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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

 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


* 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]



 3:30 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing some terms at #5 ..shhh
I'm seeing some terms back at #1 ...shh

I observed this yesterday for some terms, then today it reverted back. I have actually seen this bouncing back and forth two or three times in the past week. I think it boils down to different data on different datacenters, yada yada yada


 5:46 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

MC is just there to speak limited stuffs, he may not be aware of all the happenings. He is doing a great job in educating people about the basic SE stuffs, he is good at that.

Good to see that some people are seeing some positive changes, waiting for my turn :).



 7:02 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just checked some datacenters and saw that these two datacenters (below) are showing results from the "pre #6" era. Yea! Hope this is a sign of things to come.


[edited by: Timetraveler at 7:07 am (utc) on Jan. 17, 2008]


 7:47 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I see the same results (as of google.com) on both the servers.


 9:27 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Last night, I saw results without the Position 6 filter showing up on about eight different IPs.

Unfortunately the filtered results are back this morning for all IPs I watch.

Also, these were not exactly pre position 6 results; these were new result. Not all keyword phrases came back exactly to where they were before this started.


 1:10 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not seeing anything for my site yet. Made some changes that were suggested here to an inner page. Still waiting for it to be re-cached by G.


 1:47 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am now seeing results without the #6 penalty on a few different sites, but see it on a couple others. The ceiling penalty is definitely looking toggled on different datacenters. I'll dig deeper to see if it is rolling out of them or if it is just a limited test.


 2:36 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

I just checked some datacenters and saw that these two datacenters (below) are showing results from the "pre #6" era. Yea! Hope this is a sign of things to come.


Seeing similar results. We are sitting at #2 on these datacenters but still #6 on others.

Also, remember that this site has not been #1 on G for almost a year now but it was for about 4 years previously.

No on-page of off-page changes have been made since the #6 lock in. So maybe this is just a "toggling" of the filter on/off on certain datacenters.


 2:53 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Likewise. I'm seeing the old results on those datacenters, thanks timetravler. I checked more than 30 #6 rankings and they all moved up to 1, 2 or 3 on those datacenters.

I think Google's motivation with this penalty is to throttle traffic to our site. For all those rankings we very much deserve to be on page 1 and google's results would be worse if we didn't show up.

By pushing us below the fold they can severely reduce the traffic they send us, but not be embarrassed by an authority site on the topic not showing up on page 1.

Any thoughts why google would want to throttle traffic to some sites?


 3:07 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Me too - checked again - and now see our terms on only those two datacenters returning to normal. If memory serves me right these were the last two DC's to go to #6 position and now they are the first two to return. Let's hope that this is the plan reversing the situation as well. Certainly doesn't make sense to me as to why they wanted to shake things up. I agree that some of the sites above me at my current #6 position do not deserve to be there.


 3:30 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, seeing a few DCs with our site out of the # 6 position its been stuck in since this thing started. Note; we did not change a thing, which is increasingly becoming our policy when these things arise. We had a bunch of sites get 950d a while back when that first appeared, and made changes to some, and nothing to others, and eventually they all came back.


 3:39 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Our site's page count and supplemental count are nearly identical between the #6 penalty datacenters and those without it.

The only difference I see is around 10% more results on the datacenters w/out the #6 penalty.

We also did not change a thing since this started.


 6:33 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

On those datacenters my 'penalty' is gone too. Whether it's a penalty or those datacenters are just still processing data I don't know, but it is great for comparative testing.

I found one term that is #7 on live and #5 on these datacenters, the rest were #6 (back to #3 in my cases). So I can't say it's a '#6' penalty, unless this datacenter is more current and that is why my #7 site is #5 there.

I think I confused myself with this post.


 8:48 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

or those datacenters are just still processing data I don't know, but it is great for comparative testing.

And this is why i'm absolutely Pi$%ed at Google!

Anyone who studies how Google "rolls out" testing/tweaks and watched this #6 penalty get rolled out, will understand exactly what happened...

So what happened?!
Some Google engineer at the 'Plex simply FORGOT what they were testing!

It started right before Christmas, which might be a lame excuse for why they forgot. But it's very lame at that.

In my original analysis, it looked like they were testing "something" and then just rolled out the whole thing without the normal "vetting" process of studying the results.


This has been a constant complaint about Goog since they started.
First the complaint was, "Why do major shake-ups right before the Christmas holidays?"

So it seems they did realize that was extremely unfair to many of the websites AND their visitors.

This year, they waited to roll-out major testing/updates until after Christmas. However, one(or several) of their engineers went on "vacation" and those of us hit with this penalty were literally stuck in the middle of the testing.


I have an idea for "super-smart" Goog...
Why not start AND finish all the major testing, tweaks, etc AFTER Christmas like people and companies for the past 2000 years have ALREADY figured out is the most efficient way to do business.

