The Google -950 Penalty Is Back?

Oct 17, 2012 • 8:26 am | comments (28) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Google -950Google's "minus 950" penalty comes up every now and then and now it is coming up again at the WebmasterWorld forums.

The thread goes into how a few webmasters are claiming around the time of the Google EMD update they got hit by a -950 penalty. Now, they all say they do not have exact match domains, and thus do not qualify for the EMD update. Note, Panda also struck down around then, but they claim they are not a Panda like site.

So now the question is, can you recover from a -950 penalty? In 2007, Google's Cutts confirmed the -950 penalty is related to over optimization.

Donna said at the thread that she helped a site recover from it, she wrote:

I had one site at -950 for long time till I tried to de-optimize the OnPage SEO, it recovered in less then a month afterwords.

Whereas bwnbwn said there is no recovery:

A 950 is the death sentence and your better off moving on.

Personally, I find it hard to believe you can't recover because sites have recovered over the past several years from this.

Tedster from WebmasterWorld wrote:

My main point is this. No matter how low you are currently ranking, it is not a cause for hopelessness - especially if you used to rank well. The fact that your URL is still in the result set anywhere at all is a positive sign in a very negative situation.

The main point I want to make is that these "penalties" are algorithms that adapt over time but never always fully go away. So the -950 penalty from several years ago, well - yea, it is still here in one way or another. Knowing which penalty your site was hit by, well that is hard.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: October 16, 2012



10/17/2012 12:55 pm

SEOs are always busy. First they optimize, then de-optimize ... then optimize the other way, then discuss why got the penalty ... then blame Google ... and optimize again to get another penalty sooner or later ) I never heard anyone from SEOs developed long-lasting online business with really strong brand not related to SEO. Did you ?

Sandeep Bali

10/17/2012 01:21 pm

This is what SEO Industry thrives on, and so does Google. What is wrong with being busy anyway?


10/17/2012 01:45 pm

If you don't like SEO, stop commenting on and reading an SEO blog!


10/17/2012 02:09 pm

SEO Industry thrives on to get penalty on regular basis ?? I wish your customers hear that ))


10/17/2012 02:16 pm

When did you see me reading SEO blog ? And what blog was it ? Same way, I can suggest you to stop consume cognac every morning )

Velin Dobrev

10/17/2012 02:58 pm

Great article

Steven Lockey

10/17/2012 03:53 pm

This is an SEO Blog...... What do you think SE Roundtable is about. And YES we have lots of long running sites that have never been penalised. All decent SEOs do. The trick to long-lasting SEOs is to produce decent content without using the 'tricks' that people use to try and con Google. It may not product the 'instant' boost that the tricks produce but it results in a stronger, higher ranking site in the long run.


10/17/2012 04:25 pm

What does the -950 refer to?


10/17/2012 04:39 pm

Just ignore this disgruntled Google Engineer - Alias Mr Anti-SEO its a lost cause :)


10/17/2012 07:40 pm

"I never heard anyone from SEOs developed long-lasting online business with really strong brand not related to SEO." What does this nonsense even mean? That successful online businesses don't use SEO?


10/17/2012 07:54 pm

Really ?? )) Probably you should inform Barry what this blog is about, since the About Us statement of his blog ( ) doesn't mention anything about something called SEO. Since when decent content producing is called SEO ?? I don't want to be offtopic, but for me was always funny how SEOs thrived on minus any-number-here penalties )) " Isn't it -74 penalty ? " " Could be ... but most probably it's -34,5 penalty !!! " Common guys, it's funny ))))


10/17/2012 07:56 pm

This is the next after -949 penalty, but before -951 ...


10/17/2012 08:01 pm



10/17/2012 08:14 pm

mr. troll, please go some anti-seo forum and stop post here.


10/17/2012 09:14 pm

I actually drink tequila in the morning. Someone who hates SEO, commenting on SEO blogs...seems like that someone needs a life!

James The Cook

10/17/2012 09:40 pm

Have you been at the cooking Sherry?

WireNine Hosting

10/18/2012 02:31 am

-950 means you move down in rankings 950 positions from your current ranking -- so if you were #1 you would now be #951.


10/18/2012 03:31 am

Editing meta description is SEO and I'm sure many successful sites do this


10/18/2012 06:39 am

I really dont understand why you read this blog...


