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The "Minus Thirty" Penalty - part 5

#1 yesterday and #31 today



3:30 pm on Jan 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

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

Still penalized for 56 consecutive weeks now. Domain name search swings between 33-45. However, sadly the targeted search terms I follow so closely and ranked #1 for almost all of 2005, now turn up from #283 to #950. This occurred last Friday. They used to be in the same #31-#45 spot.

We have followed everything Adam has pontificated about:

1) make your site squeakly clean. We did. On November 20 we ditched all the crap the hired programmers put up last year which apparently triggered the penalty.
2) provide unique and compelling content. 78,000 new, unique content pages in the past 21 days! Site is now 95% new, unique content--something Google says they love.
3) ask yourself this question: "...why would someone choose my site over others in the same field..." That is an easy one. We provide a unique visual search method. So we are definitely not run of the mill.
4) then file a reinclusion request. Filed on 12/14/06.
5) et al

But Adam also stated: "... it would be extremely rare for a site to be penalized for years..." Looks like we may be that extremely rare occurrence.

FYI, Google continues to crawl aggressively and has since October 5.

Lastly, while Google says that they listen to webmasters and provide communication via their webmaster central and notify webmasters of reasons for penalties or impending penalties, they can't hold a candle to MSN.

I notified MSN in August that I thought I had been unfairly penalized. They answered back in about 10 days stating that I was right, that I had indeed been unfairly penalized and that I would be seeing a return to the serps in a couple of weeks.

They lived up to their word. I did return to their index and guess where I rank and have ranked for months for my targeted search terms. #1, #2, #3 or at least page 1 or 2 for all my targeted search terms (such as <edited>). The SAME EXACT search terms I used to rank #1 for in Google.

Makes you wonder how much Google really does care about correcting an apparent error. Sure doesn't seem like they live up to their promises of communication. Heck even convicted murderers come up for a parole hearing every few years.

<Sorry, no specific search terms.
See Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com]>

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


4:52 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Hi guys,

Coming back to this thread after some prolonged denial about the issue. Most of my sites are plagued by now and I've just moved on to develop other sites only to realize that the penalty gets applied to the new ones almost immediately. Still not sure what's causing the new sites to fall (except maybe the same C-class IPs as the older affected ones). No links from old sites to new, mostly different themes, just the same server.

Anyways, re-inclusion request has been frequently mentioned in this thread. I have submitted one 4 months ago, obviously no result. But I am wondering what other people are admitting to when they are submitting the re-inclusion request. Well, you know, that weird detail about Google's re-inclusion request that you ought to admit to some wrong-doing? So, what did you guys admit to, especially those of you that got out of this trouble? I'm most curious.

Also, talking about the re-inclusion request: I cannot find it on WMT pages anymore. Does anyone have a link by chance?


5:36 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


You have to log into your WMT (aka Google Sitemap) account first. You will then find +Tools on the right top side of the page. The reinclusion request is in the drop down menu.

Adam stated in an earlier post that reinclusion requests were only available for those logging into the WMT accounts. That is how Google qualifies that as a "trustworthy" reinclusion request.

Good luck man!



5:48 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Google is dinging you for being an affiliate type of site..."

You are right on the money. That is the conclusion I came to about 2 weeks ago and it was confirmed by Matt Cutts in his post.

The Florida update in November 2003 wiped out the first round of affiliates (amazon type affiliates). Now it appears that Google is at war with hotel affiliates. And honestly, I can see why because we do feed of the same crap from the GDS for the most part. There really is no viable alternative. See softplus' outstanding comments in the Google Groups post I referred to earlier this morning.

However, since my "front end" visual search mapping is unique, compelling content (whether one likes it or not) that both Matt and Adam demand, IMHO I should not be penalized. Especially for 57 weeks now!

If they want to wipe out hotel affiliates, that is one thing. But to wipe out the business of someone who does indeed provide a least some method of uniqueness is completely biased.


6:01 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


thanks for the tip about the reinclusion. That's where they hid it! :)

Anyways, regarding your firm belief that being an affiliate site triggers the penalty, I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in:

None of my affected site are what you'd call a 'thin affiliate' site. Well, except, of course, affiliate of Google themselves because of AdSense. All affected site are different in the amount of ads they have. Some really do have excessive amount of AdSense, and some don't. One affected site does not have ads at all! As a matter of fact, my largest site that got hit causing me most grief has the subtlest AdSense of them all AND it is used to sell our own very unique product. So, no, I don't think affiliates are what triggers it. Maybe some common feature of affiliate sites, but not the sole fact that they are affiliates. Hope it makes sense.
Good luck!


6:12 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Google has no more love for affiliates and will continue to downgrade them regardless of unique content. You might want to devote your time and energy in other places or building a different type of site.


6:57 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Yes it appears to indeed be the case. Do you think even just linking to an affiliate type of page, as part of the site, would cause issues as well as opposed to rehashing a feed?


