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Algorithm Updates Bring You Down? False positives destroy some sites



10:47 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Have you ever been arrested for disorderly conduct, thrown in jail and fined before you ever had a chance to "tell it to the judge"? Probably not, but if you're an original content website, the recent Google algo change may have done just that to your web based business.

When I heard about another major algrythm change coming down the pike, and found it was to target duplicate content and "thin" content farms, my first thought was, oh boy, here come the false positives.

Unless you're main source of income is Adsense ads and affiliate programs, you probably don't have anything to worry about, right? WRONG! If you've been following my daily posts starting last week, you know that our site was hit early on Jan 26th. Sales and traffic returned shortly but became erratic for a few days with strange on and off periods, then on Tuesday February 1st we virtually disappeared, as if the site were handcuffed and throw in jail. While in the holding cell, hopefully awaiting a fair trail (good luck with that!) we started considering anything and everything that could have gone wrong. This incarceration was not a natural event, it certainly appeared to be intentional.
As in any jail, the phrase "I didn't do it" is a common defense. But as much as it may hurt to face the truth, we took a step back to look at our site so see what offense we may have committed.

In doing an exhaustive site evaluation looking for duplicate content, we found our blog may have been the guilty party because it contained several thousand outdated posts from a datafeed. Note to self, never use another datafeed. We removed those posts, generated a new site map and submitted to the turnkey hoping for his mercy. Non was granted.
Next we found two renamed pages (out of a total 100 pages)that had duplicate titles. This was a simple maintenance problem and the dupes were deleted. Thursday rolled around and we're still in the can, with a stubble beard and beginning to smell a bit, so we decided to freshen some content, tweak some keywords and hope for the best. To make a long silly stroy short, it's Friday and we're still in the joint, hoping for mercy from the court. In the end the worst we could be charged with was some stale content and a maintenance error, hardly enough to warrant jail time.

In the sad reality, this is basically what is happening to many honest original content webmasters who sell a product or service, rather than those game the system in hopes of free money through Google's lazy webmaster welfare program AKA Adsense.

This may sound like a big nonsensical fantasy, but the hard reality for many of us is what amounts to a painful monetary fine that for some is adding up to thousands of dollars in lost sales, not adsense revenue but SALES that pay our mortgages, put food on the table and drive the economy!

If you're an established web based business and have found yourself unjustly incarcerated, please share your experience. Maybe with some luck, this "worst of the worst destroyer of businesses algo" will be withdrawn or repaired so we can operate our businesses again in freedom. After all isn't that that what running a legitimate web business is all about?

PS - please call my momma and tell her I really miss her homemade cakes & pies. (wink wink)


11:55 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'd like to add one point: If you're IBM, General Motors, Apple or Nakatomi Industries, obviously your site will be immune to the quality algo updates. But if you're a Mom & Pop website, look out! Trust, especially when dealing with small sites seems to have gone out the window in favor of a duplicate content witch hunt.


12:41 am on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm smaller than a Mom & Pop website ~ I'm only Pop ~ and when this happened to me last spring, it took one month to the day before I started to see things gradually return to normal.

Just recently, on Jan 14/15 that same site took another hit, so I've got my fingers crossed that around Feb 15 I'll see a recovery. Candidly, I find the Google mindset exhausting, and I'm tired of building my online life around them. It's like dealing with a bipolar acquaintance ~ you never know what will set them off.



12:28 am on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'm FREE! The Google Green Light is back on! Sales nearly every 15 minutes all day. Big difference from the every 5 to 12 hours! Enjoy it while it lasts.


6:04 am on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

So now all is ok and back to normal on the search engine front ?


7:55 am on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

With Google, nothing is ever back to "normal" (not for very long at least). It's better to think of it as a temporary reprieve.


11:35 am on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)


That's good to read for the moment however, IMHO, even though you've made alterations, deletions, removals etc, expecting G's algo to bounce you back that fast is far too quick.

I don't have constantly changing pages however amendments can usually take anywhere from 1 week to a month to filter through, sure I have seen some done almost immediately but normally it is much longer.

Nevertheless, good luck.


11:38 am on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@Reno - You got THAT right...and exactly why I said "Enjoy it while it lasts" because it never lasts.
I see another biggie update is in the pipeline. Oh boy...

@Chris - what Reno said.


11:47 am on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@ Husky - this is a recurring situation with these big announced algo updates. I have a detailed theory as to exactly why small sites feel it more than big sites, I also have a theory on the meaning of life....but let's not go there. Why speculate on what makes that big "2001 a space odyssey" monolith we call "Google" work. Just pray to it and offer up an occasional sacrifice I guess.


2:53 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think I have become a victim of the false positive. Some of my key words are still in good shape but several have gone into the tank compared to one month ago. One page was for now eliminated from indexing in the Google index.

I have made my changes to hopefully get the page indexed again but time will tell. The other major search engines are still returning relevant listings but Google change has effected a whole section of our business.

One main competitor who has a huge amount of duplication has been it seems unaffected. I applaud Google attempt to reduce the link/spam farms but in doing so they have caused search results to be less relevant than they once were in our industry.

Not much I can do at this point but wait.


4:52 am on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I've been going through keywords for days, one thing is certain, everything is percolating.
My main gripe now is this: Forget the organic results, I'm getting 250 to 300 Adwords clicks per day, yet still no sales. I don't buy into the theory that my targeting of converting keywords, after 10 year has suddenly tanked overnight. Something is definite FUBAR at Google and in the adwords department, this could be taken as fraud. Results for 10 years the NOTHING, POOF, JUST LIKE THAT?
Normal logic no longer fits. Their system is churning with garbage. I'd almost compare it to the propagation delay you see for a few strange hours after you register a new domain and set it's name servers. You can have several different PC seeing the new site, some not.

I've been talking with many other members here who are seeing identical up & down patterns.
Face it, Google is broken. Has been since last May.


5:04 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

backdraft7, how's your site doing now with this latest update?


8:46 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

The big sites were some of the hardest hit. For anyone who lost rank, how were your backlinks? If you had lots of article submissions, press releases, classified ads, etc all of those things were severely devalued and that could explain your drop in ranking. That's not really a false positive. If you've got good links that all kept their own rankings, however, then there was some kind of "false positive", I just have no idea how it would work.

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