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This 155 message thread spans 6 pages: 155 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 > >     
Google's 950 Penalty - Part 10

 8:26 am on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

I have two urls that were 950'd on Friday. Unfortunately they are my two most requested urls (other than the home page) - they'd been #1 in the SERPS for at least three years, and now only show up on the last page for the most common search phrase. They both showed PR previously, but TBPR has been greyed out since the last update. However, in certain permutations of the search phrase, they they still rank #1. The search string usually comprises the city name and the event, and often includes the year.

city event - 950'd
city event 2007 - 950'd
event city - #1
city state event - #1
city state event 2007 - #1

As far as I can tell, it is ONLY two urls, out of around 500, that fell into this (so far, anyway)

What it all means, I have no idea.

[edited by: tedster at 9:14 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]



 9:44 am on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's another theme:

- Page was previous on first or second page of SERPS for a competitive term.

Could this be an anti-SEO update?


 10:29 am on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)



 1:17 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is the ancient Google removal tool, that never worked well.


 2:35 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Page was previous on first or second page of SERPS for a competitive term.

Actually in my case there is no real "competitive" term. It's a niche information site, and it's a pretty narrow niche, and nobody else is really providing anything similar. What's showing now instead of my listings are smaller collections of listings from newspapers or other sites, mostly from 2006. Even when 2007 is specified in the search phrase, all that come up are 2006 schedules.


 3:35 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

The competitive term may not be that obvious. Though the phase based methods are based on phrases sometimes a single word that is often the first word in a competitive term might be the problem. In one case for me I wrote about the 'widget war' but the first word I used is also the first word in a legal process.


 4:09 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)


Thanks, steveb, I stand corrected. I didn't have URL that bookmarked and always found it through the Google Help pages - which no longer link to it.

That URL removal tool has had its inconsistencies, but it is indeed still a way that someone else might take out your pages for 180 days if you place a robots tag or file. So tigertom, your answer is "yes". However, I don't see how disallowing googlebot could possibly help bring back rankings from the -950 pit.


 4:56 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

It wasn't suggested for such, and not by me. The idea of the original poster was to get your 950'd urls out, and try again.

I piped up because if you disallow _all_ pages, then this trick can be played on you. So I say disallow all save the index page, or other page. Not tried this myself. Just a thought.

I personally wouldn't be bothered spending a lot of time on a penalised site. Spend your energy rejigging your content, and set up new sites. Buy old, but not 'pending delete' domains, to avoid the Sandbox, if you're trying to rank on competitive terms quickly. And don't try all the same tricks on all your new domains. Again, not done this myself re: buying old domains.

Having had a look at how some sites are ranking for competitve terms now, I doubt Google will be satisfied with the current SERP status-quo, _BUT_ this is the first time I've had a good look at my competitors. Maybe the SERPs have been filled with similar chancers before, and I hadn't noticed. So your site might come back on its own, unless it's truly keyword stuffed and unnatural looking [a guess].

Probably Google is glad some big brand names are in the SERPs as well as the chancers, and the real dreck is gone. If some old-skool SEO'ers get nuked as collateral damage, so what?

Here's a thought: I wonder if the WebmasterWorld school of SEO is particularly affected? Any partcipants in other forums squealing as much as we are?


 5:06 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are most of the people in this discussion suffering -950 for some of their keywords but not others? or are most people seeing this as a site-wide thing? I've mostly seen the -950 applied to just some search terms, but other terms continue to provide good search traffic.

I ask because there's no reason to get drastic, IMO, unless the whole site is affected. Even more, I wonder about the differences between sites that are affected for just some search terms, and those that seem to have been affected across the board.

These may not even be the same phenomenon -- that is they may not be caused by the same trigger, but just the same mechanism in use to depress the rankings.


 5:46 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well I found some HTML and CSS errors that I cleaned up, but there's not much more I could do if I wanted to. So far it only seems to be the two big pages, and the most common search phrases for those pages; everything else is fine. And if I reverse the order of the searches, or toss the state name in too, then I'm #1 for that particular search. So I'm thinking yea, it's a phrase thing. It's just unfortunate, because it's a seasonal site that has pretty much a shelf life of June and part of July, and that's about it. So the timing couldn't be worse. And the fact that there are now a bunch of expired pages with 2006 events replacing my 2007 event pages is just adding insult to injury.


 6:34 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

netmeg: Please read the stonetemple interview, HTML/CSS errors don't cause a penalty or filter.


 6:53 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's sitewide for me, but I am chasing fairly competitive terms, with over-optimised pages. I already had Supplemental rot going on, which I did not realise, so this was the final wake-up call.


 8:12 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

For me it's either 100% site-wide or 100% not side-wide.


 9:12 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

netmeg: Please read the stonetemple interview, HTML/CSS errors don't cause a penalty or filter.

Yes I know that, thank you, but it certainly can't hurt to have everything ship-shape for the bots.


 9:13 pm on May 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

If it is sitewide, which I find is rare, then you have a problem that waiting is probably smart.

If you have a problem effecting individual pages, and they have been hit for more than a month, using the URL removal tool and starting over with a somewhat redesigned/worded/linked/structured page is the simplest way to go. (Redirect the old page anywhere but to your own domain... if you 301 it to google, maybe thet'll penalize themselves...)

If a page isn't important, rather than recreating it I'd just leave it alone to see when/if google unpenalizes it on its own.


 7:27 pm on May 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Came back from 950's to top 3 on May 24. Pages I changed came back, those I did not touch are still in the 950's.

