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The "Minus Thirty" Penalty - part 2

#1 yesterday and #31 today

     
1:49 am on Nov 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

Hello All.

After some time after my site was affected by the -30 penalty, and after reading the latest posts left after my last message I did some research on my own site and site of my competitor which was affected by this penalty in the same day with my site.
I'll try to summarize all of our latest thoughts on this topic and real data from our sites and SERPs.

1.

Even a few affiliate pages that go to those CJ, LS links. Remove them!

As I said earlier, my site is a 5-year old resource directory and consists of 5 pages.
Top ranked was always ONLY Index page. No other page was shown in top SERPs ever, and
this Index page was penalized.

The Index page has 84 links to external sites, 4 link to internal pages, and 9 links to affilliate sites.
The second content page has 161 links to external sites, 4 links to internal pages, and 0 affiliate links.
First Information page has links to 30 product pictures, 3 links to internal pages and 11 affiliate links.
Second Info page before penalty had links to same 30 product pictures as on the first page, 2 links to internal pages and 8 affiliate links. (To avoid dup. content issue I had yesterday replaced thease 30 links with links to other, different product pics).

Each and every link from our site, regular or affiliate is highly relevant to our site's subject and SE keywords, with no exceptions.

And after I had looked over all this data I see only two potentially thin affiliate pages on my site:
First and Second info pages. But honestly, I'm not sure can thease pages be classifyed as thin affiliate pages or not.

Okay, perhaps we found one potentially reason for -30 penalty, but IMHO it's not a reason.

2.

Excessive anchor text (using same anchor text) about 1000 times.

Which exactly anchor text? Anchor text on my site for outbound links or text of the links to our directory from oter sites?
If outbound links - there are only 2, maximum 3 combinations for each SK phrase in anchor text on the Index
page and 8 repetition of one of the main keyword for this phrase. (97 links total on the page).
Is this excessive anchor text? I'm absolutely not sure.

About inbound links - I don't think It can be the reason. If it could be, then I can downshift my competitors site in SERPS just if I'll add hundreds of links to his site from different pages on different domains. I don't think G can be so easily tricked.

So, my site is not overloaded with excessive anchor text, but it still penalized, so perhaps it's not the main reason for this type of penalty.

3.

Also, if there is in fact a -30 penalty that is manually applied, it could be something as
simple as - Writing a script to list all the top 15 sites for a previously specified selection of
search terms. (could be generated via another program, or by hand) Then, remove all sites that fall
into #*$!x parameters. (could be shopping cart based, or whatever. Pick your poison) The ones that
are left are used to fix the natural search... just in time for the shopping season I might add.

Not so simple. There are to many parameters. One site is about literature, other is about car tuning,
third is about history of art.
How to define what each surfer want to find? If I'm searching for "antique literature", it's does't mean
that I want to buy such books, maybe I'm looking for online texts or history of some books? If I
searching for "red cars" it doesn't mean that I want to buy them, perhaps I just want to find some
kind of online catalog of thease cars, or want to read about work process and how thease cars where
built. How can G knows what is inside of my head. If they run such algos, they incur to much, and finaly -
they can not make it just due to human nature. Of cource this is IMHO.

4.

>>>>>>>>But the content is not exactly what user may want to see.... like page made xyz-pictures
has no pictures in it instead it has content which say xyz-pictures etc.

And finally as I think very interesting idea.
As I said, our site is a DIRECTORY. It consists of descriptions and links to other sites higly relevant to our narrow subject. In other words, we actually do not have on our site "red cars", but we exactly know where they are, and surfer can easily find them in our directory. But our directory is all about "cars", we have info where to find "cars", we have links to sites only about "cars" e.g. site is highly relevant to this SK, BUT site hasn't "cars" on it, and perhaps this is the possible reason for penalty.
More, my competitors site which was penalized in the same day with my own site, is the Directory site too, with the same subject and the same "problem". It has only links to SK's, but not the SK's by
itself.

