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The "Minus Thirty" Penalty - part 4

#1 yesterday and #31 today

11:56 pm on Nov 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

<continued from: [webmasterworld.com...] >
< part one: [webmasterworld.com...] >

Well, fellows, what can I say.

As you remember, my site (www.mysite.com) was in -30 penalty,
and also there was my competitor's site (www.my-site.com) which also were hit by the same penalty. 2 weeks ago BOTH of our sites, in the same day returned to #1 pos for domain name search and restored high positions for other serch terms as they were before -30.

But few days ago (perhaps after recent data refresh), again, BOTH of our sites have lost high positions in SERPs and now they both in -30 penalty again.

What can I say. During period of my -30 depression, I checked and rechecked all my outbound links for its relevance and availability, I have counted all links on the pages and was made "no more then 100 links per page", I removed those few duplicated links to the same URLs but with different anchor text, all other work was done long time ago, (removing duplicate content, cleaning HTML, removing text with font size smaller than "2" and so on).
But when my site lost it rank again, I didn't do anything, my site's cache on Google now is the same as it was before penalty, and I think, -30 has much more off-site reasons than on-site.

Someone here, after analysing sites affected by -30 penalty told, that there was 2 different sites with the same names in meta description. I think it's interesting, because my site and my competitors site has URLs www.mysite.com & www.my-site.com BUT in meta names both sites has first word - "Mysite" and it looks like - "Mysite - bla-bla-bla-bla...description"
Perhaps, both our sites are the reasons for each other's penalty. I'm not sure, but who knows.

[edited by: tedster at 3:49 pm (utc) on April 5, 2007]

7:58 pm on Dec 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


"I believe that Google is the only search engine that will confirm to webmasters that their site does have penalties. No, we don’t confirm penalties if we think it might clue in web spammers that they’ve been caught. But yes, we do try to confirm penalties if we think a site is legitimate or has been hacked. You can read more about how we confirm penalties in this previous post."

But what if they are wrong? Nothing is 100%. What if they assume that the site is not legitmate or is spamming when the opposite is the case. I believe that after say 3 or even 6 months of a penalty.. and there is evidence that the user has explained him/herself in reinclusions, that the user has done everything in their power to fix things that they have no idea are even broken in the first place, etc, etc. THEN there should be communication instead of further accusation.

My two cents :)

8:31 pm on Dec 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Austrian Oak, I could not agree more (as I have said in this forum before). Next week I will celebrate :(( my one year anniversary of the penalty. And Google has not notified me of anything.

I reiterate that I have fixed everything that could even have been marginally perceived as spam or whatever. To my knowledge I have done nothing wrong, although I acknowledge that we have found and corrected several things the outside programming firm I hired last fall screwed up. But we should not continue to be penalized because of outside forces, especially now since all their crappy work has been deleted.

If Google had just taken the time to notify me of what they found offensive, it would have been rectified within minutes. Now if that isn't the statement of a "legitimate" website owner, I don't know what is.

10:29 pm on Dec 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The silence on this is deafening.

It makes me wonder if they did comment on it it really would have a serious impact on how the algo works and could be seriously compromised.

The other alternative is that it isn't in fact a penalty, but some facit of the algo that produces these spurrious results under certain special circumstances - of course all we want to know is how to make things go back to the way they were, i.e to start with ranking number 1 for a domain search and then ultimately enjoy the very high rankings we once did.

I think at some stage someone from google with comment on this in a more constructive manner as the "problem" does appear to be increasing.
This is either due to webmasters only now noticing this due to the air of publicity we have been giving it, or that it is spreading/being more widely used.

2:28 pm on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Another update...

I checked the Alexa ranking for the site that seems to have come out of the -31 penalty last week. Here it is:

1 wk. Avg. 396,045
3 mos. Avg. 1,173,035

Reach per million:
1 wk. Avg 2
3 mos. Avg 0.6

Page Views per user:
1 wk. Avg. 12.2
3 mos. Avg. 5.1

It's amazing how much the effort over the past month and the reinclusion request have changed this websites outlook. I just wish I knew exactly how to fix several other sites without overdoing it. My second site seems to be suffering from under-optimization after the changes and reinclusion request. I'm a bit timid to reinstall anything such as keyword laced internal links...

