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The "Minus Thirty" Penalty - part 6

1 yesterday and #31 today



9:02 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

I was at a minus 30 for about 5 months and in the last couple of days my site has returned to position #6

Would you say that means that the penalty is removed?

[edited by: tedster at 11:34 pm (utc) on April 30, 2007]


5:47 pm on Dec 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

1script, is your home page lower than #1 when you put www.example.com in the Google search box? That was always one of the key characteristics of this penalty and the examples that I know of are now all back to a regaulr looking result.


11:20 pm on Dec 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Hi Tedster,

feeding just www.mysite.com (no quotes) into G search does no longer show if the penalty is applied. I'm pretty sure you know that 'cause it was discussed just a couple of messages above and you have been staying ontop of this discussion.

So, I guess, direct answer to your question is: my site does show as #1 on a search for www.mysite.com however it is still plagued with the so-called "-30" penalty because on a search for "mysite.com" (or "www.mysite.com", both inside quotes) it shows up between #40 and #60, depending on a day. And, of course, the other indication is that the traffic is still not there.

I had other sites that lost #1 spot on searches for "mysite.com" (in quotes) and every time a site looses #1 spot its traffic suffers. However, most other sites that lost #1 spot (and became #2, 3 or at least stayed on the first page of SERPs) have eventually returned, and some have gone through several cycles of loosing and gaining #1 spot back, so it appears to be an algo thing except when it is being pushed all the way back to below 30 which is, of course, where the name of the penalty comes from.

So, Tedster, if you've gotten any new insights regarding this penalty which caused you to word your question the way you did, please share here or via PM.



5:10 pm on Dec 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Thanks for that detail, 1-script - you bring a much appreciated clarity. Unfortunately I have no additional insight - not even from PubCon discussions. Just this vague itch in the back of my brain: I have been wondering whether this penalty was an early shot from Google related to selling links.

No one needs to "confess" in public ;) - just thought I'd share the thought in the spirit of open-ended brainstorming.


10:00 pm on Dec 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Hi Tedster,

A connection to selling links might be interesting but it would absolutely not apply in my case. If anything, the site in point might have been penalized for NOT having many outgoing links. The site has a very large forum section and people post all kinds of URLs, very often outright spam. So I got tired of fighting the spam and disabled all but very few white-listed domains from ever having a link from this site. That happened about half a year before I discovered the penalty. Of course, all the other manually created links in the main static content stayed. So the end result is: there is probably only about 100~200 external outgoing links on an almost 100,000 page site.

So, no, I don't have any link selling to confess to (not on this site, anyways ;-) )

Then, of course there can also be multiple reasons for bringing a site to the human reviewer's attention and from there it could get penalty or not, depending on the swing of the mood of the person at the time.

So, all in all, the reason for this penalty is largely a mystery to me.


2:25 pm on Dec 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

-30? How do you measure this?


3:32 pm on Dec 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


Search for "mysite.com" (in quotes, that's important!)

If your site shows up on page 4 of search results or lower (sometimes quite a bit lower), then your site has this penalty applied, and welcome to the club. If your site shows up as #1 (which it should because it is the most relevant result for its own domain name), then you are in the clear. Enjoy your respectability in Google's eyes, go ahead and promote your site and get some returns.

If you are stamped with "-30" though, the best promotion in the word will only get your site to search result #31 for any keyword and you will only get a tiny fraction of a percent of the people searching on Google for that keyword.
In a nutshell having "-30" penalty on your site makes any promotion (well, SEO promotion that is) a moot point because it makes it grossly inefficient.


6:20 pm on Dec 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi, my 2 main domains are still labeled with the -30 penalty. One domain totally rewrote, added fresh content, cut back on navigation anchor text, etc, etc but made no difference.

I'm at 11 months with the penalty....no answers from google with reinclusion requests.



8:43 pm on Dec 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

same here norhtweb
and i gave up....


8:29 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

If anything, the site in point might have been penalized for NOT having many outgoing links.

Is that even possible? Or likely? Never heard of that before.



9:29 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


Is that even possible? Or likely? Never heard of that before.

