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Suddenly more sites 950'd
Is this a new wave?

 7:59 pm on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I experienced 5 sites/directories getting 950'd several weeks ago when this whole thing started, and have been working to get them back. (see the big long 950 thread if you want details).

Now, just this morning (06/28/07), my flagship site got slammed. Its structure is entirely different from those that got hit earlier, so this is a totally unexpected bad turn.

My question is: are any of you discovering a new round of 950'd sites? I'm wondering if this is a new devil or the old one, just taking this long to reach me again?

Note: the -950 Discussion
begins with this thread [webmasterworld.com]
this is the active thread [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: tedster at 9:30 pm (utc) on June 28, 2007]



 11:50 pm on Jun 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

can we perhaps have a seperate thread started, where the only posts allowed are from those who WERE 950'd, and are out?

One of my sites was 950'd 3 weeks ago

Big site, 200,000 pages indexed.

Problems were

a. Invalid html on home causing the <head> to break. Caused main term to go fomr 2 on google to 70.
b. Many many overoptimised pages, mainly caused by shoddy progrmaming, but also poor content. 950'd for many terms other than main home page term.

I fixed a. Note home page never went 950, only dropped in rankings. Home page, was not overoptimised.

I fixed b, took 6 days of hard work, resubmitted to google, recovered 5 days later.

My experience with the 950 penalty is it is an overoptimisation penalty. If you have short pages with lots of keyword duplication, or you read your text and don't honestly think it would be written like that if it was just for people, then consider a rejig. Even long pages can be effected if massive repitition.

I don't see this as a trust breach penalty like the +30 penalty, which requires far more work to recover from(I've suffered both). As its not a trust breach penalty, external factors like purchased links, or link exchanges seem not be part of the mix.



 12:11 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks, Nippi. Those are helpful points.

I was able to reverse the penalty for my previously 950'd sites, and in my case, it was a different solution than what worked for you.

But this newest slam is against a site of pages I've combed thru to "deoptimize" and remove any errors/questionable stuff. Has me really worried that there's a new wrinkle...


 1:16 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

HTML errors are not a reason for a penalty, remember stonetemple interview.


 1:56 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

html errors, that broke the <head> so that the <body>went inside it, was what I believe effected my home page rankings

I have no doubt such a html error, would cause this.

I have experimented previously with doing things like

a. Not closing <head>
b. Not having a <body> at all.
c. Not closing <html>

These things affect rankings. Things like nested tags, or duplicate id tags on a page... these html errors seem to make no difference... but html errors that break the fundamental structure of how a html page is supposed to be presented, do make a difference to rankings on Google.

Anyone who doubts this, please delete your <head><body> and <html> tags for a month and see what happens.


 2:24 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes, I agree that html errors can affect rankings. But html errors do not cause penalties. I think is important to keep this difference very clear for good analysis.


 2:56 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree. I think by now Google can differentiate between tricks and mistakes (esp. when its own home page doesn't validate?).

It seems reasonable to penalize sites that are link-heavy and content-light. But -950 seems over the top, doesn't it?! If it feels that strongly, why not just delete it completely? (I don't recall the last time I searched more than +50 deep into SERPs.)



 3:34 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

This -950 thing is really annoying.
Did Matt Cutts and company pull the number 950 out of a hat?
No comment from Matt or anyone from Google except (watch a video) [video.google.com...]
<sarcasm>Thanks for all the help</sarcasm>
How can you be on page 1 one day and then page 95 the next? It makes no sense.
Almost half the sites in my sector that use to be on the first 3 pages are now -950.


 3:46 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Did Matt Cutts and company pull the number 950 out of a hat?

That's just our easy name for it. The reality is just "end of results" -- somewhere on the last page, maybe next to last.


 3:58 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Didn't you find that humorous? I wish I could laugh.

Well, in my case it is -940 out of 1000.


 4:58 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

agreed on penlaties and drops in rankings.

In above example, I included comment on broken head, as I remain unsure whether is was the broken head that has caused the problem, or the fact that much of the site had been 950d that caused the home page ranking drop


 8:58 am on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

"I was able to reverse the penalty..."

Likely not. Give it four months, then proclaim victory. Anything shorter than that won't tell you anything.


 12:13 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)


Since I haven't added a single line to these threads for ages, I think I'll throw a few cents in.

Mind you these are not the only reasons. And not the only solutions. There are way too many. But I've given up on explaining how this works, so let's go on with sharing experiences. Then we'll have enough case studies for everyone with a -950 problem.

