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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]
the total content on many pages being too similar in vocabulary
I tried to avoid old-fashioned spam which has the same keywords being used all the time, using similar words, like what some people used to do in their meta tags for Keywords, i.e., what you'd see in a Thesaurus if you looked up words.
I was trying to help search engine users find what they wanted if they keyed in similar words but wanted the same info. For example, "new home" instead of "new house."
And then all of a sudden Google considers it spam? Phrase Spam?
Is there any way to legitimately "catch" traffic using similar words without Google thinking it's spam? Or do you need additional separate "focused" websites that only use one keyword or one phrase?
On a side note, I'm finding the PR Update useful for helping me see which sites have been 950'd. (PR cut to zero.) At least I see that today on the TB. I can see that if Google hates a site enough to 950 it, that's enough hate to kill the PR, too.
This site had similar titles and have been struggling with duplicate content for a while as all the data comes from a database and whilst relevant to the company isn't particularly unique.
The confusing part is pages which aren't similar in content are also affected.
I have edited all the titles and removed the meta description tag completely in case this was causing an issue as they were also similar (but not identical).
I guess all we can do now is wait.
What's the quickest anyone has come out of this?
-950 is not related to PR, this is news for me.
The confusing part is pages which aren't similar in content are also affected.
Will my domain be reincluded? LOL
I did a reconsideration request.
Too similar titles
That might do it.
My concern about changing pages with similar titles to lift the 950 is Google could misinterpret this as an SEO scheme, not a way to get back in its good graces.
You once said, if memory serves, Google can penalize sites which change their titles. So how do you fix a 950d site with spammy titles without creating another penalty?
Does Google intuitively allow more radical site changes than usual to 950'd sites knowing webmasters have a big problem to fix?
Can you keep the titles but remove all anchor text in links except for the index page of the directory?
I've got navigation set up where the anchor text and H1 tags match, and each page in the directory is linked to every other page in the same directory using the same internal links (full titles).
In other words, is the 950 more based on spammy navigation than titles? Most of the titles are unique except for one or two keywords--I tried to make them as unspammy as possible--but still anchored in at least one important keyword that shows Google the content fits the site's theme.
Still I can see that Google might find the basic, easy-for-users, logical navigation structure as spammy.
I've noticed in the past sometimes Google seemed unable to recognize the ideal target search result, showing text from the directory page instead on the most relevant page linked from the directory.
For example, if you searched for "The fox jumped over the cat," it would show a search result link to the directory which had a link to a page entitled, "The fox jumped over the cat," instead of the actual page with that title.
It gave too much weight to anchor text instead of page titles. I think Google still focuses too much on anchor text in its various algos.
If you had URLs with cache back in July/August, check if they got a new cache in Oct. If you did unintentional changes which might contribute to -950 on those pages and they have a fresh cache now, here we go .....
I think he is trying to imitate wordpress or something similar in his menu style. It's now 6 months and he still sits there.
From the info in the WMT i would say Google can't really tell what is menu. They insist that my menu is part of the content. The highest ranked keywords, or whatever their numbers mean, are the menu words. The longer the menu, the less targeted your site becomes imo.
I think again and again, I overestimate Google. It's still primitive, logic that oversees or ignores big parts what is actually logic, ie targeting by country and not by language.
It's more a sledgehammer approach than a surgical instrument approach.
Think logically; how can managing such a vast amount of information be anything but sledgehammer?
The sledgehammer could be a wee bit smaller. ;) Seeing the need for language targeting isn't rocket science. Given the database sizes they run, it shouldn't be to difficult to attribute countries to languages. In my WMT i see only targeting for one country. IMO it shows lack of practical insight what it is like to run certain type of websites. These are good ideas for certain type of websites and not for others. General info websites are a big part of the web. If the decision has been taken consciously to strengthen only targeting on business or product selling websites, well .. I am not gonna go into that..
So, after dipping into this current thread, I thought 'what the heck, lets check.' And lo, there I am with my 950 orphan pages sitting in the first 10 places. I expect sales to jump immediatly.
Now what the heck did I do, which of the many recommendations from the excellent people on this board finally did it? Or is it just another shift in the force field, a flux hiccup, and I'll be down the toilet again tomorrow?
Fingers are crossed.
I changed page titles in that week to contain these keywords.
It is all new to me, but I am trying to learn.
Should I change back my page titles? Ours is a Yahoo Store site, so I can simply remove the custom titles from the template and publish.
I also tried to increase keyword density on my homepage; but not artificially...it read very well. I have removed many of the keywords as it seems strange that I cannot find our site under these same keywords.
Is this the -950? Our PR is low at 3, but we are a strictly selling retail site.
Any help or direction is appreciated. We still rank #1 when searching on our actual url; other keywords still have us in the top 3 to 5. But the two we no longer result for are our most relevant, it will severely hurt our business.
10 years, and now this...I had so many problems with hired SEO and web developers, I decided to try myself. But, I am so willing to live and learn. Please help me grow if you can. THANKS.