Well, simply put, I don't know. Neither does anyone else. In this thread many people tried to take a wild guess but nothing is really conclusive and my site, for example, did not fit any of the reasons for the penalty that were given here. I personally think that the penalty may be given for a great number of reasons when the site trips some sort of a hidden Google wire and is brought to human reviewer's attention. Like I said before, from that point the fate of the site dangles on the mood of the reviewer. Also, knowing corporate culture here in US, it would only make sense to me that noone else is going to look at the site again (except for prominent sites and sites of personal friends, of course). So, basically, it looks like if the guy that killed your site has gotten fired next day himself, noone is going to care to go back and verify his actions. Collateral damage, you know...

BTW, I have spoken to several people that had this penalty removed. Nobody knows why the penalty has been removed either.


10:14 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If we're to believe all the talk about good and bad neighborhoods, it's entirely possible that a penalized domain might simply be penalized because it can be identified in a matrix as having multiple relationships with bad neighborhoods. So the only way to rule out total apathy about your domain from the Google Spam team's perspective is to take a fundamentalist view of your content and make sweeping architectural changes.

Are you linking out to alot of third party sites? Have you combed over those links to remove links that may not point to parked domains or obvious gray/black hatters? Never forget that a good link to good content today is just one domain expiration away from linking to a junk #$! parked site. Have you removed _all_ recipricol links? My sense is that an inbound link from a penalized domain won't hurt you, but linking _back_ to a penalized domain might hurt you. And if over the years you've built up alot of recipricol links, keep in mind that a recipricol link isn't really organic when you take a fundamentalist interpretation of google's guidelines.

I had a domain hit with a penalty and I adapted and was able to recover 100% of my targeted pre-penalty traffic in an ethical way. Suffice it to say that a penalty should be thought of as a domain penalty NOT a page penalty. Your domain has lost trust - not your content.


[edited by: tedster at 10:28 pm (utc) on Dec. 12, 2007]


11:47 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I do not believe, the +30 penalty has morphed or changed.
I do not believe it is a no hope, never get out penalty.
i DO believe you can have this penalty PLUS OTHERS at the same time.

One of my sites that was +30... gawd, I had pushed every seo envelope there is. Link farms, scraped dupe content, serving dupe pages x 20 on my site... i even emailed google 30 or so times asking for a link exchange.

+30 is a breach of trust penalty, where you have tried to convince search engines your site is better and more popular than it really is.

I cleaned, and asked forgiveness many times, cleaned more, got lots of good one way links, and then recovered after 7 months. +30 penalty was removed, rankings then took 3 more months to totally recover.

My site is now 3 places higher than it ever was pre penalty, in a massively competitive criteria.(I rank 6 for my search term, and get 30,000 uniques a day even at 6)

There are two people contributing to this thread whose sites I have viewed, these sites may well have at some stage had the +30 penalty, but now they do not. One of them, now has the +950 penalty! That penalty is not a trust breach penalty, its a site set up penalty, usually duplicate content or overoptimisation.

+30 and +950 penalties though equally devastating, are caused by different factors, and youc an have both at the same time, get out of one and still ahve the other.


+30 and +950. They are not morphing into different beasts. They are not permanent. Why would google keep a site penalised in its index forever taking up space?

Both are curable and both have clear causes

I am not a fan of Google at the moment... I manage a large directory site recently knocked from 3million pages, to 17 pages. Its ntoa bought links problem, but a data quality problem which I am addressing.

At the same time that I am not a fan, Google is largely consistent and predictable in its behavior, trying to keep sites out its index, or at least prevent them ranking, where the sites really don;t deserve to rank well.

if you site is NOT ranking well, my bet is it does not deserve to, you just haven't found the problem.

Google, is not simply evil, and it does not have a vendetta against you.


12:13 am on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


Vendetta? Of course not! Why would they care?
Apathy? Absolutely!

As far as linking to bad neighborhoods, I WAS linking to bad sites (via user-submitted content on the forum section) but at least a half a year BEFORE the penalty I have disabled all but a very few trusted links.

