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Can a 301 domain get a Penguin penalty due to legacy anchor text?
jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 10:45 pm on Jul 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I redirected a website last year from a keyword match domain to a brand name domain It was hit by Penguin on 24 April. The SE counts the backlinks to the keyword match domain as links to the brand name domain, which is actually the same website, focusing on the same keywords. Might this trigger a Penguin penalty for the brand name domain?

Since the keyword match is a pretty old site, most of the backlinks have the anchor text "blue widgets" or the actual domain name, which is actually an over optimized backlink profile for the branded domain.

[edited by: tedster at 12:44 pm (utc) on Jul 3, 2012]

 

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 12:55 am on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Since you indicate that the back links are "optimized" I take this to mean that many of them did not occur naturally. Yes, this kind of "SEO" on backlinks absolutely can trigger a Penguin hit.

Even more, you might have found real-world evidence that a domain level 301 can transfer a Penguin penalty. People have been wondering about this, but so far yours is the first report of an actual case that sounds like it could be happening for real.

One case doesn't prove that the idea is true, but if others also add their similar experience to our discussion, then the idea will gain some strength.

The SE count the backlinks to blue-widgets.com as links to brand.com

Yes, no matter what the anchor text, a 301 makes the old back links "count" and send their strength for the new domain at almost full strength.

Str82u



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 12:41 pm on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

@jemois, I think @Tedster answered the question, 301 can transfer good and bad rank from old domains.
Even more, you might have found real-world evidence that a domain level 301 can transfer a Penguin penalty.
I had a bunch of registered/reserved domains 301'd to the "main" website, in case someone looked up the domain they'd know who it was. After removing the redirects and letting them 404 or giving them a searchbox page, the "main" domain got better SERP and traffic.

Coincidence? I don't feel like it was, no more than when I removed a few hundred footer links in "satellite" sites to another domain and that increased in SERPs. The satellite domains, BTW, were registered in the same name as the "main" site.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 12:47 pm on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just read the opening post again, and I'm not clear about the dates. Did the Penguin problem show up on the older keyword domain befor the change? or did it only appear on the brand domain after the redirect?

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 12:52 pm on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

The EMD domain was redirected in September 2011 to the brand domain. The brand domain was hit by penguin on 24 April.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 1:23 pm on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

My gut tells me that Penguin is objecting to something else, here. I'd still keep up the publicity and marketing for the new domain - but something else is probably the Penguin factor.

Look at the site from the average person's point of view and forget all about SEO for the moment. Do certain words show up on-page and in anchor text too often? Is other internal linking truly helpful to the user? Do your stats show good time on page and good average pages per visit? Those are the kinds of things I'd look for.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 1:27 pm on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you were to remove the re-directs from the old domain, what effect, if any, would that have on the Google rankings and traffic for the new brand domain?

Edit: Tedster - I didn't see your last post until after my post went live.

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 2:48 pm on Jul 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

As the EMD wasn't anymore verified since March 2012 and the change of address also expired after 180 days (also in March), i got it verified again 4 days ago. I found it pretty strange that the old domain started ranking again although it is already redirected since September 2011. It lasted 1 day and then again it vanished, both for the old as for the new domain. There was a slightly increase in traffic but not notable.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 3:12 pm on Jul 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

As the EMD wasn't anymore verified since March 2012 and the change of address also expired after 180 days (also in March), i got it verified again 4 days ago.


I don't understand what you mean by "verified". Are you talking about Webmaster Tools?

I found it pretty strange that the old domain started ranking again although it is already redirected since September 2011. It lasted 1 day and then again it vanished, both for the old as for the new domain. There was a slightly increase in traffic but not notable.


This also isn't clear to me. Why would re-verifying the old site cause both sites to "vanish"?

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 4:35 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@aristotle
I don't understand what you mean by "verified". Are you talking about Webmaster Tools?

Yes, in WMT

This also isn't clear to me. Why would re-verifying the old site cause both sites to "vanish"?

Since the old domain was verified using the HTML file upload method and it became entirely redirected to the brand domain, the HTML file was also redirected to the brand site and the old domain became "unverified" in WMT. After verifying the old domain again (and also keeping the redirection to the brand domain) it started ranking again but only for 1 day, than it was nowhere to found in the serps.

