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Internal factors that might cause a penalty?
maximus12




msg:4189363
 5:01 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I know there have been allot of threads on G penalties lately but I really have not seen many that focus on internal factors. Just recently there was a thread on "Possible Causes of Google Penalties", that I found very helpful, it listed factors such as:

-- Buying links (maybe - not sure)
-- Un-natural backlink profile.....
-- Linking to bad neighborhoods
-- Being part of a network of interlinked sites

These are all great, but can we all come together and share more internal experiences that have caused penalties? For example:

-- Changing internal navigation structure
-- Changing site templates
-- Having no-follow tags to affiliate links
-- Deleting wordpress Tags (possible over optimization)
-- Modifying Title, Descriptions...
-- internal 301 redirects?

Any experience you have had by changing internal stuff on your site and it caused a penalty, please share.

Maximus

 

TheMadScientist




msg:4189394
 5:52 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think this is a great topic, but could you expand on a few of them?

-- Having no-follow tags to affiliate links
How does this one hurt?

Extra links (with or without) nofollow dilute your PageRank and keep it from being spread to your pages, but a link is a link as far as this goes, so I'm not sure on the specifics here? You 'dilute' your internal PR as much with a nofollow link as a follow link, so there could be an issue, but it's not a penalty... It's just diluted PR.

I use this type of link on a site and haven't had any issues.

Too Many Affiliate Links?
Definitely, either follow or nofollow though.
(Of course 'too many' is totally subjective and site specific.)

-- Changing site templates
From what I've read here, this usually correlates with internal nav and 'page load order' changes, which are IMO more 'ranking changers' than the look and feel.

-- Modifying Title, Descriptions...
Titles yes, but descriptions?
How do they effect your rankings... They aren't used by Google for rankings AFAIK.

IMO Descriptions have a much greater impact on click-thru than rankings directly, and I think click-thru could effect your rankings, so they may have an indirect effect, but I'm not sure how changing them could have a direct effect on your rankings and I'm not sure how you would know if it is positive or negative until you've tried it and seen if you can generate more clicks through the changes?

-- internal 301 redirects?
Use a bunch (some would say too many lol); have for years; haven't had any issues.

Sorry to not directly add to the list, but not sure on some of the list of things you have and don't want to have people scared into not making a change, so I think expanding on how some of them are seen as harmful would be good, because my experience / knowledge seems to be different.

maximus12




msg:4189409
 6:30 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

-- Having no-follow tags to affiliate links
How does this one hurt?

SORRY I MEANT HAVING NO no-follow LINKS TO AFFILIATES. THIS MIGHT BE VIEWED AS A PAID LINK BY GOOGLE?


Too Many Affiliate Links?
Definitely, either follow or nofollow though.
(Of course 'too many' is totally subjective and site specific.)

AGREED, BUT WHAT IF YOU HAVE A HUGE SITE THAT COMPARES PRODUCTS OR HOSTING COMPANIES. BUT YOUR SITE IS LOADED WITH BLOG POSTS, FORUMS, RATINGS, REVIEWS.... STUFF THAT PROVIDES VALUE TO THE USER, NOT JUST A THIN AFFILIATE SITE? HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE ALL YOUR AFFILIATE LINKS THAT COMPARES EACH PROVIDERS SERVICE? SIMPLY USE no-follow ON THEM?

TheMadScientist




msg:4189415
 6:57 pm on Aug 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the clarification on No nofollow!

That's a really good question you're asking, and my honest, bottom-line answer is: IDK I wouldn't run one... I think there are too many already and you're probably fighting a losing battle anyway as Google and others try to retain the traffic they get by doing the same thing. I would personally go a different direction.

maximus12




msg:4189781
 2:00 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Good Point MadScientist, am already 3 years in it and actually run one of the best in my industry. Thanks for your pointers though :)

tedster




msg:4189916
 5:32 pm on Aug 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

Too Many Affiliate Links?
Definitely, either follow or nofollow though.
(Of course 'too many' is totally subjective and site specific.)


I'd say that's correct. With regard to the subjectivity involved, this is most likely one of those decisions that comes from human evaluation. The judgment involved is whether the site delivers enough value as it stands, or if it purely exists as search engine bait to drive traffic to click on an affiliate link.

maximus12




msg:4190088
 1:51 am on Aug 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Agreed Tedster! If the site provides value to the users, say product/site reviews, discussion forum, blog, news..... It will stand the test of time and a human review.

Tedster, do you believe there are human reviews for top 10 search queries in competitive markets? Or is it all algorithm based. If their are human reviews, has Matt C mentioned this or is there any proof?

tedster




msg:4190094
 2:39 am on Aug 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google does have an army of thousands who do editorial review. Their job, as I understand it, is to review the SERP as a whole, and to do that they check into each ranking site. It was laid out in general terms in this 2006 patent [webmasterworld.com].

This would be for relatively competitive searches, and it is for a review of the quality of the entire SERP. But if one of these editorial staffers spots something that's off according to their training, you know it will escalate up the chain of command.

