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Disappeared for main keywords after adding many directory links

 11:18 pm on Oct 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi All,

I have a relatively new website (2 months old). During the last two weeks I tried to get inbound links from web directories.
Everething was going fine. The site's position in google SERPs was rising.
My target keywords were not very competitive.
After I started to submit my site to directories I got inbound links from 45 directories during 1 week.
My problem was that I used the same anchor text and description while submitting to directories. The description contained my target keywords.
Several days ago my site got 20th position in SERPs for some of the keywords and the next day it disapeared from SERPs!
It still ranks #1 for it's unique name.
It still ranks in top 10 for 6 unique terms from it's Title Tag.
It disapeared from SERPs completely for any of the target keywords.
I suppose Google interpreted all those links from directories as spam and flagged my site somehow because the link texts was the same and they were added in several days.

I want to ask your opinions on how to revert things back.
I'm planning to change anchor texts and descriptions in website directories and write a unique test for each directory. Will it help?
Will google change it's opinion about my site if I do so?

What is the way to revert my site to SERPs for the keywords I target?



 1:40 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

You may do better by not being in any of those "directories".

Perhaps you were caught in a filter courtesy of the many links with identical anchor text, but maybe some of the "directories" themselves did damage. There were 45 at once - I take it they weren't all Y or ODP calibre.

For reverting it: Take a good look at each of the "directories". If possible, have your site removed from any that seem dodgy. And next time you go looking for links, avoid "directories" - most of them exist for no other reason than to scoop traffic from legitimate websites, and the SE's are on to their game.

There's also the chance that it had nothing to do with the directories, and you just benefited from freshness at first.

<added>Sorry, man - just noticed it was your first post. Welcome to WW.</added>

[edited by: Stefan at 1:49 am (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]


 1:48 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

It may have been because of 45 links all at once not necessarily submitting to directories--45 all at once for a new site is not normal link building activity.


 8:03 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you start playng with your anchor text you might make things worse. IMO you should "slowly" keep adding content and trying to get more IBL's with different anchor text to make the % of anchor looking better to google.


 8:16 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

" It may have been because of 45 links all at once not necessarily submitting to directories--45 all at once for a new site is not normal link building activity. "

Finding it hard to understand why a penalty is necessary for this. Discount such links sure but a penalty? I just don't see a need for a penalty.

I can understand that ranking because of 45 directory links (all at once or whatever) then later those being discounted appearing as a penalty but to penalize a new site that was ranking because of submitting to those directories?...naw that is dumb.

That would leave the door wide open for anyone to knock out new competition simply by submitting the site/pages to a bunch of directories/scrapers/link lists/etc. at once creating a penalty, possibly hurting short term or long term trust, and hindering "natural" backlinks occurring from serp traffic as well. See a new page/site pop into the serps...submit and be rid of em...it's spam just the same.

If Google can see unnatural link building activity (paid links, links trades, submitting to directories, etc.) and penalize they sure as heck can just give zero benefit from such link activities. This to would allow webmasters promote their site as they wish gathering links as they wish rather than "oops you passed our unknown by you threshold for X ammount of links in Y amount of time, or so many links containing certain kinds/amounts of anchor text, or links from this site and that site so we will condemn your site to the google penitentiary for Z amount of time." Heck just as easy to "no benefit" and move on.


 8:43 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

How does the site site do in an allinanchor search for the KWs?


 9:10 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

More questions that can help.

How long did it take to rank where you did. Did take some time and links or was it immediate? (Newness of site can have good short term rankings but disappear after a month or two).

How many links you have before you submitted to the directories? Are they still there? Any more show up you didn't seek out?

Has the anchor text changed at all from those sites linking to you? Do you link back? Did those sites feature yours on a high level page and move it further down into the structure (as in linked from a front page article and filed a few clicks into the site)?

Were any links purchased?

Were any previous links directories also? (Could be a "no benefit" from the new directories you submitted to and previous directory links being discounted as well)

If you have multiple pages:

Was you whole site indexed to begin with? Are all the pages that were indexed still there? Are any now supplemental?

Does any other page that is indexed rank in the top 1000 for 2-3 keyword phrase not being targeted but found on that page? Try no quotes and with quotes. Try targeted phrases for other pages.

Do you have each of your pages target different keywords or are they targeting the same?


Did you tweak any of your pages with your targeted keywords/phrase recently? Any internal anchor text changes?


