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10 year old PR3 site - big ranking drop

 9:22 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

My site is still indexed but is nowhere to be found for my regular keywords. Even my own company name is not showing up in search results...

I have not spammed, all I have done is some random forum profiles (like about 10 a month) and some article marketing (about 30-50 a month).

I have a link exchange as most websites have on my site, a "let's echange links" not an automated one.

I just found out I had an unatural link profile message in Webmaster Tools from Sept 2011.

So why suddenly slapped like this?

This will drive me to bankrupcy, devestating, any hope?

This is my moving company in Canada, without it I'm toast, this is my bread and butter...




 10:14 am on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google once provided an answer to a message like this on their webmaster forum that essentially said you can always fall back on adwords because some people have excellent success with it. I can't find the link so don't quote me on that but, I suppose, it is one option.

other options - get rid of the link exchange and ease up with the daily posting on other sites or at the very least change the link text you're using so that it more closely matches what Google GWT says are your primary keywords.

Any hope? there is always hope but I don't think you can hope for Google to reverse the damage or increase traffic quickly. Declines in traffic are quick, increases not so much. Ask for reconsideration after you've done the dance and move on no matter what they say.

I had the same thing happen on one of my test sites recently, rendering it useless as a test site. It had been a sort of side project for a hobby I enjoy but got smacked. Ironically any page with adsense is doing well still but if a page has even one affiliate offer from any of the well known programs the page receives ZERO traffic, maybe 1 visitor a month if I'm lucky. If you have affiliate links, ditch them, it can't hurt since you're not getting traffic anyway and that comes first.


 3:06 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ironically any page with adsense is doing well still but if a page has even one affiliate offer from any of the well known programs the page receives ZERO traffic, maybe 1 visitor a month if I'm lucky.
Now, that is an exceedingly interesting observation! Would you share which affiliate programs are those? Or at least what type if you're not comfortable with posting names. Like search-related (like one whose name ends with "itika"), in-text links, smart widgets of some kind, etc.?

 3:13 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just found out I had an unatural link profile message in Webmaster Tools from Sept 2011.

I suspect you had better start here.


 3:25 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

When did this happen?


 3:26 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm curious because this happened yesterday to one of my sites - it was there Sunday - i checked my rankings (by hand of course) and everything was normal - yesterday i have no rankings. Even a search for the website name doesn't show up - if I do a site: search I see it but that's it. I have no messages in GWT so I'm hoping it's a 24 hour bug or something.


 4:28 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just found out I had an unatural link profile message in Webmaster Tools from Sept 2011.

I suspect you had better start here.

My personal impression has been that these link notifications come terribly late, something like months after the fact. By the time you get the "unnatural links" notice, the damage has already been done. So, if the OP hasn't seen any problem between Sept. 2011 and now, the links are not the immediate culprit here although it stands to reason that they may still play a role by perhaps pushing the site over some "guidelines compliance" threshold when you combine them with some other violation.


 4:43 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Would you share which affiliate programs are those?
It's all of the major networks including Google's own affiliate network. I have offers on a more established site that get traffic to similar pages so I suspect it's an authority issue. Sites with more authority can get away with more, apparently.

Back to the topic: If you don't want to dig back to 2011 and fix the unnatural links(that Google didn't share with you) the other option is just to get more quality links and balance out your overall graph, it's all relative.

Saying you have 100 questionable links could be extremely good or extremely bad, it depends on the ratio. If you have 10 good links it's probably bad, if you have 10,000 good links the 100 bad are not likely a problem.

My advice is still to make sure that not ALL incoming links have the same anchor text(unless it's a tld exact match). A natural link graph usually has good variance in anchor text.


 4:51 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Original poster is Canadian and I assume canuckseo is as well.

Is Panda looking for bamboo in Canada? Coincidence, common factor or unrelated bogus?


 5:01 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's all of the major networks including Google's own affiliate network.
I was afraid that name will come up... I've had some really bad things happened to my sites last year a week or so after rolling out Google's own affiliate network ads. There's not good way to know for sure if it contributed but I won't ever be using GAN network again. I haven't earned a penny from it anyhow.

 5:24 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@canuckseo don't panic too much - I have been witnessing sites vanishing and re-appearing throughout the update. In fact one of mine vanished and then came back to number 1. Although it was not a business site.


 5:26 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@mslina2002 yes Canadian site - been through a few panda updates - never completely vanished.

@petehall thanks that was my thinking too. I have heard of a few others dropping and coming back but it's a totally different feeling when it is your own! It is one thing to say "relax i'm sure it's a glitch or temporary" it's another to sit through it!


 7:23 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@canuckseo Same thing happened to one of my clients sites yesterday. No notice or anything in WMT. Site doesn't rank for "Brand Name" but shows up when searching "BrandName.com". Site: searches show all pages are indexed. This happened sometime yesterday between 4am (around the time my daily rank checker found it on page 1) and 11am CST.


 8:33 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@theseanstewart same here - mysite.com shows. site:mysite.com shows search for company name or any previous rankings i had do not.

Well I checked and my site is still getting spidered according to my log files.

@Oimachi2 is your site getting visited by googlebot? real googlebot that is, not fake ones?

Also, were there any changes you made recently? Moved hosting perhaps or went through a redesign or restructuring of your site?


 11:30 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

First off Oimachi2, join the club and we feel your pain.

What's been frustrating all along with Google is that they first encourage things like link exchanges then change the rules midstream once that has been gamed to death by the bad guys. The really sad part is when they make the slash & burn assumption that YOU are a bad guy too, just because of your honest link exchange.

It happened with meta tags, keyword density, and other SEO metrics they encouraged but got abused. You can't blame it all on Google though, it's the miscreant black hatters who are really to blame.