7:59 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

hey fellow 4th pagers,

my site was hit with a penalty at the end of december, not sure of the exact date because of all the other stuff going on around the holidays. I figured that it was pushed to the 4th page for site:command because it was a relatively new site and did have "some" affiliate links. I removed basically all the affiliate links. I would say that it conforms to google's webmaster guidelines. Last week i submitted a lenghty reinclusion request and sat back to wait. Yesterday morning I was surprised to see all traffic and rankings were restored to the prepenalties days. This lasted till around noon eastern US time when my site immediately was thrown to page 6. Was this just a dance/refresh or was the previous penalty lifted for 2 days and then it was hit with another?

any ideas,


8:24 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

congrats. I am waiting for mine to be acted upon. I hope they click the "Let it go" checkbox :). Does anyone know what to look for in the raw logs to see if they actually visited the site or not? Google.com as string?

IMO, Google seems to have it for affil sites, but only for those that slap a merchant issued paragraph and an affiliate link....or the (Insert city) keyword types. I hope I am wrong. Shopping.com type sites all are affiliates, yet they rank high because of "value added" stuff.

Did any of you guys get out automatically this January update?


8:29 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I would not link to an affiliate at all. Google is more than likely not counting the links and might even be penalizing now. The days of the affiliates are over with, both Adam and Matt commented on this last month.

That is a big reason why googles index is shrinking! Affiliates are disappearing. Think about it, affiates and feeds are basically duplicate content!


10:02 pm on Jan 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"The days of the affiliates are over with"

Far from the truth. Yes they are shrinking but I just tried a search for a product and out of the first 50 links, 18 were affiliate (2 on page 1).

The days of the "thin" Affiliate is over, that I agree with. It will stop the thousands of people who build template or "cookie cutter" pages and expect to make a quick buck.


11:28 am on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Who dares take up this suggestion (applies to -31 penalised sites with affiliate links):

Remove ALL affiliate links on ALL pages of your site.

Submit reinclusion request.


So you may lose revenue from non-Google sourced traffic for a while.
But if it brings you back in, worth it? If successful, maybe then re-introduce lower level of affiliate links.

If I summon enough courage, will let you know results.


11:45 am on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I did check your comment on Matt Cutts, I did a search for your domainname.com in Google - and you came up first! I am doing the
search for Sweden, but from here - no penalaty.

Maybe it is lifted?


1:59 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

that is dangerous :).

1. You remove links, goog welcomes you (maybe the links weren't it) you add links back.
2. You get caught again in something else, submit second re-inclusion, you're toast.

Personally, I can't do that. I added 2-3 new cool, unique and needed features and I think it easily passes the "smell test," affiliate links and all. Suppose you have a travel related site, and you tell people that Hilton or The Palza is having a "Get a Free night when you book 4" special. If people find it useful, Goog does not care (or shouldn't care) that you are getting paid IMO. The prob is when you have:
"Find the best {insert City} hotels and motel in the {insert state} here" repeated on 100,000 pages with no real content. Essentially, aff links aren't the problem, content and it's usefullnes is.

Seems like JWC's site came back, it's ranking for name and name.com. Congrats.


2:16 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

If your making money from the affiate links, it would be a tough call.

May be you should remove the ones that make you no money first.....

Tough call.


2:46 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

All that you guys said about thin affiliates makes sense and yet I would say it is not the actual fact of being an affiliate that matters, it must be the fact that this same content appears on many other sites (duplicates).

And even then it would not encompass all the reasons for the penalty because my main site that's hit with the penalty has thousands of unique content pages accumulated over the 8 years that the site's operational and thousands upon thousands of relevant backlinks (of course only visible on Y! 'cause G hides all the important backlinks).

The only thing I can think of is that the site (VERY technical in nature) still has very basic 1998-ish design which probably did not appeal to a human reviewer that Google unleashed upon it. MFA sites also tend to have very basic design and so I think that the reviewer did not care to actually read what the site's about and maybe spent less than a minute on the site before hitting the "spam" button thinking he/she just found a nice example of an MFA site.


2:53 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Agree it is a drastic tactic. However in those situations where 95%+ of business came via Google natural search and now all business is gone, save for the last 5%, it might be worth testing. Especially where the webmaster has an otherwise squeaky-clean site (with extra 3rd party verification from oher SEO's).

Maybe a variation could be to just remove those 'well-known' affiliate links. I am talking TradeDoubler, CJ etc. My first move is to remove Yahoo partner links, although there are only a couple on every page. I have come to the conclusion that Google may well not like YSM affiliation.


3:32 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Affiliate content is the problem then not the links.


3:38 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

jwc2349 is no longer under the penalty! You must be so happy!



4:11 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

ante99 & austrian oak:

You are right. As of this morning (and as of right now) I am no longer under the -30 penalty. It just happened this morning and I caught it only about 4 hours ago. I have been too busy praising the Lord to celebrate.

