The "Minus 30" Penalty Revisited

Jun 25, 2007 • 9:53 am | comments (13) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

We've been watching the Google "minus thirty" penalty for quite some time. Recent reports at WebmasterWorld have webmasters relying upon each other for support and advice, and after several months, some people have lately been successful.

Some people admitted to having duplicate content. Others feel that it's due to participation in link schemes and having sites linked to bad neighborhoods. Even others feel that their pages may have been over-optimized. In some cases, paid links were removed. It also helped numerous webmasters to clean up the code.

After reevaluating the site, ensuring there are proper 301 redirects, and editing the robots.txt so that it would not be spidering any duplicate pages, many have had a lot of success after submitting a reinclusion request.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.

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06/25/2007 06:45 pm

The policy of not allowing URLs to be mentioned on WMW makes it extremely hard to discuss penalties or similar issues there. We've had some luck in the Google webmaster helper groups, but finding the reasons for some of those sites is close to impossible (without any feedback from Google, from the reconsideration requests). I believe there are a lot of webmasters who would be willing to clean up their sites to comply with the Google webmaster guidelines, if only they knew which item needed to be changed (especially on sites that are or at least appear to be compliant). Is it broken HTML code? not enough contrast between the colors for the text? CSS menus with "hidden" text? affiliate links not masked enough? technical issues on the server side? or even a hacked server? or is the domain name manually black-listed so that no reconsideration request will be forwarded? Also - it would be great to know how multiple reconsideration requests are handled: do they want more information / fixes as you find them or does that move "your site" to the back of the queue? How long should people wait to see if they found it before getting the site checked and changed by the next expert?

Adam Lasnik

06/25/2007 07:26 pm

Hey JohnMu, you raise some good points and questions. - Yes, it is often challenging for us Googlers to derive info and actionable points from WebmasterWorld due to the not-mentioning of URLs. I understand and respect the intent of the no-URL policy, however. - We are working to provide more information to Webmasters on an ongoing basis. Our recent substantial additions/revisions to the Webmaster Help docs is one step in this process. - We don't view multiple reconsideration requests unkindly (though this isn't an invite to send one every day for a month; that sort of extreme wastes everyone's time). On the whole, it's best for affected webmasters to make substantive changes, then file a reconsideration request with at least a few sentences on what the problem was, how it was fixed, and a promise that any guideline violations are not going to be repeated. At this point, we're doing a pretty good job getting through reconsideration requests (which we do manually review); it's *typically* a matter of days or a week or two rather than months, though of course a sudden change in reconsideration request volume may alter this timeline. As always, we're looking at ways to improve all of our communications with webmasters while still protecting the integrity of our index, and feedback is always welcomed :).


06/25/2007 10:15 pm

Hello, this is a fantastic thread - good reading so far. I am the owner of and currently 14 months this week into this penalty. My full details can be found at the Google webmaster boards where many continue to be stumped as to the continuation of the penalty. Here is my thread with detailed information from the Google boards. I have in my opinion and others done everything to turn the site from a former thin-affiliate website to a content rich, added-value resource. Please read my thread posted and share any and all advice as to why my site continues to be penalized after over a year of good faith on my behalf to follow all of the google webmaster guidelines. Thanks for your consideration! Nate

Jaan Kanellis

06/25/2007 11:31 pm

Nate the fact that your an affiliate website is probably the biggest issue.


06/26/2007 01:08 am

Jaan, you may be right but the fact that I have ecommerce on the site, in the form of affiliate links should not be an issue as Adam above will tell you that Google doesn't not penalize soley on the fact that a site has affiliate links. I truly believe that I offer much more value-added content and services that put me out ahead of the average affiliate site that simply uses feeds and template driven sites, etc. There are many sites out there that use only affiliate links, yet rank very well in Google. Even though some offer very little unique or useful content. There has to be some other major source or something that I and others have missed that is causing this continued penalty.. but what?

Sam Adam

06/26/2007 09:00 am

In the eyes of Google, for correct attribution of duplicate content, ... judging from some of the other threads in forums I've read, some people still want


06/26/2007 05:25 pm

Nate's site is an affiliate shop (the affiliate links are also marked with rel=nofollow), but it's not a thin-affiliate or cookie-cutter site; it has a bunch of unique content, even if it's not the best site on the web. It might not have enough to rank as #1 for a competitive term, but it should at least hit the top 10 for it's brand or domain name, right? It doesn't. Why?


06/27/2007 05:38 pm

Now I am totally confused. Should we be pointing the thousands of people posting on the official Google Webmasters Help group to SEOROUNDTABLE blog comments or to WebmasterWorld for help from Google?

Barry Schwartz

06/27/2007 05:50 pm

Google Webmaster Groups - not here or WMW.


06/27/2007 08:50 pm

One very interesting fact that has just recently been made news to me is that my domain is on AT LEAST two spam lists. Could this be a factor in my ongoing penalty? A few months ago I found that with yahoo backlinks check, over 17,000 backlinks pointed to me from spam sites, and sites that strip content/titles filled with Google ads, without my permission. They mask themselves to look like sumbissions sites at times, to fool search engines and "appear" legit. Now I am 110% certain that I have never spammed. Believe me if I had the chance to simply come clean and admit to it and beg for forgiveness I would be happy to do it, I don't find 14 months of being penalized all that much fun. But I have never spammed, yet I am on 2 spam lists. What do you make of this? This is very depressing as it appears that ladning on a spam list can happen to innocent webmasters. I would like more input on my case, all comments are welcome. Nate

Mark John

07/03/2007 01:32 pm

Maintaining top SERP rankings is a full time job. Chances are you have watched your hard earned rankings plummet before and know the agony involved in SSRN-The Motherhood Wage Penalty Revisited: Experience, Heterogeneity, Work Effort And Work-Schedule Flexibility by Deborah Anderson, Melissa Binder


07/03/2007 01:34 pm

Greetings (Adam and others), I have sent in my re-consideration request after listing all of my substantive changes over the past 14 months, summarizing all the issue that I have been able to find and fix as well as those found by others such as JohnMu that have been very helpful in my attempt to find the cause of the penalty. One major thing I was happy to see in the webmaster guidelines relating to affiliates is that Google recommends for sites with affiliate sales to use reviews, ratings and comprisons.. that's is excellent because I have been implementing all three extensively in the thousands! :) I placed my re-consideration request this past Friday, and I am very anxious as I am confident that my site no longer warrants the penalty after a long effort to meet all the webmaster guidelines. Nate

Paroles Pedia

12/19/2007 12:45 pm

This is Vaughns Google search engine SERP Ranking Factors SEO Checklist. Portions of this page were last updated on 2007-12-09. So, SERP Rankings and CTR. Posted (Marc) in SEO on August-12-2006. Gordon Trebbut leaves an interesting comment on Jim Boykin’s blog.

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