For sites with NO other problems, so far what I saw was:

- the -950 penalty gets caused by various reasons.
- no 'one cure fits all'
- I've seen most of the sites get hit because:
- page doesn't have the exact phrase in title/IBL/internal nav
- page has nothing but the exact phrase in title/IBL/internal nav
- "illegal" anchor text in IBLs that smells like SEO
- links from completely off topic but powerful pages with comp. anchor
- themes colliding ( the "what does THAT have to do with it?" factor )
- which only affects powerful pages

So far what works for these are:

- Get the colliding / suspicious / over optimized phrases out of...
- internal nav, title, IBL anchor.
- Get the missing exact phrase that's a quality signal for the topic ( or a number of related phrases ) INTO the title / IBL anchor / internal nav


The new turn was:

- Site with unbalanced link profile.

... which means...

- Site has more IBLs for a subsection than the homepage, which gave the internal page a higher pagerank than the homepage. Combine this with the obvious over optimization that doesn't hurt for a normal subsection, but hurts if it's your main entry point. Internal nav gets misunderstood bigtime, all pages -950'd for everything that the subsection has to offer. Rest of the phrases do allright.


'recently been bugging me, so I'll add it anyway. I'm not here to judge or anything, but I've molded the chakra in these posts to only work for honest, hard working professionals with taste and/or a clean conscience, who produce, host, optimize sites that they could brag about to their mom... or to their kids.

So... watch out.


 1:23 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

A -950 penalty should be due to the violation of the "webmaster guidelines" ONLY IMO, but that is not the case.

There are a lot of CLEAN sites getting nailed.

There are sites "in" then get "out" daily without changing a thing.

The -950 penalty makes no sense PERIOD.

The most irritating thing is no comment from GOOGLE. I guess THEY don't want to admit THEY have problems.


 3:02 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

One of my main sites got hit with what appears to be a -850 penalty (not -950). It looks like a few other major sites in this area also got hit. Is anyone else seeing -850 and not -950?


 3:09 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

-850, -920, -940 not much of a difference is it?
Bottom line 0 TRAFFIC.


 3:59 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

950 filter is collateral damage and a proof that Google's attempt in fighting spam algorithmically doesn't work like it should (yet). Most webmasters have learned to live with it by running several websites. When one starts doing well, move on to the next one because the first one can drop out any minute. That's one thing in common between white and black hatters.


 10:16 pm on Jun 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

I find this interesting:
My main keyword on Google is now 900.
My main keyword on Google Accessible Search is 10.

What do you make of that, if anything?


 12:57 am on Jun 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I fear the flux flows fantastically fast, frantic.

Fine yesterday 9am; 950'd at noon, back to normal this morning.

A fine friday, fluxwise. Fearing flux flucuations tomorrow.


 1:17 am on Jun 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I feel like day trading with my sites 950 in and out and in and out ... Maybe someone will kick the broken dumb machine.


 10:39 pm on Jul 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

One of my sites just got hit with a -950 this week. I think Miamacs has diagnosed my problem:

Site has more IBLs for a subsection than the homepage, which gave the internal page a higher pagerank than the homepage.

Several pages on one site across various topics and keywords got hit. The pages are the ones with the most in bound links and almost certainly have more quality links than my home page does. These pages have more pagerank than the homepage (because they have specific content that people actually link to rather than the general stuff on my homepage).

The thing that stands out to me is that several of my pages got hit at once. I'm guessing that my ENTIRE site passed some threshold.


 11:13 pm on Jul 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Same EXACT thng here. It happened overnight. The site is 5 years old, content rich, with a large number of IBL's. Our highest PR pages as well as the homepage are now 950'd for no apparent reason that I can see. The one page is PR7, highly relevent content with seveal thousand relevent Inbound Links and it wen from an average of #7, to being the last result on the last page.

Thought we were doing everything right, including sitemap. No idea what to do at this point.

A few of the pages retained their position, but only a few.


 11:32 pm on Jul 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

If your main index page got hit, then that carries over to other pages. One of the typical 950 problems is 90%+ pages are penalized. A different typical problem is a few high value/popular pages are hit. The "more links to a penalized page" thing is so uncommon I doubt it's worth mentioning, although of course ther coule be a 100 or more specific reasons why a URL gets 950ed.


 1:49 am on Jul 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

In all honestly, I can't accept much of what Miamacs is saying. I agree, that on pages that you've had 950'd Miamics, that all of the factors you've described were happening, and at times the factors were opposing. This does not mean they are the reasons for the 950 penalty or that the 950 penalty seems to follow no pattern.

I think it’s a case of not being able to see the trees, for the forrest.

