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Google traffic drops to ZERO. Penalized or pandalized?
1script




msg:4354275
 5:40 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I read quite often here that people should not just jump to conclusions upon loosing some Google referrals. That your site is more likely to be algorithmically downgraded rather than penalized outright. Yet it's hard not to think of being penalized when the traffic drops to ZERO, (as in zilch).

Still, I wanted to put this out as a request for opinions: does anyone on this respectable board think that there's any chance at all that any algorithmic change (Panda or otherwise) can lead to a complete loss of Google referrals?

Here is why I ask: last night many of my sites (but not all, to keep me guessing, perhaps) have been hit real hard. Today I see no G referrals at all. The affected sites are based on the same software but are not interlinked, all in different niches, obviously different content and use different templates.

My reasoning goes something like this: an algo change can easily hit multiple sites because it gets applied to the entire system. A harsh penalty like the outright banning I got seems to be more of a manual thing and therefore my sites would be dropping sequentially, not en masse.

Anyone sees a problem with this line of thinking? A thought of an algo that can be tasked with banning sites is unbearable, something like sending an automated drone on a kill mission without human supervision.

 

tedster




msg:4354277
 5:56 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

No traffic at all sounds like a penalty or even a ban - not a Panda devaluation. What do you see for the site: operator results?

1script




msg:4354282
 6:11 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks, tedster. Yeah, I didn't think so. It just feels weird that 3-4-5 years old sites would get axed like this all of a sudden.

site:example.com brings zero results, as was expected.

Interestingly, Googlebot just let itself go on the sites that were penalized. Devours upwards of 50,000 pages a day. Looks like they don't want all that extra bandwidth left over after Google referrals are gone go to waste.

Anyway, I'm finding myself in a position many webmasters here have been in, I'm sure: gotta file that reinclusion request but have no idea what sin to admit to: there were no changes on some of those sites in months! Having been preoccupied with other projects, I haven't done much link building either. Unless some competitor "helped"...

Cheers!

Hoople




msg:4354293
 6:44 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Check for messages in Google WMT console. Lately they have been better about feedback there.

1script




msg:4354308
 7:35 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Hoople: thanks, I've been checking. So far no messages. There were a couple yesterday about WordPress upgrades they think are needed. Ironically, they were talking about sites that haven't been affected by the ban.

mhansen




msg:4354318
 8:14 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sounds like a manual penalty to me. Are all the sites using anything in common that would enable a Googler to burn down the entire house with one match?

- Same Adsense Account
- Same Webmaster Tools
- Same Analytics
- Same GoDaddy or Registrar Account
- Same Domain Owner (You)
- Same Hosting or Server

MH

1script




msg:4354326
 8:37 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

@mhansen: the answer to your question is both yes and now. Meaning that I actually have two different Google accounts and therefore two of all those Google services: Adsense, WMT and GA. I've had it like that for some 7-odd years for personal and business purposes but in the end it's all one owner, of course. Banned sites belong to both accounts. So, do you think they have a problem with me personally?

I don't host all the sites on the same server but I do use the same registrar (and it's private so, technically, my contacts are the same as millions of other domain names).

Burning the whole house with a single match sounds like an efficient way of killing someone's business but I just can't picture Google to care enough to do something like that.

I'm looking at my logs and testing HTTP headers returned in hopes to spot a technical issue but for something like that to happen, it looks like I'd need to have one hell of a technical issue.

I don't pretend that the sites are extremely important to the fabric of the Web (which one individual site is?) but to "earn" a ban there would have to be something egregious. I know enough to not have done anything so bad, at least not intentionally.

mhansen




msg:4354333
 9:06 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I understand where you are coming from and feel your pain... I hope its just a technical issue, and you find the problem. The fact that its hit so many... always scary.

Burning the whole house with a single match sounds like an efficient way of killing someone's business but I just can't picture Google to care enough to do something like that.


I have seen sites burned to the ground, and even moreso when there are networks of sites linked through Adsense, Analytics, etc.

Google owns the traffic and they do what they want, when they want, in the best interest of their best interest. The fact that you can find a common trail to yourself with just one or two clicks of a mouse is also relevant if this is not a technical issue.

rowtc2




msg:4354344
 10:15 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

It looks like a manual ban. It i weird because there are in different niches. Did you think what could be the cause for this hard punishment?

