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The "Minus Thirty" Penalty - part 6

1 yesterday and #31 today

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

10+ Year Member

< 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]

10:09 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

my site had done the same 3 different times! Each time it returned back to -30 or so....have you made any changes to the site?
10:18 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

we did...

We had a content management system that had many of the same file names showing in different directories

like: /womens/pants.html and /mens/pants.html

So we have a lot of duplicate page file names. We removed all of those and we also took off some links that an SEO firm had bought for us.

Then we did a reinclusion request explaining everything.

I thought this return to number 6 was good news but maybe it is not

10:54 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

jjdesigns4u, first of all congrats.. some progress and better than no progress.

Does the #6 spot show for domain search or keyword searches?

How long after your request did you see these changes?

Thanks for any info,

11:04 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is for the domain search

Which we have been using as the primary guide to see where we are at with this. I looked at about 10 DCs and saw they all had the same move.

This happened about 4 or 5 days after my last reinclusion request.

I am wondering if this means this penalty is done?

11:08 pm on Apr 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Perhaps it's a start.. maybe this is the process of being unpenalized?

How do you rank on keywords that did well before the penalty? Are they below spot #26?


2:29 pm on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

just wanted to do a follow up...

site has gone from 6 back to page 3 of the results for domain name search

a little but of false hope from Google... gotta luv it

11:31 am on Apr 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I haven't read through all 5 parts of this discussion... but from what I've read it seems people are still mystified by what got them in/how to get themselves out.

I know for one of our websites we have been Minus Thirty ever since Wiki went nofollow, and within 1 day of that we lost 2 other prominent links. This leads me to conclude that it seems to be that elusive Trust Factor, at least in our case. (Our rankings fell about a week after the links were removed.)

Instead of working on other projects while Google sorts itself out I'm going on the offensive now... trying to get some LocalRank links for added benefit.

Any other plans of attack for this?

Perhaps people see their sites bounce back in and out as Google adjusts its "Trust Dial." :o

12:33 am on Apr 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello to 31 club.

Perhaps it was told somewhere, but for the most competitive keywords I found my old days competitors around 30-40 together with my site.

Just been hit last week, so building new site seems like good idea - the only problem is duplicate content. I can put robots.txt to disable google bot, but what about all those copies of pages indexed somewhere in the net - now they will be more original, then pages in my new site!

Site had PR6 and ranked perfect since one year (#1s on many keywords). It is my private site and I'm positioning also 20 other sites - one of them got also penalized same time - the only common thing is, that I put some link-vault links on them lately. Second site was not yet doing well, because it was on #7 but was old and very honest site in every aspect. Had a lot of honest links (magazine publishers usually does) and almost natural PR5 - I just can not believe how google could penalize them. They had some stupid menu, that opened index page with POST (so toolbar could see only series of index.aspx - this could be the reason to ban:). They had some easy keywords where they ranked #1.
Being a very black hat (reading google guidelines not found any rule I did not broken) I do not feel much angry on this, may be will create two or three sites same time to have playsers ready to play the game.

In my opinion it is automatic behaviour, but based on very long analyze of the site, very costful in computations, so runs randomly and hits some of the speeders randomly. May be I had bad luck to have two sites banned same time - but having a dedicated person, that found who am I positioning and banning one - it is what I'll never believe.

4:53 am on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I believe my site has just fallen foul of this penalty. However, it appears that only the directory with an affiliate store has been affected.
My site is split into 3 main parts - content sections with articles, a forum, and an affiliate store.
Both the content sections and the forum search terms are ranking exactly as they have been previously (and searching for "mysite.com" and "mysite.com/forum/" returns the site at #1)
All the product searches previously ranking are now 30 or lower without exception ( a search for "mysite.com/shop/" returns only 7 results with my site at #7.

It appears to fit perfectly with affiliate content being penalised but reading through this topic it seems unusual that only the one folder has been penalised.

5:32 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"It appears to fit perfectly with affiliate content being penalised but reading through this topic it seems unusual that only the one folder has been penalised."

I always thought it was connected with affiliate markets. Maybe heavy affiliate linking in major kw markets.

I was hit with 1 folder - came back....hit with a different folder - came back. Then Jan 20th...whole site
dropped between 28 - 50 and has not jumped back into place for a minute! We it jumped back I had a huge increase in traffic.

Any other -30 members still stuck?


6:56 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Still here.. with certainly no clue what else there is to do, and neither do a dozen other people that have looked at my site and are well aware of the guidelines..

North - "We it jumped back I had a huge increase in traffic."

Sorry.. what were you saying here? Are you back or no?

Also, when you had the affiliate directories. How did you come back into ranking? Did you remove them? Was there a re-inclusion request or was it automatic?


7:46 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


The 2 directories were penalized for 2 weeks in November then jumped back into #2 - 3 spots on all pages. Traffic took a big jump for about 1 week.

Then the whole site was nailed with the penalty on the jan. 20th. Have not returned. Lost our last 3 sites over the past 2 months.

