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Google's 950 Penalty - Part 12



10:24 am on Oct 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

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< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >
< related threads: -950 Quick Summary [webmasterworld.com] -- -950 Part One [webmasterworld.com] >

It is totally nonsense for me to worry about TBPR when I was badly hitted from a -950 penalty (look! my PR raised in almost all pages ... but as I said who cares?).

Please all -950ers come here and join this thread to group possible causes.

Here are mine:

1) E-mail to Adsense team about an account creation with domain name
2) Too many adsense boxes
3) Midly Over-optimized pages
4) Too similar titles
5) Some directory links (as almost all my competitors though)

I add that in last months no big changes were done!

Join -950ers power :-)

[edited by: tedster at 9:08 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2008]


12:42 am on Dec 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Even if your domain ages, one day it will get kicked by the -950 nonsense.

So it's time to look for short term success.

The Google spam team did a poor job implementing this penalty.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 12:46 am (utc) on Dec. 23, 2007]


9:16 am on Dec 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Just noticed another thin site of mine has been recently 950'd. Or half 950'd.

Keyword 1 Keyword 2 - SERP dropped from #1 to #5 (after over 12 months at #1).

Keyword 2 - 950d. (I'd never been chasing Keyword 2 for this website, and never got any traffic from it, so I'm not concerned about that.) It's the drop of the main search phrase that has to be fixed.

My first mega site that was 950'd a few months ago was linking to it within text (about half-way down the text on the home page) for years.

The interesting thing is the domain name is Keyword1Keyword2.com. So this 950 bitch overrides perfect search phrases even when it's the perfect domain name!

This is actually the second time I've had the perfect dn and seen the correspinding perfect search phrase 950d.

There's no navigation text issue like repetition on this newly 950d site. Every single internal link has unique anchor text.

So it could be the thinness issue again, or... something new.

I'm starting to wonder if links to 950d sites will get you 950d... I just pulled the outbound links from the first 950'd site to the one that just got half-950d.

I don't know for sure that Google considers it like a "bad neighborhood" (that you're not supposed to link to), but I can't say it's helping the site, so I removed the outbound links for now (one from home page, two from within site).



12:42 pm on Dec 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Analysis of 950'd Competitor

Site Name/Home Page Title: "Keyword 1 - Keyword 2"
Domain Name: Keyword1.org

[Both keywords are competitive]

Website size: 13 pages (all thin)
[amount seen via site:example.com]


Keyword 1: #2
Keyword 2: 950d
Keyword 1 Keyword 2: 950d

Nav structure: Keyword 1 consecutively in all seven internal nav links (header links), i.e., maximum link stuffing. Keyword 2 appears in none of those links.

You'd think Keyword 1 would get 950'd, not Keyword 2; but it's just the opposite.

Site contains spammy page with folder+file combo:


(That page is 950d in the search for Keyword 1 Keyword 2.)


Not sure, but wonder if 950 penalty could choose to deal with one/both page title keywords of home page/directory.

I've seen this sort of thing on one of my own sites, where it's like Google assumes you're trying to game the keywords in your page title, so it 950s those.

I Googled exact page titles and saw them 950d. Then checked shorter versions and saw the same 950 penalty.

This one site noted above may have had just enough authority/IBLs/whatever to avoid 950s on both keywords (individual keyword searches).

I'm also wondering more now if file or folder names contribute to the 950 in some small/big way. Too many files with the same name (different directories), or one after the other (folder+file). It must look spammy to Google.

The folder+file combo may not cause/contribute to the 950, but Google could just choose it for the page to show up at the end of the results, i.e., the spammiest page.


[edited by: tedster at 5:31 pm (utc) on Dec. 28, 2007]
[edit reason] de-link the example url [/edit]


2:26 pm on Jan 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

For those trying to clear your site of duplicate content in anchor text to beat the 950 beast, like me you may have overlooked alt-tags in thumbnails. It's easy to miss them when you're looking for anchor text.

Google treats alt-tags on images as anchor text, another thread here on WW said. Yesterday I saw a 950d site with consecutive thumbnails with exactly the same alt-tags.

So I'm going to clear my site of those soon. Could remove the copies, leaving just one thumbnail in a series with an alt-tag, but I'll probably just clear the alt-tags completely making them 100% text-free.

I also decided to remove the "helpful" cross-referencing on one of my sites that seemed to cause/help get the site 950d (spammy/duplicate anchor text). In its place I'm putting "related content" links to specific Google search strings for my site.


