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When are Penalties Lifted? Video answer from Matt Cutts
tedster




msg:4267168
 4:31 am on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

This new webmaster video in the current series from Matt Cutts looks at the perennial question "When are penalties lifted?" [youtube.com...] Matt makes the distinction between algorithmic penalties and manual penalties.

ALGORTIHMIC
1. Algorithmic penalties will "for the most part" be lifted as soon as you change the factors in your site that triggered the automatic penalty - and of course, after Google re-spiders and reprocesses the scoring.

2. A reconsideration request will usually not have any effect against an algorithmic penalty.

MANUAL
3. Manual penalties are designed to act like a time out "the vast majority of the time." Depending on the severity of the infraction, the period could be anywhere from 30 days up to much longer time periods, but all those will time out eventually.

4. A reconsideration request is most commonly weighed against the list of manual penalties. The judgment call the team makes when they review a request can revoke a manual penalty sooner than it was scheduled - if they feel everything is now within their guidelines.

 

tedster




msg:4267192
 6:20 am on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I thought this was a helpful video. The question comes up a lot, and those of us in the webmaster community couldn't see the bigger patterns very clearly.

It still leaves me a little hazy about the difference between an algorithmically applied penalty and an algo change that caused a natural ranking drop - one that's not a penalty. But I guess we're not supposed to perfectly understand everything. I can fill in the blanks pretty well, I think.

Planet13




msg:4267208
 7:30 am on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Algorithmic penalties will "for the most part" be lifted as soon as you change the factors in your site that triggered the automatic penalty...


I would respectfully disagree with the term "Algorithmic penalties." Matt Cutts never uses that phrase in the video. Instead, he says, "if your site is affected by the algorithm."

The implication as I understand it is if there is a change to the Algorithm and all of a sudden your site is not ranking anymore, it is probably because the new and improved Algorithm thinks you are doing something in violation of the TOS. I think he goes on to say that you will need to change your site so that it is no longer affected by the Algorithm.

I do agree with the last half of your conclusion though, that he does state that a reconsideration request won't have any affect if the new Algorithm has affected your site's rankings negatively.

Planet13




msg:4267211
 7:48 am on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

It still leaves me a little hazy about the difference between an algorithmically applied penalty and an algo change that caused a natural ranking drop - one that's not a penalty.


I would kindly suggest that maybe Mr. Cutts is also hazy about it, too.

Maybe they don't really think of Algo changes as a means to penalize spam, but in their eyes, they just see the Algo changes as a way to turn down the noise and turn up the music.

The word penalty has a deep psychological meaning; that someone has done wrong, and hence they must be punished for it. It is revenge for acting out against the norms.

But maybe the googlers are beyond that and are just interested in learning from their Algo's mistakes.

That would explain part of the reason that spam reports seem to go unnoticed (as per the comments of many web masters who claim to have submitted them time and again). Because google is less interested in punishing violators (except in egregious cases such as JC Penny, BMW, etc.,) but are more interested in a long-term proactive solution (e.g., a better Algo), they probably spend most of their time just trying to improve the ability of the algo in detecting higher quality sites.

(Of course, the economies of scale play a part in this as well.)

So except for highly publicized cases, they forgo short term reactionary measures for long-term sustainable measures.

suratmedia




msg:4267220
 8:24 am on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Longest ever penalty I have heard of is 1.5 years for paid links.

Then, most common 1 year and 1 month (I just came out of it last month for vast canonical mesh). Then other algorithmic penalties timeouts are 10 months, 8 months, 6 months and 3 months based on experience of webmasters, I have read on various forums.

GlobalMax




msg:4267342
 2:29 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Planet13:
I would respectfully disagree with the term "Algorithmic penalties." Matt Cutts never uses that phrase in the video. Instead, he says, "if your site is affected by the algorithm."


So, if I understand Planet13's point and Matt Cutt's statement, regarding penalties, algorithmic classifications of transgressions differ from manual classifications in that algorithmic classifications do not impose penalties that linger beyond resolution (and re-crawling/re-indexing/etc).

@Planet13:
The implication as I understand it is if there is a change to the Algorithm and all of a sudden your site is not ranking anymore, it is probably because the new and improved Algorithm thinks you are doing something in violation of the TOS.


Yes, and, of course, there's also the flip side where the site changed while the algorithm (or the relevant parts, at least) remained constant.

freejung




msg:4267383
 3:43 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

He did, however, say something about the algo "flagging" things as spam. My guess would be that there are specific subroutines in the algo which attempt to detect violations of Google guidelines and reduce the ranking of those pages to below where the relevance portions of the algorithm would normally rank them.