10/18/2012 08:27 am

Editing meta description became a common knowledge many years ago. The same as everything else related to SEO. SEO, according to Google, is tiny and the most uneducated part of the web development. Follow the guideline and that's it. SEO, according to SEO service suppliers, is something valuable, that need special knowledge. Well, with Panda SEOs got perfect opportunity to prove their valuableness. Not a lot of success stories around.


10/18/2012 08:38 am

SEOs will do their work as needed...


10/18/2012 08:54 am

Because this blog provides latest search engines news in the form of digest. Read carefully. SE news, not SEO news. It's definitely far from perfect, but not a lot of choices here.

anti anti-seo

10/18/2012 01:45 pm


Julian True Flynn

10/18/2012 02:29 pm

I'm convinced Google is just testing whatever they can now for 2 reasons: -1). Create an air of confusion for SEO's. -2). Further increase their efforts of identifying low quality sites. Now both are understandable from Google's POV, but I have to admit as an avid Google user (I Google everything) the SERPs have fallen off recently. I still see less than desirable results (or completely irrelevant websites) ranking for the questions I type into Google. They're still light years ahead of Bing though :-P

Matt John Canty

10/19/2012 01:33 am

SEO is among the most significant channels to promote your business on the virtual world however while you perform all activities, there‘s this one thing you need to be very careful of and that is avoiding from the issues of Google. So how can you do that? Just link carefully, avoid cloaking and fix that error 404.

Kevin Obrien

10/19/2012 02:57 pm

my website has been moved to position 8 on page one (it was on page 2 position 2 )and i have the same domain name for my website as for my keywords, why is this? I taught i would get moved back ? not pushed up!

Lewis Clifford

10/19/2012 03:16 pm

I think the trick is to keep the faith, deliver quality content that is compelling, Make link feel natural and organic. Increase social buzz.... The steps are all laid out by GOOGLE themselves. It is not complicated

Frustrated Googler

10/20/2012 10:40 pm

Hi Barry, You have made me feel a lot better this morning. I have been battling to understand why my site which was page 2 number 3 went down to page 4 number 6 and in the last week page 5 number 1 after having crept up ~2-3 places per week for over previous 8 months. Site traffic has dropped about 25% and click-through about 20%. I am not an EMD and with 20+ 1500 word hand written relevant articles (80 articles all up) front-ending an e-Commerce site with high tech products from one of the top 3 vendors in each vertical, all expensive products hand written descriptions (though with large un-altered specs sheets/lists from the equipment vendors), instructive descriptions, deep site links to the the vendors page's, brochures, install manuals, data sheets, reference manuals and use guides. More than 1200 pages all up, 350 PDFs, 80-100 articles, 550 products and categories. Was this Google's idea of 'Thin Content' AKA Panda. I couldn't believe that this was the cause, but being a non-EMD domain had resigned myself to working through the 'thin and duplicate' issues that seemed to be present (12 duplicates title/meta desc in WMT of which all but 3 were already resolved). They have put me behind new '5 page' sites, other country results and wordpress 20 page sites with minimal information and no-eCommerce. Ironically the top 3 on the main keyword use 'spun content article websites' and have the most un-natural looking anchor profiles you have ever seen and a few down from this is a site built using 300 bid directories. I am a small business owner and being new to having an e-commerce site, couldn't work out how to choose an SEO from the choices (and having heard from many other business owners I know, the hit and miss SEO costing big bucks to no end). So I decided to educate myself first and used a leading SEO site and tools from one of 'the top 3' (who I won't mention here as they are good and I don't want to possibly disparage their great products) costing $100+ per month. Also use 2 other tools costing $50 per month. All landing pages were optimised to 'highest' level using the SEO vendors tool. All my article pages target a client 'problem' which also translates mostly into the primary keywords I track. My main keyword (moderately competitive) also forms a sub-word in many of the other keywords as they are different facets of the main. In 15 months since inception I had over 75 page 1 tracked keywords and over 25 top 3. This has now dropped to 50 and 20, with the pages going being the ones that tie to that 'main keyword'. In the end, I had not had a 'front' to fight until reading this article. This makes far more sense to me. Over-optimisation using well meaning SEO tools, So I think I will make my SEO a lot crxppier and see how that goes. I have always thought Google was amazing, but they are now wasting SOOO much of my time and distracting me from my normal business. I don't have all day to play these games. And all for what? So they can show someone the 5 page site on page 2 (where I was) without any new info on it? This is where they have lost the plot IMHO.

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