Or they could simply fire the dope who started this testing and forgot they never finished until 3 weeks later.


 9:05 pm on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

Note; we did not change a thing, which is increasingly becoming our policy when these things arise.

randle - great words of wisdom EVERY SEO should heed


 8:32 am on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

#6 filter lifted on terms i watch. some had changes made during the filtering period, others did not, so changes or no changes do not seem to have mattered.

almost exactly a month since it began.


 1:48 pm on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

backlinks all seem to have increased on a number of sites, but mine are still at 6 except on the datacenters described above.

My position six was first seen sporadically around the 17/18 and then was stable after 19 Dec.


 6:46 pm on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I can confirm that some datacenters that are used for live Google results are now NOT showing the position #6 problem - and yet other live datacenters still have it. Some of these restored sites made a few changes and some did not.


 6:56 pm on Jan 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

If memory serves me right these were the last two DC's to go to #6 position and now they are the first two to return.

Donna, you are right. I remember seeing these two datacenters show the lowered results and thinking to myself, "hmmm thats odd, at least its only on those two."

The only thing is as soon as they appeared, they were very quick to infiltrate the other datacenters. Unlike we are seeing with a possible reverse.

So far the only other datacenter I can see that shows the non #6 results other than the two listed above is this one []

Also I tested the theory of "adding more text" "adding picture with alt text" etc and making the page better and it is still stuck in the 6th spot on the affected datacenters.


 1:30 am on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

spoke too soon.

back to #6.

i, too, tried some changes on a few affected pages, and left a few affected pages alone. neither approach provided any relief.


 1:35 am on Jan 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's back and forth, DC's. You think your website does not have the issue, then clear the cache and come back in 20 minutes and it does. Tough to say which index they will stay with, but it seems as though the '6' series is more current to me.


 5:54 pm on Jan 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not seeing any real improvement. In the morning I see a few additional DC's showing pre #6 results but by night time, they seems to revert back - then in the morning the process repeats itself. Anyone seeing anything else?

Any thoughts?


 3:47 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

More datacenters are coming around. Here are two more that previously showed #6'd filters. It seems as if things are slowly (very slowly) leaking back to normal. I am noticing cache dates that are older for these new data centers (jan. 19) as compared to the 6'd datacenters (jan 22) with a similar 4 day crawl difference for inner pages.


[edited by: Timetraveler at 3:50 am (utc) on Jan. 23, 2008]


 5:31 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

In the past few hours a ton more have turned around. Things are starting to look good again. Im noticing the changes on other sites that had the #6 "bug" as well. Keep 'em coming google.


 6:47 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

One of my sites had been #1 for years for a mildly competitive regionally geographic keyword phrase of four words, such as:

Big City Widget Service

It has been untouched for several months. No Google Analytics, no AdSense.

When the Position 6 issue came to light, I checked all my sites and found it at...you guessed it...position 6. A few days ago, it reverted to #1. I did nothing to the site while it was sixth.

[edited by: Beachboy at 6:48 am (utc) on Jan. 23, 2008]


 7:13 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

seeing relief from the #6 issue as well on three sites.

same thing also happened 4 days ago, but then reverted within 12 hours.

fingers crossed this "test" is over.


 8:06 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Could be DC changes, but I do see current caches and non pos6 results for other websites retain the same positions from 3-4 days ago with the new data, so it almost seems there is a folding of data going on. Who knows whether it sticks, how long it lasts.


 11:44 am on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Has anyone else noted any of the following?

1. The term affected is the #1 big $ adwords term for your niche.

2. The term has "Searches related to:" at the bottom of the SERPS.

3. If you use a plural word in the search term it pops back in to #1 or #2. For example search for blue widget #6 but search for blue widgets and back to #1.

4. If you reverse the term and search for widgets blue rather than blue widgets it pops back into #1.

In each of the cases in 3. and 4. "Searches related to:" no longer appears at the bottom of the page.

It seems to me that Google (or a misguided Google employee) could deliberately manipulate the organic SERPS for its own financial benefit. We know that they manipulate Adwords for this purpose so it is not such a big step to believe that they could do it to the organic results.




 12:15 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, I see all 4 points involved in this effect. I don't see how there's any potential financial gain for Google, however, and I've never been convinced by any data I've ever seen that Google manipulated the organic results for financial purposes. In the long run, that would be a self-destructive move and every Google rep I've heard or read or spoken to knows that in their bones.


 12:26 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I see some changes for few sites. several sites stick with their consolidated results.

What I see is:

- few weeks ago these sites lost 4-5 position ( eg. from the 4th position to the 10th position); in the meanwhile, the number of results diminuished a lot ( about 10%; eg. from 10 millions to 1 million).

- now they are gaining position 8 better than few weeks ago ) and the number of results is still less than in the past, but about the double (eg. from 1 million to 2 million results)


 12:27 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Keep the big spenders down and they spend more on Adwords. I know I do.



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