Google does all it can to ensure that sites can not harm other sites... thus I've NEVER in 8 years as a full time SEO, seen anything that I could absolutely identify as a penalty for inbound links, only a discounting of their value. Thus I would rule out anchor text, or links from offtopic sites as being likely a 950 contributor.

The other factors listed…. Again, I don’t see them as proof that the 950 penalty follows no pattern, or that there is not one cure all.


-page doesn't have the exact phrase in title/IBL/internal nav
-page has nothing but the exact phrase in title/IBL/internal nav

All this proves, is that by themselves these factors are not the cause of the 950 penalty. It does not mean that they were not contributing factors. The 950 penalty is very severe, so its not likely to be caused by a single factor, such as page naming conventions used by a site.

You could do a break down of many factors such as these and compare 2 sites that were 950ed, and they would not have the same onpage/onsite/external factors.

To me, there is likely one, all encompassing “cause” of the 950 penalty, and that is your site or some pages of your site have gone beyond a threshold for optimisation, This can happen in far too many ways for there to be any real value in comparing factors such differences in title conventions etc, of hit pages/sites.

I think its now been shown its highly likely that the +30 penalty is a trust and worth transgression. Common factors seem to be affiliate content, duplicate content and a big recip link program.….In short…..creating a site whose popularity is inflated based on its actual content. The cure is to improve your content, and prove to Google that your worth is thus now not inflated. As the penalty involved a loss of trust by Google, the penalty requires trust to be regained and may take some time.

From all the research I’ve done and personal experience, the cause of the 950 may be less sure, but it’s surely not caused by individual onpage/site/external factors. I believe it is caused by the sum of many problems, which cause your site to appear too greatly built for search engines.

The simple solution, is thus to deoptimise.

Many people have escaped this penalty, in under 30 days so it appears to have no time frame and not involve a long term trust breach penalty.


 11:49 am on Jul 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just got hit for a site that ranks #2 for about 8 months. The "Site has more IBLs for a subsection than the homepage, which gave the internal page a higher pagerank than the homepage." seems to be true in my case. I have the main site and added a bbPress forum to it. All the intern forum pages were linking to the forum root. Can this cause it?


 12:43 pm on Jul 2, 2007 (gmt 0)



I repeat, what I'm saying applies to sites with no other problems.
The sites I see, experiment on are not over-optimized.
Yet I can imagine that it could trigger the filter if they'd be.

This is about paying attention to SEO. To every detail. Comb through your inbounds, your titles, your navigation, check for words/phrases you know you shouldn't aim for, check for spammy things, check for dupe content, and get the links that you want to rank for. If still no use, apply the things that I've been flooding these threads with.

I've always concentrated on glitches in the combined relevancy-trust profiles of sites, in order to understand how it's passed or not passed with links, navigation, good titles, etc. But that's because this aspect was new, and to me the rest is obvious.

As the penalty involved a loss of trust by Google, the penalty requires trust to be regained and may take some time.

Trust is NOT lost. That's why you're still in the primary index for ultra-competitive phrases, only sent to the end of the SERPs. And keep ranking for some other phrases top 10 with the same page. Sometimes for the same words, only in different order. This is a runtime, last minute adjustment, which grabs otherwise trusted pages that are marked by the filter for that ( monitored ) query, and sends them to the back. Those are all trusted sites.

Another long post removed. I won't repeat myself again.


 6:41 pm on Jul 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the previous posters were saying that the -30 penalty involves a loss of trust, not the -950.


 7:12 pm on Jul 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

And keep ranking for some other phrases top 10 with the same page. Sometimes for the same words, only in different order.

I have 2 pages that went 950 for ALL phrases. In fact they went end of results for site:www.mydomain.com
What do you make of that?


 9:17 pm on Jul 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have 2 pages that went 950 for ALL phrases. In fact they went end of results for site:www.mydomain.com

I worked on a site that recently recovered from that same behavior. I never considered it the same as the phrase based -950 penalty. It just happens to share some similarity in penalty, but the cause may be totally unrelated.

This recently recovered site was end of results for all searches, even domain name. I thought it might be due to overaggresive link building on a newer site, but am fairly sure that is not the case now.

I found an old forgotten domain the owner had the same exact index page as the affected domain.

I believe when we made a few small changes to the index page on the new domain, Google decided this new page was the dup. Searching for any text string on the index page would return the "forgotten" domain instead of the new one.

After Google cached the 301 redirect from old to new, it popped back up to the first page, stronger than ever.

Because this site had all inbound links to the index page, and it was the only one to rank, it was site-wide.

Don't know what the effect would have been if it was a subpage - could it have lost certain phrases only?


 12:18 am on Jul 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

"I have 2 pages that went 950 for ALL phrases."

That's the more normal behavior for the penalty.

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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