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Poor Newsletter Open Rate Causes Ranking Penalty?

     
4:58 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Can't wrap my head around the possibility of this being true: [lockergnome.com...]

but supposedly this guy got penalized for having a poor newsletter open rate (as determined by gmail), so he got hit with a serps penalty. After purging all the people on the list that hadn't opened the emails in the last 90 days, he filed a reconsideration request, and the penalty was lifted.

"After my purge, I filled out a detailed reinclusion request, listing the steps Id taken and what I plan to do to avoid having an email reputation problem in the future. Google responded saying it revoked a manual spam penalty against JakeLudington.com, which further validated my action being the right thing to do."


Boggles the mind.
5:10 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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We don't normally link to this kind of unsupported information, but it's a new direction and worth throwing into the soup pot. I actually am not boggled - it makes a kind of sense to me. I'm always after my clients to maintain clean mail lists, and I've long thought it could find its way into ranking calculations some day.

However, it's important to note that this report is about a MANUAL penalty being lifted, not about an automated algorithm factor.
5:09 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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< moved from another location >

Reports coming in that how members of your newsletter act on your emails in Gmail could allegedly have a direct impact on your SERPs!

Early April was the second round of Panda algorithm changes. With some additional digging, I got a tip from someone at Google who indicated Google was penalizing JakeLudington.com with some new measurements that penalize email behaviors for domains. In talking with a number of other online publishers who were also hit with a stiff penalty, including LockerGnome, it appears that one common theme is that we all have email newsletters.

[lockergnome.com...]

The only real solution here is to stop sending to people in Gmail lists ASAP IMO.

Clean it up later, take no chances.

[edited by: tedster at 5:12 am (utc) on May 31, 2011]

5:41 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't buy it. I'm in contact with a lot of different pandalized webmasters and none of them have newsletters.
5:46 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts: "Hi Jake, I'd be curious to get more info about this sentence, because it's not true. Do you mind if I ask who at Google you talked to?"

Let the rumors fly: Google penalizes FB users because I logged on the night my rank went down.
5:55 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Shatner, it wasn't a report of a Panda penalty - it was a manual spam penalty according to the article.
6:58 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hard to believe. Would you penalize a company with great customer service for poor accounting performance? Makes no sense to me.

Web and e-mail are two different animals. There dozens of great sites with poor newsletters.
7:33 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Some good advice in the Y Combinator thread:
It would have been very unwise to recommend that any sender (not just our customers) change how they manage their lists based on an anecdotal report, thus we really did stress that there was no evidence at this stage to back up the claims in the original Lockergnome post.
[news.ycombinator.com...]
7:34 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Tedster, he was crushed on the April update (almost certain it was Panda) according to the tool I'm looking at. He ranks for his name so probably not a manual but looks like he lost some 60-70% of total traffic and was untouched in February.

He has even has a wikipedia entry. Yes I know, but normally 'non-deserving' ones are deleted quite rapidly
7:37 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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"Hard to believe. Would you penalize a company with great customer service for poor accounting performance? Makes no sense to me."


Much of the current SERPs make no sense to me.

And why shouldn't it be true? Depending on who you believe there are allegedly around 500 changes that have been made to the algo recently. This has as much chance as any of being a part of the witch's brew. If it's a manual penalty I wonder just who decides on these individual cases? Larry Page or a $3 an hour third world cubicle dweller?
8:25 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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i find it interesting
8:48 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I do not see a penalty but when I search on one of his page title:- eg "Stream Live Video From a Cell Phone"

I am not getting his page returned, or it is low down.

Got to be classic Panda.

Cant help but comment on the number of adds on the page though.

There are not that many good answers for a query like that though, I certainly could not find a better one.

I would personally rewrite the page like ehow does, with smaller bullet type points to really nail the question.

Google really sucks with this one.
2:43 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't see anyone bringing this up, so here goes...

Maybe it is not the opening rates but maybe the number of people flagging an email as spam in gmail that would cause problems?

I think that measuring metric would be a lot easier for google to clearly determine the intent of the user.

but even if it were being used, that would be a terrible metric. Just because a company has a terrible newsletter shouldn't punish them in the SERPs, imho
3:10 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I agree that high levels of spam flags should not automatically generate a website penalty. But I could certainly see that factor triggering a manual inspection.
3:19 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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...interesting topic, what do you guys consider a good opening rate? Mine is around 50% with very good subject header around 60%...
4:01 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I know for sure that this guy was doing great even after Feb 24 but he probably got hit in the second update.
4:08 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This guys seems to be getting a nice publicity and Matt has helped his cause by replying to him on his site.Now, I see a lot of comments there, after Matt has clarified his real reasons.
4:11 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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indyank, why do you think the Panda Update is involved at all? Even he isn't claiming that. Panda is algorithmic and he said it's a manual penalty - he only mentioned Panda in a side remark about the timing.

