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Almost five months since June 4 penalty, still no luck

10:52 am on Sep 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have US/English site with news and photos. The site is 2,5 years old, and we've never had problems with Google. No, black hat or any link buying or spam activity, only posting the news.

On 4th June, rankings for most keywords in top 10 and top 20 disappeared, having a total loss of 2/3 traffic from Google. :(

Ranking for "domainname" is still there, as well as for some main keywords. Most of the keywords went to 11-30 positions.

If I searched Google with the latest news exact title before the penalty I would always rank first. But now, I'm nowhere near the first page, and the spam sites that use my RSS come on top positions. It's weird.

It looks to me like the folder where the news are placed is banned. All the urls within "/news" went to lower positions, but the "/comments" or "/photos" folders' urls of the same news are there. We have cca 4000 news.

What I've done so far:
- removed mega menu from the homepage
- removed any suspicious external links
- checked the site with Xenu's Link Sleuth
- cleaned up all WMT Content analysis Errors
- removed Duplicate title tags
- removed Duplicate meta descriptions
- removed the only 2 paid links I had (I removed them on the next day after the penalty)

I've done a reinclusion request a few days after the penalty and still no luck.

Does anyone have any idea how to get back previous rankings?

7:30 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

No you really don't need to dump the content just to please those Goog staff or to please the machine.

It's better to regsiter a new domain, shift the content (possibly 301, I prefer a completely new site without 301) and add new content to those thin URLs (additionally check your competition sites which rank well).

9:55 pm on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

so technically no strategy has helped so far right ? i don't think 301-ing will help either.
11:55 am on Oct 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Maybe you should bite the bullet and ditch the domain...
6:21 pm on Oct 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I've had some 'fun' since the June but it seems a little different to what many of you have seen. The site tanked and traffic went overnight for a week or so and then came back, for a week or so and has been doing this since (there is a yoyo thread somewhere on here, so I was not alone). I wonder if the two are related but at different extremes. I certainly fit with the database generated content (think like a classified add listing site) and have several hundred of paginated results pages along these lines, maybe time for a rethink on how they are presented.
6:27 pm on Oct 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

We have a good discussion about Pagination issues [webmasterworld.com] in the Hot Topics area [webmasterworld.com], which is always pinned to the top of this forum's index page. Might be worth a look (or another look).

I've seen and helped fix pagination problems for many database generated websites. In fact, being casual about this area can hurt you in many ways - both on Google and with your end user experience.

I'm not saying it's definitely part of that June 4 changes, but something about it might at least play in to the bigger picture.

6:42 pm on Oct 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Cheers Ted
I actually read that discussion just before my last reply and that got me thinking it may be related. I dont have the duplicate description problem as that is already handled but my titles end with page 1, 2 etc. The article you mention gave me some ideas and I will get on to them now. I will post back in a few weeks if things change.
2:33 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

A different thought is - have you been using unique content or at lease rewrite the content you use?
4:48 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Was that aimed at me? If so, all of our content is unique. The database stuff is user entered, everything else I wrote myself.
11:42 pm on Oct 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What we can rule out:

It's not about in which country your site is hosted (changed countries which didn't help).
It's not about unique content (but .. unique content always helps).
It's not about pagination (if done right and my pagination where whole sites have been punished has been done right).
It's not about fixing WMT duplicate titles/descriptions (fixing them didn't help).
It's not about external links (if you don't link out to punished sites).

So what is this June 4 critter about?
It's about larger (starting at 10k - 20k URLs) dynamic generated content and thin cookie cutter sites.

Will adding content help?
Maybe but your site will never come back where it was before June 4.

What's the timefrage to get back into the index?
Who knows, maybe 90 days, maybe 180 days, maybe just a reconsideration request helps.

Who knows more?

Why won't they offer help?
They don't discuss penalties.

--> Shutdown the domain and start a new site, shift the content and add more.

1:53 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Since our traffic died on May 29th. It has consistently come back on at almost those levels for 1 or 2 days and immediately died again.. This is happening about every 3 weeks or so. The time frame is not exact. What I can tell you is that in May one of our sites was getting 35,000 uniques and then the next day 2,500. This is ridiculous. On off On off On off On off what the heck is going on!
2:05 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I mean seriously.. how can G expect me to keep up the same resources to handle 35K one day and 2K the next.. at the very least this is irresponsible tinkering on G's part. They need to be way more public about this.. Yeah THAT MEANS YOU MATT CUTTS!
3:42 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

iInventedtheinternet, this is true. If you are in the SEO business you need to keep resources (fixed cost) at a minimum because your rankings can drop the next day you wake up (see June 4), but this is a different story.
3:44 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

--> Shutdown the domain and start a new site, shift the content and add more.

