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This 201 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 201 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >     
The "Minus Thirty" Penalty - part 6
1 yesterday and #31 today

 9:02 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >
< part one is here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

I was at a minus 30 for about 5 months and in the last couple of days my site has returned to position #6

Would you say that means that the penalty is removed?

[edited by: tedster at 11:34 pm (utc) on April 30, 2007]



 2:20 am on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

One of the classic signs of the original minus thirty penalty was that a search on the domain name itself showed that site at position #31. Now that the minus thirty penalty is apparently mutating, what is happening to the domain name search -- just example.com in the search box?

One of the bellwether sites I've watched for the minus thirty penalty for many months is now back to #1 for the domain name search. Are others seeing this?

[edited by: tedster at 5:43 pm (utc) on May 27, 2007]


 2:33 am on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)


So, did the traffic actually return to the pre-penalty level (as if it's even possible)? How long has the penalty been in place?

Well, as soon as it happens to me, you'll see my ecstatic post here but no luck yet; seven months and counting. I'm pretty sure A.Oak will chime in here as well should his site have the penalty lifted.


 3:00 am on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

This penalty was in place at least 8 months. It's not my site or a client site - just a domain that I know was -30 penalized. Doesn't look like other rankings are returned very well, but the domain name search is back.


 6:17 am on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

For us we have a -30 opposed to most people here talking about a -950.

From almost day one, we put up a duplicate site on a very old domain with lots of backlinks. The site because of it's google power got indexed very quickly. Now we have lots of serps back. Dupe content does not matter at all in this penalty situation as the new domain will have the content that is not penalised, the old one on the other hand will not rank for anything.

The Old domain was our brand, it really sucks but we have rebranded our new site. "part of the widgets group"

Anyone in the same situation, do this it has saved our ass.

[edited by: Crush at 6:18 am (utc) on May 11, 2007]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:41 am (utc) on May 11, 2007]


 7:56 am on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

@ tedster

Very motivating, thanks for that success-recovery case.


 4:04 pm on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oak, our site was -30 penalised.

After a reinclusion request we just returned to the serps as normal and now rank very well indeed. This has been the case since November 2006.

I've followed your travails, good luck.


 6:06 pm on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

pxc433, excellent to hear! This long daily effort always gives me hope and reason to continue to try to solve this penalty when I hear successful removal stories of the -30 penalty from others such as yourself.

Thank you once again, please do share any details that you may think can be helpful in diagnosing and solving this penalty.

... Oak


 6:09 pm on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

pxc433, what was the penalty for?


 8:47 pm on May 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't know what triggered the penalty, but we definately had it.

I can't post URLs so If you don't mind I'm going to cut and paste a post from another forum that I posted back in Nov.

"*About the -30 place penalty*

Nothing you have in your site shows on anything before page 4. Even if
you type in your own domain name (including the .com) you are still on
page 4. When you look in the webmaster tools on google for query stats,
almost everything says 31 or 32.

*Our Sins*

I'm not a SEO expert, far from it (though I know 100 times more than 6
months ago). So from a search engine perspective we did some dumb
stuff, which I am going to write about. I don't know if my assessment
of what we did wrong is correct because google don't tell you, I'm just

Our main site is a .com site. This is the one that dmoz and yahoo link
to, it's our 'main site'.

We also set-up a .co.uk site with the SAME content - more or less. This
was the direct mail site. We do a lot of direct mail, and the
respondents to the 6,000 or so direct mail pieces we send were directed
there from our marketing materials. The reason for this was it was
'easier' to measure the response that way. No one really saw this as a
problem at our company. Then we got hit with the -30 penalty, except we
did not know we had been penalised or why. Somehow google found this
.co.uk site and indexed it.

We also had some sloppy stuff on the website. We had an index.html and
index.htm that were almost the same (home page). Some pages linked to
the .html and some to .htm.

We had 'printer friendly' pages. These duplicated other pages but
printed well for people to take to meetings.

We wrote white papers, and allowed our business partners to put them on
their web sites. We also had them.

