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Reconsideration request found no spam, What next?
JackR




msg:4385543
 1:10 pm on Nov 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hey everyone,

I'd like to ask who has received the message below from the Webspam Team following a Reconsideration Request. The request was submitted just five days ago and whilst this is good news, my homepage remains absent for all and any keyword searches since moving to a new host roughly 3 weeks ago.

I'm not sure whether to sit tight and wait some more to see whether the homepage naturally returns to the SERPs (it is indexed), or whether to take some drastic action like rewriting a major URL or two.

It has been suggested on the Webmaster Groups that as my homepage text has been copied in snippets all over the web, it might be best to start there with a thorough rewrite.

Before I do anything, I'd just like to toss this into the air for discussion. What would you guys do after receiving this message?:



Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.example.com/, We received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.example.com/ for compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines. We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site's ranking in Google. There's no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team. Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site's ranking. Google's computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users. If you've experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site's content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you've changed the URLs for a large portion of your site's pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search. If you're still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support. Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team

 

tedster




msg:4385582
 4:36 pm on Nov 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did your request specifically mention the home page issue? Also, is the domain root present or missing from a site: operator search?

JackR




msg:4385597
 5:02 pm on Nov 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply tedster. The domain root is returned when using the site: operator. It is also returned for a 'business name' search.


Here is the original request:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Since Monday 31th October we have seen Google traffic drop to almost zero and although our site www.example.com remains indexed with similar Page Rank, the homepage appears to have been penalised and removed from the index for all or specific keyword searches.

This past week I created a thread on the Google Webmaster Central Forum: I need to submit a Reconsideration Request this weekend. Please tell me what is wrong with my site.
[google.com...]

I also created a thread on Webmasterworld: Homepage missing from SERPs - is there a .301 error in my .htaccess?
[webmasterworld.com...]


The consensus seems to be that moving our site from Staminus in the USA to a host in the UK one week ago has led to the homepage being removed from the index. However, we have taken the past week to check the site for compliance with Webmaster Guidelines and have made a number of small but important changes.

1. Homepage links have been changed from <strong> white to blue, making them highly visible to visitors.
2. We have created and submitted fresh HTML, XML and URL sitemaps. The XML sitemap has been submitted using Webmaster Tools.
3. Statcounter has been removed from the site entirely.
4. 5 new URLs have been added to the site:
http://www.example.com/red-widgets.html
http://www.example.com/big-widgets.html
http://www.example.com/new-widgets.html
http://www.example.com/old-widgets.html
http://www.example.com/widget-map.html
5. Many old URLs have been combined and .301 redirected to one of the new URLs above.
6. Some 20 pages reported as .404 in Webmaster Tools now return a .410 gone status code.
7. As per the Webmasterworld thread above, the .htaccess has been thoroughly revised and is technically correct.
8. We have manually checked the headers for each page and the correct server response codes are being returned.

I can confirm that we have not used the services of an SEO. I can also confirm that we have not purchased, placed, nor traded links to or from our website.

Thank you for taking the time to read this Reconsideration Request.


Regards,
Jack

Bewenched




msg:4385603
 5:18 pm on Nov 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

At least you got a response, I did a reconsideration request months ago and never heard a word from them.

johnhh




msg:4385604
 5:22 pm on Nov 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

we had the same .. the bit about "server architecture" was a bit odd I thought. I think they are refering to your site, ignoring your request about the home page.

I'd be tempted to rewrite it as it's only one page .. we however have same copying problem - but it would take months to re-write all our pages that have been stolen. Sent a cease and desist recently, the isp took the whole site down today as no reply from site owner :)

JackR




msg:4386016
 6:36 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here's what I've done so far:

i.) The stolen homepage snippet has been rewritten and double-checked to make sure it doesn't exist in any form in the index already.

ii.) A lengthy article has been added to the homepage.

iii.) A 'Contact us' page has been added with a LOT of contact options. It's linked from the homepage.


What I still simply do not understand is this: How Google can say 'Your site has no penalty' on the one hand .. then 'but it doesn't deserve to be included in our index despite being at least as good as half the existing page one results' on the other.

It's been in the index for keyword searches for six years. Talk about frustrating...

waynne




msg:4386022
 6:55 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Can google access the new server? Use the webmaster tools fetch as googlebot and see if there are any crawl errors.

A firewall or malicous robots.txt or bad server setup can cause a site to drop out of the results.

JackR




msg:4386030
 7:05 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, there are no technical issues. Fetched as Googlebot just fine. Also fully indexed and ranking in Yahoo and Bing, etc.

Planet13




msg:4386228
 2:28 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

A couple of things come to mind...

Is your business based in the UK or in in the US? Matt Cutts did say that server location COULD affect SERP position.

Also, how reputable is the hosting company and their servers? Matt Cutts has said that there are instances where a particular shared server with LOTS of bad domains on it COULD affect the ability of legitimate companies on the same server to rank well.

You also mentioned:

5. Many old URLs have been combined and .301 redirected to one of the new URLs above.


How RELEVANT are the new URLs to the old ones (which have been redirected by 301 headers)?

I have been told by the moderators in this forum that they have seen instances where playing fast and loose with too many 301 redirects has hurt a site's rankings.