BUT. As I can see from current SERPS, there are enough directories with our subject left in top SERPS, and they are not penalized due to it's nature. So, the truth is out there..... :)

[edited by: tedster at 1:54 am (utc) on Nov. 14, 2006]

1:01 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Could the -30 be like the elusive sandbox - a side effect of an algo that Google seems to like?
1:06 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Is that whats happened to yours as well appi?
Check your url search it still comes up at 31 for us.

Also, here's my theory.
The penalty is manually applied. For it to take affect it has to hit the url and this will caused all other returns to appear at -31 and downwards.

Now it is being tweaked.

Having your url come up at anything less than number 1 in a search makes google look silly.

I'm starting to feel that we -31ers are like the survivors from oceanic 815 and matt et al are the others, sent to cause confusion and torture.

Do the people posting on this board that are affected by this penalty sound like spamers, or that childish term, black haters?
No, from all the posts I've read they are genuine good guys, with sites around for 5 years or more that suddenly have fallen foul of this nightmare.
Hence, I'm starting to think that the penalty would not occur due to an algo, but based on the views of an employee that has looked at various sites.
If this is the case, then it should proceed as it states in the spam report - "would you feel comfortable explaining to the webmaster...etc"
Again, if the above is correct then it would be polite to be notified.

1:15 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"Could the -30 be like the elusive sandbox - a side effect of an algo that Google seems to like?"

If it is then there has to be some commonality between the sites that trigger its wrath.
Somehow if that was the case there would be more posts on the subject.

1:57 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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yummybanas - you aint got the -31 penalty. You are just experiencing the usual DC and algotweak wind.

I have been studying every SEO forum for -31 tidbits for over 6 months. My feeling is that there is no real evidence to suspect that this penalty is manually applied. I imagine it being like a high-jump bar that is constantly adjusted by the Google search machinery. All the stuff they don't like are given a weighting score and all sites are given a total. If your site should reach this total you knock off the bar, and smash, down comes the hammer on your head.

Once you knock it off you are stuffed. To get the hammer off your head, some dude at G needs to get off his tosh and go put the bar back. This is a manual reinclusion, and is rare as a purple hen with 5 legs.

2:16 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So now we're going to have to breed purple mutant hen's as well as get back links!
4:53 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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appi2, gonna have to borrow that tin from you. I have the exact same theory.. at this point google staff, etc have seen the countless posts on this topic. To try to cover themselves and "try" to make it less obvious that the -31 penalty exists.. they are going to tweak it and make it shuffle now for a while.. making it -35 one day.. -45 the next.

This way they will try to break our common alliance apart rather than addressing the issue :(

Just a theory..

AND if indeed this -31 penalty is manual removed.. then god help us all. After 7 months.. having followed all guidelines to the letter.. multiple re-inclusions request.. and ZERO feedback or results.. what else is there?

Currently sitting at -33.. BUT THEY WILL NOT FOOL ME.. I am still stuck with the -31 penalty! :)

** I THINK IT'S DUE TIME WE GET SOMEONE FEEDBACK HERE FROM GOOGLE.. and not the regular.. FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES & SEND A RE-INCLUSION **

5:27 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Agree with that, AustrianOak. Their lack of communication is shambolic.

What makes me think they do possibly read this stuff is that for the first time in just over 3 months, mydomain.com has moved off its 31 position to 44 (I take a position reading every few days and record to a spreadsheet - I know it is sad).

So it may be just a DC / algo shift, or G are trying to muddy the water.

Whatever, as you say, to us it's still a -31 penalty!

5:43 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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danger..

perhaps it might be an algo change as you say, but I tend to lean towars the muddying the water theory.

And hey.. it's far from sad to check your site results. I probably check the -31 domain search half a dozen times a day. Perhaps it's the little bit in each of us that hope that it will be fixed on of these times we hit enter..

8:50 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I've started to ask some questions about this on google groups.
Its been suggested the number of links on a page might be a problem, max is supposed to be a hundred - I can't see that being it.

Anyone going to that pubcon?
If you are can you ask the google guys and girls what the minus thirty thing is all about?

