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This 193 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 193 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >     
Is Google Using a Position #6 "Penalty"? - part 2
forcer




msg:3539360
 10:57 am on Jan 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

Hello guys,

One of my sites got hit.

Background information

1. One year old website
2. Niche terms with low competition and been number #1 for 2 terms for more than 6 months

In mid december my #1 got to around #6 position but fluctuating sometimes back and sometimes around #6 and now got stuck on #6

Conditions

* I have keyword in the domain - e.g. www.keyword.net and that term got hit (+ some deep pages optimized for terms)
* The site is misspelling site - the site is ranking on mispellings of very competitive words. On these misspellings there is very low competiton and mostly forums/old sites which are not optimized for the misspelling at all.
* The site was entirely ranked on SEO. No PPC budget and no brand recognition
* Site was still getting some back links but the quality could be questionable - paid links but relevant
* All 3 terms that I was ranking for had lots of links with the same anchor texts and only small variations were present
* All the traffic went down, not only these 3 terms. Also my brand name - which is generic name ranks on #6
* I am using Google Analytics and other google products heavily. The site was interlinked with other of my sites but these have not been penalized.
* The homepage was changing constantly in last months and there have been relevant outgoing links to my other sites, which have not been hit.
* One of the deep pages that got hit, have been redesigned about 2-3 weeks before it got hit, with new content and template

[edited by: tedster at 6:05 pm (utc) on Jan. 5, 2008]

 

tedster




msg:3541683
 7:09 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, all the examples I'm looking at sell many items and use a shopping cart. In fact I checked a few information-only rankings for various sites and they are not affected. At the same time, the sites that moved up in the rankings also sell the same items. In others words, informational sites were not what took over the top spots. In fact, I'm not seeing any Wikipedia listings in the phrase sets I'm checking.

My rankings have only dropped for very competitive phrases.

This seems to be a common factor. Often less competitive phrases that include one extra word are still top ranked, but the traffic they provide is minimal.

The drop is more what I would have expected from implementing the Phrase-Based Indexing patents [webmasterworld.com] - that is, it's more what I expected than the devastating -950, or "end of results", that some sites have seen. At the same time, always dropping to a specific position such as #6 is not specifically mentioned in the patents and seems to be against the spirit of the invention.

Still, those patents do allow for more than one type of phrase-based demotion and more than one type of promotion, too. They only offer "for instance" examples.

tedster




msg:3541684
 7:17 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

if we'd asked, say, "Is Google Using a Position #4 "Penalty"?, how many would say they've observed such a shift in ranking?

That is one of the important fallacies we need to guard against. The possibility that we are looking at nothing but coincidence has made these early analysis steps more difficult. The question is "Do we have something real here, rather than a mirage." However, the whole reason I began a dedicated thread was that the number of reports that rolled in for exactly a #1 to #6 demotion during mid December seemed excessively high to be mere coincidence.

The additional examples I've seen since then seem to confirm that we do have something real under our microscope. The timing of the drops, the previously strong #1 for many months or years, and the fall to exactly #6 all seem to confirm this.

rros




msg:3541728
 9:33 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

thank you to everyone sharing information on this topic...

tedster, I read your conclusions with interest but they do not appear to take into account those cases where results lower than #6 where *upgraded* to that position. There are a few mentioned here. This would weaken the theory of demotion but would not completely discard the idea that some sites have been singled out for some reason. Could you please clarify if your analysis includes sites that show simultaneously reranks from 1 to 6 as well as <6 to 6?

Also, I have seen stats for affected sites where the drop in traffic has been substantial - 50% + -. Not sure if the rest of the members who have six'd sites agree with this number but it shows that dropping below the fold can really hurt someones traffic and should not be dismissed as a tiny move from 1 to 6 within the context of 40 million results. I've seen indications that there is an even greater quality deterioration for the remaining traffic.

I've noticed too that many theories expressed revolve around the notion of punishment but I remember having read recently someone's comment about sites who reached top position a long time ago and remained there long enough to gather backlinks organically consolidating the position achieved. The person commenting appeared to be complaining about the fact that although the high position was deserved, it had been actually forced (does the end justify the means?). Does anyone consider the possibility that Google may now want to level the playing field by lowering this highly regarded sites below the fold and give others the same exposure and ability to get noticed? Sorry if this sounds like a silly idea.

tedster




msg:3541737
 9:58 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Could you please clarify if your analysis includes sites that show simultaneously reranks from 1 to 6 as well as <6 to 6?

No, the examples I'm looking at do not include this kind of drop. It may be that something like this is also part of the overall picture, but the great number of reports that came in were specifially from #1 to #6, they all happened at the same time, and they all happened to websites with a long-standing #1.

