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Can you be penalized for being "too successful"?
(for lack of a better phrase)
lfgoal




msg:3288979
 9:58 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have three separate sites in the same content niche. One is the original site which is an info site, one is a blog started 3 years later, and the third site is a news and resource site links site that operates in the same niche.

Today, I woke up to find all three sites on page 1.

The sites are completely separate and have their own hand-written content so there's no duplication issue in this sense. Also, the sites do not attempt to boost each for ranking purposes. The news site and the blog link back to the original site, but "nofollow" is used each time to avoid any appearance of link manipulation. Essentially, each site is unique and makes it own distinct contribution to this content niche while, at the same time, avoiding duplication and not participating in a link network. Also, the sites have their own separate and distinct backlink profiles since, due to the differences between them, they tend to appeal to different groups.

So here's the paranoid question since I own all three sites: can you potentially be penalized in Google for being "too successful", for hogging too much space on page 1 of a serps?

 

lfgoal




msg:3289622
 1:34 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is supposedly a statement made by Matt Cutts to someone on issues similar to this:

"Michael,Your gut seems right in that it's typically advantageous to have more content in fewer domains, assuming the content is closely related. With that said, though, I wouldn't worry too much about duplicate content penalties unless, indeed, the CONTENT is highly similar. Similarities in look, feel, and structure alone shouldn't be a problem."

Frida




msg:3289702
 2:29 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

lfgoal,

I am not an official representative of Google, so I can't be absolutely sure whether there is such a practice (penalizing too successful pages) but as long as I've been in this business, I haven't seen such precedents. What I am sure counts much more to Google is to have successful sites on first page of SERPs.

Good luck!

moppy56




msg:3289745
 2:58 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd be careful how you link is all / if Google deems these three sites are meant just to provide each other with links they will look down on it. But if you have an organic link structure and you resemble the hug they like then it should be fine

lfgoal




msg:3289766
 3:08 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the response Frida. I think each site presents value and, of course, google does the ranking not me. However, if I thought I was potentially facing a penalty I would "derank" one of the sites, probably the news site. And I might be able to do this by changing the home page title and the h1 tag and pointing it slightly in a different direction in the serps.

lfgoal




msg:3289776
 3:15 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

" I'd be careful how you link is all / if Google deems these three sites are meant just to provide each other with links they will look down on it. But if you have an organic link structure and you resemble the hug they like then it should be fine"

Thanks for the input, Moppy56. The original site, which is an info site does not link to the other two. That was a decision that I made early on, that the other two sites (one being a blog for the same niche and the other being a news and directory resource for the same niche) should stand on their own. The other two sites link back to the first site. However, in every instance, rel="nofollow" is used.

moppy56




msg:3289810
 3:43 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well then hats off to you my friend - I don't know the industry you are in but you are obviously well placed now and if you ever want to sell.

lfgoal




msg:3289827
 3:50 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks Moppy56.

Anyone see any potential problems with this situation?

trinorthlighting




msg:3289879
 4:24 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Good job, see what unique content does for you?

Keep adding relevant content, watch for duplicate content, keep your audience interested and you should enjoy top rankings for quite some time.

pageoneresults




msg:3289885
 4:27 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Anyone see any potential problems with this situation?

Competitors. If there is anything out of sync with your network and a competitor can find it, they will report the site. As long as all of your ducks are in a row, you should have nothing to worry about.

lfgoal




msg:3290018
 6:12 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Keep adding relevant content, watch for duplicate content, keep your audience interested and you should enjoy top rankings for quite some time."

Thanks for the good advice. That's exactly what I plan on doing.

"Competitors. If there is anything out of sync with your network and a competitor can find it, they will report the site. As long as all of your ducks are in a row, you should have nothing to worry about."

I agree and that was my primary concern, really. I think the ducks are lined up properly. Like I said, the first site does not link to the other two and the other two only link back with nofollow links. And there is absolutely no duplication of content. And the orientation of the sites is different. They all deal with the same content niche (for example, speed boats). But one is an info site on "speed boats", the second is a blog that conversationally talks about "speed boats" and the third is the latest news and various resources on "speed boats".

moppy56




msg:3290274
 10:01 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's great you rank so highly but are you doing this to sell products? How are you aiming to capitalize on this ranking?

Also, are the keywords you rank highly for competetive and largely searched?

thx -

lfgoal




msg:3290308
 10:42 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's a highly competitive niche market regarding expert advice of a certain type. There aren't too many experts in this area and, of those that exist, few to none have any web skills. I used to work a 9-5 in the industry and decided to write a site about it. Luckily, no one else who worked in the industry had thought about using the web for anything other than billboard purposes (this goes back about 4 years ago). I was lucky enough to beat them to the punch. But I think my main site showed them what could be done online and since then, in addition to solidifying my gains, I've been fending off thieves and emulators that seem to spring up every other day.

