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Is this a penalty - if so, how to fix it?

 4:53 pm on Dec 1, 2008 (gmt 0)


I own a .co.uk domain which this time last year was up in the top 10 for some fairly competitive terms.

Now most searches end up on page 4 or 5 of google serps.

If I search for bluewidgets.co.uk I am number one but if I search for "Blue Widgets" or "bluewidgets" I am on page 5,

Also I see the yo-yo affect where I can start at the bottom of page 5 in the morning and by the end of the day I can be at the bottom of page 4.

Any advice on what type of penalty this is and what I need to do to get it removed would be gratefully received.




 7:18 pm on Dec 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

The fact that you are #1 for the full domain name search is a healthy sigh. If "Blue Widget" is a competitive keyword, then there's no reason to expect a top ranking on that search, done without the .com

The main issue that we've been calling the Yo-Yo involves switching on and off the first page. The shifts you're seeing between pages 4 and 5 might well be data center differences, or just regular Google churn.

There are so many reasons for losing a previously high ranking that it's difficult to say much more - except to become familiar with the possibilities collected in the Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page.


 8:42 pm on Dec 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

A friend of mine has lost the first word ranking, when you do mysite.com his site is first, but when you just do the mysite part, (which is not a very competetive word, it's not even a term) his site is on the 6th page of results.

How to fix this?


 8:51 pm on Dec 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi, thanks for the replies,

the phrase bluewidgets or blue widgets is not a competitive phrase at all.

The .com is registered but only has a holding page which doesn't rank at all. I've got bluewidget.co.uk

This time last year I was number one for the phrases blue widget, blue widgets, bluewidget.co.uk

Any other suggestions?



 9:09 pm on Dec 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

Study the sites that are ranking above you (especially page 1) for your domain name without the .com extension. Without the TLD, you have essentially a regular keyword search. You'll want to note what they do that you don't do, and also what you are doing that they don't do.

My first suspicion when something like this happens is that backlinks are not being counted the way they used to - so definitely compare your backlink profile to what the other sites look like, and notice whether your backlinks show a healthy variety of types, or if they are mostly links that you placed yourself.

Robert Charlton

 12:15 am on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Could this be a geolocation issue?

Where are your backlinks from? Are they from sites ranking well on google.co.uk, or from google.com? From sites with .co.uk tlds, or with .com tlds? From other places in Europe, etc?


 3:03 am on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

breham, I'm seeing it all the time with my own sites.

If your ranking for bluewidgets drops and bluewidgets is NOT a competitive term, your PR has been davalued for the whole site or it's a minus penalty which affects the whole site.

I can't tell exactly what causes the drop for bluewidgets but I'm seeing a yo-yo effect for bluewidgets yo-yoing about 10-20 times a day betweek #1 - Nirvana.

If bluewidgets will see a steady #1 again does not mean automatically your whole site will rank again immediately but it's a good sign your site might rank again with the next few data refreshes.

Still need to do a lot tests with my sites to figure this one out.

When you say you are on page 5 for bluewidgets, does it mean with 100 results or with 10 results per page? Usually the bluewidgets term never drops this deep in ranking.


 3:33 am on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Breham & Erku. I have the same issue. When searching for mydomain.com it will show up just fine, even with the site links. site:mydomain.com is also healthy with even increasing number of pages.

However, if I searched using just "mydomain" and domainname is unique not keywords, then it's on page 5 or 6. Usually around #46 or so. It happned around mid oct and it's been there since then.

It was ranking high (generally on page 1) for most of the keywords and inner pages were also ranking good. Suddenly ALL of the pages for ALL the keywords were pushed to page 5+.

I've requested a re-inclusion request with google but till now, there's nothing.


 3:54 am on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, seoit I'm seeing the same. It works always this way:

if you drop for bluewidghets and bluewidgets is NOT a competitive term the drop will also affect ALL of your URLs, all of them will drop to similar positions. (some sort of -40).

Their is a discussion about exactly this problem on the google webmaster help group (September), but no one from google commented.


 10:58 am on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well, seems like there are a lot of discussions but no solution. I guess we'd just have to wait it out. For those who got out of it, please help!


 2:11 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

They minused all our sites on a similar IP's with a lot of collateral damage. Only way back is to:

a) wait b) do a reconsideration request c) get a new domain


 4:35 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

The range of this penalty is -40 <---> -60.


 5:57 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hey guys thank you for the replies.

How long does this penalty, if this is a penalty, take?

Looks like G SERPS keep changing and have not settled down yet


 6:05 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

LOL, their SERPS never settle down. Their is a daily data refresh, so you have a chance once every 24hours to get your site back.


 6:15 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thank You SEOPTI

Is this kind of penalty permanent or temporary?

Has anyone reported how long did it take them to get their site back?


 6:54 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Most penalties can be removed - unless you are talking about a heavy-duty spammer working all kinds of strategies to get around Google's guidelines, and I don't think you are.

But there is no specific time involved - it's not like ice hockey where you just get a time out in the penalty box. You first need to find and fix whatever the problem is.


 7:01 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Your site is penalized. I don't know how to fix it other than to say fix anything that is violating Google's guidelines and then file a re-inclusion request. No doubt you did something, you don't have to admit to it here but you better admit it to Google if you want to get the penalty removed.