I am intentionally focusing on just these cases right now in my data sample. My concern is that other cases ("2 to 6" or "3 to 6") may well get into very fuzzy territory. In fact, even the #1 to #6 territory is already pretty fuzzy. If I accidentally include data that is not really from the same phenomenon, then no clear conclusions can result.

whitenight




msg:3541757
 10:30 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

In fact, even the #1 to #6 territory is already pretty fuzzy

Sigh, can we eliminate of the "fuzzy"-ness of this issue?
It's a very easy experiment...

Every SEO on here that has half a clue should be able to move their new #6 to a #5, #4, #3 for at least a few hours to several days if they know anything about SEO.

I would like all the "fuzzied" to simply try to move their new #6 to say oh...anything above #6 for a 12-hour period on Any Datacenter

That way we can focus on the solutions instead of continually saying perhaps "there is no spoon".

(Cain and I are excluded from the experiment since we're the only ones seeing results reverting back to #1 positions occasionally)

whitenight




msg:3541762
 10:44 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is anyone seeing this on pages that have been 950ed for other more competitive phrases?

Not for any -950s, but did notice a competitor who got -30ed for about 2 years seems to be released from their penalty.

sandboxsam




msg:3541792
 12:04 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Are all “Position 6” websites ranking #6 for their home page title?

tedster




msg:3541794
 12:15 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Nope, some of my examples are ranking #1 for the full home page title element.

CainIV




msg:3541807
 1:02 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

There is no guesswork needed, there are many qualified business owners, webmasters and SEO's here who see the phenomenon across many of their websites.

I guess my question here, glitch or no glitch, is when the issue might 'end'. Two websites I see no longer have the issue, and have done nothing different to change anything.

Yet another website that gets regular natural links has all three top phrases '6'ed'

Go figure...

keepontruckin




msg:3541878
 4:33 am on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

We have a similar problem with a slight twist. When we check on ranking on all the datacenters (well not all but with a few of the multiple datacenter checkers tools) we rank #6. We used to rank #1 or #2. The twist is for the google.com site we rank #8 or sometimes #10. On any other google site like .ca .de .fr we always rank #6.

Seems like we have some additional penalty on the the US google site.

On other point, for the same kw but singular we are #1 on all the google sites. The singular and plural version of the keyword get the same number of queries according to all the keyword tools.

Any ideas?

donnajean




msg:3542170
 2:05 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just in the last few days, since I feel I waited long enough, I started making changes to my site. I changed the title tag to add new 3 word term (somewhat related of course) which I never went after before. I would say it is a competitive term. I just checked and we are #6 for that new term. So, I still have power but my power is limited to #6.

forcer




msg:3542241
 3:18 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

It looks like CainIV I am experiencing return back from #6 to #1 on 1 of my 2 monitored keywords (will be monitoring for more days if the rankings stays and keep you posted)

From the multiple datacenter position check I can see that the change is on 23 datacenters all #1.

I haven't done anything on the sites since december, no new incoming links, no content changes.

Again - both terms are misspellings that are not competitive at all, 1 is a keyword which is exact match on my domain (the one that is still on #6) the other one is a keyword on deep link page.

[edited by: tedster at 4:48 pm (utc) on Jan. 7, 2008]

pensfan




msg:3542266
 3:46 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Could this be "paid link" related? Is anyone that is seeing this doing any text link advertising through "known" companies in Goog's radar?

My situation is a little different but I am seeing the same results as others currently. For about four (4) years I held the #1 spot for a highly competitive 2 word keyword phrase and its plural. Then about 1 year ago (end of Jan 2007) the ranking dropped to #8, #9, #7, #6 etc. depending on the day it seemed. At the time the only difference was the addition of a new line of product and so some changes to the menu and front page but nothing major.

Never purchased text ads previously and most links were natural, with the occasional reciprocal (but not many and all topic related). So over the course of the past year the site has never gone above #3 and never really stayed in one position consistently but always remained on the first page.

Over the year some on-page tweaking has been does but also began purchasing directory links and text link advertising. All of this hasn't really changed the ranking much as the site stayed between #5-#7 mostly. Also, no Adwords PPCs done at all.

As of the end of Dec 2007 the site has been pegged at #6, yet secondary keyword phrases that contain the main keyword phrase rank #1 still. Also, one competitor that was never anywhere near the first page is sitting at #3 today, they have been bouncing around between #4-#8 (never #6) since late Dec 2007.

Some general observations:

Other than the first two results (which were #2 & #3 behind my site) a few sites that never ranked well have shown up on the first page SERPs have the keyword in the URL.