Oliver Henniges




msg:3290310
 10:47 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

> The original site, which is an info site does not link to the other two.

that is the way unrelated link-strucutres normally grow, so stick to that. Two other issues to keep an eye on:

- Do all domains reside on different Class-C IPs?
- Did you register under different ownerships?

But these are minor factors. Sounds as if you are on the right track. Stick to googles two most important laws:

- concentrate on the visitor, all else will follow.
- don't do evil.

Robert Charlton




msg:3290632
 6:40 am on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Now suppose the three sites were all selling speedboats... same ownership... but otherwise independent in linking, content, and hosting? Does this change the situation?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:41 am (utc) on Mar. 23, 2007]

lfgoal




msg:3290690
 8:37 am on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

" Now suppose the three sites were all selling speedboats... same ownership... but otherwise independent in linking, content, and hosting? Does this change the situation?"

If all three were selling speedboats...Well, I suppose if that was the case, and all three sites were on page one for certain keywords, and if I were someone at Google doing a hand check based on a competitors's spam report, I'd be looking for these things.

1. Are the sites offering redundant content? If so, there might be less justification for two of the sites to appear on page one.

2. Are the sites engaged in techniques designed to mutually inflate their ranking positions? In other words, are they crosslinking and acting as a link network simply to get higher in the serps. If so, at least two of the sites might have less justification for appearing on page one as the rankings would seem to be less organic and more manipulated.

Regarding 1, yes, the two other sites do have some redudancy since they have content devoted to the same niche. However, none of the sites carry duplicated content and the second and third site have a different orientation from the original site. And, in fact, the second and third sites focus on content which the original site does not offer at all.

Regarding 2, there are no attempts to manipulate the search algos through linking. In fact, nofollow has been used to completely avoid this. The backlink profiles are distinctly different.

I think the questions Google is concerned with are:

1. Is the user experience being harmed? That is, is the user being presented the same content over and over.

2. Is someone manipulating the search algorithmn.

Miamacs




msg:3290849
 12:51 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've been wondering, but now I think I get it.
Three sites out of the top ten are yours.

And you're worried that someone will come by and point this out to Google, making either or all removed from the SERPs, even though you have done absolutely nothing to deserve that?

...

If you think about it, that'd be a manual penalty for same ownership. Now imagine that Google would penalize websites because they are owned by the same entity. Let's say a major company that has a website for all its related fields and aspects.

They won't do that.

Not only because the sites cover different aspects, for different purposes, are not SEOing each other to the top, and even if owned by the same entity, carry out different missions entirely, but because...

No one will care.

The competition reporting you?
You can't even contact Google with having found bordeline SPAM, do you think they'd respond to such requests?

"Dear G00. I just found out that my competition owns more than a single website on the same topic, albeit of different aspects, I find this to be unfair. I'd like them to be removed from the SERPs for 'speed boats' if possible. Kind regards."

"Dear competitor, thank you for your notice. We have removed two of the websites of this entity to provide fair use of the internet, even though to our knowledge and best of our efforts, these were providing people with just what they need to cover those aspects, and didn't even make use of one anothers' popularity in an unfair way. Divide and conquer."

I'm not sure this would hold up to any of Google's past, present and to be policies.

...

Besides, I see entire networks of same ownership, same topic, different aspect sites linked together whatever I type in. In sectors so competitive they're known to be hand checked every now and then. And those sites are interlinked. Yours aren't.

lfgoal




msg:3290886
 1:40 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sounds very logical Miamacs. And when I think about it, banning or filtering simply because you own three of the top ten doesn't make any sense. I think the relevant issues are: A. are you displaying duplicated content, B. are you manipulating the search algo. If the answer to both is no, things should be fine.

Just the same, two of the three sites are on the same host so, in the interests of paranoia, I think I will move one of those two to a separate host.

M_Bison




msg:3291030
 3:58 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think if you have the time and/or resources to devote to three separate sites, then those three should all be ranking well.

However, if you don't then it is inevitable that your competitors will overtake you.

lfgoal




msg:3291148
 5:32 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

" I think if you have the time and/or resources to devote to three separate sites, then those three should all be ranking well. However, if you don't then it is inevitable that your competitors will overtake you."

Very possible, but, in a sense, the second and third sites are taking up the war of the long tail. And the competitors have no clue what this concept even is. Which means for me years and years of endless writing. But why not?

outland88




msg:3291447
 9:37 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

To answer your original question Lfgoal it can happen. Cutts suggestion is right but his remarks always seem drawn from hearsay.