Another strange thing is that i submitted 2 websites with BOTW, one of them being the brand site I'm talking about in this post. Both of them were approved and felt drastically in the serps from the second day they appeared in BOTW.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 6:12 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@jemois
Thanks for the reply. I understand it now.

But to return to the original question about whether the new site was penalized because of the backlink legacy anchor text that the re-directs transferred to it. To me, this seems like a good possibility. I wonder what would happen if you removed the re-directs and deleted the old site from the web. Then the new site should be on its own, unaffected by the backlinks you created for the old site.

By the way, had the new site already apparently been penalized before you got the BOTW listings?

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 6:55 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I didn't create any backlinks for the old site, which was never penalized. I stopped the redirection for about 3 weeks but the change was hard to notice. As for the BOTW listing, the site was penalized on 24 April and got listed in BOTW 2 weeks ago. The traffic dropped with around 30%a after the listing went live. Same happened to the other site which got listed on BOTW, which is not penalized in any way. The 2 sites are not part of the same network, they have different owners, hosting...etc.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 7:30 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I stopped the redirection for about 3 weeks but the change was hard to notice.


Since it was apparently a Penquin penalty, you should have probably waited until the next Penquin refresh to see if removing the re-directs had an effect. Anyway, I guess the question now is whether the chances for the new site's ultimate recovery are better if you permanently remove the re-directs and delete the old site from the web.

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 7:50 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think it's better not to remove the re-direct since the old site was one of the best in its category, reaching around 40.000 visitors/day. As far as i noticed, the "change of address" in WMT wasn't active anymore on the day of the first penguin, when the brand domain was hit. Also, in WMT, the backlinks to the old site weren't showed for the brand domain profile. Now, after verifying the old domain again in WMT, the backlinks for the old domain are appearing again in the brand domain proile. In all this time the 301 was active from the old site to the brand site. What I can easily notice is that Google MIGHT ONLY associate the backlinks from the old site to the brand site when they are both verified in WMT and the "change of address" option is used. Its the only way I can explain the backlinks for the old domain not showing anymore in the brand domain profile after the old one wasn't verified anymore although the 301 was active.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 8:31 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

What I can easily notice is that Google MIGHT ONLY associate the backlinks from the old site to the brand site when they are both verified in WMT and the "change of address" option is used.


I doubt this. After all, there are many websites that have never had Webmaster Tools set up for them. For this reason, I don't think the Google ranking algorithm uses Webmaster Tools data.

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 9:03 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

How do you explain that the backlinks to the old domain disappeared form the profile of the brand domain after is wasn't verified anymore and the "change of address" expired and then they showed up again after if "verified" it again and submitted again the "change of address"?

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 9:11 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@jemois
I still don't think Webmaster Tools data is used in the Google algorithm. What if these two websites had never been in Webmaster Tools at all? Would the rankings be different.

By the way, since the old site was doing so well, have you considered deleting the new site, and the re-directs, and reverting back to the old site to see if it would be penalized?

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 10:57 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I will wait until the next Panda rerun and decide after if i will revert the the old site if nothing changes. I only wanted to brand the website and I can't do it by using and EMD.

What do you think about the BOTW issue ? I also read on an older post here that I'm not the only one noticing traffic drop after listing in BOTW

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 11:41 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

What do you think about the BOTW issue ? I also read on an older post here that I'm not the only one noticing traffic drop after listing in BOTW


I really don't know. BOTW is supposed to be a premier directory. A lot of major organizations and well-known sites are in it.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 12:25 am on Jul 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've used BOTW regularly and have not seen such a correlation, either.

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 8:28 am on Jul 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

@aristotle @tedster
I agree with you regarding the quality of BOTW BUT
- old site submitted and included in BOTW 2 weeks ago - traffic dropped 2nd day after it was listed with 30%
- another site, not penalized, submitted to BOTW 1 week ago - traffic dropped 2nd day after it was listed with 30%-40%

COINCIDENCE ?

robzilla

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 10:16 am on Jul 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

What I can easily notice is that Google MIGHT ONLY associate the backlinks from the old site to the brand site when they are both verified in WMT and the "change of address" option is used.

The 'Change of Address' feature should not be used to merge sites, says Matt Cutts in this video: [youtube.com...]

jemois



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 10:40 am on Jul 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Its not "merging" its just moving to another domain and counting the backlinks to the old domain as links to the brand domain

Kendo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4471952 posted 10:48 am on Jul 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

We need a penguin meter in Webmaster Tools.

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