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I'd love for some SEO style blog or agency to do a case study on my site like you suggested. But in all honesty, I'd love to just know why the site is penalized.
It really would be nice if Google did give some general feedback in GWT when your site experiences a ranking drop due to technical issues, bad links, or a content quality downgrade.
it would force the spammers to produce quality content to rank.
This would never fly. It would give black hats some ability to reverse engineer the algorithm to fine tune their ranking efforts.
[edited by: chalkywhite at 7:18 pm (utc) on Jun 16, 2013]
I think Matt Cutts does care, but keep in mind they are trying to scale solutions for a very large index. They talked about having specific algo filters based on niches at SMX, but its not a reality yet. Imagine how ineffective that would be for anything else in life, for example if a person has 100 people hate him his voice is effectively silenced because he is not valuable.
Coming from a webmaster who is now google's collateral damage, I don't believe google is able to combat spam effectively, and they don't value webmasters because why would they? If they destroy one webmasters business, another one take his place. It's a benefit afforded to them by us as webmasters, and our wilingness to jump through their hoops. They are number one, and they take full advantage of that.
Anyhow, Before I check out- here's what I see in my niche;
*** Several websites on page one with 1 to 50 unique domains linking in, and that have between 9 to 30 pages of content are holding top ranking positons. The content is not bad on all of these websites, however several of them host what I call "fill in the blank" content. Choose a product and fill in the blanks, and poof you have a long article that kinda makes sense. Google seems to love this.
*** The first page was previously dominated by small independent websites, and is now filled with merchants for "branded terms", and where there are not enough merchants to fill page one, Amazon, eBay, Press Releases, and Forum threads (however minimally related) fill the page.
*** For several terms, a couple of tech domains with powerful backlink profiles rank in the top two. They expired, and were rebranded into the "blog review" style site that sells you a review and link for a few bucks. The review pages rank, very well. This content is trash.
*** Blogspot, Wordpress, Google Sites, and Tumblr all are ranking extremely well. Typically I would call spam, but after looking at the sites I think some of them have decent content. It's not top notch stuff, but its not spam either.
*** Keyword domains (not EMD) are ranking very well, all with less than 10 unique domains linking in according to MSEO.
*** In some cases, and more so today, I see older domains and pages that are clearly no longer maintained or managed, ranking well. Older sites from 2010 - possibly just being released from panda jail for breaking rules a lifetime ago. These domains have varying link profiles, nothing I can summarize here.
My website has 145 pages, and previously had 57 unique domains linking in when I was ranked page 1 position 1 to 5 for every term. Now that I have over 147k links of spam from being attacked, I am ranked on page 7 and 8 maximum.
My site has a forum that was growing, and is an affiliate income website. I review 5 products, and 70% of my traffic was to non-income producing pages. (tutorials, how to pages, and some link bait stuff that people just loved to read and commend on)
The only differences I see between my website and these newly ranking sites, are;
1- They do not control their internal anchor text. If its a wordpress blog, links are post titles, nothing is shortened. If its a different platform, the links are unique on every page, typed out by the admin.
2- Very few links (this used to be the case for me as well, but spam attack gave me hundreds of thousands of links).
3- No comments allowed on top ranking sites. I allow comments for support, and answered about 5-10 a day, making the post word count huge. Maybe a bad thing?
4- Merchants and Larger websites with established forums are ranking better. This I think is fair most of the time. (not including blogspot and wordpress scrapers, and doorway tumblr pages). I am a medium to small website, so maybe this is an indication I should grow larger? However this is not consistent, several smaller sites also outrank some larger with a keyword domain.
Thats my take. I think at this point I am ready to give up. If google cant appreciate the content I provide, then they can have the spammers.