Anchor text: "More"
URL: keyword site:example.com

Let's hope this doesn't throw Google for a loop!



7:12 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

A lot of previous 950 focus has been on internal links and navigation text.

I've removed most all duplication and the 950 hasn't been lifted yet.

I've started to suspect outbound link anchor text can be just as deadly as internal anchor text if it repeats.

e.g., You have a page with widgets in one internal link and widgets in one outbound link.

To Google it's the same sin.

Which kind of makes sense if you think for a second like the Google Spam Gestapo.



I just checked and saw one site of mine was 950d for keyword1. However, keyword1 appears nowhere on the site, including the homepage and meta tag description. But it was in the anchor text of an inbound link from a 950d site!

That puts a whole new spin on the 950 impact of either associated websites and/or outbound link anchor text.


10:02 pm on Jan 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I just checked and saw one site of mine was 950d for keyword1. However, keyword1 appears nowhere on the site, including the homepage and meta tag description. But it was in the anchor text of an inbound link from a 950d site!

That puts a whole new spin on the 950 impact of either associated websites and/or outbound link anchor text.

If there was only one inbound link with keyword1 in it from a poor site how about testing a link from a quality site (non 950'd decent PR flow) with the same keyword in it. Could be that you need a bit more juice to rank for keyword1. Might need a bit more than just 1 quality link but something to test.

Also keep in mind that if keyword1 does not appear on your page there may be an issue with the relation between that keyword and the landing page. Google Just may not be linking the landing page and keyword1 very well. If keyword1 is very related then try getting better links or work it (or related text) into the landing page somehow. Another approach is that you can try expanding other parts of the site to cover the keyword topic more in depth. In other words you can be a bit more comprehensive on the subject of keyword1 creating a "link" between your theme/content/products and that keyword. If keyword1 is kinda related then simply decide if it is worth pursuing. If it isn't related at all, well, there's no point worrying about it is there.


4:28 pm on Jan 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

On a brand new site I have used 'Image Navigation' instead of 'Text Navigation' for ALL internal links to fight this bull*$#$, it didn't work out. I thought using image navigation would help.

The whole domain got hit with -950 during crawling process.
This is a joke!

Whoever created this nonsense, he deserves a gold medal for crashing legitimate sites.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 4:31 pm (utc) on Jan. 5, 2008]


9:32 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

i keep reading about spidering and how it pertains to the 950 penalty. does this penalty stop all spidering as well?


10:31 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

second question, can most 950 penalties be reverted through internal clean-up? i've read here that reinclusion requests are not the way to go to raise hell about this penalty. perhaps i'm wrong.


10:43 pm on Jan 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Crawling is not affected at all. About your second question, just Goog knows the answer.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 10:44 pm (utc) on Jan. 6, 2008]


10:42 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

May i join to the club?

My only contribution on this maybe:

Removed my internal footer links (like sitemap - about 150 urls) and the -950 penalty had been lifted for two weeks.

Added the internal footer links after one week and i'm cursed again. Now i removed them once again and will see if it's related or not...


10:50 pm on Jan 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

First -950 penalty on November 26th.
Lifted on December 9th.
Second -950 penalty on December 18th.
Lifted on December 19th.
Third -950 penalty on December 21th.
It's January 8th now... still waiting...

Do you think the changes i made have an affect on the actions above?

[edited by: tedster at 11:04 pm (utc) on Jan. 7, 2008]


5:56 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Removed my internal footer links

Yep, this has worked for some webmasters.

My question is does Google consider right side-bar links the same as footer links (because they are or virtually are the final links of the page)? Does it make any intrinsic difference if the links are vertical or horizontal?!

If you're doing footer links experiments, why not add nofollow tags to them and see if you get the 950 lifted.

Memo to Google: Footer links aren't only intended to boost link juice internally/externally. They do have a legitimate navigation purpose.

It seems odd that Google doesn't have the audacity to update its webmaster guidelines to tell you not to use footer links, but feels fine killing sites with them. If it's such a big deal, why isn't it in the Webmaster Guidelines?



6:19 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Forgot to mention...

Has anyone else noticed two of the big "tag" sites are getting 950d?

No surprise really. They stack many links on top of each other with the same keywords, b/c they're organized by category, and with so much social interest, they get stuffed.


I've got a new theory on the effect of internally based link juice and the 950. Until now most of the discussion I've read has suggested good inbound links can get a 950 lifted or prevented.

