Does site:yoursite.com return any results? The penalty is instant but take some time to show in WMT. The message can take weeks to show.
If site:yoursite.com returns no result, it's most likely that the entire domain is penalized with something harsh like pure spam label. And when that happens it's 100% of google traffic gone in an instant.
Q1) Is the site an affiliate? Does it sell products and/or services on behalf of merchants and earn commissions or some form of income?
Q2) Does the site sell advertising?
Q3) What niche is the site in? Travel and tourism, shopping or any niche where Google has its own products and services?
None of the above may apply but IMO, in this day and age Google is now an active competitor for merchant dollars and has no qualms about driving competitors from the search arena and gifting the traffic to itself and its "authority" partners.
Before you go racing off to commit heavens knows how many hours and costs looking for an answer based on a techno/algo/magic bullet scenario, you really need to take a realistic appraisal based on the old dictum of "follow the money".
If your competitors are still in there slogging away then you may have a chance of recovery, but start off by looking if they are also gone.... and if they are, then the likelyhood of a recovery is slim at best.
|IMO, in this day and age Google is now an active competitor for merchant dollars and has no qualms about driving competitors from the search arena and gifting the traffic to itself and its "authority" partners. |
That's odd. I see e-commerce sites, sites with ads, and sites with affiliate links in Google's organic search results all the time. Often I see commercial results for searches that have a clear "informational" intent. It does seem strange that you and I are seeing such different results, but I guess that's personalization for you.
Getting back to the OP's question, it would be helpful to know what was meant by "some time ago." Did the 99%+ drop in referrals happen abruptly or gradually?
|I see e-commerce sites, sites with ads, and sites with affiliate links in Google's organic search results all the time. |
I see mostly Amazon listings and YouTube videos.
I think the OP just got an early Christmas present from Google. Many niches are now succumbing to Google's aggressive takeover of ecommerce.
Thanks for your input, guys. Not an e-commerce site, not strictly affiliate either though there are Adsense ads and an occasional Amazon affiliate link. No direct ad sales. Never actually "buit" links as such but has all sorts of backlinks, good and bad. The latter mostly from scrapers.
The searches were mostly "informational intent" or looking for a reference. Niche is arts and crafts (i.e. poor as a church mouse, not even all that much AdWords). 99% drop was gradual but the last remaining 100 UVs / day were "removed" in one large drop on November 1st, 2013.
Best I can tell, the KWs were not simply taken over by Amazon to help them close a great 4th quarter, I'm seeing that in other niches and something like that actually happened in 2012. This time around I see competitors still hanging in there, so the issue seems to be with the site itself.
Anyway, the question remains: do I approach this as a penalty or an algo change? And is there an difference anymore? With no manual action in GWT, what other venues are left to deal with an (apparent) penalty?
I saw the same thing about the same time 1script. Monetized with adsense and amazon links to my own ebooks on the same subject.
Bing and Yahoo are my top search referrers now. Google is 3rd. All I can say is I am glad I diversified over a year ago. Social, mailing list, and direct traffic are saving my bacon.
10,000 pages and 500 hits a day. Something tells me you have had a problem for some time. Do you have any back data on traffic say this same time last year for at least a month, and the year before that?
@bwnbwn: this is a good point, I also thought it was already low as it was. Best I can tell using the one last year of logs that I have (no tracking exited before, quite an oversight, only random compilations of monthly logs 2-3 times a year) I can surmise that the drop on Nov 1st is not something that happens every year. It definitely has the effect and feel of a penalty, except that it did not generate a "manual action" notice in GWT.
This brings me to yet another idea on this topic: if the penalty was very old, predating the recent changes with reconsideration requests and the manual notice actions in GWT, how would I let G know that I addressed the issue (let's pretend for a moment that I actually know what the issue is).
Did anyone ever resort to drastic measures like taking a site offline for a period of time to trigger a massive re-crawl? Any idea if something like that may actually work?
1script your telling me you have 10,000 pages and no tracking. Now I have to summarize here.
1 The pages are very thin. What use to work won't now (in most cases)
2 the pages are scrapped pages and you got busted.
Lets own up to the site, is it as I suspect or is it unique content?
Posting issues with a site and really not telling us what or how you obtained 10,000 pages is not a way to find the right road.
|Did anyone ever resort to drastic measures like taking a site offline for a period of time to trigger a massive re-crawl? Any idea if something like that may actually work? |
A friend of mine and I tried it as an experiment on a site of his that had tanked (and that he didn't have much use for) and after three or four months, didn't do a bit of good. It was like it had never been taken out at all - the same few pages had the same low rankings. Crawl picked up just where it left off.
@bwnbwn: it's a forum, so naturally, some of it is thin content - not much I can do about it. Outright spam is removed (hopefully all) but some of the borderline spam / useless / off-topic content is posted by otherwise important members and it's hard to police without alienating members. I'm sure every forum site in the world deals with the same issues.
When you use terms like "busted", you are already implicitly referring to a penalty. In other words, a penalty without a notice. I'm using this thread to poll other WebmasterWorld members to find out if it's normal for Google to dole out penalties without notices. I did not start this topic to moan about my site not ranking, I'm trying to find out how to go about fixing it. At this point I'm nowhere close to identifying the most likely reason, just trying to get some basics in order.
@netmeg: thanks for the tip! I thought it may be worth the try, looks like it isn't.
Is there in the forum signature links to websites?
Is there links posted to other sites in the actual post?
Have you or do you have a way to verify the links don't point to a bad domain or download if there are links allowed?
Of the 10,000 pages how many really carry good content that should rank?
Let's say 1000 do and 9000 are fluff. The ratio to good and fluff is out of wack and can be problematic to a website.
@bwnbwn: you are asking all great questions!
About a year ago I have turned off automatic conversion of URLs in text into proper html links. So, although there are great many URLs posted and some of those are probably of a dubious kind (anything that was obviously bad would have been removed with the post it's in) but these URLs are not links, they are just plain text.
Regarding ratio of good to fluff: what's a good definition of fluff? Is a very short, straight to the point, post fluff? How'bout a very long and winding discussion on the matter that has more to do with the last year's elections than the site's subject matter? If I knew what's fluff, I could come up with the ratio...
Take this page. This would be a good page because it talks about specific SEO issues that might be a searchable topic.
Fluff to me is a very short post about a off the wall topic that gets really no response, or a spammer trying to get a bite on a post that nobody goes for.