Seems targeted to specific competitive keywords and phrases as the addition of another word yields a #1 ranking. (i.e. "keyword keyword" = #6 vs. "secondary keyword keyword" = #1)

*EDIT*
Also, my site is sitting at #6 across all "allins:" searches too...anyone else see that?

forcer




msg:3542296
 4:29 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Pensfan>

Yes. I have allins searches at #6 as well. The phrase that got back to #1 is #1 on allins as well.

whitenight




msg:3543424
 7:05 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

By golly I think I might have it.

Since I've never had a -950 penalty, I haven't much paid attention to the fuss. But thanks to Robert's repeating of a question and reading potential geek [webmasterworld.com], something struck me.

Are the pages with a #6 penalty linking to a page that has been penalized by -950 or even -30?

Theory: It might be hard to locate as we all target multiply terms on each page, but perhaps linking to a -950ed(-30ed) page for any term is causing this "penalty" for a page that Google is "sure" belongs on the first page (in fact #1)

In the past, I never worried about linking to "bad neighborhoods" as they simply didn't exist. A page was either indexed/cached or it was banned. There were no "bad neighborhoods"...
But now Google actually has "bad neighborhoods" -- pages with SERP penalties.

It's going to take some extensive checking/testing depending on the size of your site, but I have a suspicion that one of those pages we target has a -950(30) penalty for a term we don't really care if it ranks or not. And the pages affected are linking to that page.

Note - Please prove me wrong, but please test it before saying nay or yea. :)

forcer




msg:3543438
 7:25 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am a happy bunny :) my keyword is #1 for the 2nd day. hopefully it stays. anyone else is seeing improvements?

crobb305




msg:3543483
 8:16 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tedster, I am watching a page that is now at #6 for numerous phrases that were previously #1. The page title, searched in quotes, is at #7. Are you observing anything similar? The only time I notice this level of displacement is when there is a duplicate content issue (such as when searching for snippets of text from a page that has been duplicated by proxies).

tedster




msg:3543492
 8:28 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Titles alone do not make duplicate content. You may want to tweak a title for many reasons, including differentiating your url fom the competition. But this position #6 drop is not a duplicate content issue.

The outbound link possibility is an angle I'm currently researching - thanks for the brainstorm, whitenight. Linking to a penalized site is a tough one to be thorough about researching - unless we're talking only about heavy-duty penalties like the -30. But this could be a fruitful angle. Will report back if/when I have something more definitive to say.

CainIV




msg:3543499
 8:38 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

The real issue I have trying to diagnose this one is that none of the control elements stay consistently. Also, every possible explanation I have had has been disproven by analysis.

On one website I have seen the issue lifted, nothing at all was changed. All links out are as they have always been. The only explanation which might work with -950 linking scenario would be if one of the websites we do link do went -950 then came out and immediately ranked well again. Judging by the types of links we give out, a total of 6, it is unlikely.

Yet another site has not recovered from this and links out to noone.

whitenight




msg:3543506
 8:50 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yet another site has not recovered from this and links out to noone.

It may not only be linking out to other sites pages, but to one's own "questionably ranking" pages.

Have you noticed any of the pages of that site fluctuating wildly within certain SERPs? ie. #20 one week, #80 the next week? (Numbers may vary)

CainIV




msg:3543569
 10:28 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi White. Actually another element of this that I have noticed is that websites experiencing this might also show position 6 for a snippet of unique text on the affected page.

T

rros




msg:3543636
 12:16 am on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just searched for the (long) title of the affected site and it showed down there at 6. But I also noticed that the #1 result has the same exact title -which, on the 6'd, hasn't been altered for the last 6 or 7 years-. On closer inspection, I noticed the now #1 site has also copied the exact same description.

Only when I cut the title search from 14 words (original) to the first 10, the 6'd shows at #1 and the copycat at #2.

I took advantage of this demotion and changed a few affected pages and went almost tableless. I wanted to do this for a long time and this seemed to be the perfect ocassion. In one of these pages -an inner page with now much improved html- I slightly changed the title to reflect better the theme on the page. The new page was cached about a week ago and searching for its new title it still shows up at #6. This page only has 2 outbounds and links internally to pages that appear to be reputable. The content is somewhat of a personal interpretation on the theme and I included videos taken on the streets (with permission) to make it even more unique. There is only one way to link to this page because of its unique theme and there are no synonyms for such word. I can't imagine why linking to this page using such word can become spam. Looking at the backlinks on yahoo there are dozens of links from .edu and .gov sites using that same anchor.

Strangely, when looking at the backlinks on Google the one listed as #1 seems to be a spam page with a lot of adult sidelinks.

