diberry - 4:06 pm on Jul 6, 2012 (gmt 0)
Robert Charlton, re: self-critical mode, I'm in it, and I'm not "blaming" Google, just trying to find the disconnect between my intent and its perception of me as a spammer (IF that's what Penguin necessarily means). I WANT to know if I'm making mistakes, so I can stop making themand make more money instead. :)
Answering your questions re: my 301 redirects.
--I had 10-15 301s altogether, some of which I deleted once I was no longer seeing traffic to the old URL. (More below.)
--The vast majority were one page redirected to another page. There may possibly have been a single case of two pages redirecting to one, I can't remember for sure.
The way it came about was this:
I was deleting hundreds of pages because they either weren't great quality or they weren't so relevant to the site's niche (when I started this site, I didn't really have a plan). I was also rewriting a lot of pages to improve them.
But now and again, I'd realize I had two pages where one nearly duped the other. Say, I had a page on cleaning, painting and sanding widgets, and another page that went into great depth on painting widgets. In hindsight, this struck me as sloppy and potentially irritating to users, so I incorporated the in-depth painting details into the more comprehensive page, and redirected. Because I wasn't thinking about SEO, I did not check inbounds for those pages. I just made sure they were getting enough traffic - typically all from search or social media, going by my stats - to warrant a redirect at all.
And then I deleted the 301s as soon as I saw the old URLs weren't getting more than a handful of hits, and the new ones had "taken" in SEs and social media.
Now, you ask if I may have been seen as making too many optimizations. You're right, that is my preferred theory, though I'm totally open to others. I can see how some of the actions I took with the intent of improving the site for visitors could bluntly match actions "aggressive SEOs" take.
Another theory of mine, which I don't think I've voiced before, is that the mysterious reason those mediocre pages were ranking so well had to do with some spam-like tactic I was unintentionally doing by copying competitors.
I'm not "blaming" Google. I have long believed that the algo just can't be perfect, so you will always have some crap sites doing well and good sites getting buried, and maybe my site has been both at different times! That's why I chose to focus strictly on building for people, and developing other traffic sources. I just find it ironic that a penalty described as being against spammers can nab a site run by someone who was deliberately ignoring SEO and focusing strictly on visitors.