*What we did*

Back in July, when I started to see something was wrong, we took some

The .co.uk site had a 'redirect 301' to the .com site (July)

We fixed the index.html and index.htm thing (September)

We removed the printer-friendly pages, which is a shame (September)

We removed the white papers from our partners. They set-up links to the
source (us).

We checked none of the titles on the web site were the same (some had
'standard' titles because a template page had been used).

We continued to add good content.

By November, it was clear there was some kind of penalty. We stopped
all the redirects and simply deleted the .co.uk content, returning 404

I read on here, from Adam Lasnik, about fixing the problem and issuing
a reinclusion request. We submitted this about 10 days ago. 3 days ago
the curse upon us was lifted, and we rank somewhere on the first page
for many terms. It literally happend within the space of a few hours,
and has been the same since.

My advice: the reinclusion request is key. However, don't do that until
the problem is fixed - make sure you are squeaky clean, and be really
critical of your site. It looks like the penalty is applied by
algorithm, but lifted by humans (that's another guess BTW). "


 2:07 am on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

yes, I had read the same and because it looked so real I was very sure it is about duplicate content.

Now I'm more thinking about template generated pages. It goes like this:
You got set of keywords (e.g. Audi, BMW, Cadlillac ...)
You got set of other keywords (like Florida, Texas...)
So you can generate plenty of pages, you can generate even more of them if you mix with the words (sell, buy, cheap,...) and additionaly scatter those words into template text, that looks like natural text and is very unique, because keywords make it unique.
Google does not like it at a lot and could discover some algo to catch sites, that use this.

I found two sites, banned with 31 use this technique (one was written by me and the second by previous SEO company).

SO the question is:
if you strip your pages from the keywords, then how unique the content is?

The problem is also, that there can be few factors, that can put ban on your site - and the ban looks exactly the same for all.

Very interesting - I did first reordering of my site and called for reinclusion request. After this google stopped indexing my site for one week (from 10000 per day to 1-2) and now suddenly jumped to 30000 what is almost half of my pages. Just to remind - after I was banned, the google indexed my page just normal way.


 4:29 pm on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Doesn't look like other rankings are returned very well, but the domain name search is back. ]

Tedster, I think Google has morphed it so the penalty isn't so obvious or so they don't look so silly not returning a site when you search for a domain. I'm seeing penalized sites showing up for a search on their domain but -30 for everything else.

I know of a site that was recently tagged with a -30. Here are the details that might add a few clues.

- site is a very specific niche, say "light aqua blue widgets"
- it's a very high quality site with unique and useful content.
- it ranked very well for a good number of related terms prior to being penalized.
- now all results are on page 4-5 except the searching for the domain.
- no other specific sites exist in that niche, only broader sites that might have a page or two about the niche.
- there is nothing obviously spammy or bad about the site.
- the site's only sin is probably that it gets most of it's links from a fairly closed network and most are reciprocal.
- the sites it traded links with were related, say like "dark red widgets"
- many of the of the sites it links with were also hit.
- most the sites hit were hosted on just a handful of IP addresses.
- amazingly, not all sites on a given IP address were hit. Google only hit a selection of sites from each IP address.
- Google is worse off for not having lightaquabluewidgets.com ranking for its target terms.
- I doubt anybody at Google would not want that site to rank for "light aqua blue widgets" so I'd guess it was an automatic penalty.


 9:58 pm on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

A light bulb just went on... the -30 penalty is Google prison.

Google implemented a new automated corrections system sometime in the last year or so, adding onto their existing manual system. Their new corrections system periodically checks websites for Google Criminal Code violations and websites found breaking the law are thrown in Google prison. Google prison is pretty rough because it affects an entire site and you get no traffic because all of your results are at least four pages deep.

Trying to figure out what's causing the -30 penalty is like trying to figure out why a person is in prison. There are any number of infractions that will get you thrown in the slammer. Google prison is no different.

I can hear the sites down on page 4 talking... "what ya in for?" they say to each other. "I'm in for buying links." "Yeah, they caught me with duplicate content." "Well, I got a bum rap for over optimization. Damn that Google, I didn't even know there was such a law."

But those are the lucky prisoners. Mostly prisoners just mumble over and over "Why am I here? What did I do? Please tell me what I did to deserve this punishment!"

