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This 88 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 88 ( 1 2 [3]     
Help with Minus 50 Penalty - December 2009

 7:25 am on Dec 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

i've just been given the goole minus 50 penalty on December 15th EST.

It definitely is minus penalty - all terms for every keyword are beyond page 5 (even site name)

I've never brought a link or sold anything.

I did a press release last month and got another link from yahoo directory and business directory. Also an SEO company made a mistake and wrote 15 unique aritcles and posted them to 12 sites each. Each article used the same keyword - but i was already top for that keyword. (they've been removed now).

will i recover from this? how long does it take? is is just a google mistake that will rectify?



 5:12 am on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Reconsideration requests are submitted from within a verified Webmaster Tools account. Your competitors would not have that access, so no - at the most your competitors can only use a spam report or a "dissatisfied with results" input.


 3:12 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

thank you. good point. I had a similar penalty on my images a while ago. Then I submitted a reconsideration request for the Google Images and now my (Web) SERP's have been penalized too. So now im thinking i may be my worst enemy ;)


 3:26 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)


Anybody ever wonder why the penalty is 50 places? The googlers are a pretty scientific group of people in general, so I don't buy they put a bunch of numbers in a hat and pulled out "50".

It just seems bizarre to tag all these sites and then knock them down this same amount.

Gotta be some sort of reason.


 8:27 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

It probably has to do with only x% looking after the 4th SERPs page. It could have been -60 and still work just as well though :)
Anybody ever wonder why the penalty is 50 places? The googlers are a pretty scientific group of people in general, so I don't buy they put a bunch of numbers in a hat and pulled out "50".


 11:52 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

My site fell into the -50 to -60 range on January 11. Spidering has been very light since a deep crawl on January 9. I wonder if any of this is related to the transition to Caffeine. How long would you recommend waiting before submitting a reconsideration request? I have doctored canonical issues and keep hoping for a deep crawl. I signed up for Webmaster Tools and submitted my sitemap about 2 weeks ago, and only about 3 of my back links are showing up. There isn't a whole lot of data in there for me to work with.


 8:23 am on Jan 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is just my opinion, so take it for a grain of salt. I have been able to help 5 other webmasters overcome the -50 penalty within 2 months of working with them on the website. This does not necessarily mean that everything that was done was a direct relation to the elements that I suggested. More likely, the activities that I suggested be changed spurred on a call to action for the webmasters to truly investigate what was going on, and make decisions for the consumer and not the search engines.

I find it incredibly valuable, as tedster and others have mention, to document links. The last reinclusion I assisted with involved documenting over 150 total inbound links to the website with an explanation of what we believed was happening with each (and how they might have gotten there, and whether we want 'ownership' of those links in terms of inbound credit.

SEO's see their websites through "SEO eyes". It is really that simple. Pass the evaluation to a wife, friend, or trusted Webmasterworld comrade and you will likely get some great insight.

As tedster alluded to many times, kill the mega nav if you have one and develop one more useful for your consumers if possible. Keyword repetition in nav items in websites is an easy way to weave your way closer to acquiring this penalty.

If the -50 has been invoked on a site for it's link profile , the chances are that it could be due to a high amount of that activity. Cleaning this up may not therfore be possible due to the size of the exercise and inability to have other sites adjust their links.

I believe it can be triggered by a combination of inbound link profile AND repetitive on page links working together and crossing a threshold which explains why some that clean up their website remain in penalty land (and vice versa)


 11:39 pm on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

As tedster alluded to many times, kill the mega nav if you have one and develop one more useful for your consumers if possible. Keyword repetition in nav items in websites is an easy way to weave your way closer to acquiring this penalty.

All of my pages have a single nav bar at the top, with about 6 links, including one to the home page and one to the sitemap. But the links all use the same text on every page. Are you suggesting these are bad to use? It has been the most user-friendly design I have ever had, with less than a 18% bounce rate. I can't imagine ditching the nav links. Should I nofollow? Or, maybe I am misunderstanding.


 6:08 am on Feb 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

You're right - that is definitely not a "mega menu".


 6:25 am on Feb 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Nav menus are welcomed by search engones, unless you have a 30 link one
city hotels, city2 hotels, city2 hotels...city 30 hotels and so one.


 4:37 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I was hit by -40 to -50 January 11. About 3 weeks ago, a search for my domain as example.com showed no Sitelinks. Then, 3 started appearing. Today, 8 appear. Searching without .com still shows my domain suppressed at -45. I wonder if the appearance of sitelinks is an indication of Trust returning, perhaps a sign that the filter may soon be lifted? Have any of you seen this happen in steps?


