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Lost Google Traffic beginning on Jan 5

 11:29 am on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

hello all,

Im not very familiar with Google Penalty and just started learning a bit after losing 87% of traffic a few days ago.

On Jan 5th my traffic dropped to 34% and today it dropped to 13%.

How do I know with what kind of penalty I was hit? How do I know what the reason was? Can someone please give an intro?

My main keywords jumped to page 2 when they used to rank number #1 or #2 on first page of SERPs.

Is this a penalty or is Google just playing around with SERPs? I havent made any changes for a while and dont know why my traffic suddenly dropped!

My Google Images had dropped from the Image Serps a while ago. I dont know why that happened either ?

im hating life right now! :(



 5:36 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

The best intro to known Google penalties is the list of discussions in the Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page.

Do you have any suspicions? Anything you've been doing that seemed a bit "on the edge" recently? Most penalties of this magnitude are related to backlinks or cloaking (hidden content, too), and I'd suspect backlinks first.


 5:47 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

The only changes I made:

#1) I created 10 pages, each listing related topics. I basically created the pages with View using Drupal CMS that categorize all content related to Subject 1, Subject 2, ...Subject 10.

#2) I added a few my back links from my .edu site.

Other than that I dont know what happened. Ill review the discussions. Thanks for the suggestion Tedster. Ill let you know if I do figure it out.

I think that the few back links to my NEW pages could have been a problem. Im going to remove them right now.

How long does it take to recover? any rough estimates?

I think it was a greed penalty. I didnt think a few back links would cause a major traffic drop. The links were related to the content so it shouldnt have been such a big deal to lose all my traffic.


 5:54 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

"#2) I added a few my back links from my .edu site. "

What's a few? Judging by your name, is it a college paper? Maybe it was a ROS (sitewide) link. Maybe Google has marked that .edu site as a link seller?


 6:14 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

< 5 links
However, I linked immediately after I created those pages knowing that it doesnt have the best content out there. I think that may have been the issue.

I did a google search on Example.com and I have noticed many spammy links to my sites but theres nothing I can do about that. There just too many. Most are on other search engine results... such as Example.com/search/keyword1+keyword2 and my site is listed among the rest of the results. I dont get any traffic from them based on my google analytics and the site is full of Google ads, therefore a spam website.

Also many of them are sites that analyze my site such as SEO analyzing sites or data and stats, traffic, whois and other sites.


 6:48 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Were they sitewide links?

"I linked immediately after I created those pages knowing that it doesnt have the best content out there"

Unless it was clearly duplicate I doubt Google analyzed and penalized you right away.


 7:16 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I had linked to the pages 2 weeks ago when I created those pages.
The backlinks were on the front page of a community group of a .edu site.


 8:11 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know what say, I'm speculating: Maybe, just maybe the .edu PR was too high and google flagged something. What are the odd of new pages getting 5 links from an .EDU site with that PR?

Look it from Google's perspective, what could have tripped their algo:
what's the reputation of the .edu site?
what's the reputation of your site?
Links bought /sold from the edu? Not enough authority links maybe for the other site?


 9:22 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Certainly sounds like the link buying penalty to me. I would delete the .edu links and give it 3 or 4 weeks to see if that works.


 11:43 pm on Jan 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

thank you guys. I removed the link and will give it a month and see how it goes. :)


 12:15 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Additional ideas. Try a site search of your site to dig up possible hacking,

site:example.com cialis
site:example.com viagra

Another diagnostic. Copy about eight random words from random pages of your site and paste them into a search engine surrounded by quotes. How much copying is there? Are there any major websites linking to it?

Here's another one:
Paste random snippets into Search.Yahoo.com along with the words "article directory" or the names of any prominent article directories.


 5:27 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

My main keywords jumped to page 2 when they used to rank number #1 or #2 on first page of SERPs.

Actually, it doesn't sound at all like a manual paid link determination. Those are most often much more harsh.

Likely you built too many links for your keywords too fast, but that would take some digging into your recent link building activities.

Check the cache date on the EDU site. If the cache shows the page without your link, it's a pretty good bet that this page had very little to do with the changes.

