it seems they are all leading to the overall same effect.

Is it possible that Google is shifting their overall penalty strategy to a standardized "penalty box"? Think of it like a hockey game, different penalties can be committed, but no matter what all players end up in the same box.

This will prevent individual penalties from being analyzed and cracked. One person may have unnatural links, another can have duplicate content, but they both end up with the same result.

Seems to me that threads based on old penalites like -31 have pretty much disappeared and most sites having problems are on the 950 bus.

This 176 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 176 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 > >
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