9:15 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I had the -31 but only for a short while changed URL's after a couple of months.

But looking at what could/may/guess have been wrong back then (April). Did a site update (same content/products was just cleaning up bits n bobs getting html css valid) and ended up with..

Duplicate title tags:
Doh used same page design as a template and forgot to update the title tag.

Use of title="" in the <a href links:
As soon as I found the title tag showed on mouse overs in both IE & FF, I added it to most links to show extra info. Handy where the design couldn't fit in the full link description. Never considered it could be seen as keyword stuffing, just thought thats handy! Re-thought after site tanked.)

Affiliate links: Made a small aff directory on the site. Figured if search engines are sending traffic from daft queries, give the user the option of looking for other products without leaving the site. Plus "if you can't beat em join em!"
Never had problems with landing page quality or price increases, even when many at that time were crying of evil G. When the site was -31 Adwords still ticked along happily!

So the new url doesn't have any affiliate links, no use of <a href="" title="" (even though I think it would be handy for a user). Unique <title tags. No adsense mwhhhhaaa ha ha.

Ranks #1 for its domain and some other keywords. No longer ranks for the widgets keyword products I produce. No longer gets customers. woo hoo.

going off topic: why? "No longer ranks for the widgets keyword."

Old domain businessname.co.uk new domain productnamewidgets.com

Did a whole site search and replace for businessname and replaced with productnamewidgets which is now the new businessname.

Guessing google just saw increase of widgets in the content and said 'oh no you dont'. Solved that problem though now.... Stopped looking at Google serps ;)

Back ontopic. Why haven't any of you just gone and done something similar to what your doing now with another domain? Its a hell of a long time to be having a site that doesnt rank < 31. (yes I know you shouldn't have too etc). Just asking. There just has to be a reason for something being wrong.

ps
not seen -31 mentioned on any other forums. Or rather I saw it mentioned on one. The reply was thats BS no such thing.

9:42 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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avalanche, I've check and many of the sites above me usually have 100+ links on their main pages.. some even have 250+, so that can't be an issue.
9:46 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yeah,
I posted the results I foundover at google groups - I've come across someone over there who is right about everything!

You can read it at google groups for webmasters, do a search for -31 penalty.

Appi, our business is completely tied into the site so the thought of having to do another one is a little difficult, not impossible though.
6 years of work etc, you know the score.

9:49 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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appi, nice post!

So basically you forwarded the old (penalized) domain to a new one?

I'd love to start a new site.. but chances are that starting from scratch in a competitive area, getting new links, sandbox, etc, it can take years if ever.

Most of us on here seem to have site 5+ years old, established, ranking well for years.. we'd rather not throw them away.

I also hope that someone at the PubCon brings up this issues and perhaps we'll get some hope.

10:18 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Use of title="" in the <a href links:
As soon as I found the title tag showed on mouse overs in both IE & FF, I added it to most links to show extra info. Handy where the design couldn't fit in the full link description. Never considered it could be seen as keyword stuffing, just thought thats handy! Re-thought after site tanked.)

In this forum was a discussion, that the <a href title is not used by Google. I improved my navigation in May with big <a href titles.

Special for the main theme in directories, there are many up to 10 lines long title tags with the head lines of all pages in this directory.

10:21 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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avalance, found your thread over at google boards. That one guys sure is a character :)
10:47 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I know, fairplay he did respond and at the moment any and all contributions are welcome.
I feel like we're a bit out in the wilderness.

I also feel a little guilty posting this much, as the site hasn't really had any major problems, just the usual ups and downs with G, disappeared once but came back pretty soon.

I suppose its in times like these that you reach out more, human nature.

No one wants to discuss it apart from those affected, I'm sure most who read the posts think we're guilty of something.

10:48 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I've been #3 for a few months.
Last night, -31.
Today, -15
Right now, back to #3.

Could someone explain this madness?

I'm now #10. Looks like it's staying that way. From #3 to #10 in one day.

Recent changes:

- site has gone viral on forum, acquired many links on forums (most of them have low PR).
- changed page title.
- haven't prayed lately.