[edited by: tedster at 1:03 am (utc) on Jan. 9, 2008]

Timetraveler




msg:3543652
 12:49 am on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Its a good theory and might me probable for some sites, but I have disproved the theory on my site. We only had 1 -950'd page which was an internal page on a subdomain. We have many pages that dont link directly to that -950'd page that are #6'd.

The -30 penalty could be a possibility though, and I'll look into that now as I've had problems with pages going -30 but usually pop out when I get more links to the page. Thanks so far for your observations.

By golly I think I might have it.

Since I've never had a -950 penalty, I haven't much paid attention to the fuss. But thanks to Robert's repeating of a question and reading potential geek, something struck me.

Are the pages with a #6 penalty linking to a page that has been penalized by -950 or even -30?

Theory: It might be hard to locate as we all target multiply terms on each page, but perhaps linking to a -950ed(-30ed) page for any term is causing this "penalty" for a page that Google is "sure" belongs on the first page (in fact #1)

In the past, I never worried about linking to "bad neighborhoods" as they simply didn't exist. A page was either indexed/cached or it was banned. There were no "bad neighborhoods"...
But now Google actually has "bad neighborhoods" -- pages with SERP penalties.

It's going to take some extensive checking/testing depending on the size of your site, but I have a suspicion that one of those pages we target has a -950(30) penalty for a term we don't really care if it ranks or not. And the pages affected are linking to that page.

Note - Please prove me wrong, but please test it before saying nay or yea. :)


ChiefBottleWasher




msg:3544129
 5:00 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

My home page is badly affected by the position six penalty.

It has a single external link to the SSL certificate provider with a rel=nofollow on the link added since there was some speculation that outlinks on the affected page may be the issue.

Some of my back pages with content on also seem to be showing up at position six for their targetted terms. There are far too many examples of this to mean that this is a co-incidence. There are no external links at all on these back pages.

The overall traffic impact on our site is about 150 lost google referrals per day from a previous total of about 450. Some SEO work that I have done has mitigated this with about 100 of those lost visits compensated by improved traffic on MSN and Yahoo, but this is still hurting us, My plan was to be plus 200 visits a day in Jan from Nov but we are actually about minus fifty since Nov.

ChiefBottleWasher




msg:3544137
 5:05 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Most affected sites look to me to be less that four years old. Any exceptions?

ChiefBottleWasher




msg:3544141
 5:08 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

We are badly position sixed and paid links are definitely not an issue.

tedster




msg:3544161
 5:25 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Most affected sites look to me to be less that four years old. Any exceptions?

Yes, one position 6 that I learned about is six years old, and another is 5.

Here's an interesting observation from one site owner. Every one of the postion 6 SERPs I've seen has NO Wikipedia results on page #1, even though in several cases it was there before the position 6 was applied. Does anyone sees an exception to this?

Timetraveler




msg:3544185
 5:43 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here's an interesting observation from one site owner. Every one of the postion 6 SERPs I've seen has NO Wikipedia results on page #1, even though in several cases it was there before the position 6 was applied. Does anyone sees an exception to this?

I have one page after a quick check that is #6 with wikipedia in front of it, and for what it's worth that wikipedia page is linking to my page that is 6'd. This could be coincidence though, as I don't know where that page ranked before but allins also show it 6'd.

[edit] It seems to be a true 6'd penalty with wikipedia in front as well.

[edited by: Timetraveler at 5:49 pm (utc) on Jan. 9, 2008]

ChiefBottleWasher




msg:3544192
 5:49 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

The full title search seems to usually throw up a six ranking on affected sites.

whitenight




msg:3544198
 5:53 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

NO Wikipedia...Does anyone sees an exception to this

Yes, i have some wiki on a few terms. Nothing unusual for the SERPs penalty pattern We were #1 Wiki was #3 and sometime indented #4. Now wiki is #2, and we're now #6.

cheesy snacks




msg:3544203
 6:01 pm on Jan 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

some excellent points.

my site is over 5 years old and now ranks #6 also.

I like the thinking on here, some really good points made.

I'm trying to figure out why we have dropped and have read through alot of theories.

In my situation, when I got my one way backlinks (sometimes paid), I didnt just get links to my homepage, but also to specific 'product' page.

Im just thinking that perhaps I got too many links to this page.

Perhaps google is thinking 'Well now his homepage may not be the most important page on the site...lets put more emphasis on this 'product' page ie. shift that page up and give less weighting to his homepage'. ie. which results in a drop down to #6.

Finally yes I also rank #6 allins. Another line already mentioned here is that google is giving much less weighting to old links ie. 3+ years...so perhaps its just a case of us going down the old route of getting more inbound links than our competitors?

This 193 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 193 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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