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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]


1:31 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My last two posative reviews took 16 hours


2:46 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> My last two posative reviews took 16 hours

Hmmm...it has been about 5 days (weekend included) and I don't even see a hint of a visit from Goog employees, let alone a lift on the penalty. I am looking for "google.com" (other than from the obvious search pages) in my raw logs and also on the graphical inteference for any google related or otherwise "suspicious" referral, but no luck so far.

Wait a bit longer is all I can do now. I have waited way too many months with the penalty so a bit longer will not hurt as much.

re. the 16 hours: did you see a lift on the penalty or saw it in the logs? If it was in the logs, what should I look for?



3:10 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I saw instant recovery of rankings on every data centre, domain name at No.1 all rankings returned.

Did not check logs... why bother? You can see the penalty removed or not, and no reason to assum the checker is coming from a plex ip that you can spot.


3:35 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I agree with what Nippi just said. The recovery was immediate across all DCs.


4:18 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

lucky you guys...
so far, it does not seem like they have checked my site, unless they saw the name/site and discarded automatically--which beats the purpose of a review so it's very unlikely IMO.

I sent them a few links on the request to test the new features and I searched for those strings and didn't see them. I hope so, since I am still penalized. I know I should just chill and wait, but as we all, it's virtually imposible :).


4:23 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hang in there walkman.. I am in the same boat. Seeing the others come back sends some life into this joureny.. jwc2349 is a fantastic example of 14 month battle and inspiration to say the least!


7:25 am on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Say you sold advertising in addition to having affiliate programs. With this you made $X and were penalised and still got good traffic because of the sheer amount of links you had.

Without selling advertising you made $1/4X and weren't penalised with more traffic.

Then why would you stop selling advertising?


2:01 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

a weird thing just happened. This morning, I rank #1 for domain.com--after many months of not doing so--but that's about it. Partial removal of the penalty? Is there such a thing?

On edit: Checking <an online tool> the ranking is different rom Dc to Dc for a few non-domain searches. here's to hoping :)

[edited by: tedster at 3:58 pm (utc) on Jan. 18, 2007]


3:18 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

walkman, great news! Congrats..

ok is this possible? Am I the only one of the bunch left? :(


3:57 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

good news, but not exactly good traffic wise. I should have done this ages ago, my content would have passed the test. Now I have to wait a few days and see why is this happening (out of 31, but still not ranking for pages)

Could it be that I was hit by two penalties and the content fared well? Yes I know, the theories. Let's hope the nightmare stops without further action, so I will hold tight for a few days.
On all DCs I am raking # for domain.com, and on some I am ranking anywhere from more than 100, #3 and #13 for "domain" which is extremely popular.


5:15 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I know this is not an option for many people but I totally deleted my site about a month ago and converted it into a blog which I have been actively posting to.

I just submitted another reinclusion request.

We'll see if a month's worth of posting is enough time to show good faith.


5:18 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

and do you plan on adding the (same or similar) content later once approved?


5:31 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

walkman, so it took you about 5 days from time of re-inclusion request to get back to #1 on domain?


6:04 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

sounds like you;ve come out of it?
Have your rankings returned?
If not can you see them slowly climbing back to where they were?
Is your domain still holding at no.1 for its search?


6:36 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

and do you plan on adding the (same or similar) content later once approved?

No. The old site was kind of a directory of singers/bands. It had 1000's of pages with an alphabar category setup. I suppose it had a very scraper looking footprint.

I have seen how much better a blog performs in other niches I promote compared to this style of site. I will be keeping the new site and adding to it. The topic will still be music and bands.

[edited by: MrSpeed at 6:37 pm (utc) on Jan. 18, 2007]


8:13 pm on Jan 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

yes guys, it took about 4-5 days, weekend included. Extremely fast. My site's content involves a LOT of affiliate links, but I truly provide unique and compelling content. There is demand, they are a lot of sites and mine provides a new feature that makes it much better or among the better ones. Essentially, it is NOT slapping a paragrah and an affiliate link and leave there hoping it gets indexed. We're talking hours of work a day--each day. As long as you provide what people want, and so well, I don't think Goog cares that you make money.

Example: If you search ebay all day looking for odd items and people like them, why shouldn't you make money of it via the ebay aff link? (Provided you have no dupe issues with ebay and supplement the listing with comments /related items, feedback etc. of course).

So far I am #1 on all DCs, #4 for "domain" and #13 for domain (no "") on most, but not all, DCs. Most of pages are still deindexed though (I did so myself to force G to index the new content) but generally speaking, traffic from G is still virtually non-existent. I hope that changes by the next data push.