The problem you mention can arise from the “mindset” people have in developing web sites among many things. Often times there is similarity in design elements from programs utilized to ideas that people have found quiet successful and used many times. In other words sites may look visually and grammatically different but many astute web designers can tell if the same person developed them. If they can tell some bots can tell. There are hundreds of search engines outside of Google some with rather sophisticated bots. Bots and algos aren’t anywhere as smart as people think they are but the problem is the mistakes they make particularly Google’s. I don’t expect these type mistakes with Yahoo and MSN because they focus more on the numerical incidence of spam or repetitiveness not the actual content per sec. I agree with this. Yahoo and MSN really allow people to make more money because either commerce or content sites can be ranked highly. Google on the other hand attempts to elevate particular type sites to a high ranking based upon an illusive content criteria only really known to them. In other words spam prevention becomes more a by-product.

Bottom line is you have to train the Google bots things are different on each site from the set-up of you navigation links to servers. Google is also not a proactive company with many things. The penalty or filter occurring in one category may be totally non-existent in other categories leading to disagreement among webmasters whether it exists at all. There are things allowed in some categories of Google that were totally driven out of my categories over two years ago. So you’re going to get answers that run the gamut.

lfgoal




msg:3291586
 1:27 am on Mar 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

outland88,

Thanks for the input as it provides more room for reflection.

"but many astute web designers can tell if the same person developed them. If they can tell some bots can tell."

Even if so, what's the harm if one person owns multiple sites and A. is not presenting duplicate content and B. is not trying to inflate the search rankings of each site by interlinking?

"Bots and algos arent anywhere as smart as people think they are but the problem is the mistakes they make particularly Googles."

What types of mistakes do you mean?

I used the speedboat example earlier and that probably seems commerical, but let me use a different example.

Let's say you have an info site about irritable bowel syndrome (my original site is an info site) and the site answers questions about irritable bowel. Then, you also have a blog (my second site is a blog) about irritable bowel syndrome and on that blog you talk about irritable bowel, with regard to how it affects you personally and what the recent treatments are and how you hope to get better. Then, you have a third site which is a news site (my third site is a news/resource link site) and on this site you list recent news items as well as external links regarding irritable bowel.

The way I see it, all three of these sites have an equally valid reason to exist. And why should you be prevented from having a separate blog or a news site anyway? Your info site really isn't in the business of showing updated news links, and your blog is a way to showcase your conversational discussions as opposed to the pure Q&A stuff that you put on your info site.

Should Google dictate in what format you should present your content, or dictate that you present it in only one format? Am you supposed to consolidate your sites simply because Google prefers this? And, finally, should you be penalized because google ranked all three of your sites on page 1?

I think the answer should be no for all questions. I think the issues are: Are you showing duplicated content and are you artificially boosting the popularity of your sites? If the answer is no for each question, I find no reason to be apologetic because google choose to rank all three sites highly.

But what if I'm wrong and I'm at risk for penalization? What am I supposed to do? Apologize for creating good and separate content on three separate sites? Should I take down the news site that draws a certain audience? Should I delete the blog that has its own distinct readership and which serves as my own personal writing outlet?

That seems ridiculous.

blend27




msg:3293923
 3:25 am on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

----competitors have no clue what this concept even is---

Never underestimate your competitors.

Miamacs has a point, they don¡¯t really care as long as the site is on topic and has a benefit to the user.
We have a competitor that has over 200 hidden words on every page(white on white) that in turn link to DOORWAY pages that were placed there 2 years ago, site ranks for many terms as # 1 for a while. WHY cause the pain subject of the site is about the widgets, many widgets, he is a wholesaler that tried to go retail while back, and it didn¡¯t workout. and there is NO Adds of any kind.

Another network of sites takeover over 7-8 positions in top 20 interlinked heavily from every page on the site. Nothing happens - relevant content.

Enjoy it, but keep your boats out of the NILE.

lfgoal




msg:3294470
 4:25 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

" ----competitors have no clue what this concept even is---

Never underestimate your competitors. "

You could be right. However, my competitors in this particular niche don't really do much writing themselves. They tend to be busy in the day-to-day of working in their industry, the same industry I used to pull my 9-5 in. And, nicely enough, the content is too technical to turn over to writing monkeys and article monkeys.

Me, on the other hand, when I'm not hunting for links, monitoring competitors, uploading content, tracking my stats, blogging, and checking email, I can write all day long.

activeco




msg:3294860
 11:18 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Unless you run adsense, there is no reason to worry.
Every other business is a business, but Adsense cannot be business in Google's eyes. So if you have multiple domains 'doing' Adsense, you can be "smart" downpriced and even penalized.

Anything else (white hat) is OK.

hercules




msg:3295270
 12:12 pm on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

kick the nofollow out. I had some bad experience with that. Websites with nofollow tags have something to hide.

activeco




msg:3295319
 1:05 pm on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Websites with nofollow tags have something to hide.

On one of my sites I use it a lot for escaping duplicate content. I have many sections on one page with named anchors, referenced throughout the site with: <A href="page.html#section" rel="nofollow">.

Nothing to hide.

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