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Clear indication of penalty observed?



12:04 am on Sep 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm curious if anyone here has ever seen this effect.

I did a search for [blue widgets], where the blue widgets were an obscure search term, but I have a page whose title is a direct match on blue widgets.

Google returned just five results, and said it could only find five. All five were relevant. It then had a section that said "Results for similar searches", and my exact-match page was the only one in that section.

It also had a "In order to show you the most relevant results, some have been omitted." link. When I clicked on that, it said there were 1.4 million results. In those results, my site came up as #11 (a position I see a lot of)..

There was no typo or anything to differentiate the top 5 results from the "similar search" result. I have a screenshot.

Is this a clear indication of some kind of penalty on my site, that my direct-match page was listed as a "similar search", in a separate section from the other results that Google returned?

Andy Langton

12:55 am on Sep 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

I think "Penalty" is the wrong word. It implies a unilateral action to demote your site. The phrase I use in terms of diagnosis is "below expected rank". If you add up all the factors and see where you appear, is it significantly below expectation? How did you arrive at that expectation?

Otherwise, you're experiencing symptoms explained by Google's approach to indexing and ranking. Google only show what's required, so 5 results are what's required to satisfy the user's search. When you start digging deeper, you start to trigger Google's querying of deeper datasets. It's the same reason your result numbers are so different.

The first question is, at what point did Google decide your listing wasn't relevant? Was it during indexing, or did you get re-ranked?

Move away from penalty, and towards relevance.

Incidentally, be cautious about evaluating Google by clicking links in search results. Filters and options (and thus relevance) change with almost every option, and so this can lead you in the wrong direction. Check your Google result URLs.


1:16 am on Sep 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Contrary view here:

1,Was your page better optimised than the first five listings?

2,Is your site generally well optimised, using the best practise principles you've learned,

3,and are the top 5 either hobby type, or Amazon/ehow/ebay class sites

4,Is your site listed in a gwmt account

If you answer 3 to any four of the above, your site is probably just enjoying the new order of things, never mind, you probably won't believe me, nor will most of the rest, till one by one,,,

!0 green bottles standing on a wall,, know the song, no joke


1:52 am on Sep 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Andy -- I'm more just curious about the way that Google displayed the results to me - with 5 results, and then a segregated section that implied that the results were from a "similar search" which was not specified - any my page in the segregated section. I've never seen that before, and in my opinion, my search was the most relevant of all the pages displayed because my page was about the widget, whereas those pages just mentioned the widget.

In general, many - but not all - of my pages are performing below expected rank, since April 24 - Penguin day. I still do rank first page or even #1 for many searches, but overall I'm seeing a 35% decline in Google traffic. I have discovered many of my terms no longer rank anywhere, below spammy results, irrelevant results (i.e. the words appear on the page but not in close proximity to each other), etc. Meanwhile my page that is spot-on to the search isn't appearing, or is many times in position #11.

The position #11 leads me to believe that a penalty is being levied. This new way of showing the results - with my site being listed as a "similar search" result - is puzzling to me.


7:20 am on Sep 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

This new way of showing the results - with my site being listed as a "similar search" result - is puzzling to me.

I have never seen that exact pattern, and yes - it is very puzzling. It's almost as if there is a "semantic subtraction penalty" in place (excuse my newly invented label here) that lowers the influence of a particular word, even though that word is quite prevalent and relevant to your page.

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