 9:39 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

My guess is that it's not a natural linking pattern as far as google is concerned. It's quite easy to detect and filter, on a new site it's almost certainly the case.


 10:03 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

<quote> It may have been because of 45 links all at once not necessarily submitting to directories--45 all at once for a new site is not normal link building activity. </quote>

OK... what is a normal building activity for a new website then? I think just opposite - you start a new website, you start promoting it all over the place, incl. all possible one way links from directories. That seems to me a logical steps to be taken. Moreover, GG should not penalise inbound links as you can not have 100% control on all of them. Hurting your competition would be so easy then (e.g. get 1000+ links from low quality directories with identical KW and description pointing back to them within a week).

In my personal opinion there could be something wrong at a different place. Did you link back to those directories? If so, and some of those 45 directories are considered a low value at GG's eyes, that could be the reason for getting out of index.

So, recheck, clean and control whom do you link to.


 10:11 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

This has nothing to do with the directories. 45 is not that many, I've done that for several sites. If you had 4500, then you might be in trouble.
You experienced the "baby bounce": that brief moment in the sunshine that the search engines sometimes give to brand new sites on brand new domain names. It usually lasts a couple of weeks, and then you tank completely and disappear into "the sandbox". That's where you are, I'm afraid.
My advice: keep chasing those directory links, and other types of links too.


 12:05 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google says that legitimate sites attract back links slowly. So if a 2 months old website with 1 to 5 IBL's ( ..my best guess )get 45 links at once the problem here is the %. In this case G might think that the site is either exchanging links or purchasing links and this is called spam IMO


 12:13 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

My guess is the sites linking to you got some sort of penalty and now the link love you had is gone. Not a penalty on your side. You can't get hurt by doing directory links. Also it is very common for a new site to do well out of the gates and then go right into the sandbox. There was some sort of update this weekend. I think it may have had some sort of affect on directory link power being taken down. They are always turning the knobs and I think the directory knob was moved a little.


 12:22 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)


Penalty, huh...?

Whee... this is perfectly normal after getting too much of the same stuff, so early and in such a short timeframe. Don't panic, you just need to normalize your link profile.


Either modify some of the anchor text or get more links with new vairety. The targeted phrase shouldn't appear more than like... 25-30% of the time, also use different word order, some additional words before or after your keyphrase, plural, singular, whatever variations that make sense.

Altho you should avoid relying only on directories.
They're good for refining existing relevance but...
them making a new site relevant for competitive stuff is highly unlikely.
And only consider those which you'd see visitors from... no matter how few.

If you're in doubt whether you've just submitted stuff to the wrong places...
take your time to go back, and check if they have a cache in Google.
If the pages don't, check their index.
If those don't either, get yourself outta there.


Not sure what kind of an area you're trying to compete in, but if there are any good sites you might want to get a few links from them as well... even if they're competitors. Any informative sites? Hobby sites? Media coverage?



 12:27 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google says that legitimate sites attract back links slowly.

45 links in 2 months is attracting backlinks slowly. Those kinds of guidelines are to stop automated directory submission engines, and forum and blog spammers (which can get thousands of backlinks overnight).


 12:34 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

if you read carefully..."45 directories during 1 week" same anchor, probably all pointing to the homepage...


 1:00 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

if you read carefully..."45 directories during 1 week"

oh... :-)
well, I still stick with what I said; I think the problems are nothing to do with those 45 links, and everything to do with the site being 2 months old.


 1:46 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm affraid the penalty is due to the percentage of similar links I added during one week.
Initially the site was only in DMOZ and there were 1-2 inbound links more. It was in 500+ position in SERPs for the keywords I target for 1 month.
At this point the site came out of sandbox where it was for some time before.
Then I started to add it to directories. After several days it ranked #60 for 2 keyword phrases I targeted. I continued to add it to directories. Then it ranked #20-23.
At this point Google was showing not an on-page text from my site in SERPs but the link description text from directories! It was a bad sign that Google prefers to show the description text from directories rather than original text from the homepage of the site.
I waited 3 days and continued to add it to directories. Then the homepage disapeared from SERPs.
I checked all the directories I submitted the site. 45 of them listed my site giving it nearly 100 inbound links as each directory usually places a couple of links to a site.
The links were not on high level pages. The anchor text was always the same. I did not link back, it was one way links.
The links were not purchased, I used only free submissions.
My site is indexed and all of it's pages are still there except the homepage.
All links from directories point to the homepage.
I believe this is not a sandbox effect as the site ranks #1 for it's name and in top 10 for 6 words from it's Title Tag.
Each of the site pages target the same keywords.
When I put 3 keyword phrases in quotes the homepage ranks in top 10 but it disappears from SERPs without quotes.
Some other pages from the site still rank #40-100 for the same 2 keyword phrases without quotes and there is no penalty for them.