Always remember to go slow. don't make wholesale changes before investigating and putting reasonable theories and analysis to work.


 5:55 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

martinibuster: thanks for the interesting suggestion. I did a search and nothing showed up. so I think im okay there!

the .edu site cache date is Jan 8, and it does show the extra links I added a while ago. The site gets crawled pretty often because of other top universities linking to it. (MIT, Harvard and ... community groups)

it doesn't sound at all like a manual paid link determination
Well I didnt pay anyone for back links. I added a few links (too early) on my other site hosted with a university.

my site is fairly new (about 1.5 years old); and i noticed I did get decent amount of Google traffic within 2 months because of the domain name. (decent name +.asia extension) It helped a lot in bringing traffic quickly, but it went away very quickly as well especially that all of a sudden almost all of images disappeared from Google Image SERPs a while ago and now my regular web SERP referrals are down by 87%.

My other sites hosted on the same account has not been effected so I dont think my sites have been hijacked or any hidden code has been added to my pages!


I think I need to give the site some time and try to get decent back links in the meantime. I don't know what else I could do at this point.


 6:58 am on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Search for "example.com" and see what position you are. If you are on 3-100 page, it's a manual penalty IMO. If not and only they keywords used have been penalized, then see Cain's comment

[edited by: tedster at 5:33 am (utc) on Feb 8, 2010]
[edit reason] switch to example.com - it cannot be owned [/edit]


 12:23 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

+1 on what CainIV said, not sure how to fix it however, except sit and wait?


 1:36 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

What makes you think that it was something very recent that caused the loss in traffic? Is it possible that you're part of a group that is now being purged from the indices for who knows what reasons, typically AdSense related. I won't go there as we don't know all the details.

You could sit here for months trying to figure it all out. You should take an inventory of all changes that occurred over the past 6 months. Who knows, it may be possible that something you did six months ago is the cause of the effect now and not something you did in the past few weeks.

Every time I see one of these topics, there are usually commonalities. One, there are links involved. Two, there is usually AdSense involved too. Those two elements make for a very risky and volatile marketing environment.

2) I added a few my back links from my .edu site.

That's playing with fire. Especially if there is intent there to utilize the .edu to juice other domains that may not be related. I manage a major .edu, there is no way I would EVER do anything with links on that site. Our link profile was established years ago. That's another thing to look at, link profiles. How far outside the norm did your travel with the linking.


 2:12 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

adsense has got nothing to do with it. the idea that google would risk its cash-cow by punishing sites that carry adsense is the day that their adsense/adwords earnings plummet. and what benefit would they get out of it? webmaster's still have to make money. they would just replace adsense with something else -- google's competitors.


 5:59 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Search for "example.com" and see what position you are.
im first on first page.

there is usually AdSense involved too.
I dont have Google Adsense displaying on this site.

[edited by: tedster at 5:33 am (utc) on Feb 8, 2010]
[edit reason] switch to example.com - it cannot be owned [/edit]


 6:21 pm on Jan 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

No AdSense, that eliminates one potential challenge, thank you.

On Jan 5th my traffic dropped to 34% and today it dropped to 13%.

I've just read the one previous topic where you state the bulk of your traffic comes from Google Image Search. That opens up another dimension to this tangled web of yours. :

Moving something into an <iframe> without using the alternative content for the <iframe>Alternative content here.</iframe> is pretty much the same as removing whatever content you put in there. You removed a part of the equation that was there previously. That would be my first guess.

This traffic that you speak of that has been lost, exactly which pages took the hit? Can you narrow it down to specific categories on the site or is it spread out evenly?

Making changes to document layout where images reside when you rely on image search is messing with fire. Keep in mind that anything that goes inside that <iframe></iframe> is pretty much invisible. Go into accessible browsing mode and if you can't see it, neither can the bot. Reminder, there is an alternative content area for <iframe>Alternative content here.</iframe>, it is always in your best interest to utilize that to your advantage.

16.5 Inline frames: the IFRAME element

[Added] I just read that topic again. All you did was add a time and date block within a new <iframe>? Was the src of that <iframe> from the same domain or a third party domain? Was the date and time stamp current? What does the date and time block have to do with the images? Lot's of questions. ;)


 1:20 am on Jan 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think it is a filter that it is applied when too many rich, or 'out of profile' links are achieved too quickly.