Nah! still out and starting to diversify.

7:50 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"The 2 directories were penalized for 2 weeks in November then jumped back into #2 - 3 spots on all pages. Traffic took a big jump for about 1 week."

Interesting. During that 2 week period of being penalized, did you do anything? Submit a re-inclusion request? Or was the penalty automated and you were released after those 2 weeks with no work on your end?

This might clarify whether the penalty is just manual or perhaps with your example BOTH manual and automatic.


10:43 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


de-optimized kwd density on the main page but obviously it wasn't enough!

But like i mentioned the whole domain (all kwds and urls) dropped to -30


10:59 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

For me affiliate=duplicate - right?
Interesting how would you judge having two sites witch one should be banned - or better how would you write a program to judge this?
Somebody copied your content and then what?
I found one old site (since 2003 - older then my site), that uses copy of my site:
Check site: sixaŠno-ipŠinfo there are a lot of domains cached there and many of them are one of the first on what they are positioning.
Also many people use to have copies of their sites on some "backup" domains.

Initially it is easy - first cached text (usually from higher PR) is first, but then if you site is static, then google might forget whose text is newer. Then domain age might be taken under consideration - and you are lost.

Google is very carefull, so if you have affiliate content in sub folder (like /store/*) or in subdomain, than only this part of site is banned. Usually nobody takes care on his affiliate content, so if it gets 30 penalty, then it is not a problem and even is not notified.
But if affiliate is detected under the root (or even main page), then you are lost.

If your site got a trust, then you are safe - how to get a trust - does anybody know? Are google employees assigning it?

So the process would be:
long term
hitting sites with a lot of old static content
recoverable - if you drop/change all of your old content
recoverable by itself after unique text collectors (they collect sites from top google results) forget about your site, when you loose your positions
difficult to unban manually - without giving trust

So it does not matter if you use black or white hat at all.

Nice theory?

How to find those sites:
pickup any "hand" written text from your page and do a search in apostrophes (e.g. "So it should not matter if you use black") if this taxt has unique words it is better, because it can be shorter.

And I hope google does not like such sites - will know soon.

11:09 pm on Apr 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


The two directories that were penalized might be in the data set matt cutts is playing with for paid links.

11:27 pm on Apr 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hey trinorthlighting,

not sure wasn't my site, but that could be that their experimenting has caught some innocent victims - no algo is perfect.

But the quest continues, I see many whom have posted here in this thread that have in time gotten out of the penalty following a re-inclusion request - however there are still some of us out there. I personally won't quit until the cause of the penalty is finally discovered, so whatever is causing it can be removed with great delight! :)


9:38 pm on Apr 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

7 month later still looking for clues...

Do you guys in the -30 (or -45 that is seems to be these days) club see Googlebot visiting but indexing no new pages you add to the site after you've found the -30 penalty?

I have discovered several site's random subdirectories dropped from index for seemingly no apparent reasons and also a section of the site I've added after I've discovered the penalty still not showing in the index half a year later. Googlebot is on the site daily, gobbling up 500-1000 pages a day.

Another oddity is that index file of one of the dropped sections was the highest PR page according to WMT for three months straight until just two months ago. Now it's gone. No changes were made to the section since 2002(!). Content is highly relevant to the overall site theme.

Does anyone is the -30 club see something similar?

Getting tired of chasing ghosts...

8:49 am on Apr 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hey happy birthday Oak and any others that were among the first to be hit by this penalty back on April 26th last year.

I got all nostalgic and checked my rankings this morning in the hope that Google (excuse the anthropromorphism) decided to give me a nice present. Imagine my surprise to see mydomain.com still languishing at No. 32.

I note that until around a month ago, it was always preceded in the SERPS by an internal page one page ahead. Seems now not to be the case.

I have embarked on a long-term ( and part-time, I should add) strategy of rewriting the several thousand pages on my site. Am about a third the way through. This is the very last strategy, before the site gets dismembered.

My theory is that since everything else has been analysed, optimised etc etc the only thing left is the quality of the content. Many pages have been duplicated by other sites over the past couple of years (was all original except for a few pages that have long gone) and anyone who advises that the easiest way to deal with this is to send in DMCA complaints is talking rot. Try doing that with several hundred sites.

So have not given up yet, but could be a while before I file the final chapter.

1:41 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for the first b-day wishes.. quite depressing!

Well it's been a year, yes, and if it really does take a year or longer to attempt to find out what causes the penalty - would you think the guidelines are not as clear as they claim to be? :)

I'll never give up on my fight to be free from this mysterious, continual penalty. I work daily on the site to provide original and compelling content, have made sure that I abide by the google guidelines inside and out with the consensus of over 30 people at this point, many whom are top standing individuals on the popular boards that my site had nothing to warrant this penalty, I am hoping Google comes around or finally makes contact with me for my good faith and effort.

Remember folks, one of us was in the penalty for 14+ months.. so even though I may be creeping up to it.. I have all the faith in the world there is light at the end of the tunnel.