It does feel good to know the sites are apparently free of this issue.

4:45 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

James45, good to hear that your one site has made it out. I hope to join you one day.. starting to seem like a needle in a haystack though.

avalanche101, anything? Still nothing here since my last re-inclusion request and basically the final change I could have done to my site.

Anyone seeing any movement?

6:33 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I am still waiting for goog to process the "noindex" pages. I even used the automatic remove tool for many pages. While I am confident that I will pass a manual inspection I will wait till I add one more feature.

Of course it would be great if Goog processed the changes fast enough--assuming they are adequate :)

A really rarely updated site is doign so much better for me. I'm totally surprised, so I started to update it.

Good luck to all

11:06 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi people, no nothing here.
I was hoping as people hadn't posted for a couple of days you had good news.
I have filed that re-inclusion request, I should imagine it will take them several days to get round to reading it.
In the meantime we have removed an rss info feed that was on several pages as it was displaying the same info - possible non unique page problem?
11:51 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've had a quick scan of the other boards and there is no news on this elsewhere either.

Funny to see them all refering to this thread though!
Didn't realise WebmasterWorld was such a big cheese, but there again the info on here is first rate and the members are a lot more civil than elsewhere.

Anybody got any other ideas as to what could be at the route of this penalty?

12:17 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm not sure if I've been penalised, banned or something like it but last month I was on the first page of SERPS for a few terms, then dropped completely, then last week went back to the first page but only for a couple of days - now I'm nowhere for those terms again.

Where can I find the reinclusion request form? It's not where it says on Google Webmaster tools?

Many thanks

12:41 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The reinclusion form is under +Tools in the top right corner of the Webmaster Tools page. It is in the drop down menu.

Please note this kernel from Adam:

"...We don't accept completely anonymous reinclusion requests; everyone who submits a request does so now through our Webmaster Tools (when they're logged in). Basically, there's no harm in filling one out if you feel your site's presence or ranking in Google has been adjusted due to guideline violations..."

[edited by: jwc2349 at 12:42 pm (utc) on Dec. 7, 2006]

12:41 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi Brett,
do a search for your domain name ie www.domainname.com on g and see if it comes up in first place.

Do you have a sitemaps account?

1:03 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi Avalance,

Yes it does come up in first place and yes I do have a sitemaps account but I don't currently have a sitemap uploaded.


1:12 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well, you definetly do not have the minus 30 penalty.

If you upload a site map, on the page in sitemaps that shows your sitemap there is a dropdown list on the right, from which you can select to enter a re-inclusion request. (this reminds me of my tech support days - "its over there next to the icon at the top of the page under the logo, near the nav menu...." ha!)

Although it sounds to me that you do not need to.

7:17 pm on Dec 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Anyone come out of this in the last couple of days?
Any changes?
10:43 pm on Dec 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Nothing here.. same depressing curse. When I first heard of people in 14, 15+ months in this I used to think no way this is possible.. now it just seems a matter of time.

Seasons greetings google.

11:07 pm on Dec 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


When did you file the re-inclusion request?
I think it takes a couple of weeks to see any responce.

11:43 pm on Dec 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Penalty since august 11. Reinclusion request 8 weeks ago.
Nothing happens. Meanwhile ranking drops to -40.
Economic situation change to critical level. 3 of my 4 Sites are penalized. No way out. No answer from google. Page Rank rises from 3 to 4. All sites are well listed for years, before august 11.
1:53 am on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

avalanche101, around November 30th I think.. so about 9-10 days so far.

[edited by: AustrianOak at 1:54 am (utc) on Dec. 10, 2006]

1:53 pm on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Have you been through the checklist:
1) No duplicate content
2) No linking to "bad neighbourhoods" - I think this can be seen by checking the site but also doing a url search of the site you link to, to see if it comes up less than no1.

Forgive me if the above is tedious, you probably have been through them, like me.

If there are other possible causes could you list them?

There has to be a rational cause for this.