One last thing: Can I ask why you didn't file DMCA requests with google to have the offending sites removed from the index? Was there just too many of them?

crobb305




msg:4386247
 3:58 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Homepage links have been changed from <strong> white to blue, making them highly visible to visitors


Is there a guideline against using <strong> white? Or, did you have white on white (invisible)? I don't think there is anything wrong with having white links if the background is a different color.

C

JackR




msg:4386249
 4:28 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies guys!


Planet13,

It's a business located in London in the UK, serving primarily businessmen, travelling professionals and those with significant disposable income.

The new host is Poundhost, an old (2001) and respected UK hosting company located in Blue Square - one of the UKs largest hosting hubs.

The new URLs are 100% relevant.

For example, three of the new URLs have already been designated by Google as sitelinks.

Whereas previously I had
/widgets-in-london.html
/buy-a-london-widget.html
/best-london-widgets.html

... I now have simply:

/london-widgets.html


I did this by moving the content and text from the three older pages and revising it on a single, focused and 100% relevant new page.


The site has 389 indexed URLs.

I added 5 new URLs and redirected 2 or 3 of the old URLs to one of the new URLs.

About the DMCA requests: My homepage had a very concise, handwritten introduction to the company, its 'product' and the 'service'.

This text has been copied from Dubai to Hong Kong to Russia to every other market where my business exists. Even if I were able to secure the removal of some of these other sites, they'd simply spring back up - I've seen it before.



crobb305,

Nothing untoward with the colour schemes. No hidden, dubious, tiny or hard to read text anywhere. The background colour is good ol' #000000 and the text #FFFFFF. The hyperlinks with the text were the same colour, but bold and strong and clearly visible as hyperlinks, including underlining on mouseover.



Everyone thinks this, but I can honestly say that of it's kind, my site is a fine example. Luckily it's a very well established business so the absence of organic Google search traffic is irrelevant to income and clientele, which is largely word of mouth.

That said, it's damn annoying that Google can't ensure it appears in the SERPs - especially as it's not under any sort of penalty.

JackR




msg:4386256
 6:00 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

This thread [webmasterworld.com] is interesting and got me thinking about canonical issues (I'm sure there are none). But the correct way to link every other page back to the domain root is

<a href="http://www.example.com/">HOME</a>


.. right?


All other versions of the homepage are .htaccess redirected to http://www.example.com/:

http://www.example.com/index.html
http://example.com/index.html
http://example.com/
http://www.example.com//

The URLs on the site have also been changed from relative to absolute, so not a single internal URL refers to index.html ... only to http://www.example.com/

martinacastro




msg:4386288
 8:00 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes JackR

When you use the site command you see these pages:

http://www.example.com/index.html
http://example.com/index.html
http://example.com/

?

JackR




msg:4386309
 9:00 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

martinacastro,

No, I only see the http://www.example.com/ version returned so there are definitely no canonical issues.

I did notice one interesting thing this evening. The site is correctly indexed and ranking as normal for keyword searches when I search using the Google Datacentre located at 74.125.226.178

However, when I search here in the UK (72.14.204.104), it's still excluded from the index for all and any keyword searches.

Does anyone know the significance of this .. or indeed which country 74.125.226.178 serves?

tedster




msg:4386322
 9:34 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

IP addresses do not have a 1-to-1 correspondence to data centers or to country locations. The load balancing schemes that Google uses are too complex for that.

How did you discover/choose the IP address that shows your index page (72.14.204.104)? Some IP addresses seem to access experimental or test versions of the SERPs - that is, they never go into wide-scale distribution on the various Google domain names. Sometimes they even may hold a version of the index before certain filters are applied.

However, if you were initially sent to that IP address through the load-balancing logic and then decided to revisit specifically by choosing the IP, then there's a lot more hope that you're seeing a return of your index page.

JackR




msg:4386327
 9:41 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

As my homepage is set to [google.co.uk...] the default IP address I'm sent to is 72.14.204.104. That is the datacentre that does not show my homepage in the SERPs. :(

But there's hope .. I've noticed the 'new' SERPs spreading. The site now appears in Google.ch (74.125.65.103), Google.de (74.125.65.147) and Google.com.au (74.125.65.104) .. but still not in the UK!

It's extremely interesting to notice a fresh cache of the homepage spreading .. as it's bringing with it keyword SERPs that do include the homepage.

Now, if only the UK can 'catch up' with everywhere else!



EDIT: Bizarrely, the site seems to be most perfectly indexed AND ranking when using Google.ru (74.125.65.103).

As it's an English language site which targets London, UK and is hosted in the UK that's odd to discover to say the least.


EDIT 2: How can Google.ch AND Google.ru both resolve to 74.125.65.103?

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4386643
 9:22 am on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

So much wasted energy chasing intangible mechanics that could be spent creating good content, are you listening Google?

- They both resolve to the same script that returns results based on your language/location.

JackR




msg:4389980
 7:18 pm on Nov 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

After a week 'as normal' with the homepage back in the index and despite not a single change having been made to the site, it's vanished again for all keyword searches.

What next? :)

martinacastro




msg:4389986
 7:47 pm on Nov 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi Jack, you mean a penalization like, a minus 50 penalization for the whole site? or only for the home?

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