1:46 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Anyone else notice that ever since Google moved the #31 spot results after a few months of the world taking notice of the obvious penalty started "randomnly" <cough> <cough> shuffling the results around to make it less obvious? Seems like they are pushing further and further down.. lol.

I a now fluctuating between #26 to #62.

Guess what? Still a -30 penalty to us inflicted, no matter where it bounces to on occassion.

Why not bounce it around from #1 to #62 instead?.. ;)


4:06 pm on Apr 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@Oak regarding bouncing:

Yes, I've seen it bounce between 29 and 54. Right now sitting at 51.

Is this the most volatile SERP you can get on Google? I have never before bothered to check regular SERPs in 30-60 range. Anyone knows if they are as volatile? Because if they are not, then this randomness must be the most dubious thing Google has ever done. The consensus of this board so far has been that Google inflicts penalty on you so that you notice and fix the problem with your site. If they are making it harder to find if the penalty is applied, it does not really help with what we think they are after with this penalty.

9:02 pm on Apr 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can this penalty be applied to only one directory? That seems the case for one of my sites. The site is about 4 years old and up till about 6 months ago was all content with a slight sprinkle of affiliate text links.

Then I added a datafeed for one merchant with plenty of affiliate product links. The directory where all that resides has come up with products now showing around 30 to 32. The rest of the site ranks all over the place as usual for me.

I did find that the feed had the same products in multiple categories, and it linked to the same content with multiple URL's. I changed the dupe pages to block with meta robots and we will see if that helps.

10:07 pm on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

My site position looks like this:
Apr 30, 2007 36+37
Apr 29, 2007 49
Apr 28, 2007 33
Apr 27, 2007 37+38
Apr 26, 2007 45+46
Apr 25, 2007 41
Apr 24, 2007 49
Apr 23, 2007 37+38
Apr 22, 2007 45+46
Apr 21, 2007 32
Apr 20, 2007 48
Apr 19, 2007 31+32
Apr 18, 2007 47+48
Apr 17, 2007 35+36
Apr 16, 2007 36+37
Apr 15, 2007 34+35
Apr 14, 2007 41
Apr 13, 2007 33
Apr 12, 2007 37+38
Apr 11, 2007 41
Apr 10, 2007 43+44
Apr 9, 2007 42
Apr 8, 2007 47+48
Apr 7, 2007 42
Apr 6, 2007 43+44
Apr 5, 2007 1+2
Apr 3, 2007 1+2
Apr 2, 2007 1+2
Apr 1, 2007 1+2
Mar 31, 2007 1+2
Mar 30, 2007 1+2
it is classic penalty 31.
10:37 pm on Apr 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

My current and only suspect is opening different page, that looks like automatic JS action.
In one site the menu openes the same page using POST protocol.
In second site I did random redirect after 3-10s to very similar page (for human) on 15% of first site visit.
1:11 am on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

jpmon, welcome.

Does your site deal with any sales or affiliate-based sales?


1:16 pm on May 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Not exactly, but I created a lot of other small sites, that I used in link exchange systems, but for sure their content was not duplicate of mine main site. The all other small sites are not affected by penalty 31. Their PR is usually 0-2 and main site has PR6 - so it had affiliate small sites related (linked to from main site). This site and it's structure could be identified as breaking all of the google guidelines, so I'm not much surprised.

1+2 position was for more then one year.
Cause for the daily changes in the position might because just by the algorithm google uses or by google intention to not give hint for new sites affected by this penalty how to search for in google (if you do not know the name "penalty 31", then imagine how difficult it is to find proper page with google search).

If the site domain is changed, then site returns for about two weeks and gets back on the penalty. The only solution (I think so) should be to create fresh new site, allow robots to index only few main pages of it and move all content to notindexed area of new site, same time removing content from old site (or also disabling indexing by robots). After six months you can allow robots to index all pages on new site.

10:19 pm on May 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How many fellow -30 penalty'ers are now being shoved to pages 6,7 and beyond? I myself after the last recent pr update have also ended up with PR0, and cached date, backlinks come up with no results found. Makes zero sense.

How is everyone else?


2:12 am on May 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


-30 turned into something like -59. PR4 dropped to PR0. Backlinks froze on 32 (303,558 on Yahoo).

Actually, the overall degradation of the site ranks is rather explainable: if you cut Google traffic off (and on my VERY technical site it was 95%) you'll see popularity of the site go down (using AdSense and Google Toolbar data that I and other visitors conveniently offer to Google). So, should you mix any of the popularity ranks into your PR circa 2007, you'd have to decrease the PR as you'd think people don't like this site anymore. Looks like a vicious circle.

Also related: on one of my major keywords (8,870,000 results on Y!) Yahoo moved me down one spot - from long time #2 to #3. So, the lack of visitors that I suffer for many months now may actually become a positive feedback system: less visitors - lower ranks - less visitors yet - lower ranks yet and so on.

This 201 message thread spans 7 pages: 201

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