I see the same thing happening eventually with this whole social network garbage. People are already gaming the system and once Google's + project folds (it will, trust me) then you'll be penalized for having social links.

They just keep moving the carrot here and there and you better be able to follow or you'll be out in left field. It's a shame. If they want user love, this is not the way to court us. This is more like the fmita federal prison kind of love.

You'd think by now they could soften the blow of these so called "quality updates", but it seems they take one step forward and two steps back. I just switched to BING today and my searches are much more productive. I suspect more folks will be doing the same soon.

I think I'll dump my Google stock now that I'm thinking about it. I invested in them because I believed in them. Considering all the events of post May Day, I gave them the chance , but they've let many of us down.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 11:34 pm (utc) on Apr 17, 2012]


 11:31 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well since i talked about it here I will give an update - 24 hours later I'm back! Even the rankings I had are back...Wierd


 11:38 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

24 hours later I'm back!

give it another 24 hours canuck...

I saw some of my listing drop out, come back, drop out, come back....once you start to yo yo, you better look very closely at your site to be sure you haven't tripped some penalty threshold.


 11:41 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@canuckseo Wow just like that I'm back as well. That was really weird. Hopefully your Canucks can come back tomorrow night too ;-)


 1:22 am on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

That site in question is back, magically and now #3 for very competitive, so that is fine.

But then on the 24th the BS Penguin hit 5 of my other sites...

But to all of you I can say this, there is hope, I've done changes to another affected site and it's coming back slowly but surely, this is what I did:

Went and deleted almost every targeted keyword from index page, the set repeated at most 2-3 times.

Then I added text and rewrote, edited by hand.

Then I changed the links on the main menu to be non-optimized, for example, instead of "Vancouver Movers Rates", I changed it to "rates". There are no anchor keywords on any of the links, maybe 1-2 only.

I changed the body text link from anchored to stuff like for a free estimate "click here", not the old "Vancouver Moving Estimates Form"

I shortened the website title, and wrote meta desc and keyword tags by hand and very short and consice.


 2:08 am on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Oimachi2 - you're better off seeking answers on specifics on the Google Forums wher you can allow independent critiques of your site. Often you'll get some abrasive answers, but they can help.

Here it's against TOS to provide that transparency, which makes it a guessing game for specifics.

However, I did do some investigation and i see you have off topic sites linking to you with on topic links. This is damaging.

Complete "no - no's " are :

Commercialised " on topic" links from "off topic" websites
Same anchor text repeated [ how can this be natural - does everyone think the same way ]

Anything that smells like this is in the Penguin firing line.

Non freely given links editorially are very risky.

Google appears to be eliminating the importance of links and is starting at the base of the pyramid. The more obvious activities have been hit and you can expect Google to work up the link pyramid until it reaches a point where influence is not occuring to any great degree.

Google no longer needs to weed out paid links. It's been superceded by removing links that fit a profile of commericial benefit. Whilst some may escape, it's going to become an even riskier game to play.

This type of SEO is dead and buried. Better to move with the principles of a Panda compliant site - and the secrets for success here are very hard to fully understand.


 7:53 am on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

So linking is dead?

How about a combination of platforms, blogs, forums, article marketing, directory listings, but from sites that are relevant?

With the links mixed up with anchor and non anchor to make it look "natural", let's say build about 10 links a day, would that work or that's impossible also?

What about being active on a related forum to your industry with anchor text looking "natura", would that work?

I mean what is next? Content? What if you a lumber yard in Cold Lake Alaska? Can you write hundred pages about wood? How the heck can you get clients online?

I mean this "content" thing just doesn't work for small businesses that have no content to publish!

And social also doesn't make any sense to the show repair shop, the hairdresser or the local butcher...the future looks grim indeed for small business owners...


 8:14 am on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

the future looks grim indeed for small business owners...

Google wants small business on it's assets. ie Google Places

And business has to get back to building brand relationships.


 8:25 am on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

i wonder about these sometimes occurring discussions about linking "being dead" or "on its way out" how accurate can that possibly be?
as long as there are URLs, there will be links.
that's how we all get around on the internet. it is google's increasingly complex algo that is making it rather diffcult for small timers to figure it out and rank well, no matter what cutts says about writing superlative or great content, I mean that implies that this type of content will draw....links! (or traffic that they can then measure in some way) of course there's a heck of a lot more to their algo than links but that's the basis of it all if you ask me; and all the quality signals can they now draw from their vast warehouses of raw data and interpret over 'quality signals' and social signals and such for whatever it is the 200 or (as tedster has suggested perhaps even 500-1000 different signals etc)

I somewhat like Oimachi2's ideas abouth simplifying and 'tightening things up' a bit with the on page signals (perhaps they can get clearer signals that way...)


 8:29 am on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

looks like I misquoted tedster (from memory) - as he talked about:

"And there are many thousands of correlations to be measured an watch - thousands I tell you"


 8:49 am on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

and some article marketing (about 30-50 a month)

30-50 articles per month with links back to your website? Articles on article submission websites? This might be the reason for your problem?


 2:00 pm on May 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

How about a combination of platforms, blogs, forums, article marketing, directory listings, but from sites that are relevant?

All I can say is that the BEST links I ever got came "out of the blue" and they were due to the fact that I put on my thinking cap and created some good quality content that I new various media sources would find useful.

I would LIKE to think that link manipulation is dead (blog comments / guest blog posts / forum profiles / article comments / paid directory listings) because it is SO OBVIOUS why the links are there.

However, looking at my niche, google still seems to be rewarding them.

Hopefully that will be over soon.

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