I did have one problem related to links: a search script on this site was susceptible to an XSS exploit that made it possible for an attacker to craft a URL that contained a link to any site they want. Of course, that was not Disney they were linking to :-( However, the search script was actually disabled for all bots via robots.txt since the beginning of the site almost 10 years ago, so theoretically, those links should not have passed any "juice".

In any case, when I discovered the XSS exploit (almost immediately after the penalty), I thought: "this is it!" and submitted a re-inclusion request. Nothing happened. Couple months later I have found a duplicate URL problem, fixed, send re-inclusion. Nothing happened. And so on.

Basically, after any considerable change I do to the site I now send a re-inclusion request simply because I don't really know what to admit to. So, I hope that "this is it" every time I find anything that has remotely anything to do with linking, dupe content, foul language in forums, what have you.

So, I salute your efforts that have gotten you out of trouble but it appears to me that it might have been good luck that actually got you out.


1:54 am on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The key factor here is NOT that you don't know what to admit to, its you don't know what to fix.

If you are still penalised, you haven't found the problem and no, Google will not tell you.

Get someone else to look at your site if you can not get re-included.

And I'm out not through anything to do with luck, its simply trial and error.

a. if +30 penalty, improve site so it is as good as you were trying to trick google into believing it was.

b. If its +950, deoptimise, and remove all dupe content.

I'm at 6 from 6 sites recovered now from these two penalties, and will back myself to fix any site with either or both problems.


2:11 am on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

"its simply trial and error."

Yet, it should not have to be...

That is what digusts us most with all this
as the majority of us have zero idea what may
be causing this penalty, and thus no reasonable,
I say again, reasonable way, to correct the issues
creating it. I have heard many so called
"experts" theorize on why my site is penalized
yet none to date have been correct.

[edited by: DannyTweb at 2:12 am (utc) on Dec. 13, 2007]


12:52 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hey all,

Our site suddenly dropped over the weekend 30 spots in the SERPs for our best keywords - from #3 to #33. Others dropped a few spots, from say #5 to #13. However, a search for "domain" or "domain.com" brings us up #1, so I don't know if we're in -30 purgatory or not.

I can't find where to submit a reconsideration request, or is that even an option, as we haven't actually been removed from the index? It says to go into Webmaster Tools and look in the tools section, but I don't see anywhere in there to submit the request.

This will be enough to put us out of business along with around 20 employees so any help is greatly appreciated. We are 100% legit business, no black hat stuff, duplicate sites, link spamming etc.


1:26 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Others dropped a few spots, from say #5 to #13

That's not what this -30 penalty looks like - but it does sound like a penalty of some kind. By the way, the Reconsideration request link is inside your Webmaster Tools account, on the lower right side of the Dashboard page.


5:45 pm on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks, I filed the request. I'm also taking some de-optimization measures but it's hard to know what to do exactly.


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

5+ Year Member

Best of Luck Josh!
May you be more successful with the reconsideration request than have we. We have all but closed down operations because of what this penalty has caused throughout our site. We have filed these requests over the past 1 1/2 years with zero result and zero feedback from Google.

I honestly believe that many of those that have a manually imposed penalty will never have it removed.

In your case I would hope that your penalty was computer generated as opposed to manually imposed type. In that aspect you may have a chance.

Again Best of Luck!

[edited by: tedster at 6:38 pm (utc) on Dec. 18, 2007]
[edit reason] formatting [/edit]


6:18 pm on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks Danny.

As our pages were never removed, only dropped in the rankings, I'm hopeful that it is indeed an algorithm issue and not a manual penalty. Suddenly I'm becoming an SEO expert...I guess necessity is the mother of education...


4:41 am on Dec 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I wonder if it's possible to have "backup sites with different architecture, links, etc. In case some nefarious new penalty knocks one out, it doesn't knock your business out... without getting into dupe content problems.

I'm thinking of doing this in 2008. It's just getting too risky in the current Google environment of -950s and -30s--and who knows what else is coming next--to put all your eggs in one basket.

<continued here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 4:48 am (utc) on Dec. 20, 2007]

This 201 message thread spans 7 pages: 201

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