1script




msg:4354345
 10:15 pm on Aug 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

and even moreso when there are networks of sites linked through Adsense, Analytics, etc.
Network is such a loaded term! It's hard to call unrelated, non-linked, separately hosted, different themed sites a network even though they belong to the same owner. Unless they do indeed have a beef with the owner, what would be their reason to ax sites based on their ownership?
AnkitMaheshwari




msg:4354419
 5:20 am on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

What about traffic from other Search Engines Like Bing?
I think you should also check Bing webmaster tools because if it is a technical issue Bing might be able to provide some clue (just a thought).

onepointone




msg:4354427
 6:42 am on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I had a similar thing happen to me earlier this year.

Very diverse sites, about a dozen. All banned. Google only. The thing they had in common was adsense, or had adsense in the past. Little or no interlinking.

I'm very paranoid now, and much of the content I'm adding to the web is on third party sites. I think it's good content and it tends to rank fine.

dazzlindonna




msg:4354537
 2:47 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd check for evidence of hacking. Use WMT's Fetch as Googlebot to see how Google sees it. Look for hidden text, hidden links, redirects, or any content that you didn't put there - but seen only by Google. If none of that pans out, double-check that you haven't blocked Google via robots.txt, and then finally, go back through Google's list of things not to do, and make sure you aren't doing any of them.

1script




msg:4354538
 2:49 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your input!

I had a similar thing happen to me earlier this year.
May I ask if you were able to un-ban some/all of these sites eventually?

Very diverse sites, about a dozen. All banned. Google only. The thing they had in common was adsense, or had adsense in the past. Little or no interlinking.
This, sadly, reads exactly as a description of my own problem. But: "or had adsense in the past" - if that observation had anything to do with the actual reason to ban, it smells of witch-hunt.

I'm very paranoid now, and much of the content I'm adding to the web is on third party sites. I think it's good content and it tends to rank fine.
That part I did not follow: if you contribute to other sites (which I also do), aren't the other sites' owners the only ones that benefit? Do you mean that you simply closed the shop? This sounds like you are, in fact, going on assumption that Google has a problem with you personally. I still can't see how they can care so much about one person or one business as to diligently go after every site they had. Besides, not all of my sites got banned. Was that the case with you?
1script




msg:4354642
 7:48 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I forgot to mention another strange thing about this banning debacle:

site:example.com shows no results

but

WMT account shows some 250,000+ as URLs in web index

So, which is it? I never had a site banned before. Can someone fill in: if the site's banned from SERPs, do you still see the count of URLs in web index?

tedster




msg:4354645
 7:55 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Webmaster Tools is not to be trusted - it's data lags behind reality, and it's often just crazy.

No traffic points toward a ban. Zero results for the site: operator points toward nothing in the index, i.e. a ban. What happens if you put the full URL for a previously busy page directly into the search box?

1script




msg:4354658
 8:27 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

What happens if you put the full URL for a previously busy page directly into the search box?
My page does not show up but I see other pages that refer to it either via an HTML link (my URL is the anchor) or just plain text. So yeah, it's dead in the water...
netmeg




msg:4354662
 8:44 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's a ban. Go over everything with a fine tooth comb, or get some more eyeballs working on it.

confuscius




msg:4354663
 8:45 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have had an identical situation - a number of non connected sites sharing a single IP with some other sites of mine that were not affected. My 9 year old retail site banned overnight and I have not touched a thing in 2 years on it.

I have also systematically dismantled one site all the way back to one page of content with several requests for reinclusion and all you get back is the standard Google response of go and have another guess at what is wrong but we are not going to help you other than repeat what we said last time like some single brained cell amoeba.

My advice, start again on a new domain and do not be surprised when years of hard work gets dumped. Next time round, just spam the hell out of Google with cruddy pages as that seems to work better than anything legitimate.

JohnRoy




msg:4354665
 8:58 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

My advice, start again on a new domain and ... just spam the hell out of Google with cruddy pages as that seems to work better than anything legitimate.
My advice, don't follow this 'advice'.

I do hope you get this issue clarified, and cured, fast. Hopefully you'll keep us updated on how it's going.