That's a lot of words to say, "yes" ;)

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4190139
 9:32 am on Aug 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Definitely nofollow ALL affiliate links as well as all links to any redirect that leads to an affiliate site.

Take it one step further and reduce the number of such links to give your natural internal link structure some breathing room (ie: a bigger share of the rank flow).

eBay for example is requiring affiliates to use a 301 redirect and not a 302 redirect under threat of banning affiliates because they know the link juice flows to them via 301 AND they don't want affiliates competing against them with their own content. None of their tools add a nofollow tag either so right out of the box your affiliate links need work. 302 is the default browser code on redirect unless 301 is specified.

After acquiring a few incoming links and seeing SOME traffic flow the most important on page factor, besides unique high quality content, is internal link structure. It can still be done without inc links and good content but it's harder to maintain rank that way in the long run.

Tedster, that 2006 patent was helpful, if the code was implemented as per the Google guidelines, but I'm afraid it's taken the same route all webmaster controlled "quality" signs have taken of late, it's no longer used. I haven't seen any ratings stars on natural serps in a while, except next to google's own content, maps and sponsored links, have you?

A newer factor that seems to be involved is just having regular folks visit your site and then, as they pass Google's armada of web beacons somewhere else, they report to Google that "hey, I checked out that site and stayed 2.2 minutes while looking at 8 pages... which is above norm when compared to similar sites so my vote is thumbs up". How's that for on page content importance, make it sticky and get traffic.

Also, it's important that these natural signals grow over time and come from more sources. increases in traffic, pageviews and return visitors all likely play a role in your serps rankings nowadays so I'll repeat - make it sticky, stickier than your competitors at least and increasingly so over time.

Matt Cutts recently said that moving forward it may be best to work on one or two sites instead of spreading yourself thin on a lot of sites, I have a hunch the above explains why. The "beacon sightings" you generate will be more potent if condensed on a smaller number of your sites.

CainIV




msg:4190441
 5:36 am on Aug 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some of the topics have been covered in detail in other posts here, but I might be able to shed some light on the affiliate points, as I have some experience in this area:

Reduce affiliate links by providing many points of entry, to few pages.

Provide clear value first; links and sales second.

In terms of providing value, a Google rep spoke recently at the Affiliate Summit 2010 and without a doubt was very clear in his distinction of what Google is looking. He mentioned the clear difference between a review website that "pushed" 3 products at the user, and another that offered reviews of the top ten, with a review voting process from the public of those products with feedback.

Sometimes providing value is simply offering others the chance to reviews and feedback on items.

maximus12




msg:4191442
 3:02 pm on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Cain,

Sounds like you have some experience here and would love some pointers.

Can you elaborate this a little more:

"Reduce affiliate links by providing many points of entry, to few pages. "

We are actually comparing around 5 websites, there are not 10, unfortunately. So we are actually reviewing and rating the TOP 5 in the industry..

maximus12




msg:4191592
 7:53 pm on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Based on a few of your responses in this thread, I am a little worried on changing my content and adding banners to certain sections where I have affiliates listed.

I am currently going through allot of restructuring on one of my sites, that previously suffered from -50 but recovered with a recon. I am extra cautions on all the changes I make now, you never know what can trigger a penalty these days.

1) I have found that several of my pages where I compare top websites have a little bit of keyword stuffing, old techniques I used 3-4 years ago, that I have not changed. I would not actually call it stuffing but I did repeat my keywords several times. I want to correct all this and re-write allot of the content on the pages, I need to update the content, it is outdated but I am paranoid on changes now. Should I go ahead with this and update my content and eliminate the stuffing? Or leave it as is just to be safe an avoid penalty. I cannot go on being scared of getting a penalty for changing the content on a page, that's how paranoid I am.


2) Where I have my website/product review pages, I want to incorporate banners on my blog and forum that links over to them, but am now wondering if this to can be considered page rank sculpting? Should I use no=follow to my own internal page? Or should I just link directly to the affiliate from my blog/forum with a no-follow?

Before my blog and forum did not have much traffic, but now it accounts for 50% of my traffic. It has no banners to the products and websites I review, so this is why I want to add them to link internally but am not sure how and what risks there are? For example. I would have a banner on www.mysite.com/forum/ that links over to www.mysite.com/compare_this_product.html

Sorry for the rant, hope anyone can provide some insight? I will forever be at your gratitude

Maximus

tedster




msg:4191601
 8:19 pm on Aug 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Without doing a detailed inspection, I think you're OK (as in avoiding a penalty) if the affiliate links on the target page do not pass PageRank off your site.

However, a list of affiliate links is the kind of page that can get gray barred -- and if it is gray barred, then forcing more PR to it through banners won't help to put any green on the toolbar.

maximus12




msg:4191709
 12:59 am on Aug 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster, it is reassuring to hear your opinion. Most of the pages that have these affiliates links on them are grayed out anyway. Those pages are not even raking and I have not put effort into ranking them. What is ranking is the homepage, this is my main concern.

maximus12




msg:4191959
 1:44 pm on Aug 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

CainIV,

It seems you have allot of experience in the affiliate field, can you provide me with some tips?

Maximus

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