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Google Penalty? Possible Causes?

 6:27 am on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have a website which had a couple of problems

1. We aimed at entering meta data in the home page and instructed the developer accordingly. However, due to some technical carelessness, the same meta title, description and keyword tag got inserted in all of the pages

2. The site had generated a replica of each page due to some development methods.

3. The site is image based and has very limited content.

Now after I had submitted it is Google Webmasters, I found it is not showing up data for over a month. None of the pages of the site is cached yet. I've put a link to this site in another related website but that hasn't yielded any result yet.

I'm wondering if this site is under Google Penalty.
Can anyone help me with the Google blacklist checker? Also can you figure out the actual cause that might have caused the site to be penalized? How do I get this fixed ?



 7:12 am on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

This doesn't sound like a penalty at all - for there to be a penalty, you have to have violated the Google Guidelines in a relatively severe way. Instead, you are describing a technically troubled website - one that is just not done well enough to even get INTO the index at all.

Some basic things to check:

1. Is there a robots.txt file, and if so does it allow googlebot to crawl the site?
2. Did the developer place any robots meta tags on the pages - if so, do they allow indexing?
3. Your server logs - is googlebot making requests, and if so, how is the server responding?
4. Your backlinks - you need to have at least a few other sites linking to you to get into the index and stay.

And in the mean time, fix all the issues you already noted. Especially, get some text on the pages and some unique title elements as well.


 7:28 am on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hi Ted,

Thanks for your quick reply.
I checked out that there is no robots.txt file and there is no robots metatag either.
Not quite sure regarding the server logs, I would have to check it with my developer. And the site actually lacks potential backlinks; need to work on this.

I've fixed the duplicate content issue and the metatags. But it is a little difficult to add content over there as the pages are dynamic displaying templates from a third party website. The part displaying the templates are dynamic and the rest are static blocks.
Now when I put text in one of the template pages, the same text would get reflected in all of the others which might again give rise to a duplicate content issue :-/
I've put Alt tags for the templates for the timebeing.


 9:23 am on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wondering if that third party specification might be part of the problem?


 1:37 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well, the templates are retrieved from a very trusted website which actually provides the right to redistribute.
But what kind of problems may arise?


 11:24 am on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just found that the Encoding UTF metatag is missing in the site.
Can this be a possible reason why my site is not yet indexed by Google ?
On a side note, other search engines have indexed it.


 4:22 pm on Nov 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

No, because your server also sends the encoding information in the server header.

If other search engines have indexed our site, that sort of rules out serious technical issues on your server, like bad DNS configuration and so on.

Have you submitted an XML Sitemap?


 11:41 am on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, I've submitted the XML Sitemap and its verified in Google Webmasters but when it comes to the "Indexed URL" part, it is 0

I just submitted a few press releases and articles for the site and found that these PRs show up when I search in Google with the site name... but not the site.
Now I'm wondering if the site is in Sandbox ?!
since it is basically a template website putting up textual content is really a problem. And in a number of pages, where they highlight the template features, the text is again the same for most of the templates. Is that again creating a duplicate content issue for the site?


 3:44 pm on Nov 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Two more ideas:

1. Have you tried using the "Fetch as googlebot" tool in your WMT account?

2. Was the domain and previously owned and used?


 7:12 am on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes, it does show snaps of the source code as I try "Fetch as googlebot"
and the domain too is a fresh one.


 2:48 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

the same meta title, description and keyword tag got inserted in all of the pages

This does not create a penalty however it does cause a serious problem if you are mostly image based. I had this problem a few years back starting the third week of December 2006 and wondered what the heck had happened since Google traffic almost all but disappeared...was that the -950 penalty?

Anyway, it took me a while to ascertain what it was and then re-write all the titlebars and title descriptions etc and then overnight of 9/10th April 2007 everything returned to where it had been before.

You however have an added problem with it being a new site and already sidelined by Google since I am finding indexation of new sites or even additions to existing ones are taking ages at the moment, and by that I mean 2 months is not uncommon whatsoever...that's for me guys:-)

All I can say is rectify all the mistake that have been made and not wait it out until probably February to see what happens plus, as Tedster wrote:

Especially, get some text on the pages and some unique title elements as well.

Definitely making sure your alt and title attributes are completed but firstly use my check list here #:3963173:



 8:39 pm on Nov 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

may be you have some session id over there that is not allowing bots to crawl your website, or browsing time is very large due to larger data on pages.


 5:37 am on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is no session ID. There is in fact large data on pages but then it is not really huge. I've fixed the title tag issues and also inserted Alt Tags.
But I just found another issue that I didn't know of before.
The site has another version targeted for a specific country(same name but different domain extension)
The content has been translated but the coding design and structure is the same.
Now this domain again shares the hosting and IP with the original domain and also has a couple of links to it.
Worse, the two sites had the same Title tag for a couple of days. Can I assume that it is a penalty?


 6:18 am on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Translated content is not even duplicate content - and duplicate content does not cause a penalty. So no, that would not be the right assumption.

Are you 100% sure you have a "clean" domain with no dark past?


 11:23 am on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yes Ted, it is an absolutely clean domain :)
Not sure why Google particularly sidelined this.


 3:10 pm on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am finding indexation of new sites or even additions to existing ones are taking ages at the moment

Ditto - two sites moved to new domains with extra content (fair amounts of it, good content) and all 301s correctly in place and Google is still two months later showing plenty of urls from old sites in index.


 4:34 pm on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

They seem to be spending more of their infrastructure/energy in tossing up their SERP results like throwing a dice and indexing new pages/domains doesn't seem to be on their priority list now...


 6:40 pm on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

From all the information presented in this thread so far, it is a strange mystery - no data at all in the Webmaster Tools several months after launch is quite peculiar. It's not something I've ever run into, except in the case of serious technical problems or a previously banned domain.


 10:29 pm on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Is the translated site indexed?


 10:39 pm on Nov 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

At this point, I'd recommend getting REALLY basic. Install the Live HTTP Headers add-on for Firefox if you don't already have it. Then start crawling your site by hand and watch the http responses - beginning with a request for robots.txt.

According to your reply, you should get a 404 response, because there is no robots.txt file. If that request gives any other response, then install a robots.txt file at the domain root (even an empty one) and see what happens.

Next, I'd do a basic DNS check - there are several free test online, and some more thorough paid ones, too.

And finally, because it can't hurt, try direct submission of your URLs to Google at this address:


 6:40 am on Nov 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks all for your assistance :)
FranticFish: the translated website is not indexed either
Tedster: A few days back I created a robots.txt file (just with an empty disallow command and providing the Sitemap link) And, it shows in the Webmaster Tools it shows Status 200 Success ( before I uploaded the robots file they were showing 404 not found) and also Valid Sitemap reference detected.
I've also submitted the the site manually at [google.com...]

Have'ne yet worked on the HTTP header add-on. Will try that one out and come up with the feedback :)


 9:09 am on Nov 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

Maybe I missed this part, but...

Have you posted this in the google webmaster tools forums yet?

If you do, there is a chance that a google employee could actually take a look at your site and give you actionable advice.

Of course, you would have to provide a URL to the site - something you might not want to do.

Hope this helps.


 1:37 pm on Nov 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

The site has just got indexed in Google. Though sadly, it isn't showing Cache yet. Guess, it would show up slowly...
Thank you all, and especially Tedster, to help me get through this :)
Can't really thank you enough for ready assistance every time.

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