So, how does a site get out of Google prison? It seems there are at least two ways:
1. Appeal: if you have been wrongfully convicted by the automated corrections system a reinclusion request might get you a mercy release.
2. Parole: clean up your act and periodically the corrections system will evaluate your progress and decide if you are ready for release.

Lastly, there are a couple particularly evil aspects worth pointing out about Google's corrections system. The Google Criminal Code is never published, only vague guidelines are occasionally communicated from on high. Even worse, sites in Google prison are seldom told why they are imprisoned, how long they will be there, nor how they might repent for their sins.


 10:42 pm on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

rekitty, I find your post interesting. Not informative, but showing quite well the state of mind in which many webmasters are.

Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested.

These are the first words of "The Trial" by Franz Kafka. Read it and you'll find more analogies.


 1:06 am on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)


What you are saying, is that some of your sites involved in a link exchange have been penalised?

It sounds like, you know what you've done wrong.


 3:30 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

What you are saying, is that some of your sites involved in a link exchange have been penalised?

My main point is there are many ways your site can end up with this penalty. Folks are looking for the single cause of the -30 penalty. There is no single cause. There are many different Google crimes you can commit that will get you thrown into Google prison.


 4:09 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Not sure who is looking for a single cause.

I highly doubt there is just ONE. There are however related and many overlapping causes which is why those that have been released from the penalty are kind enough to share them to help others that truly do not have any idea why they are penalized.



 6:42 pm on May 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

The scariest part is that you can end up in prison only because someone told something about you, like in the Kafka novel. One of my sites was under duplicate penalty ban for over a year until I realised that some unscrupulous webmaster had copied parts of it word-for-word. For some reason, Google favored the offending website and I was under penalty. It took me quite a while to figure it out and report to Google. My penalty was lifted, but my rankings still suffer from this episode. Not to mention about $100,000 lost in turnover.

Morality: if you are not a geek, you may end up in jail and you won't know why.


 9:07 am on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

My site was hit by penalty on January 2007. I had some serious errors in my .httaccess rules which generated lots of duplicated pages and 404 errors.

I have fixed the issue with .htaccess and cleaned site from things that might violate Webmaster guidlines and added sitemap.

Phew days ago my site started to show #1 for it's domain name search and some keywords are slowly moving up the ranks. Maybe it's the end of the penalty?


 11:03 am on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

my site started to show #1 for it's domain name search

The domain name search no longer seems to be a reliable way to test for the minus thirty penalty. Google changed it so that no longer works. Try searching for some unique text on the homepage and/or in the homepage title instead.


 2:38 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

KiepskiJohn, chances are quite high that the penalty has been removed, give it a few days and also check your keywords that ranked well prior to the penalty as to their current movement in the serps.

Can you elaborate on what changes you have made to "clean up the site to abide by the guidelines". This may be very helpful to others and myself.

Can you also let us know if you submitted a re-inclusion request at any time?

Also, is your site a sales or non-sales site?

Oak / 13 months penalized


 4:38 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's a general web directory. I had a feature called "last search" and i was inserting my directory search results into google. Spammy practice :/, i know. I removed those search results pages from google index with robots.txt rules.

Submitted reinclusion request twice.

I have also set noindex on non default "sort by ..." category results to decrease duplicated content.

I have cleaned up my directory from dead links and expired domains that were overtaken by the spammers.

Most people simply "copy and paste" one low quality crappy description in all directories they submit to and they don't respect my directory submission guidelines. They care only about getting the link. So i edit their site description, title to be more descriptive and usefull to the users.


 5:30 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

<< So, how does a site get out of Google prison? It seems there are at least two ways:
1. Appeal: if you have been wrongfully convicted by the automated corrections system a reinclusion request might get you a mercy release.
2. Parole: clean up your act and periodically the corrections system will evaluate your progress and decide if you are ready for release.>>

If the above statement is true. Does anyone here have a site that did get out of this penalty by the second way (parole, without a reinclusion request)?
I'm very interested to know.


 3:06 am on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)


I'm a webmaster on a french website of page rank 6, 2 1/2 year old web site. The website have about 60'000 page of text content.