 12:09 am on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just came out of the -50 box after exactly 3 months. I had a bunch of inbounds with common anchor text due to some over aggressive link marketing that a firm did for me last year. Whew!

Now I have to wait for my 2nd website to come out of the same penalty - another 8 weeks to go - Doh! (praying it comes out too)


 6:39 am on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Was it 3 months to the day (i.e., 90 days)? Can you say what you might have done during those 3 months? You already mentioned canceling paid links from an aggressive marketing firm. Did you make on-site changes? Did you work on any coding cleanup/canonical issues, etc? Did you find any new links, or just lay low in terms of link acquisition?

These are all things that I have been working on, but I have been reading that the filter is 60 days for many people (which will be tomorrow for me). I imagine if I come out of it, it will be 90 days or longer so not holding my breath. I just don't see any signs of upward movement. The only glimmer of hope is like I said in an earlier comment right above yours: searching for my site name as example.com I see ALL 8 sitelinks. This tells me there is still some latent trust on my domain, but it is just being filtered right now. Hopefully soon the filters will release me and I will pop out of it and rank in my normal spots. Fingers crossed. It has been a rough year so far.

Finally, did you just wait it out, or have to do a reconsideration request?

Thansks for keeping us posted!


 7:06 am on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

crobb, if the -50 penalty will not be lifted after 90 days I recommend to register a fresh domain and move the content. It worked fine with x of my domains which have been in this "you are a possible #*$! we will move you -50 down box".

It depends on how many links point to this site. If there are not more than 10 incoming links it would be easy to contact the sites and tell them you moved the contents.

The disadvantage of moving content at the moment is the slow Google indexing (and slow 301), so it really depends, if it's a news site or forum I would move it.


 12:31 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

OK, here's what I did.

My USA website sells acme widgets and super widgets. After getting some legal probs with acme, I removed all occurences of acme widgets and replaced with either just widgets, or super widgets. This also corresponded to the time a lot of spammy links were created to the site (both of these things, just before the penalty hit), so I was never quite sure if it was the inbound links or whether I tripped over a filter or similar for too many occurences of super widgets, which caused the penalty.

In response, I compiled a list of all the domains which contained the spammy links - submitted a reconsideration request about a month ago to no avail. I also, in late Dec had also re-instated the acme widgets keywords (restored the site back to the previous on-site keyword content).

What I think actually happened:
- the reconsideration request made no difference (GWT still shows all the links)
and then:

- the on-site changes may have undone the original problem if it was an on-site keyword frequency issue and/or;
- perhaps the 3 month time limit alone solved the prob.

Sorry I can't be definitive but I guess that's why we're all here discussing what happened - to try to make our best guess!



 1:02 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Also I should mention that my UK site has unique content (titles, metas, page content) that also targets acme widgets, and super widgets - and it copped a -50 in mid jan....

I'm scratching my head however because i changed nothing in the onsite content for the UK site (which is what made me suggest it was more likely the spammy links in my original post as the UK site has those too (as well as a bunch of legitimate links)).

For my UK site, I'm thinking of :
a) detuning the site a little for both acme widgets and super widgets keywords
b) submitting a similar reconsideration request outlining the links and the probs....there are too many to contact all site owners one by one ( the reconsideration request will prob be in vain, but one must try) and
c) waiting for 3 months and praying to the Google gods....

It's costing me a LOT of money while I'm in the naughty chair, so it's hurting....any other suggestions would be gratefully received. I have a feeling the 3 months is my best hope.


 4:30 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

pbaddock, I don't mean to beat a dead horse but I am curious if it was exactly 90 days or are you approximating 3 months? Also, if I understand you correctly, you completely reverted your site back to what the it looked like before the filter?


 10:22 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, I reverted the site to what it looked like before the filter (on-page factors).

Penalty on 9th Dec (the morning of the 9th in Australia we were on page 5), morning of 9th March we were back on page 1 (for all terms including our name etc). My rough maths says 90 days.

Given no on-page changes to our UK website, not sure what happened there (has me more worried). Interestingly I submitted the reconsideration request for my USA / .com site on 19th Feb, and UK got hit on 20th....but GWT says reconsideration reqeust for .com was processed on 26th.

(JFK was killed by the CIA wasn't he? ...hehe - the conspiracy theorist in me is busy hatching evil plans in my mind about someone in Google spotting my other site and opening up a can of G wupass on it....but then my com.au site is OK. .com.au site? What .com.au website....I don't own a .com.au site do I? shhhh ;-).


 8:38 pm on Mar 16, 2010 (gmt 0)


How much time lapsed between the time you reverted your content back to the original version and the time that the filter was lifted? Which version is showing in the Google cache? It's interesting that changing the content may have had no effect on the filter/penalty, particularly if you changed it then reverted back.

