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Strange penalty? Two domains on same topic...

 12:31 pm on Apr 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have two domains both the same topic but on different class c IP's. Every year for the past three years they have had major google traffic drops between the months of July-Aug.. My keyword density is low. I for the life of me can't figure out what is causing this penalty or whatever it is. I no longer rank for any 2 word combinations on ether sites. Google just seems to ignore keyword combinations on my sites. I still get some traffic from google but they are always strange keyword combinations and are never words that are connected on my page. Any ideas what type of penalty I could be under?



 4:59 am on Apr 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

There are a couple different pieces to what you bring up.

major google traffic drops between the months of July-Aug

Some query terms are ranked differently according to the season of the year. Other according to the day of the week or even the time of day. It sounds like your site might fall into that category.

I no longer rank for any 2 word combinations on ether sites. Google just seems to ignore keyword combinations on my sites.

Since we're still pretty far away from July, this almost sounds like a Supplemental Index issue. Has your PR fallen? Perhaps your backliknks are not being weighted as strongly as they once were? Do you have any meta desscription or title tag issue - too short, duplicate, etc.?


 3:50 am on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Are you cross linking between the two sites?


 6:54 pm on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

No my PR hasn't changed. I'm always at a PR4.

The only crosslinking between the sites is one link that is located deep in the site and it has a no_follow tag on it.

Robert Charlton

 11:49 pm on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Any chance of common upstream inbound link sources for both sites?

This might affect a number of areas... problems with those sites would be seen by both of your sites, and too many common sources (not unusual with sites on the same topic) might be seen by Google as a small network for linking purposes.


 11:57 pm on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes both sites share a number of the same inbound links. If this is the problem could changing one of the domains to a different server help at all?

Robert Charlton

 12:43 am on Apr 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

So you have different Class-Cs but they're on the same server? Whatever, I think the problem can be triggered not just by class-Cs, but by too many signs of relationship.

I've frequently seen sites in the same market area, with too many related inbounds, where changing the hosting and/or getting more separately-sourced inbounds fixed the situation.

These can be very legit sites of related brick and mortar companies run by partners or management companies, generally in similar market areas, though often focussed on very different niche products and keywords. Common management tends to lead to patterns. It isn't necessarily just cross-linking or just the same class-C, or exactly the same keywords... but it is often a combination of one of these and too many commonly-sourced inbounds.

I first saw the problem on "sister" sites with one deep cross-link and consecutive class-Cs, and many commonly sourced links. The arrangement simply resembled a small network built for linking purposes only to get the sites into trouble.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:18 am (utc) on April 15, 2009]


 11:58 am on Apr 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well they are on entirely different IP blocks A B and C. I did this to avoid any possible penalty but I now think google can still tell they are owned by the same person. I'm not running a linking scheme but I'm worried google may see my sites as just that.

Robert Charlton

 5:40 pm on Apr 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not running a linking scheme but I'm worried google may see my sites as just that.

What can happen with two sites in the same niche is that they end up being listed on the same directory pages, the same link pages, etc, because that's where they fit, and that, if coupled with, say, too many tandem submissions to private sites you approach, might raise an algorithmic flag if also accompanied by other factors.

Since you've nofollowed the cross-link, I don't think that is the factor... and for the time being I wouldn't jump to change hosting.

Is it possible that among your commonly sourced inbounds, there are some sites upstream whose links have been devalued enough that now both your sites have weakened link profiles?

Initially, I'd put some effort info building content and links on just one of the sites to see what effect that has. I'd also be very careful not to have similarly worded content or site structure on both sites.


 11:10 am on Apr 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

When you get links for these sites, do you tend to get links for both at the same time? For example, if you get links from site a, site b, and site c at the same time for both of your sites at the same time, it'll be pretty easy for Google to pick up on that.


 1:14 am on Apr 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well my sites are directories so people are submitting there sites and sometimes linking back to us. Many times I get the same people submitting and linking back to us on both sites within the same week.

[edited by: Northstar at 1:15 am (utc) on April 20, 2009]


 1:19 am on Apr 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Northstar, how are your internal pages doing with regard to the graybar disease?


 11:38 am on Apr 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Both site domains have a PR 3-4. Most of the internal pages have a PR of 1 and a couple pages have a PR of 3.


 5:30 pm on Apr 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

That's good - it sounds like Google sees your site as a quality directory


 9:54 pm on Apr 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Any idea what would explain the steep drops in traffic then? It seems like there is a pattern to this filter or penalty that I'm under on both sites. July 2006 site A had a google traffic drop of about 70% then comes back a month later. July 2007 Site B gains 70% traffic and site A drops 70%. Then in Aug. 2008 site A and B both drop 70% and haven't returned since. My PR has always remained mostly unchanged. I can never seem to pickup new keywords and the couple keywords I do now rank with are usually strange keyword combinations or back words keyword combinations.


 10:16 pm on Apr 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

It sounds like the so-called "minus 950". Have you tracked what happens to a previously strong ranking when it stops bringing you traffic?


 12:08 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, my pages that ranked well were now buried usually near the last couple pages in google. It wasn't a site wide penalty because I still had a 1 or 2 keywords that remained at or near the top but 70% of them were now buried in the last couple pages in google.


 12:37 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not all of my dropped keywords are in the 900's some are in the 500's. Is it still possible that I have a -950 penalty?


 6:41 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes - soon after this penalty began to be called -950, people noticed that the number is not accurate and even calling it "end of results" is not accurate. The key sign of the penalty is a massive drop for a url that was ranking very well just before the drop.

The only official word about it from Google was from Matt Cutts in a video, and he said very little - just that it's a sign that you are doing too many things that you think of as "optimization".

Matt Cutts has commented, very briefly, on Search Engine Roundtable [seroundtable.com] about the -950, end-of-results, over-optimization thing.

annej, regarding the -950 thing, I'd watch this video I made: [video.google.com...]
Starting around 1:42 into the video is where I talk about this.

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