And the good news is, my targeted search terms are also appearing from #5 to the second page. I really haven't had time to check too many of them but these are all great developments.

I will elaborate more with specifics when I can find time. In the meantime read my post from yesterday morning, Matt's comments back to me from his blog, and the Google groups post, especially the post from softplus. That guy is sharp, very analytical, and hit the nail on the head.

You can also feel confident that Matt Cutts and the other Googlers do indeed care after all. After 13 months and 3 days I really wondered.

Good luck -30 penalty sufferers! May God bless you all.


[edited by: jwc2349 at 4:29 pm (utc) on Jan. 16, 2007]


4:19 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

HOLD the PHONE....

I have been experiencing a recovery!

My site(s) have been virtually MIA since April 2006 and I have finally seen some recovery over the last several days.

Out of the 11 sites I have had effected - 10 have seen vast improvements. The ONE notible thing between those 'recovered' and the one that has NOT - was that the 10 recovered sites were ALL heavily spidered on Jan 6th - the one was not.

What I suspect caused the big change?
I added a few additional 'high-powered' links pointing to the sites!

YES, I made changes to the sites BUT the changes were NOT even across all of them. IN FACT - I had made the change for internal linking back to the home page from index.htm to / back in Sept BUT missed an important link in the header of all but one of the sites completely (I made that correction this morning).

NOTE: I have NEVER filed a 'request for reinclusion' form.

11 sites total Google hits -(the avg has been in the 20s since June)
1/07/2007 - 27
1/08/2007 - 68
1/09/2007 - 65
1/10/2007 - 64
1/11/2007 - 54
1/12/2007 - 45
1/13/2007 - 32
1/14/2007 - 546
1/15/2007 - 949

Try adding one or two High PR, relevant (topic wise)links pointing to your site.



4:21 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I join you in Praising the Lord!



4:31 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

far too soon to be shouting about it......


4:42 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

jwc2349.. I am so happy for you! I hope it stays.. odds are it will. We've been going back and forth on these boards so long it's nice to see you guys pop back into the index and out of the penalty. I hope I can join you guys.. hope hope hope! Am I the longest lasting one left now? Since you are out. I got penalized late April.

[edited by: AustrianOak at 4:42 pm (utc) on Jan. 16, 2007]


4:45 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


far too soon to be shouting about it......

Who are you addressing?


5:32 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well done - I am happy for you. At last some evidence that perseverance may actually pay off!

Glad to hear your traffic is on the rise! If I remember rightly your main site was never actually hit with the -31 penalty as your domain was still at No.1. So maybe you are benefiting from a Google algo shift enhanced by your good links work? (as opposed to having a penalty lifted)


7:25 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


When I originally posted in this thread, my main page came up in position #28 or #29 in a site:

As I never optimized any of the sites for ANY particular keywords/phrases, and traffic came totally from long tail searches - I had no "keyword/keywords" to test for the -31 penalty.

The main page to my site was buried from July 27th until August 12th.

Google Traffic to my main site:
July 26th - 152
July 27th - 3

Cumulative Traffic to all 11 sites:
July 26th - 375
July 27th - 37

My Traffic has NEVER returned since that time! (until the other day)

July 27th was the second hit the sites took - the first was April 27th.

Google Traffic to my main site:
April 27th - 433
April 28th - 101

Cumulative Traffic to all 11 sites:
April 27th - 2509
April 28th - 488

Traffic to main site: 317
Cumulative Traffic to all 11 sites: 949



8:48 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Can anyone here give an officicial definition of "thin affiliate" and "affiliate". Probally can not find that here. Plus Google will never give a definition due to trade secrets.

I imagine it has more to do with content than anything else. Overall look at your sites and determine original and unique content verse duplicated content such as descriptions and feeds and come up with some sort of percentage and see where your at.

I would say sites that have 50% or more of duplicated content are getting hit a lot harder than site that have only 10% of duplicated content.

I personally have no issues what so ever with affiliates and I think there is still a huge niche out there for you. Especially affiliates who have product reviews on their sites that are wrote by users.


9:17 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

what's the turn around time for Goog review of reinclusion requests? I sumbitted mine either Friday or Saturday and I am just wondering...


9:43 pm on Jan 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

walkman, I've seen it from 3 weeks to less than a day to doing nothing and getting back.

I would say it's a safe bet if you're not back in a month try again.


1:13 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I wasn't hit by -30 but seeing it's a real "problem", maybe I could contribute somehow.
Actually some earlier Google patents provoked this reaction.

Maybe it's not penalty at all.
It seems that "the rest of the results" begins from position 31. And it is known that most users doing searching don't go further than three pages of results.
I wonder how many sites hit are really (I mean really) authorithies in their niches?
Could it be that, for some competitive terms, Google incorporated "interconnectivity of the document within a set of relevant documents" or any other similar strategy where real niche authorities are naturally interconnected and as such making a subset; the top 30 of the subset is given preference on the first three pages?

This 185 message thread spans 7 pages: 185

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