I run a site that is just over a year old. It has a keyword rich URL, and although it took some time to get the first page for those terms in the URL (they’re pretty competitive), it got there in the end. The site was fluctuating between page 1 and 2, and also pulling in loads of long-tail traffic from Google
Search traffic was on the up every day and then one day, wallop. The site got bumped down to the 5th / 6th / 7th page. Needless to say Google search traffic was down a lot – 70%.
Sounding like a -50 penalty, I looked at everything it could be. Links, amount of links gained over time, site architecture, internal linking architecture etc but couldn’t put my finger on anything. I signed in to Google Webmaster Tools, and there were no alarming issues there either.
I read around a bit, and saw people that had the same type of problem had suffered because of things like over-optimization, growing too quickly, aggressive linking strategies etc. None of this appeared to apply to the site.
Then after a few days later, I noticed that a spammer has scraped a few paragraphs from the homepage and spammed a countless number of forums with the same content. The time that most of these were posted on the forums also coincides with the time that I saw the big drop.
I therefore filed a reconsideration request, pointing out that this was clearly not us doing this spamming.
Does anyone else have experience of their site suffering because of a spammer scrapping their content, either purposely or not?
Is it also true that if Google penalises your site, they will let you know through Google Webmaster Tools? Never had anything like this before happen to any of my sites, so not sure what happens.
And lastly, if the site is under a -5 penalty, does anyone have any experiences on how long it will take to recover from it? I’ve seen time frames from 60 days to a year banded about.
Looking forward to any thoughts you guys may have!