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Is Google Using a Position #6 "Penalty"?
tedster




msg:3535276
 10:35 pm on Dec 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Something is happening that was mentioned in our December 2007 SERP Changes [webmasterworld.com] thread and deserves a dedicated thread.

What some site owners are reporting is that search rankings that have held for a long time, often at #1, were knocked down begun to #6. These reports happen often enough that it looks like there might be something specific going on. However, there are always ranking shifts, so zeroing in on exactly this one thing can be difficult.

-- Here are the main signs --

1. Well established site with a long history.
2. Long time good rankings for a big search term - usually #1
3. Other searches that returned the same url at #1 may also be sent to #6, but not all of them
4. Some reports of a #2 result going to #6.

-- What we can identify so far --

A. It's search term specific (usually the biggest and best converting phrase)
B. Therefore, not a url or domain-wide penalty on all terms
C. A little testing on one site seems to show it's not an on-page problem
D. That leaves off-page but on-site, or off-site, or posibly backlink issues

-- Some loose guesswork and brainstorming --

i. Backlink profiles are not diverse enough - is this a new algo tweak on that factor?
ii. Backlinks are aging or stagnating, with no new ones being added?
iii. I thought about the possibility of paid link devaluation (even going back two or three steps from the site) but that would not consistently place a url at #6, so I've ruled that out.

Is anyone else seeing this Position #6 problem? Something like this could be hard to separate out from all the other movement that the SERPs show.

However, I've now seen it happen to key terms on three different sites operated by the same person (different WhoIs, no incestuous linking) and two corporate sites. Plus there are several other reports in the Decemeber SERP Changes thread. Every one of these cases seems to be hitting the domain root, and not internal url.

I'm not happy with the current level of analysis, however, and definitely looking for more ideas.

[edited by: tedster at 6:28 pm (utc) on Dec. 29, 2007]

 

crobb305




msg:3538908
 5:12 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I personally think it is a glitch from an engineer testing something based on anchor text.

I hope you are right, though I don't understand why they would allow a glitch to linger for so long, especially in light of so much discussion (aside from the fact that we are coming out of the holidays). With more time passing, it is starting to seem more and more intentional now.

europeforvisitors




msg:3538944
 5:50 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

From my small data set of 1 website that was hit I think this might have something to do with Google getting better at phrase relationships, and/or comparing the anchor text diversity of one page vs the anchor text of other top ranked pages in that space, and then discounting anything that seems too unnatural.

Trouble is, what's "unnatural"? A hundred sites linking to the same "fuzzy blue widgets" phrase might be unnatural, but a hundred sites linking to the anchor text "[Newspaper name]" or "[Name of major e-commerce vendor]" would be perfectly natural. (Mind you, I'm sure that Google has thought about that problem and has ways of determining whether "[keyphrase]" is likely to be generic anchor text or a proper name in any given context.)

rudy102




msg:3538967
 6:13 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

On the site in position 6 that we analyzed, we found what may be a common factor. The sites in positions 1-5 have only one "text" link structure, if any. A few use graphic icons for their navigation structure with no text links at all.

The #6 site has text links in the top navigation and another set - almost identical - in the footer text navigation.

Has anyone else that is experiencing the #6 "ceiling" come across this?

sandboxsam




msg:3539071
 8:57 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

“The #6 site has text links in the top navigation and another set - almost identical - in the footer text navigation.
Has anyone else that is experiencing the #6 "ceiling" come across this?”

There are footer links at the bottom on the two site that are affected by the “P6 Filter”
In both cases the footer links are in a table, one link in each cell(20+ links each).

Are the footer and header links you are referring to in this table format too?

rudy102




msg:3539081
 9:19 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Are the footer and header links you are referring to in this table format too?"

Only the top navigation links for formatting.

sandboxsam




msg:3539088
 9:29 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Only the top navigation links for formatting."

This the format one link per cell?

rudy102




msg:3539092
 9:42 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Only the top navigation links for formatting."
"This the format one link per cell? "

Yes, on link per cell.

donnajean




msg:3539128
 10:56 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our main site has been affected by this #6 penalty mid Dec 2007. Root URL had been at #1 and #2 for three major keywords for 9 months and some interior pages have been steadily moving up to #1, #2, &#3 position for months. Strong long established site, good click thru and low bounce rate. No link purchases. Lots of internal linking and recent updates to site. Recent edits of existing pages, as well as new additions. 7 months ago, a custom listings search tool was added. Site has grown from 700 pages to 4000+ pages in this time. I have tried to read thru all of the posts so that I can offer what I have done and seen.

Things I suspect that could have caused this:

1. too many supplemental pages (out-of-date listings)
2. many new unsolicited targeted phrased keyword links from spammy blogs as noted by google alerts
3. too many of same anchor text backlinks that I did with directory listings
4. changed too much too quickly on site

I use GA. Hardly any outgoing links - mainly one-ways. Have tweaked my homepage slightly over the past month, along with a small change to title tag. Did find that my homepage was copied by a spam blog when I ran it thru copyscape but ironically a few days after the drop to #6, the copyscape came up clean.

My google backlinks showing from link command are higher than all the sites above me. In fact, some of the sites above me now are very weak sites.

I don't have any "content analysis" issues.

G is spidering my site way more than it ever has as well.

I am hoping that I responded to most things you all were saying.

I'll keep checking this thread in the hopes of learning something new.

Has anyone considered filling out the "reconsideration request" form on WMT?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:21 am (utc) on Jan. 3, 2008]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]

sandboxsam




msg:3539157
 12:16 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I submitted a "reconsideration request" for this on the 25th. Still waiting to hear back.

donnajean




msg:3539179
 1:05 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Since you don't think you did anything wrong, what did you say in the request?

sandboxsam




msg:3539181
 1:30 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

“Since you don't think you did anything wrong, what did you say in the request?”

This looks like a penalty, so I may have do some thing that has only now become a problem.

I other words, I don’t think I went over the foul line; I think the foul line may have gone over me.

crobb305




msg:3539195
 2:12 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

A page ranking on a 2-word phrase at #1 (for over a year) moved to #6 last week; however, it just moved to #5 today. Not sure what that means. Maybe the "cap" was removed and a reranking occurring? Of course, that assumes this "cap" exists on the site I am watching.

C

[edited by: crobb305 at 2:44 am (utc) on Jan. 3, 2008]

Arctrust




msg:3539196
 2:12 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hey Guys:

We have exeperienced this same exact thing since around May 25th.

We have usually ranked number 2 for a 1 word KW for about 5 years.

Clean site.

The initial bump down was to about number 8 and then within 30 days settled into 6 for quite some time - and still there.

From what I can see - it seems that if you tweak the 1 KW often enough on your page, you trip a spam filter and get locked in for about 6-8 months.

All other KW's and combination of KW's rank anuwhere from 1-3.

So I would seem to think that the Position 6 seems like Google throws you an elbow if it thinks you are trying to optimize for one particular KW.

ARC

CainIV




msg:3539222
 3:31 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Changes tonite for sites I watch. Some have returned to previous rankings for the affected keywords. Others have not, and still others have dropped a position or two.

< continued here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 6:06 pm (utc) on Jan. 5, 2008]

This 164 message thread spans 6 pages: < < 164 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6]
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