1script




msg:4354669
 9:09 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

@JohnRoy: Thanks! You are right, I was not going to just drop it and move on. Besides, I have other sites (even similar ones) that have not been affected, so I better get to the bottom of it

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4354699
 10:50 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Remember that the value of your site does not change NO MATTER WHAT GOOGLE DOES, if it's a good resource Google is the one who looks silly for not indexing it. MY advice is to continue working on your site, improve it, and ignore Google.

By all means take a pause, do a once over to see if you've got anything outside of Google's guidelines and submit a re-inclusion request, but then MOVE ON and consider Google an after thought. So many countless collective years of time have been wasted in trying to please Google when they could have gone to content creation instead.

Perhaps someday Google will drop the 'secret sauce' mentality and offer a REAL site report for webmasters to follow. Imagine that, a level playing field...

JohnRoy




msg:4354702
 11:01 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

> ignore Google

Oh my. How many would want to be able to do that. In reality, if you didn't diversify your source of income until now, you can't just say ignore.

For new adventures, while targeting google traffic, get a different user account for each niche.

feeder




msg:4354703
 11:14 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Don't put your sites in Webmaster Tools.

May as well paint a bullseye on your forehead.

dvduval




msg:4354709
 11:35 pm on Aug 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

What do you call it when you are about -10 for your main keyword? In our case we went from #1 for years to about #14 and stayed there for the last several months. Would a reinclusion request have potential for benefit?

onepointone




msg:4354720
 12:21 am on Aug 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

answering the op's ?'s about my situation

May I ask if you were able to un-ban some/all of these sites eventually

Nope*. I sent re-inclusion requests for 4, never heard back from G.

What I did was take some sites off the web completely. (mostly newer smaller ones)

Some I have left up. (as kind of a test)

*Some I did 301 redirects to new domains. I did this about 4 months ago. They are all indexed by G and get traffic. But not like before. I see them as "sick" & don't expect to invest a lot of time into them.

not all of my sites got banned. Was that the case with you?


About half my sites were banned. They all had adsense(except for one), some of them were also my affiliate moneymakers. My adsense acct. is still active BTW. It won't be used again though :)

JohnRoy




msg:4354728
 2:02 am on Aug 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

What do you call it when you are about -10 for your main keyword? In our case we went from #1 for years to about #14 and stayed there for the last several months.
I would call it change in algorithm. For many this is a routine, you're lucky you were #1 for years.

Would a reinclusion request have potential for benefit?
No. Your site does not appear to be penalized.
1script




msg:4354941
 6:19 pm on Aug 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Some I did 301 redirects to new domains. I did this about 4 months ago. They are all indexed by G and get traffic.
Yeah, I pondered about that and I can probably move one or two of my banned sites to new domains. The rest of the sites have very nice hand-picked marketable (some are expensive) domain names. I am pretty much stuck here...

Still haven't found what was it so egregious I've done that made them ban half of my sites. What do you guys think I should be looking for? Banning sites sounds like a "nuclear option" to me. As such, the reason(s) for it should be rather easy to spot, no? I hear people say:"go with a fine comb" but that's just the thing - it can't be a minute mistake, can it? Sounds like a rake should be more appropriate here.

I mean, it can't be external links, Google themselves had said so. I'm thinking of competitors "helping" with some links from unsavory places.

It can't be the html code of the pages themselves - I'm way past trying to put hidden keywords in there and I can't think of anything else so bad that can be hidden in the code.

It could be my own links to bad places but I have very few external outgoing links at all and all go to sites I personally reviewed.

So, anyway, is there a webmaster here that had a site banned who knows or has a good idea about why that was? Please, share! Knowing what to look for is going to be tremendously helpful.

tedster




msg:4354944
 6:33 pm on Aug 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did you check for evidence that your site is hacked? Sometimes the first thing you notice is new backlinks with adult, pharma, or gambling anchor text.

1script




msg:4354947
 6:53 pm on Aug 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well, one of those sites (just one out of the dozen) had a really bad break-in earlier this year. They've managed to redirect the homepage to a credit card scam page. That has been fixed relatively quickly (within a couple of hours) and the site did not suffer until three days ago.
Another affected site (on the same server) had a bogus subdomain added to it which was also redirecting to that credit card scam page during the same incident. Also got fixed and did not involve the actual site (don't want to divulge too much in the open).

Other than that incident in the past, I'm not aware of anything recent although I keep looking for any evidence of wrongdoing.

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