The homepage should rank higher than others for the same keywords as it did before.

Any suggestions on how to revert the homepage to the place it should be in SERPs?

[edited by: Smark at 1:52 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]


 2:07 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wish you people would stop spreading this misinformation. If what yall were saying is true I could just go do that to somebody else. This kind of thing would happen if he just got a few natural links. Also it is natural to get a lot of links quickly. Look at searchengineland. He got a ton of links very fast. If Kevin Rose were to create a new site it would get a ton of links very fast as well. If I were to create a new site that was very interesting and did a multi million $ ad campaign I would get a lot of links fast. I wish the amateur SEO's that have no idea what they are talking about would quit giving advice.


 2:31 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why don't you try and give your expert advise, we are here to learn. Opss I understand: you need to have a closer look at the webpage in question, have a chat with the owner privately, couse you experts can't give such superficial adivces..


 2:39 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

It still ranks in top 10 for 6 unique terms from it's Title Tag.
It disapeared from SERPs completely for any of the target keywords.

So you are targeting some keywords that are not in the title tag? That's difficult to achieve, especially on a new site.

Plus you've got 6 unique terms in one title tag and then there are other terms on the page that you want this url to rank for? Getting a new site into the top ten for 6 unique terms is already a good result. Building out some more pages is a much better way to go for targeting a variety of search terms.


I'd say what you're seeing has more to do with the newness of your site (the end of the "honeymoon effect" or "baby bounce") than it does with the issues you are fearing. It's also possible that Google just now put a PR block on those free directory pages so they are no longer helping you - Google has been doing that in recent weeks. But even if that is what happened, it's still not a penalty.

Be very careful of jumping to a quick analysis - just because a change in ranking happened "after" you did something doesn't mean it happened "because" of your action.


 3:24 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

directory links are a dicey subject at this juncture. I would beware of which directories you use and definetly not do too much at one time.


 4:18 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

My experience shows that getting too many links with the same anchor text in a short period of time raises a red flag and search engines (not just G) will put a penalty (30, 60 or 90 days) during which your website will appear for some less common keywords but will not appear for most competitive keywords. Many webmasters report loss of traffic up to 70-80%. After the penalty is over your traffic will revert to its original level or even better if the links you got were good. I would suggest that since the damage is done, you do nothing but build great content and stop getting any more links with identical anchor text (it is not natural). Many people still link with words like "click here" or "here is the link" or "go here for more information." That is more natural - "blue widgets" links are rare when people naturally link to you.


 4:23 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

All of the keywods I am targeting are in the Title tag and on page.


 5:03 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just because you put up a bunch of directory links and your site falls does not equal a directory penalty. You can not make up SEO rules from your observations of one site. I have seen sites do nothing but a huge free directory submission and the site did well. The G algo is not simple and you can't make simple statements like this. On top of that there are several different algos floating around and they change often. Give me any SEO rule and I can find a site that goes against it. I have seen someone take a moderately ranking website that breaks all the SEO rules and change it to follow all the right rules and the site fell off the radar. I see sites that have nothing but links from their own sites and directory links and they rank for top terms.


 11:00 am on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

My site is back from hell.
The penalty lasted for nearly 10 days and now I suppose it's over.
The site is aparing again for main keywords. It's ranking even higher than before.
I did nothing but submmited nearly 3-5 new links during this 10 days. I think that no more than 5-7 new links to my site apeared on the web.

Finaly, it was a real penalty!

[edited by: Smark at 11:13 am (utc) on Oct. 9, 2007]


 1:57 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

That is very common. Last week some of my sites went down several spots and came back up. Don't ever take a ranking seriously until it has stayed where it is at for a few weeks.


 12:50 am on Oct 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Good to know that your penalty has been lifted Smark.

And I also agree that we are here to learn. Not everyone is an expert with SEO. I myself is trying to read as much as I can with regards to SEO. The problem is what informations to trust. There are so many information that leads to further confusion.

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