I had virtually no IBL's, so link quality was not a factor. I wish I had changed just one thing, but stupidly made several edits. Now I don't know which (or all?) counted to erase. And then, there's always the possibly is had nothing to do with me, just G foolin' round.


 7:35 pm on May 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Can you explain what changes was maded on its pages?


 8:01 pm on May 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't have any IBL issues I don't think; most everyone links to my home page and not the internals. I made some changes to the navigation, and removed a link that probably looked hidden because the CSS was broken. Waiting to see if anything happens. The one good thing is that the home page seems to be re-indexed pretty much every day. I haven't had a cache date more than 2 days old in ages. So I'm a-hopin'.


 8:16 pm on May 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Approaching 3 months since my entire site ( except for a few pages ), was 950ed, since then I've been in and out of this penalty more times than I care to count, I’ve done just about everything I can think of to make the site Google compliant, including:

1. Fixed canonicalization issues
2. New link structure and menu
3. De-optimized
4. Put duplicate text on graphics
5. Completely new home page
6. Removed all links that may be misinterpreted as “paid”
7. Hired several writers ( good writers, not keyword stuffing school kids ) updated all pages, plus added new pages, pictures, on-topic links to authority sites, video

I still have to add alt tags and header tags to some pages, but other than that I don’t know what else I can do.

The site did come back May 18th then 950ed again on the 24th, if it comes back again and does not stick, it will be very disappointing, to say the least.

I would like to thank everyone that‘s contributed to this thread, tedster, annej, marcia, netmeg, mattg3, steveb even trinorthlighting, for their insight and for keeping this thread alive, I'm sure there are many others who have benefited from this discussion.


 12:07 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would like to thank everyone that‘s contributed to this thread, tedster, annej, marcia, netmeg, mattg3, steveb even trinorthlighting, for their insight and for keeping this thread alive, I'm sure there are many others who have benefited from this discussion.

i second this


 12:18 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just wish we were someplace more concrete after all this examination of the issue. But at least I've learned to routinely check end-of-results when trying to troubleshoot rankings questions.


 12:46 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I choose to believe in one issue, which has been mentioned several times in this thread: over use of internal navigation links.

I will never again link every page to all other pertinent pages, even though it does make sense for the user. Everything will simply link to the topic index page, and possibly to a single related page, when I have one. No more cross linking.

Before anyone jumps on me, I realize this is a shot in the dark. But I think its the best shot in the dark.


 2:27 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

For those who have Sitelinks, did you noticed a change in your Sitelinks at the same time the -950 hit?

Specifically, did the theme of your Sitelinks narrow to reflect only a certain small subsection of your site?

For example...

Pre-950 Sitelinks...
Subject 1
Subject 2
Subject 3
Subject 4

Post-950 Sitelinks...
Subject 1
Subject 1 variation (a)
Subject 1 variation (b)
Subject 1 variation (c)


 2:52 am on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

The only two pages on my site that have internal links to more than just the home page are my two highest ranking (and highest PR) pages - NOT the two that are currently 950'd. Dunno if that means anything.

And the two that are 950'd both used to be PR2, and are now showing page rank not available. Dunno if that means anything either. All I can do is throw stuff out there.


 4:33 pm on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a couple of other sites with PR4 home pages under my purview - I'm wondering if a direct link to the 950'd pages would do me any good? It wouldn't be spot-on relevant, but not totally out of the ballpark, as they are all local entertainment (music) sites and pages, and the 950'd pages are about local upcoming entertainment (non-music) events in the same area.

I know I should just be patient and wait it out, but I only have about a three week window of opportunity.


 4:43 pm on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)


I advise that you do that. Make sure its not just a link though. Write up a nice paragraph and place it in a good place on the page that will be useful to the visitors.

Example: If you are interested into looking into other local events besides music, you can visit our other site for additional listings of events etc......etc.....etc......that you might be interested in after going to the concert....

Make sure you do a small write up (at least a paragraph) and pick the right anchor text. Make sure its useful to the visitor. If you do that it should pull it right out.


 4:45 pm on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nutmeg, Try it on just one. It sounds similar to what brought one of my pages back.

The page was the contents page to a whole section. The link didn't bring all the section pages back but it helped.


 8:24 pm on May 30, 2007 (gmt 0)


Thanks! I did some begging and pleading, and persuaded the guy who has the mother of all (events) sites - meaning the type of events that I cover, only he does it world wide - to put links directly to those two internal pages on his PR5 home page, so maybe that will help. I'll try only that first - it couldn't be more relevant - and see if that helps before doing any other tweaking.

...and no it's not a PAID link, other than he has my undying gratitude...


 11:15 pm on May 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here is an update for my site. These are the dates that the majority of my site has been 950'd:

Mar. 6 - Apr 8
Apr 14 - Apr 19
May 22 - May 27
May 30 - present

My site has not completely been 950'd. I am still ranking in the top 10 for a handful of long-tailed phrases. As time passes, I don't think I am doing anything to make my SERP results fluctuate so much. From Apr. 20 to May 21 I had better traffic than I've had since at least December. When it's good it's really good, when it's gone it's gone. My phrases are not highly competitive, but when my site is ranking well hundreds of my pages are ranking in the top 10 for their terms. The phrases are in a number of themes, so I can't even nail it down to a theme. All I have been doing is adding more content to my site, a page or two a day, and my site keeps cycling in and out of the top 10...but it keeps coming back at full force.


 11:44 am on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)


How have you fared? Have your pages come out?

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