How to shutdown a domain easily which is
10 years old, has 500+ natural backlinks
with penalty, this domain gets 5K unique daily (before 30K)

So if domain moved there is chance of not geting even current 5K!

4:39 am on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

SEOPTI I agree keeping fixed costs down is a necessity. I'm comfortable with that. But I think that this IS the story here when discussing what Google is doing. We need to make Google's irresponsible behavior public. I'm not saying.. "hey give me my traffic back!" or sitting here whining about problems. I'll fix them and I'll get better links and improve page rank.

It's the complete inconsistency I... and most probably other webmasters can't deal with... it's like Google has somehow become Digg for our site. The resources to handle that sort of 35K onslaught every 3 weeks is significant. The best thing about Google prior to June was the consistent and measured growth or at least flat-line and sometimes gradual pull back in traffic. Clearly Digg is like having lightning strike... but Google has much more control and should 100% realize that minor tweaks are having dramatic effects on traffic. Their complete disregard for this is troubling and one more step in the direction of becoming a bad net citizen. They should be more public about what is going on or at the very least communicate much better through WMT to those sites they feel like occasionally pointing a fire hose of traffic at. It's the not knowing what the heck it going on that makes planning and allocating resources a huge problem.

Which goes to the point.. the June 4th problems or whatever you want to call them are the apparent "shark jump" for google. This behavior can't be classified any other way than .. EVIL.

7:31 am on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

So what is this June 4 critter about?
It's about larger (starting at 10k - 20k URLs) dynamic generated content and thin cookie cutter sites.

My site was affected on June 4th also. My traffic decreased significantly for more than a month and then yo-yo'd back and forth for several more months. For more than a month my traffic has returned to pre-June 4th levels, with no more yo-yo'ing. However, sites ranking below mine are moving around and in and out a lot, which I find curious. Mine is not moving except one or two places either way.

My site does have more than 10k url's, but it is not a dynamically generated or thin cookie cutter site. I don't know what brought my site back. I just kept adding new content and writing more articles to generate more links. The only change I made to my site was to reduce the size of my navigation menu and to vary it in different categories on my site. I don't know if this made any difference or not.

12:59 pm on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

The problem UK hosted .com site that I have that has been affected precisely the same way since last April, and came back fairly strongly two weeks ago, is yo-yoing all over the place again. Some pages at #1, some pages nowhere in the results and the index page has completely disappeared...again, but it is in the index!

I have now given up, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this site whatsoever therefore I am going to just leave it alone and construct a completely new site on a .co.uk.

It is completely pointless battling against something that one has completely no comprehension whatsoever plus it is a waste of my valuable time and resources.

Yes Google, my time is valuable and you are not going to waste any more of it playing your stupid little games.

8:14 pm on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I apparently triggered this yo yo effect recently as well, but it's weird how it came about. I was affected prior to June 4th, I think it was more like May 15th when my traffic started to fall without any reason that I could see. It came back a month later and everything was fine, but then a couple months later I made the apparent mistake of screwing around with my template to make it easier for users to find their way around. I changed a couple things in the navigation as well but hardly anything major, 301ed the old urls to the new. Now, I expected I might get hit with some kind of filter from this and sure enough, a few weeks later my Google traffic fell by about 80%. So I dealt with it and hoped it would come back in about 30 days, since that seems to be about how long it takes for others that make similar changes on their site.

25 days later, the traffic returned, and actually increased slightly from where it had been previously. Great right? No, because five days later it fell off again, and it's been that way since. There's nothing wrong with the site. No link exchanges, no hidden links, no duplicate content, ran a link checker, did all that. I have absolutely no clue what Google finds wrong with it now. No messages in webmasters tools, no nothing.

I don't know if it's the yo-yo or what, but it's pretty much crippled my online income and has me stressing out about how to fix something when I don't even know what the problem with it is to begin with. I mean, maybe another filter was tripped or something and it's going to come back in three weeks or so, but I have no way of knowing if it's just going to tank again without explanation soon afterward again.

6:23 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

JackPage - I understand you exactly. I donot know if anybody has more worse yo-yo experience. Our site came back 2 months ago, everthing was fine.... But it went down again yesterday, that is the next day after we have paid for a better 8 cpu server to host the site.
9:14 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

that is the next day after we have paid for a better 8 cpu server to host the site.

In my experience this has nothing to do with it.

I have over 200 sites yet only one 10 year old site with the yo-yo effect that started in April this year, until then, like many others, absolutely no problem.

If there were any consistency I would be able to see it however there is not and that is why I have decided I am not going to play Google's silly game any longer, I have much better things to do rather than try and work out what they have screwed-up...again!