I hope my question isn't confusing. I am trying to decide if I want to revert my index page back to it's original content. My sales have plummeted because my pages were designed for the user and for optimal CTR -- not for Google. To combat the -50, I tried to "deoptimize", which is just a silly concept to begin with. I may have made things worse.


 12:14 am on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I reverted my .com site content back to the original version (including acme widgets) late Dec / early Jan - about 3 - 4 weeks after the penalty hit. It was crawled probably half a dozen times from then until March when it came out of penalty - with no impact from previous crawls...it remained on the google naughty chair for the duration.

Based on that, I think the -50 certainly does have the 90 day (or another period that others may have described) time element....ie even if you fix the issues, you need to wait for the time period to finish....well based on my experiences anyway. If you are worried about your page content, I'd be inclined to both make changes / de-optimise, and also wait out the 3 months if you can.

I don't think de-optimisation for certain keywords is silly if some changes have created an unnatural keyword skew on a page so that it may appear spammy or like you're playing games with Google, but of course if G are already ranking that page highly with a heavy skew towards a small number of words, then I'd definately let sleeping dogs lie (my 2c).


 8:51 pm on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well I got the infamous notice in GWT that my site has been reviewed. I assume if it is "approved", I will notice changes within days (correct me if I am wrong, but I think that's what I have read here); if not approved, the wait continues. On to my question...At the current time traffic levels are quite low on this particular site, so I can easily monitor visitors. However, I see no indication of anyone reviewing the site. Do they leave any trails? I don't see how they could do an objective review of the site without looking at it, and without the visit showing up in either my raw logs or my 3rd-party tracking. I see nothing even resembling a human reviewing my pages. I just see the normal search traffic from Bing and Yahoo. No sign of increased spidering. I may have just been blown off, but fingers crossed. Then again, maybe they have internal tools for examining cached pages that strip out 3rd-party pixel tracking code. I don't mean to obsess over it, but I want a fair review.


 11:58 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

OK, so here's the latest. I submitted a reconsideration request for my UK site (which was penalised on Feb20th) about 3 weeks ago, and outlined various concerns I had about a trademark complaint from ACME - explained why we weren't breaching their trademark. Reconsideration happened, and nothing changed - nothing changed after the next crawl too. I also noticed about 4 other sites that were penalised on the same date as mine hadn't shifted.

Anyway 90 days (exactly) came and went last Friday - no move. 3 Months had also come and gone, no movement. I had resigned myself to having to start again, and then this morning (95 days, and 3 months+6days later) my site is back at #2, and the other 4 sites are out of penalty too! Weird, but suffice to say I'm a happy camper!


 12:50 am on Jun 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

And back in the penalty box again last week doh!


 8:32 pm on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

@stevy777, did you ever recover?


 3:56 am on Oct 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Im not out this time, and all 90 day / 3 month dates have passed (actual date, google cache/crawl date) - doh - looks like Im starting from scratch....

I Will Make It

 4:14 pm on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is actually a bit crazy!

If it's true a site can be -50 or worsed punished because of sudden mass backlinks - then this will mean that my competitors actually can hurt my google-status, and take me out of business?

So what would happend if I bought 50 domains, installed wordpress on all of them, and started linking to my worst competitor? Would he be punished!?!?


 4:32 pm on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I seem to have taken this hit as well last week... Totally unsure why, all unique content added each day, never paid for link in my life...

I have done well in Google for 5 years, they have just been eating up my content the last few months. I talked to an SEO firm who gave me a tool to check backlinks... Like 1200 backlinks with 600 unique anchors, hardly seems like reason for a penalty to me..

I am an affiliate site with an affiliate link or two on each page, not sure if this is what is causing it... Anyone else seeing Google handing out -50's for "thick" long time respected affiliate sites?


 12:44 am on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well the recent JC Penny experience (-~50 penalty for links) says to me that I can definately point the finger at my past SEO partner getting too aggressive with low quality spammy links they built, as being the cause of my penalty for my UK site, and US site. I have since submitted another recon and contacted (hundreds) of sites to try to get dodgy links removed - to no avail. My new (clean) site starts this week - what a frustrating experience!


 6:10 pm on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I never followed up on this thread last year, but I should have. My -50 ran a course of exactly 3 months (as others mentioned throughout the thread). My penalty ran from Jan 11 to April 11. Both the penalty initiation and the penalty removal were preceded by a deep crawl about 24 to 48 hours earlier (not just the daily refresh/crawl). I had one intermediate deep crawl between these two dates, so it seems as if the penalty came with a duration of 3 months.

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