I've got navigation set up where the anchor text and H1 tags match, and each page in the directory is linked to every other page in the same directory using the same internal links
I would say this could be an issue for you, too many matches. While it does seems no-one has come up with definitive answers, i will say that I was in -950 for a website about 6 months ago, and changing up the navigation seemed to help. I had the same left side main navigation across thousands of pages, even when those links didn't always make sense. It was done more out of hindsight and not as any sort of SEO tactic.
When I pulled back and reviewed the website again from a 'hierarchical' frame of mind, I realized much of the navigation didn't make sense, and after changing it up I noticed changes within weeks.
Try looking at your own site - or even better - ask some friends that do not work in SEO or online - whether your navigation makes sense.
Sometimes we get caught up in what we do and can't see the forest for the trees. In my case, it was my wife who told me the left side navigation did not make sense across the entire site.
So how do you fix a 950d site with spammy titles without creating another penalty?
You simply write informative titles that accurately respresent the page the title is about.
I would say this could be an issue for you, too many matches.
I'm going to change all the anchor text in navigation and leave the titles for now. So the navigation has no "duplicate content." This involves in many cases simply truncating the links from the full H1 title text to the first few words of the title, or whatever part of the title does not appear in other internal links. Thus the entire menu for a directory contains no repetition of hot keywords that could trigger a spam/950 penalty.
Red ¦ Blue
Red Widgets ¦ Blue Widgets
Experts on another SEO forum say it's bad to get backlinks with anchor text that exactly matches your H1 tags. It looks bogus to Google, like a keyword-targeting SEO scheme. They say mix it up a little; keep one or two keywords and use text that is similar and looks natural.
I can see the logic behind that; now I'm just wondering if the same principles hold true for internal links. I've always thought your navigation links should match your H1 tags. Or at the very least, if your nav links don't include the entire H1 tag, at least one word from the tag. For example, if you use headers/footers, one word from the title.
Does Google care how similar your nav links are to your H1 tags? I'd be unnatural from all IBLs to exactly match your H1s, but it'd also be unnatural if your nav links didn't exactly match your H1s, wouldn't it (at least for one word)? The exception being "Home."
1) Purchased links on various blogs. 25 total links purchased over 3 months.
2) Overly similar meta descriptions
3) Many new pages added at one time
4) Only a single link within our site to content pages that we want to feature but that have been "penalized."
Regarding links, we purchased a relatively small amount over a decent amount of time, so I'm assuming that this is a benign point. As Tedster has noted, it generally seems that sites selling links are penalized, but that those buying simply have the links they've paid for devalued.
The meta descriptions might be an issue. I have a site that's database driven and that is given to organization by "category" and "geography." As such, it's tough to differentiate meta descriptions all that much. I'm going to remove all meta descriptions and meta keywords (which I'm using minimally) and let Google create their own descriptions in their search results.
Others have noted similar titles as a potential issue, but our titles are simply "Category + Term" or "Geography + Term", where the term is the only item repeated. There is no other way around this issue, so I'm assuming, for now, that titles pose no issue.
As noted, I've added many pages at once. This, combined with the descriptions, is what I *think* is most likely the problem. Like many sites, we use a sitemap-style structure to link into our dynamic content. Previously, we launched the site with about 3,200 links to such content. Upon growing our database, we upped this by another 32,000 links to dynamic content. These are legit pages but, as noted, they have similar descriptions and they were added all at one time, which may have tripped some "how could you possibly add so much legitimate content at once?" filter from Google (they should come up with a better name for it though!
Finally, all these pages are linked to from only one or two pages within our site, so they're "Semi-orphans." Not true orphan pages, but not enough love, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, that's my situation. Steps I'll take to correct:
1) Remove meta descriptions and meta keywords
2) Create more links to content pages in a navigation bar
Any comments are welcome, but otherwise, I'll let you all know how things go.
Does Google care how similar your nav links are to your H1 tags?
That's a tough question, and I think that is site-dependant. More established websites with no current penalty often after allowed to use that to a benefit.
I will say that if you have the type of penalty we are talking about then de-optimizing your nav, as well as establishing a better hierarchy (not arbitrarily linking with keywords to the same pages over and over on the nav from pages where it makes no sense to do so) would likely help you reestablish yourself slowly, as it did for me.
It's like starting a car and flooding it. Once I removed the matching in my website (perfect nav keywords matching perfect titles) the website moved pretty quickly from 950 land up in the serp's, where it is now at position 11 in Google.
Hope this helps.
In my experience removing the meta description tag altogether is not a safe move in terms of current duplicate content properties.
Most decent programmers (or even you) can alter the code in any cms to spit out the proper metas based on page content.
The default mode of WordPress, in fact, is to NOT enter a description for individual posts. Those posts often do well in the SERPS, though blogs generally do these days.
CainIV - certainly I can create descriptions based on page content. Didn't really think of that, though I guess that should be pretty obvious. Perhaps I'll give that a go, or just define different meta description "guides" for the 6 different types of pages that my site produces.