9:55 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

One wacky thing I've noticed today from looking at my analytics stats - outside of one or two keywords, I'm getting exactly one hit a day per keyword. It's as though after I get that one hit, Google removes my ranking for that keyword for 24 hours. I'm not sure if this ties in or not, but some of these keywords are listed in my top search queries in webmaster tools as keywords I should be ranking for in the top 50. These are heavily trafficked keywords that I would definitely be getting more than exactly one hit a day from if whatever is going on wasn't going on.

Anyone ever run into that before? My apologies if this sort of veers into another topic but I'm noticing this on the yo yo-ed site I mentioned above.

4:56 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi Jack,

Yes, this is off-topic, but I am reluctant to create a new thread on this. I read your comment above and I've noticed the same thing of late. My rankings have slowly been increasing (although not back to where they were), but I am getting no more than 1 hit per day on most keywords phrases, which I find quite bizarre. I'm in a competitive area, so I would expect more, and in the past, I always received more than this. Have you drawn any additional conclusions from this ? I find this perplexing.

5:41 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Any one got back into the serps ? i am still no where to be found for long tail keywords, even the new pages are no picking up in serps.
8:53 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Still nothing .... it's really time to move on, since they won't tell anybody.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 8:53 pm (utc) on Oct. 27, 2008]

11:23 pm on Oct 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

At least, I'm giving up to find out what happened on June 4, it's impossible.
Maybe someone else has an idea.
12:16 am on Oct 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

it's impossible.

Yep, decided that a couple of weeks ago, there's absolutely no consistency with whatever is happening to my affected site, one day it is there at #1, next day it's gone. At least it can usually be found for keyword phrase and region now.

12:32 pm on Oct 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Please don't give up guys. I have put alot of effort into this site and cant let it go this way.
4:59 pm on Oct 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm quite sure it is a thin content penalty/cookie cutter penalty.

Having a large number of dynamic generated thin URLs might be the cause.

In this day and age with so many websites competing, I would say 'thin websites' run the risk of perpetually being on the edge of in and out rankings. Why? Because there are simply tons of other websites, with tons of unique content, to take their place if they do fall.

I had a business owner from another board contact me about their website, to take a look at the same phenomenon. What is interesting is each person's personal perspective of what 'unique' means.

This person offered some unique tools, but had about 100 pages of multi syndicated content (live on other websites as well, verbatim). Truly NOT what I would call unique, since this website only had a total of 120 pages.

I've seen websites recover before from all sorts of penalties. The only difference between the -950 and the position 11 filters are about trust (and losing trust)

The best overall advice I can give for sites penalized on June 4 is:

-Noindex content that is borrowed from other websites
-Rewrite pages if possible (and if permission is given), otherwise take the content from a different angle and write new unique content.
-Naturally make sure all titles and meta description tags are unique
-Don't abuse your navigation and stuff keywords.
-Remove ANY shady outbound links. Your link is a 'vote'. Act accordingly. :)
-Develop GREAT, trust-able inbound links via hard work.

I'm certainly not saying that every website that is penalized is of poor quality. However, based on the example above, it does show the range of perception that various owners, webmasters have about their websites.

1:34 pm on Oct 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Some questions ...

1. Where is hosted your site ? In the same country of the tld ?
2. could you tell more about keywords you see yoyoing ?
In detail... if use analytics you should set a period of 1 year and check what keywords are yoyo-ing.
In particular i'd like to know if your site was yoyoing also in april 2008 or june 2008.

4:04 pm on Nov 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I think I've found out what they did.

Since June 4 you need more relevancy than before to have your site ranked. Until June 4 you could get links from an off-topic site and receive all the relevancy needed by using relevant anchor text.

Off-topic sites don't pass relevancy any more. They pass PR which will be devalued during later calculations, but not relevancy which will result a -30 -60 or whatever devaluation for the incoming off-topic links.

To balance this out you need to get links which are relevant for your niche from on-topic sites.

[edited by: SEOPTI at 4:06 pm (utc) on Nov. 2, 2008]

6:10 pm on Nov 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

misterjinx I am not sure if the question is aimed at the business owner I know, but:

1. Where is hosted your site ? In the same country of the tld ?

Same country

2. could you tell more about keywords you see yoyoing ?

Competitive keywords in the software sector

3. In detail... if use analytics you should set a period of 1 year and check what keywords are yoyo-ing.

Not sure entirely what you are asking

4. In particular i'd like to know if your site was yoyoing also in april 2008 or june 2008.

His site was experiencing the same phenomena that is discussed in the June 4 penalty thread. He got massively hit on that date.

This 71 message thread spans 3 pages: 71