Now since I am have invested a lot of time and money, I want to get to the bottom of this and solve the issues once in for all. I have owned the name for ages, and needless to say I have done a few things that now are bad :) link wise so I will take a look at them and see what happens. Maybe I reached a tipping point and Goog took a look. In Jan crawling decreased by a lot. Maybe because I had used noindex on everything in Decemeber, maybe because of inbounbd link demotion...

I posted the above info to indicate that my case for this site might be different so don't get depresed by my post.


4:29 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Caryl said:
I have been in this field and hanging around the SEO Forums for nearly seven years now. I do not remember a time where a PR 'Update' caused serp changes. But I have read in different threads here at WW, that others are seeing the same odd phenomenon.

Florida and Jagger both come to mind. It's not that the PR updates caused changes, but definitely that they coincided with them.

trinorthlighting said:
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.

trinorthlighting, I'm not allowed to post a link to avoid any possibility of self promotion, or a specific Google search, but perhaps one of the mods is allowed to. There was actually a document accidentally released by Google, its "Spam Recognition Guide". This was how Google was training employees ("raters") to spot spam, and thin affiliates was actually one of the topics, iirc.



4:40 pm on Jan 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

No one knows if that is a true google document or not though. Plus it might have changed if it is indeed a document.


10:13 pm on Jan 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello All,

Here's the update to my last post where I was quite angry over returning to the -xyz penalty and decided to begin "generating" sites instead of fixing the old ones...

I did a reinclusion on one of the sites and for nearly 2 weeks the google tools were claiming I was appearing in "quoted" searches only. I could never find my site at the specified average they gave... On average we are talking about 10 keyword sets listed for a site with 900 original pages that discuss topics from kitchens to books to unwed mothers. This morning are now at 5-25 in the rankings on over 20 keywords (although very few actually have much to do with the focus of the site) . Not sure what to make of this except to say our traffic still stinks from google (Around 20 per day).

On Site 2 we didn't do a reinclusion request because nothing has been changed since the last time we were reincluded and then re-booted. The site allegedly appears on about 9 keywords in the 50-350 range with 1-2 keywords around 12. An interesting part is there are no longer any clicked keywords being displayed even though I've clicked on the actual serps numerous times.

So, what we have are 2 fine "content intensive" sites suffering from something that was the -31 penalty and has morphed into some other type of penalty. I'd say the bots stick you into the doghouse and a human is pulling you out. But not without some earmark that says the site needs something else to stay out before the bot returns and puts you back in the doghouse.

It seems to be a losing proposition to guess what is really going on here knowing you can land right back where you were without any indication on why or even any changes to the actual site. If anything more websites linked in to my sites. BTW, 80% of the internal pages on these sites carry a 5-6 pr and the home pages are 7 and 8.

To that end..

I'm generating websites at a rate that makes me proud. I'm using my 12 years of web marketing experience and it's actually turning out to be alot of fun since the creative juices are flowing perpetually.

I'll keep you all posted as I am still trying some stuff to pull out of the Google mess with the content sites.


2:10 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm out and at #1 for my domainname.

I think it was last Friday I filed a reinclusion request, so that's almost six days.

About a month ago I totally deleted the site and created a blog that I actively post to.

Prior I tried to add RSS news feeds to the old site to add value. Apparently Google didn't think too much of it and that reinclusion request was ignored. The original site was kind of a vertical directory with data used from the DMOZ RDF. It was a thin site and the web really didn't need it.

I could have accepted if the site didn't rank for terms. It ticked me off it had some kind of a penalty though.


3:44 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

james, thanks for the detailed report!

mrspeed, congrats. Another one is freed, I hope to follow you all.


6:01 pm on Jan 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

My rankings have slowly crept up to where they should be without a penalty--for the home page. Now I rank at #1 for domain, domain.com and #3 for "domain name" which yields over 200,000,000 results (no, it's not a mistake.) Initially I only ranked ofr domain and domain.com, but after a week or so, all the keywords associated with the homepage are ranking high.

I will wait and see for the rest of the pages, as most are are still being indexed. I had de-indexed them myself and I assume the penalty didn't help in getting them indexed faster. I make my money by peopel visiting individual pages so while happy, I am still waiting :)

Moral of the story: if you have a honest site, put good amount work in it, write to G, even if you have screwed up in the past.


11:53 am on Jan 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

James and Walkman, that's great news.

I won't give up just yet then. Got some interesting feedback on Google Groups that showed that I had not fixed Google's broken sitemap verification meta tag - apparently Google shipped bad code that fails verification in both HTML and XHTML documents.

Plus a few other html errors crept in that failed WC3 validation. Also and probably more importantly, my home page failed to produce 404 responses when mydomain/index.php and mydomain/index.htm are typed in.

The reasons for submitting reinclusion requests seem to get milder. Fingers crossed.