Also, I think its more wide spread than people think. (see recent posts of people dropping)
I have done several searches and found many many sites than are not ranking number 1 for their URL - they aren't -31 yet, most are between 10 and 20. But they are not ranking for all of the keyowrds you can see they are chasing, just a few now.
So because they do rank for a few keywords they probably don't realise that something is going on.
Thinking back to Nov 3 when we got hit, for a week prior we slipped a little on a range of keywords. Maybe if we had done a domain search we would have seen the same effect - slipping down to -10, -20 for domain.
Our domain search results in anything between -28 and -44 at the moment.

2:59 pm on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


yes I have gone over those two items. In regards to my links out.. my links page still has a cache of March. So therefore Google is still using my old links page that DID have some bad outgoing links on it. Seems that there are quite a bit of pages for me that are cached March and early April (right before my hit on April 26th).

Any progress for you?

3:40 pm on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

None so far.

However for you, would it be possible to submit another re-inclusion request and mention the links page.
If you have removed the bad links it would be very unfair for you to be penalised because they haven't updated the cache and therefore think you are still linking to bad neighbourhoods.

As mutt cutts said, submitting re-inclusion requests can't hurt.

Time to check the cache on our bad links.

4:22 pm on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, I actually mentioned this in my last re-inclusion request, along with a dozen or so list of things I have done to try to find the cause of this penalty since April. I will perhaps write another re-inclusion stating just the links page and it's 8 month old cache even though it's been updated monthly.

Here goes again! :)

4:25 pm on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One common trait I have found is that I either have up-to-date caches of within a week or two of today.. OR they are all about a month or so BEFORE the hit / penalty of my site.. (April 26th)

I have gone over all those pages with the old cache and tried to find differences between those sites and ones that get current-recent cache dates and there is none. I have made sure that all the old cached pages do pass the 'checklist' that people have been putting together about the penalty

Might be a coincidence.. might be some pattern.. only sure thing is right now I am sitting in the spot #56 :)

6:13 pm on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I wonder if its worth putting a do not spider thing on those pages?
Let them drop off to oblivion.
Do you know what I mean?
7:12 pm on Dec 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

A case in point about this becoming more widespread:
"Even my domain name got spanked. It's now sitting on page 3 (29th)."
From posts regarding dec 7th sudden drop in rankings.
8:06 pm on Dec 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

AustrianOak and everyone else affected by this, if you do an inurl:domain name.com search are you getting your own pages listed or are there a few that aren't on your server getting listed?

I've just tried this and there are a few others that aren't ours and when you clikc on the link you get re-directed straight to our site, even if you click on the google cached link.

10:10 pm on Dec 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I just went through all 100 pages available in Google and all the links are mine.

Also, Wednesday is the first anniversary of my minus 30 penalty, so please light a candle for me. That appears to be the only light that will be shone on this mysterious penalty.

10:29 am on Dec 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We have escaped the "Minus Thirty" penalty - we hope! A week has passed since re-gaining page 1 rankings - so fingers crossed. We have been affected since 1st week of August 2006.

Intro: we have a number of property web sites using the same database so there was some duplication of property between them.

We tried to remove duplicate content almost immediately and filed a re-inclusion request but with no success.

Read all the forums, our site even got a comment on Matt Cutts blog. Looked for common themes of "minus 30" penalty....

So we took the following steps:
a) A complete re-write of the web site (including siloing and LSI principles) - making sure that title tags were unique, almost eliminating all links to our other property web sites (in case they thought we were spamming), and used robots.txt to stop indexing of pages that might be construed as duplicate content (rss news feeds, blog feeds), add new unique content. Use re-directs in .htaccess for old pages. Create new site-map; submit to Google.

b) On our regional property web sites we implemented robots.txt to prevent indexing of duplicate properties, and removed site-wide links to the main property site.

c) 2nd re-inclusion request

Within 24 hours - back to page 1!

Just hope it holds now!

As a side issue, it certainly focussed our attention on looking at other issues, such as - once we get a visitor to the web site: can they find the information they need, can they contact us easily; ie try harder to get the client on board! We also looked at Adwords - we implemented conversion tracking. We looked at the other Search Engines and how we could improve rankings in the alternative SEs.

Hope this might help other webmasters.

Good luck.

3:11 pm on Dec 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Thank you for posting, you have given us all hope.

3:18 pm on Dec 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wow.. congrats!
This 169 message thread spans 6 pages: 169

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