I think it's time for everyone to take off the Panda-colored glasses and look at all the colors out there.
4:29 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Early April was the second round of Panda algorithm changes. With some additional digging, I got a tip from someone at Google who indicated Google was penalizing JakeLudington.com with some new measurements that penalize email behaviors for domains


Because he was bringing that into his good story and is linking the tip to it.
4:47 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts has fully debunked this story, which is a good thing for email marketers everywhere, for now...

If Google didn't already have this bright idea, they do now!
5:29 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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There is now another website that lost a lot of trust - and it's not google, it's lockergnome. Makes me wonder if they have any editorial standards in place.
6:56 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Bill, Matt Cutts has fully debunked this story? Tedster, questioning LockerGnome editorial practives?

I don't know, something doesn't sit quite right and a lack of more evidence doesn't help, for or against.

I got a tip from someone at Google who indicated Google was penalizing [url snip] with some new measurements that penalize email behaviors for domains


That's a mighty strong claim to be making. Personally if a site didn't lose traffic in April I would change nothing but if it did, and you have an email subscription service (feedburner, aweber, whatever) that has a low rate of opening OR sends out copies of your content it might be wise to temporarily shut it down (or dramatically improve it) and see what happens. You'll have to wait until there is a consensus that Google has re-run their "Panda quality measuring stick application" but still. Can't hurt.

by Matt Cutts
Just to make it concrete, it looks like you're talking about your site, right? And I believe a few years ago, your site linked to some lower-quality sites, the sort of sites that bought a lot of links. So the manual webspam team had taken manual action to trust your site less. Your site still ranked fine; we just didn't trust your links because of the sites you were linking to a few years ago.

Manual reviews seem to be more a norm than Google leads to believe imo. I don't think Matt is a liar nor do I suspect Jake is out to get Google but this is business, the truth is likely somewhere in between.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 7:17 pm (utc) on May 31, 2011]

7:08 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Matt has clarified that this simply isn't true. The penalty was for low quality links the webmaster linked to, not the newsletter. Read the comment below by Big Brother/Google Matt.
7:21 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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So much to read, I see it now. Thanks.

I still think it's one of the many quality factors of a site, Jake may not be completely wrong (and his claim of an insider remains), but the title is misleading.

I think Matt has made up for any loss of traffic by posting on that thread at any rate.
8:37 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Matt is milking this big time on Twitter, portraying Google as the victim of so many unfair outrages accusations.
9:10 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I noticed that too and Matt doesn't deny that poor newsletter open rate can lead to loss of rankings, he's simply saying that's not what happened in this case. His words are careful to make that distinction and he doesn't address the "Google source" claim.

What we do know for sure is: manual penalties are alive and well and the algo won't "adjust" a manual penalty.

edit: It's possible many webmasters are trudging along with filters, penalties and link/keyword disabled sites that have no clue, is everyone supposed to ask for reconsideration just in case?

update: Matt did deny it on Twitter a little while ago...
Note: your email newsletter's reputation doesn't affect your search rankings. See my comment at [goo.gl...] if you want more detail.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 9:29 pm (utc) on May 31, 2011]

9:22 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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To be fair to MC if he denied everything that wasn't part of the algo it wouldnt take long to figure out what was
9:26 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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True but to be fair to webmasters they need to be told if a filter has been applied and given a clue as to how to remedy the situation. Letting webmasters work (hard) on otherwise quality sites while carrying filters/penalties etc is just... cruel. I doubt the article would have been written if he had been notified of why he lost traffic ya know?

(I'm referring to manual penalties, like the one Matt is talking about, not the algo)
9:34 pm on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If newsletter open rates and click thrus play some role in rankings, Google's Feedburner service is not a good choice. There's no way to effectively manage a list size in the thousands. I also find that many people flag emails as spam as a way to unsubscribe from a list, it's nuts to use that data.
2:14 am on June 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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There is now another website that lost a lot of trust - and it's not google, it's lockergnome. Makes me wonder if they have any editorial standards in place.
It's the poster of that article that wanted and received LINKS to his article >> which links to his author page >> which links to his other articles >> that have links to his money sites.

As they teach elsewhere: To get links, post the most silly true or fabricated story...
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