The same link strength principle applies internally.

A few sections of my site that survived the 950 have very good internal linking--hundreds of relevant pages linked to the index page. They get #1 in the SERPs for certain key search phrases.

Every page linking to those directory pages has the keyword in its title or in the content. The links were 100% hand-picked; it's not automated or indiscriminate. They are quality links.

The surviving directories have some but not many inbound links. I'm convinced most of their ranking strength is based on the relevant internal links, not "votes" from other sites.

This site got 950d not too long after one of its directories was "delisted" from footer links that appeared on the entire site (over 1,000 pages). This structural decision was based on analytics-determined user interest in the category (low); therefore direct links from every page were unjustified.

The index of the "relatively irrelevant" directory had many links and repetitive anchor text (the 950 sin).

So now I wonder if the loss of 1,000 five-year-old links (albeit internal links) removed all protection that page had from being 950d.

Structural changes can wreak havoc!? You have to wonder if removing footer links in some cases could actually backfire, i.e., if they are virtually the only source of link juice to certain "spammy" pages.



6:59 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

My experience is that footer links cause trouble only in some situations. The biggest issue is introducing too much repetition of anchor text - and repetition in this case can also include too many "co-occuring terms".

Footer links are not a universal problem with Google.


7:03 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

I think the phenomenon can be explained, possibly, by reading the part in one of the newer patents applied for about the indexing and layering of anchor text and links and how they're sorted by DocIDs, forward and backreferences, along with several attributes of the links.


3:42 am on Jan 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Gwehehehehe >:') I got my rankings back! Tried too many things in the last few weeks and it seems removing the footer links helped! Good luck to everybody suffering from this penalty. I hope it never happens again!


4:18 am on Jan 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

On a brand new site I have used 'Image Navigation' instead of 'Text Navigation' for ALL internal links to fight this bull*$#$, it didn't work out.

Did you get any links to the site with the 950 keywords as anchor?

Also, does the url of the 950 pages contain the 950 keyword(s)?
For example, if a certain page is 950 for "green widgets", is the url of the page something like /pretty-green-widgets.htm?



4:45 pm on Jan 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

There are no '950 keywords', 100% of URLs are -950.
No I don't use keywords in folders.
Themed incoming links are fundamental.


9:29 pm on Jan 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


I have noticed that you can get a site 950 in no time if the inbound links match too closely the words the target page is optimized for. This is even worst on a new site.

Also, if the pages the links are coming from are optimized for the same words, even worst.


11:01 pm on Jan 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

so would adding a "rel=nofollow" be the same as removing any of the links from the footer?


11:18 pm on Jan 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

I don't think we can be sure of that. Anchor text can also be an on-page factor.


12:05 am on Jan 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I can't believe it's happened sooner than 48 hours! I gave up... i won't touch anything anymore...


3:56 am on Jan 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

96 hours ago, i got my ranking back... 48 hours ago i lost them again... now, i got them back... it's taking 48 hours to update... too exciting to be up and down every two days.


4:25 am on Jan 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

The 950 seems like a link penalty: on-site and off-site.

Anchor Text--internal and external

Footer Anchor Text--internal and external--especially.

Footers have been abused in the past more than anything for link exchanges or link farms, so it makes sense Google would target them.

I've removed six or so footer links. The three that remain are: Home Single Keyword 1 Single Keyword 2.

Do you think the Home link in the footer would keep you 950d?

I really don't want to remove any more footer links. What happens if you move a footer link (for site navigation, not outbound) to the header?

Are there any header issues w/ the 950?



10:51 am on Jan 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

On a brand new site I have used 'Image Navigation' instead of 'Text Navigation' for ALL internal links to fight this bull*$#$, it didn't work out. I thought using image navigation would help.

Do your images have alt-tags? Are there any links to this new site from another (950d) site? How are you getting the crawl if it's brand new?

You know Google has really lost a lot of respect for me and I think others, too. It has given some input on various SEO issues in the past, either through its Webmaster Guidelines, Matt Cutts, or another rep.

Yet here we have the most extreme algo change in Google history--not -5, -30, or -50, but -950--and nothing new in the guidelines, only one word from Cutts ("overoptimized"), and nothing from anyone else.

Like "overoptimized" explains everything in succinct detail.

You can have legitimate sites that have been doing well for years suddenly get kicked because of some virtually irrelevant internal navigation. And Google keeps silent. It's aware of all the discussion here for months and still "overoptimized" is all it's said.

