I parse my logs with a program (Visitors) that pulls the SERP # (not the actual position of course, just the page number) from the Google referral string, when available. Sometimes when I'm really bored, I check whether my links appear to me on the same Google SERP visitors have come to my site from. In about 30% or more, I cannot find my links on page 1 even though I know for sure *some* people see them on page 1 because they click and visit my site. In some of those cases I find my links on page 2 but sometimes I don't find them at all.
So, what I'm trying to say is that SERPs are no longer static, haven't been for a number of years now. The fact that they appear to you as "minus 10" does not mean that they are not on page 1 for some other people. Are you still getting any traffic to those pages? That would be the only thing I would worry about.
I have a site that appears to be stuck with a -10 or something similar. It has been there for close to 6 weeks now. I use search.aol.com to check it to stay away from googles personalization. The site is also an emd. Not sure what to make of it as the site never moves up or down even tho all the sites around it are dancing around it stays at #11, is your site an emd by chance?
I've also seen this phenomenon, specifically at position #11. A few years back whem we saw a lot of "minus ten" penalties, they did not just stick URLs at #11, they moved them from #5 to #15 and so on.
I'm beginning to think the algorithm may now have a built in extra hurdle for promoting a URL to the first page. Google certainly knows how many clicks a #11 ranking would get, and what kind of performance it would take in that position to predict a decent CTR on page 1.
So my suspicion is that there is a CTR performance threshold that must be met before you see the URL get promoted to Page 1, where the user satisfaction stakes are much higher for Google.
Being "stuck" at #11 can feel frustrating, but I now take it as a sign that we're doing a lot of thing right - we keep getting called back to the audition for another try out for a bigger part.
Thanks Ted, ya it is frustrating for sure. I thought possibly that the site did not have enough links to inner pages so I started promoting an inner page for the same keyword. Now the site is #11 and #12 with more results from site.com under that. Some long tail keywords show up on the first page but this one main money phrase just seems stuck for now.
In my case, the top 10 links are mostly junk links - either empty stub pages, spammy sites such as "pipl.com", or other irrelevance. But I'm at #11, as if Google is saying "not so fast, we computed you to be at the #1 position, but we don't want to give it to you because of some other reason". Not sure what that reason is, but the implication is a site-wide penalty because if the penalty was related to the page, the page would simply rank somewhere else naturally.
I wouldn't have noticed it if the pages were returned somewhere random on the 2nd page, but #11 comes up more than it should.