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Am I penalized? What type of penalty do I have?



4:47 pm on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We got some type of google penalty last friday. What is strange is it's type.
Some of our top keywords moved from position 2 to 7 but some of them moved from position 6 to 90 and more, some of them moved to page 50 and more. But some combinations of keywords are still on position 1. Especially those with 3 - 4 words length. Traffic dropped by about 80% in overall.
Did you experience something like this and if so what you did for recovery? We did only one thing that maybe caused it. We bought link with TLA.


6:41 pm on Oct 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Yes, I just experienced something similar. I noticed it Sunday but it could have started on Friday.

Still surveying the damage like you do after a tornado hits. The devastation is virtually everywhere. Some key phrases were #1 and survived the hit, still on top. The most important phrase was knocked to #10 and could still be slipping. Yesterday I was #2. I don't think the dust has settled yet.

A single keyword was top 10 but was sent to the back of the line (#900+). Most all other popular search phrases have quickly disappeared. I quit scrolling SERPs so I have no idea where they ended up.

My total traffic is probably down about 80%, too. Biggest hit ever. The Florida Update and all the other big Google Updates did nothing to me. But this is like a Tsunami! Of course I don't know yet if it's the expected new Update or "just" an extreme penalty (new or old).

My site hasn't been changed much lately and never had a -950 penalty or any other penalty that I was aware of. So I don't know if it's a recent update or a cumulative problem wherein I finally hit critical mass and tripped the penalty.

Anyway, being at the top was fun while it lasted, lol!



7:36 am on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm back. It took only about 3 days. I requested to remove the link. I assume it was it. Hope it'll stay there and I'll not experience such thing in future. But the number of things you can do to promote your web site was lowered I think.


7:42 am on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


please can you explain in detail what did you do to be back in SERPs?

I think it should be helpful for other webmasters here...as me :-)



8:59 am on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

He had purchased a link. Never purchase a link. Go to a trustworthy SEO company instead.


10:00 am on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


If I too purchased a link:

How can I do to know if it is the real problem?

And how can I tell it to google?



2:45 pm on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I didn't send email to google, I just read lot of posts about fact that link sell/purchase is a problem these days. Seems that not for everyone because lot of our competitors use this way, especially those bought via TLA. But we requested to remove link yesterday and about 10 hours later we got recovered. So link purchase is risky and probably we'll not use it in future.


4:59 pm on Oct 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Your recovery may have nothing at all to do with removing that link. A lot of serps are all over the place at the moment.You may have responded to FUD which is exactly what Google wants us to do.


4:56 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am experiencing similiar behavior.

My site was on top of the rankings for a couple of years. After paying for a link, we got hit with a penalty.
Traffic is 80% down. Most pages or not in the index at all. The ones that are in the index are either now ranking between 30-50 or have remained uneffected ranking 1-10.

This penalty started on Feb 2007. I have sent several reinclusion requests with no change.

I should also mention that this is my 2nd "offense" to the guidelines. In 2006 the site was completely removed from the index for hidden text. A single reinclusion request got us back in about 2 weeks.

This current penalty appears to have gotten worse in the last month, although I am unsure of the source. Only recently I've completely deoptimized the site to mimic the version that was approved in the last successful reinclusion request.

Is there anyone out there that was successful in getting back in for a 2nd time?


5:08 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Welcome to the forums, Jbiz. I'm not aware of any penalties for buying links last February. There may have been another reason for your ranking drop. It's only right now that link sellers are seeing some troubles, and the effect on the buyer is still an open question.


8:13 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I cannot find my site when searching with our two most relevant google keywords since Nov. 1st. On Monday we were in the top 10, now I cannot even locate our site browsing pages of google results.

Managing the website is new to me, after several bad experiences and lots of wasted money with SEO companies and Campaign managers...I tried to optimize myself.

I kept very close to all suggestions given on Google WebMaster sites and also through Yahoo Store (our site is hosted through Yahoo Store). By increasing keyword density and submitting the Yahoo Store generated site map, I was able to increase our ranking from near 50 to 8 and 11 on our most relevant keywords. Checking daily for about 3 weeks, we stayed very close to these rankings until Halloween. Then, trick not treat, I cannot find us at all.

I search for our url and we come up number one; we also come up high in other less relevant key words.

I am not sure if I have done something incorrect, like keyword stuffing. Other changes I made were adding keywords to page title text. These are the same keywords for which we no longer seem to register in a search.

We do try to add relevant articles, but not routinely. New products are added often.

Can anyone point me in the correct direction to see if I am suffering a penalty for a change I made that is not liked by Google or if this is just a shift in the google preferences? Should I remain calm or react in some way? I am not sure about requesting reconsideration as I am not sure I have done something wrong. There are no messages in my Google Webmaster box.

I appreciate any direction or suggestion through the fog. It seems a too common tale of woe.


8:50 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

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

Welcome to the forums, PatAnn.

It can be challenging to discover whether

A. you've got a true penalty
B. you've just been outranked according to the current algorithm, or
C. it's a Google bug of some kind

It seems you have already taken some important steps to verify or rule out the most common penalty situations. I would check all these areas:

1) Do your pages show with a site:example.com search?
If they did once and they do not now, this is most likely a ban - the most extreme kind of penalty. It's becoming quite rare these days to be completely banned rather than penalized - usually those who are banned know what they've been doing. Technical problems with your site, or some times at Google, may also be at fault here.

2) Does your site still rank #1 for a search on your domain name example.com?
If so, but your other important search rankings ALL slipped badly, this is often a sign of a penalty. Study up on the posts in our Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com] for ideas.