A seo optimization to help ranking, add internal link in all page add about 360'000 internal backlinks to the articles page. 6 links on each pages have been added.

I guess google have see it has over optimization or link farm things and trigger the minus 30 penalty site wide. :(
The site is in google index, same number of page as before, and new page added daily became in google index in 24/48 hours. Only the ranking have been changed.

Of course i remove the 6 links on each page, the 360'000 backlinks.

Someone have a idea if one day i will recover my ranking in google and how much time it could take?

[edited by: tedster at 4:05 am (utc) on May 22, 2007]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


 2:55 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I add some information found in the google webmaster tools sitemap :

Googlebot last successfully accessed your home page on May 17, 2007. (today) Mai 22, 2007.
Google stop to crawl the home page immediatly after the penalty, googlebot continue to crawl the site and index other articles page.

Any one know what i can do to help the site rank again?
Should i keep the link on the site or remove them?
Or anything else?


 3:01 am on May 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

um, alos on this one.

You may escape the +31 penalty, and still get no joy, if you have ahd all your links devalued.

SO.. if the reason for your slide, was collecting links in a naughty way, and you remove this as the problem and get your site our of +31?

Don;t expect to recover your rankings, you will need to get new links all over again somehow.


 5:05 pm on May 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

One of the bellwether sites I've watched for the minus thirty penalty for many months is now back to #1 for the domain name search. Are others seeing this?

My site is still demonstrating classic symptoms with no deviation. I.e. no unique string of text shows above position 28, uniquename.com and uniquename also flounder between 28 and 70. Still adding 2 pages of unique content a day for the time being though no google traffic results from this. 13 months in the bin.


 7:53 pm on May 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

dangerman.. yes you and I are in the 13 month bin together.

Have you found that results seem to be leaning toward pages 5,6 and above now rather than the previous page 4,5?


Tropical Island

 10:41 pm on May 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I went through three cycles of the -30 swing for my most important keyword (don't want to call it a penalty) after being #1 for an authority site for at least 3 years. This is a 1996 site.

I did absolutely nothing other than make my daily updates and restarted AdWords for this keyword.

I returned 2 times to #1 and now have been steady at #2 for the last two months.

I know I lost a key back link from a national magazine that was doing a site update. This link has, to the best of my knowledge, not returned as they have not yet added our area to their index. This could be the reason for the #2 spot.

I might add that we are still #1 for most other searches related to our area.

I think that some change to the algo was made and then dialed back a little (rather a simplified way of expressing it but you know what I mean).


 7:13 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Austrian Oak,

I am at No. 68 for uniquedomain, and nowhere (I gave up at position 150) for uniquedomain.com, although an internal page showed up at No. 65.

Probably the worst it has been for some time, although makes no difference to the negligible traffic flow.


 11:22 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)


I am in exact same boat as you guys, here's my little story.

My site is an adult site so I wont post the url.

My site was getting 20k+ a day from Google and just before the last update all my pages went from page one in rankings to page 4-6 on average, I thought this might be a temporary thing but its been month and a half now and am getting worried, I quit my job for this site as it was doing so well $$$ wise and I wanted to make more of it with more time.

I obviously have done something wrong but do not know what, I have been involved in SEO for 5 years so know most of what there is to know when it comes to Google no-no's but something has obviously been done that Google didnt like but how can I fix it if I dont know what it is?

I also noticed on a page rank tool that my PR went from PR4 to 'N/A' - My pages are still indexed in Google just lower then they should be, also my domain name doesnt show up when I put in 'mydomain.com' so something is up.

New pages are being indexed tho when I goto site:mydomain.com.

Im told it could be because I linked to a site that is banned but how do I find that out? Thats what infuriates me, Google does this but how can we fix when we dont know what the problem is? With so many little rules in place you work hard on a site and one little unknowingly mistake and all this happens, not very fair. /baby


 11:37 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am also worried that even if my penalty does get lifted I wont have the same rankings as before which would be harsh, I might always suffer because of this which makes all the hard work I did seem a complete waste of time and makes me not want to do sites anymore.

This 201 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 201 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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