Is this the beginning of -31?

11:06 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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yummybanas,
To be honest it sounds like normal flux to me.
Our site ranked say between 1 to 10 for around 30 keyword searches for about 5 years, then literally within a minute it went to 31 for all searches we ranked well for as well as a URL search.
We can see this change from the log stats.
We're making up for the loss in MSN and yahoo now.

Do a search in google for your URL: if it ranks number one (which it should) then all is well for you.
If thats the case it will be a case of looking at your competitors and seeing what they have done to start outranking you.

11:15 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Do a search in google for your URL: if it ranks number one (which it should) then all is well for you.

What do you mean with that quote? My homepage doens't rank no°1 for the last 3 months with my url search, and I also last a lot of Google treffic since then. I really try to understand whtas wrong .

11:24 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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foodstyling, what position does your website appear when you put in "domain" in to google search.

Up until a few days ago.. we all ranked on spot #31.

That is the -30 penalty.

Recently google has been shuffling the results from high 20's to the 40's even. This may be a flux or they are trying to disperse the collective and look the other way. Time will tell.

11:50 pm on Nov 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Heh.

As I see, today my site and similar competitors site, have been simultaneously moved from 31 to 35 position for all search keywords for which just yesterday we both were on 31 positions.
If this movement was noticed only for my site, I could think that it's just another data refresh and regular movement in SERPs. But when 2 different penalized sites both moved from 31 to 35 position for "domain name" and other search keywords - It's definitely the system. It's the next proof of that G feels uncomfortably in this situation and trying to play with SERP's instead of turning the person to webmasters and talk to them. Very sadly.

Ha-ha.
Just noticed. For some SK's we both are jumping to 41 position. It's really funny how G is trying to create visibility that -31 penalty does not exist. :))
Google - we aren't a kids. What for this silly games?

[edited by: AndrewSlk at 11:59 pm (utc) on Nov. 16, 2006]

12:19 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Well no matter what.. it's the -30 penalty.. no matter how they try to mask it.

How about anyone for crawling recently? I had googlebot grab aprox 4000 pages the other day.. which is higher than my total pages in existance.. perhaps they are taking another look at my page.. perhaps it's just a random crawling spurt.

Anyone else?

12:21 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How's the toolbar PR for the rest of you -31 guys? I'm a PR0.
12:28 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How's the toolbar PR for the rest of you -31 guys? I'm a PR0.

Our PR=4.

12:32 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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How about anyone for crawling recently? I had googlebot grab aprox 4000 pages the other day.. which is higher than my total pages in existance.. perhaps they are taking another look at my page.. perhaps it's just a random crawling spurt.

Anyone else?

Hard to say. We have only 5 pages so it's not so easy to see.

12:44 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Was PR6 mid 2005.. then settled at PR5.. and since about 2-3 months ago.. going back and forth on PR4 - PR5 every hour.. and I mean.. IT CHANGES EVERY HOUR.. not sure if that's a sign of anything?

[edited by: AustrianOak at 12:46 am (utc) on Nov. 17, 2006]

1:14 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Right now its PR7, but it has been fluctuating between 7 and 6 for a couple of months.
31 affect started 2 weeks ago.
Hope this helps.
1:15 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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When was the last time your site(s) were spidered?
Ours used to be daily, now showing nov 11th for last time it was spidered.

Re: moving results around from -30 downwards:
A search for domain name showing anything less than first place is the acid test.
I have a suggestion, put those affect by the -30 filter to number 1 for all their search terms, then we won't know it exists!

5:21 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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avalanche101
You are right. I had 400+ hits day before yesterday and 175 yesterday. Today I got only 70. All my rankings have dropped to nowhere. When I search by my domain name in google, the site is nowhere to be found.

Leo

7:48 am on Nov 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I can confirm the switch to something other than -30...I am now at 42, yet, ironically I have gotten a few more Google visitors today (still less than 0.5% of normal traffic)

Let it go google. Please...?

This 151 message thread spans 6 pages: 151