3) Does a search for relatively unique phrases taken from your title tags return your URL relatively high?
If so, but your principle search rankings have dropped out the bottom, you may have lost the power of a good number of your backlinks. This is not necessarily a true penalty, but if you have been a part of some backlink scheme, even unwittingly, you may have been penalized for it.

Also, check any outbound links on your pages to be sure that the site they point to is still what you intended. Other domains can change ownership (or just change their conduct) and become part of a "bad neighborhood". If others also have access to your site, be sure that no hidden content has been added without your knowledge, especially hidden links.

Most penalties tend to occur around links - so check there before worrying too much about on-page factors.

Also, if you are still coming up blank, check out these threads:
Google -30 & 950 Penalties - brief summaries [webmasterworld.com]
Natural vs. Un-natural - in SEO and the Google Algorithm [webmasterworld.com]


9:37 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello Tedster:
Thankyou for the welcome and the helpful reply.

We do show up in the Google results when searching for site:example.com. Our homepage also results on this test.

We are still number one in searching for our exact url; www.example.com.

I have just searched from ranking 730 and up; one section page is at about 401; then another is at about 311. Our homepage which was once at about 8 is no longer showing in these dark, dim numbers at all. So sad.

Can you explain briefly what the backlink problem means? I need to learn about the links.

We did have a web site developer and an SEO company with access to our website. If anyone did anything fishy...is it most likely on our homepage since this is what has lost its ranking? I never suspected anything like this, should I look for anything in particular? How can I tell if a site from a bad neighborhood is pointing to our homepage and causing the problem? The last SEO was recruiting links for us; we paid a monthly rate. The links were not our main reason for hiring an SEO service.

I am now also checking the 950 thread...it looks like I am in deeper than the 30 penalty. Oh dear, the road to where is paved with what?

Thankyou, again.


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

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

Penalties usually come when your pages link OUT to a bad neighborhood, not when other sites link to you. Yes, check your Home Page, but really, check them all. I'd suggest using Xenu LinkSleuth to study your sites outbound links - it should pick up even hidden links because it sork like a spider.

Also, use Yahoo SiteExplorer to see where your site is getting links from - it gives the most complete report. You'll need to know and be responsible for whatever kinds of link strategies your site is participating in.


2:05 am on Nov 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

wishing you strenght on the road to go

thank you for mentioning the 2 links to older posts,
i missed them earlier...


3:30 am on Nov 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello again,
Ran the Xenu Link Sleuth and found only expected links. There are about 15 that are broken links or disconnected, the overall rating was 99.65% "OK". I did not see anything strange. There are two links with a status of "skip type". Which is not self-explanatory to me.

After running the Yahoo Site Explorer, I found hundreds of links to my home page from within my own site showing up as inbound links. At the bottom of each web page in the final text we have a "Thankyou for Visiting www.example.com" message. It seemed strange, so I have deleted the message from our website in case Google thought it was an attempt to appear to have more inbound links. It was several hundred, I think our site is over 600 pages. I cannot believe something that silly is important, but I learn each day.

The other change I have made is "parking" a web site that is in development on another hosting server as it does repeat alot of our current site text on another url. I did check in Google Webmaster Tools and the developing site was crawled on the 28th of October, but no pages were indexed. Could this be seen as duplication of any sort and caused a penalty?

I am not sure what to do now, do I submit a request for reconsideration with Google? I do not feel that I know what I did wrong and if anything is corrected. Do I investigate further or seek professional help?

We had no orders and no emails today...so we are most certainly off the normally beaten path.

Many thanks, again. Best wishes to all.


5:27 pm on Nov 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This morning, I am back into the higher ranks with our two main keywords; we are even higher at number 6 in Google on one main keyword.

I am wondering if I took the plummet too seriously? I have never noticed our complete exclusion from Google on our homepage...not in 7 years.

Changed were my page titles to which I had recently added keyword phrases. I also removed my attempts at keyword density increase on the homepage. I also sent a request for googlebot to crawl the site...but it has not since the plummet on 10/31/2007. I did resubmit my site map and that seems to happen quickly and often. I did not send in a request for reconsideration.

I removed two links from our homepage that were awards voted to us by customers, I had not updated them for this year. I did find one strange link through the Xenu Link Sleuth (Thankyou Tedster) and removed it. The result on it was simply that the site did not exist.

Sadly, I had no real plan and tried everything suggested. Perhaps not a good strategy as I have no idea what changed or if it was just a glitch of some sort.

Thankyou to all for help and support; it was an unpleasant awakening.

A very good ending would be to know what happened and what caused the restoration. Please share any insights or similar experiences. I remain a bit stupified by the entire ordeal. I am in a quandry on whether I need to find professional support or trust in myself to learn and adapt. yikes.


4:30 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Thanks for your response.

I'm pretty confident that the paid link is what caused the offense. Could it be that my site was an early test prior to the link penalty release?

Another issue comes to mind. The site was hacked a month earlier, and all content was compromised. Could that have something to do with it? Is there a way of checking if the duplicate content was launched under another domain name?

The Contractor

5:02 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm pretty confident that the paid link is what caused the offense.

If it was that simple your competitors would go buy a link for your site and knock you out of the serps or you would do the same for your competitors.

Another issue comes to mind. The site was hacked a month earlier, and all content was compromised. Could that have something to do with it?

Much more likely than the link purchase, or it's just a glitch that happens with almost all sites in Google at one time or another.


10:24 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Lets not forget that this is my 2nd offense. Is there such a thing as Google probation?


4:29 pm on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think I found the answer:

Duplicate content penalty. In my case, our content was compromised when site was hacked and most like duplicated and launched under another domain.


jozko, any chance this may have happened to your site?


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