I think that's what we usually refer to as a "filter," whereas we would normally use the word "penalty" to refer to a manually applied penalty.

Both should be distinguished from a loss of rankings due to the relevance portions of the algo simply deciding that your site is no longer as relevant as it used to be. That could be caused by changes in the algo, changes on your site, or changes in the web graph around your site.

I think it's particularly interesting (and encouraging) that he says that if you modify your site such that you are no longer tripping the filter, you should go back to being ranked normally according to your relevance.

tedster




msg:4267385
 3:44 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would respectfully disagree with the term "Algorithmic penalties." Matt Cutts never uses that phrase in the video. Instead, he says, "if your site is affected by the algorithm."

Good point. However, the context is one of "When are penalties lifted" - hence the fuzziness I was commenting on.

Planet13




msg:4267421
 4:49 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think it's particularly interesting (and encouraging) that he says that if you modify your site such that you are no longer tripping the filter, you should go back to being ranked normally according to your relevance.


Yes, but...

Of course, if you are filtered by the Algo, then you will probably not know any time soon which of the "over 200 criteria" is deciding that you should be filtered. You could do a lot of damage to your site trying to "fix" things that didn't need any fixing.

While if you receive a manual penalty, you will probably have a pretty good idea of what triggered the penalty, and will have an easy "trial and error" way to fix it through the re-inclusion request.

freejung




msg:4268004
 4:24 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

You could do a lot of damage to your site trying to "fix" things that didn't need any fixing.

OK, then only make changes that would be good for your site regardless of their effect on your rankings. That's a good rule of thumb in any case.

For example, remove broken links and links to spammy and low-quality sites. That's a good thing to do anyway, but let's face it -- it may not make it to the top of the priority list until you begin to suspect it's causing you to rank lower. So you fix it and it has no effect on rankings -- OK, that's fine, your site is still better for it.

mhansen




msg:4268023
 4:54 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

You could do a lot of damage to your site trying to "fix" things that didn't need any fixing.


Even if you do no real damage, a struggling small business could spend "many" thousands of dollars trying to correct things that simply did'nt need correcting to begin with.

When we noticed a algo-filter of sorts last year, the minute we moved to a dedicated server and spent 60-80 hours of time trying to correct [insert your best guess here], the costs starting piling up.

In the end, we did get our situation corrected... but I can't say with any degree of certainty what it was that helped. Or, if none of the changes made a difference and Google simply made another algo change!

I think 140-150 of those 200 ranking factors revolve around confusion! :-)

walrus




msg:4268030
 5:16 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Quite the circumstance to be in these days, if a business doesnt start a website, it is not utilizing this modern medium (the internet)which has replaced telephones, yellow pages, mail etc...and become an integral part of the econmomy. If it does, it is only to have a robot dictate who makes a living and who doesn't.

me um,...robot...all my original articles have been scraped and copied by 30,000 sites, have no time or$ to dmca the whole fkin planet
robot....ok,....i will prorate you to zero
me.....aaaauuuughhhhh...$#%%^ robot

jdancing




msg:4268051
 5:41 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Say one out of 10 sites gets penalized. You fix the problem on that site. However, this same technique is working great and making you money on your other 9 sites.

Would you do you do a reinclusion request?

Planet13




msg:4268088
 6:33 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Say one out of 10 sites gets penalized. You fix the problem on that site. However, this same technique is working great and making you money on your other 9 sites.

Would you do you do a reinclusion request?


How "segregated are the sites?

would any person at google who looked at the 1 site make a connection that the same person owned the other 9 sites?

rowtc2




msg:4268092
 6:35 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

This video is an useful info from the official source.

I will add another term: filter. When site is suspicious, but not enough to be penalized by algo, can be filtered (not showing in top 5 results for example).

Rlilly




msg:4268118
 8:02 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Tedster

I found it to be un-truthful, very. Our site was out of the index for 30 days, even thou we removed the hidden text from a couple of pages (was not intentional, no keywords in it, was instructions designer had left) within 24 hours after getting a notice from Google and filed a reinclusion request..

According to MC, 'cloaking' is more sophisticated,, so why would BMW get caught, fix it within 24 hours and then back in the index within 24 hours?

jdancing




msg:4268146
 8:43 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

How "segregated are the sites?

would any person at google who looked at the 1 site make a connection that the same person owned the other 9 sites?

I am fairly sure they could enter one URL into their black box and get a listing of any domain I ever have been connected with - no matter how well I have them segregated.

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