Doesn't sound manual.

Sometimes the best way to coax it out faster is to build diverse links with less 'concentrated, or 'money' anchor terms. Dilution of the overall % of link value, as well as type of link established, can often restore the balance. Otherwise I think the rankings will return just fine, after a period of time.

Make sure to check for all canonicalization, and for good measure check a unique snippet of your homepage text in Google.com, in quotes and investigate the results.


 7:04 pm on Jan 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Was the src of that <iframe> from the same domain or a third party domain? Was the date and time stamp current?
Yes, it was a third party website which is pretty popular. Just did a search on Time and Date and added the iframe code to all pages. It automatically links to their site when you click on the Time & Date embedded on my site.

I removed that a while ago but my images mostly disappeared from Google Images.

In regards to the terms you had asked, almost all the terms lost rank evenly. I did a search for the main keywords that brought in over 50% of traffic all together.

All pages took a hit but I am mostly concerned for the keywords that brought in the most traffic.


 9:52 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Today I noticed one my main keywords coming back to #2 !
Next to my URL in the SERPS says 20 hours ago, so im assuming it was cached recently and Google decided to show some pitty or love.

It was moved down 5 levels for a while but moved up to #2 today!

Other main keyword still rank the same when I got penalized (first on second page)

Im guessing that is kinda good news?! I need to give it some more time.


 9:56 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

dailypress, your situation is exactly the same as ours. Today one of the main keywords is back to #2 position while the rest are nowhere to be seen yet.
In our case, it says the page was crawled 5 hours ago.


 10:15 pm on Jan 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just jumped in to this page and don't know if anyone has suggested it or not yet, but you might take a look at the timing of the events in this thread and compare them to the reports in the Jan. 2010 Update Thread [webmasterworld.com] to see if there is any type of correlation in the timing of things. I noticed there are quite a few posts about a roll back in the Update Thread recently and your pages seem to be jumping back in to the results at the same time.

I don't know if the preceding is good or bad for you, but thought I would point out something that jumped out at me a bit.


 9:14 pm on Jan 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

UPDATE: traffic is moving up by 40-80% percent of the lowest ever which occured on Jan 13th. Still have a long way to go, but I feel the Google traffic is slowly moving up. I am hoping that I recover all my traffic by March 5th! Thats 2 months from the day I got penalized.


 3:59 am on Feb 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

just an update; my traffic is steadily picking up! I would say roughly by 5% almost each day. I think and hope within another month traffic should be back to normal!

although whats interesting is that im getting more organic traffic for several keywords that excludes the top 3 keywords! Those top three keywords are still on page 2! they used to generate 60% of my traffic.


 12:00 am on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

hey all, thanks for everyones help. I just logged in today and noticed that on March 2nd my traffic was roughly the same as the past few weeks/months after I got the Google penalty. The traffic was steadily increasing (as mentioned in my above post) but for new content that I posted and ranked pretty well. But the previous main keywords that got penalized did not bring any more traffic.

However, the great news is on march 3'rd my Google traffic jumped up 300% (comparing to march 2nd) and on March 4th my traffic jumped up 450% which is back to normal and exactly where I had started. :)

In short the penalty lasted from Jan 5th to March 2nd, which is roughly 3 months!

And I think the reason for this penalty was adding several popular keywords in the backlink section of the .edu website I manage, all in one day.


 12:37 am on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

dailypress, thanks for the update! It is is encouraging news, and consistent with what pdaddock experienced, 3 months [webmasterworld.com]

Did you make any on-site changes, or just remove those .edu in-bound links?


 12:47 am on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

I removed the .edu links and did not make any changes. I updated the site less frequently cause I was a bit discouraged so I developed a few other websites from scratch. :)

Btw, what are Starred Results I just noticed today on a few of my SERP keywords? Are they the Bookmarked results?


 1:00 am on Mar 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

Btw, what are Starred Results I just noticed today on a few of my SERP keywords? Are they the Bookmarked results?

Here is a recent thread about starred results [webmasterworld.com]

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
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