 7:17 pm on Dec 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

You probably can't file a reconsideration request if you don't know what to fix or if nothing needs to be fixed.

This could be the usual collateral damage which comes with this -40 -60 penalties, co-occurrance penalties ... you don't even know what to fix if nothing is broken.

Example: You add content to existing URLs, but your site has not been changed for many months. Bang, you get a penalty. So what can be done in this case, removing the unique content which provides more value in the hope the site will come back or not? It's not easy to find a way through this penalty jungle and they offer no help at all.

You can get a penalty for just everything you change on or add to your site. Introducing new URLs, adding content, changing content, changing backlinks, changing navigation, menus, internal links ...

I think a lot of people with top rankings fear to change or add content to their sites these days.

Google should at least provide minimal information in WMT so people will know what happened and not spread fear.


 4:52 am on Dec 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

That smells like a micro-ban.

In Google type "link:" + "domain name" + "keyword" and see if you have any incoming links for that keyword. If Google has removed your ability to rank well for certain terms you will find none (or their numbers will be shrinking if the micro-ban is recent).


 5:03 am on Dec 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

JS_Harris, Can you repeat again? Are you saying search
link:www.mydomain.com keyword? If so I think you're syntax is wrong. I don't see any results even for sites that are currently ranking #1 and I know that they have keywords in they link text for their incoming links.

However, I searched for "link:" + "mydomain.com" + "keyword", then it's same as other queries my site is on page 5. SEOPTI, Erku and Breham do you see the same?


 5:07 am on Dec 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

yes, domain name .com, .net, .whatever is what I meant.

Your site shouldn't be on page 5 when you're looking up your own domain. You should see all incoming links to your domain index page from other sites. If there are none for that keyword you have to figure out why.


 1:03 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

JS_Harris, You're exactly right. It shouldn't be on the page 5. But it is. That's why we're saying it's a penalty. ALL the site's url has been pushed back 40+ positions. It had several competitive #1 postions before it happened about 1 and half month or so ago


 1:50 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you rank low for your full domain name, including the ".com" or whatever extension your domain has, that shows a loss of trust - a major loss of trust. The first suspicion I'd have is your own outbound links.

1) Look for links to domains that are bad neighborhoods now, even if they weren't when you linked to them.

2) Look for hacks to your site - sometimes parasite links are present, but they are hidden from when you come in through direct navigation. The links may still be visible to googlebot or to trafic from Google Search Results clicks.

3) Look for links that might appear to be paid links but that pass PageRank.

4) If you know that you have been trying to improve your Google ranking with backlink schemes and networks in any way, undo as much of that as you can.

5) This is not a job to delegate to anyone else. There have been cases where an employee or contractor actually created the problem, and if they get the job of checking out backlinks, they're not about to tell you what they did.


 6:43 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you rank low for your full domain name, including the ".com" or whatever extension your domain has, that shows a loss of trust - a major loss of trust.

Where would be your thoughts if you had all of the other symptoms except for the one you describe here?


 7:53 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

You mean every search that used to rank well is now down to page 4 or 5 - except the domain name is still at #1? Still sounds like a penalty, just not quite so hard a smackdown. Such a site probably hasn't been quite as extreme in its attempts at ranking manipulation.


 9:14 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes. My case is the same. mydomain.com ranks #1 but mydomain (without .com) will rank page 5 or so. I think we all have the same symptoms.

1) Ranked well in the past including the inside pages
2) Ranks #1 for "mydomain.com" (no quotes) still. I still even see site links.
3) Ranks page 4,5,6 for just "mydomain" withouth the .com or .net
4) Page Rank is still there, site: is fine, link: is fine. Still ranks good on other SEs
5) Every keyword possible ;even the site name or the company name which used to be #1 and it's unique, rank page 4,5,or 6.

I have no outbound links. No links are sold on the site. Did some link buying, but site was ranking before that and this has been discussed over and over that buying links should not negatively affect ranking.

I think it's not the problem of someone getting into our sites as well. If so Google will display "this site may harm your pc" or something like that besides your listing.

Had some issues with https:// and http:// problem and did redirect, re-submitted for re-inclusion but it's been over a month with no results.

Anyone that had gotten out of this please chime in.


 9:14 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

If it happened in or around the halloween update, I would check for 301 chains. A lot of people hit in that who didnt come back up were reporting 301 problems.


 9:24 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

even the site name or the company name which used to be #1 and it's unique, rank page 4,5,or 6.

If your site name is a Proper Noun only (and thus would not be a generic word that popped up frequently) it could be an OOP if a substantial proportion of IBLs use that keyword.

We posted similtaneously, and you mention redirects. Please make sure they resolve in one step. Post in apache forum for how to do this- some members are genious at creating logical structures for redirects.


 9:44 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not sure what you mean by OOP. Are you saying that we might have used too many link texts that had company name in it? If it is then no. Company name was not involved in the link campaigns.

Regarding the 301 redirects, we had dropped in rankings before the redirects were done to fix the http https issue.

We thought that the problem was because of the possible duplicate issues with http and https pages, and did proper 301 redirects AFTER the rankings tanked in hopes of bring the site back. Our site dropped rankings about 2 weeks before halloween.

I would like to read about the 301 chains problem related to halloween update though. Do you have a link for that thread?


 10:01 am on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Theres some bits here

And other bits elsewhere. You're best doing a search [webmasterworld.com]

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