3:37 pm on Jan 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Guys,

We had the same problem with our site, and we have spent more than a month with this penalty. We have been following this thread and we have used the threads to help us regaining our position on google. I feel sorry for AustrianOak who seems to be the only one still on the penalty, so I decided to post the steps we took to get our site back:

* Cleaned all the pages. We have removed duplicated titles and descriptions
* We Did redirections on all urls which had the same name and different directories, such as www.domain.com/blue.html and www.domain.com/directory/blue.html
* We have removed all long urls, such as www.domain.com/affordable_blue_widget_for_everyone.html
* We have fixed the error page which was returning a html response of 200, now we have fixed the iussue and the page returns 404 if page is not found
* We have removed all broken links on the site. Links that were linking to images, files that did not exist
* we have removed all doorway pages
* We have cleaned the google sitemap xml, which was previously generated by the tool provided by google and we did a manual sitemap
* We have reduced the number of links and the linking strategy of the site. Only the main keyword pages are linked thorugh the navigation. all other keyword variations are now only linked on the sitemap
* We have cleaned the server root, moved all images to just one place
* We have added noindex, nofollow to the about us, contact, and all other pages that are not relevant to google. We have also removed any title and description spam on those pages
* We have cancelled all links that we have bought from link buying sites
* Removed all outbound links from our links page, in case we were linking to someone penalized
* Finally we have submitted a reinclusion request to google. Explaining that we always have been on top positions and due to the lack of experience in seo we may have done something against their guidelines. That we have fixed all the issues, cleaned all the pages, etc... Hoping that the matter is fixed soon...

We have sent the reinclusion letter on thursday, and today(tuesday) we are back in full speed. AustrianOak I think if you follow the steps we took and send a nice reinclusion request to google, you should be back in business soon.

I would like to thank everyone on this thread that shared their problems and pointed several tips on how to get out of this horrible penalty.


5:11 pm on Jan 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

buguela, awesome, great to hear another success story.

I have in the past 9+ months followed the steps listed as well, sent a re-inclusion request and nothing..

I appreciate your words, they keep me going day after day after day to never give up, because I am far from spamming or some nonsense like that..

I am working on one last issue that has been brought up on the boards which may be causing this penalty perhaps.. which I will follow with yet another re-inclusion request.

Thanks for all the support everyone.. I may be the last but I WILL join you all in redemption.. one day.


6:24 pm on Jan 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Our site currently has the minus thirty also and we are in the process of doing some clean up.

We have some links from about 8 blogs that are industry specific and match our theme. These blogs all have PR5 or up. They are also linked to each other.

Up until about 3 days ago all of those links where showing as backlinks for our sites. Today our site shows no backlinks.

Is there a way to tell of these links are the root of our problem.

We have already taken all of the other steps mentioned here in other peoples posts with file names etc...


6:30 pm on Jan 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

You cannot draw any conclusions from changes in the link: operator results. Please see this thread:

Google link: operator - it's not like other search engines [webmasterworld.com]


7:05 pm on Jan 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

ok I can understand that

I saw in buguela post that they removed all links from link programs

I did have to pay for these links from these blogs so I am wondering if I have to remove them

is there anyway to find out if this is a problem for sure


8:09 pm on Jan 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The only way to find out for sure is to remove them and see what happens. There are no specific rules, just general guidelines that are hard to decode at times.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.


12:24 pm on Jan 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello all,

Here's another update.

Site #1 is still penalized somewhere in the 50-350 range on about 10 keywords. Nearly 2/3 rd's of the site was supplemental... then non supplemental (After a semi successful site reinclusion request) and now back into the supplemental index and penalized.

So, I studied my closest competitor and decided his entire site is one big spammy place. Doorway pages, hidden links, keyword stuffed footers, loaded alt tags, meta tags that would choke a cow, paid links to non relevant sites and adwords... Yet he's #1-#5 on many many keywords with several duplicate domains doing very well (Not crosslinked).

This makes me think that these penalties start with something other than forgetting a piece of code or linking in or out somewhere. Once you are penalized you are held to a higher standard that is not applied to the general web.

Aside from all the spammy stuff he is doing the major difference between his site and mine appears to be a viewable sitemap. My map is xml and his is in html. With that in mind I'll be installing a html sitemap and linking it from every page to see if this triggers something different after another reinclusion request.

On a side note I did release a site without all the content and just the catalog (With new descriptions, titles, graphics, page names... ect.) and it was immediately penalized to -31. LOL! The domain is 5 years old and has no links to it or out of it and used to showup for it's domain name. It just exists. Yahoo and MSN like it and Google hates it even though it has never been seen before and is 100% unique. The next step is to buy text links all over the place to see if I can really sink this domain into Google oblivion.

I'll keep you posted.

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