Are the webmasters whose sites got 950d evil or is Google evil?


P.S. Does anyone know what Google is trying to do with this 950 Penalty? What's the intention? I understand the previous updates. It was targeting thin sites that were affiliate-based. Get it. It dealt with self-linking schemes. Get it. Google also did something about link buying. Got it. And various other attempts to target spam. Fine. But what on earth is the 950 supposed to accomplish? It's the weirdest update/penalty/whatever ever. The only advantage I can see from not having repetition in your internal links is it's prettier. The absence of footer links is also cosmetic.

kamikaze Optimizer

5:32 am on Jan 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, you can count me in as someone who has just received the penalty.
For me, it is not effecting indexed content (yet), only new content that up until 24 hours ago use to shoot straight to the top of the SERPs within minutes of being posted to the site.

After reading this thread, I made the following changes:

I removed all links to 25 very large (1000+ links on each) tag clouds. I still have the internal tag pages, but not the large tag clouds pages.
These links were all very similar and only a week old. I am hoping this was the cause

I removed a link in my footer to a very large site map page, again, this page had 1000+ links on it.

I removed 10 social book mark links from the bottom of all content pages.

I moved my tag links on content pages from the right navigation to the left navigation.

Other than that, as with most of you, all content, titles, descriptions are very unique.

I will let you know how it goes.


6:46 am on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Our site was at top positions for quite sometime, but suddenly it drops in 900's so we tried to identify the problems with the site and going by the book we optimized the site by:

1. Removing all the inactive link on our site.
2. Meta Title tags from the whole site.
3. Keyword Stuffing in the content and KEYWORDS Meta tages.
4. Erased all the copied content.

but still the position has not improved though sometime when the site gets crawled by google, we are back to our top postions/place the palce stands for couple of days and the site gets hit by 950 penalty again.

pls let me know what we can do more and get back our original position.

Ravi Aswani

[edited by: tedster at 7:10 am (utc) on Jan. 21, 2008]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


10:29 pm on Jan 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have been interested in the 950 penalty since the first thread on it here and have suffered through having a site go in and out of the penalty. I'm still not sure which action worked for my main site, so I took this fairly unique step to try to get a handle on it...

I purchased a site that is currently suffering from the 950 penalty. The site I purchased isn't strong enough to ever actually compete well in its niche, but I thought it was a cheap way to work through the 950 penalty through trial and error so I know more when my main site gets hit again. My plan was to change one thing about the site following each fresh cache/crawl... but no more often than once per week.

Prior to purchasing it I thought the most likely cause was over-optimization of internal anchor text and footer links. Essentially the left sitewide column was a bunch of article links with spammy anchor text. There were about 20 of those. So, two weeks ago I replaced those and created three separate article index pages (where I link out to the articles that were previously linked to site-wide) and replaced the sitewide links with a link to each of these index pages. So, the left navigation went from 20 spammy links to 20 pages, to three links to three pages which then link to the article pages. Since then the site has been crawled/cached a few times and it's still -950.

The site also had some footer links and they were actually links to 404 pages. I just completely removed these links last week so there are no footer links at all anymore except a "home" link to the homepage. Site has been cached/crawled and no change on -950.

The site also had a blatant CJ affiliate link on every page. I removed this link as soon as I bought it and no change in -950.

I pointed one good link to the site from one of my other old, established sites in the niche when I first bought it... still no change in -950.

Frankly, I am now about at a loss on what to try next except finding some more high quality links to point at it. However, it's a site that isn't worth the investment of buying good links and freebies of good quality aren't easy to come by in the niche. I might try this next anyway though.

I might try to completely remove all descriptive anchor text sitewide and replace them with "here" anchors like "Read more here".

But basically I'm out of ideas. All suggestions are welcome. This isn't a money making project... it's a pure experiment. Frankly I'll do anything to this site, including removing all of its content if necessary just to see what it takes to work. I'm happy to post the continuing saga here if the board is interested.

Edit: forgot to mention that the backlink profile is awful. They are primarily from a link exchange network. The "resources" pages were removed from the site before I bought it so they are no longer reciprocal.. but they used to be.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 12:24 am (utc) on Jan. 22, 2008]


12:15 am on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


I'm curious, are the urls of the articles keyword rich?
Also, are certain keywords repeated in the majority of the articles <title> tags?

This 199 message thread spans 7 pages: 199

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