Google Kicked Me in the Pants -- What Would You Do?

39 replies
Hi all, I'm new, and I'm sure what happened to me today is familar to many of you. I'd really appreciate any tips or words of advice from the old pros!

Here's my problem: I got kicked in the pants by Google.

Suddenly, my site that seemed to be gaining momentum quite nicely dropped 150 places or more for most of my keywords. My primary keyword isn't even ranking in the top 200 anymore.

The site's still #2 in Bing for some of those lesser keywords, then for Google it's at, say, 168.

I believe this is called a 'sandbox' penalty?

I have no idea how long this will last or what I did to cause it. And, most of all, what I should be doing now.

The background:
This is a small Amazon affiliate site focusing on a niche product.

It's about a month old, and has a bunch of 500-1000 word original articles about that product and other related products, all written by me.

I've been building backlinks by hand over the past month; mostly blog comments (the non-spammy kind, where I'm actually reacting to the blog post and not just saying "Nice post!") and social bookmarking/profiles.

The backlinking volume is anywhere from 1 to 10 backlinks a day, but no more than that. There are no-follow links as well as do-follow links. I haven't done any automated submissions, link wheels, spun articles, etc.

I'm surprised at how personal it feels to get slammed by Google this way!

I just wonder what I did wrong, to put my website in the icebox.

If you guys have any idea, I'd love to know. I hope you don't mind if I don't give out the URL of the site itself.

I've also read Spencer's post about something similar that happened to a site of his (sorry, can't post the link yet), where he decided to just give up on that site and start another, clean domain.

I don't want to do that with this site; I've put work into it, and I want it to succeed.

But what do I do now?

Do I:
  • keep adding content at a slow, steady rate (1 article a week)
  • keep adding backlinks the same way I've been doing (1-10 a day)
  • stop doing anything, let it sit for a while (how long?)
  • intensify my efforts and add content/backlinks FASTER?
What would you do?
#google #google penalty #google sandbox #kicked #pants #search engine ranking
  • Profile picture of the author Jammy
    Many new websites are given a honeymoon period, where they can rank higher than they deserve so that google can assess the traffic/click rate etc.

    I'm wondering if you have reached the end of your honeymoon period?
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by Jammy View Post

      Many new websites are given a honeymoon period, where they can rank higher than they deserve so that google can assess the traffic/click rate etc.

      I'm wondering if you have reached the end of your honeymoon period?
      That's a good question -- I don't know either, of course!

      It just didn't feel that much like a honeymoon period to me, because the site started out in the low 100's of Google SERPs, then slowly crept up. It seemed an organic process, and I never hit high rankings early on.
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  • Profile picture of the author abubakar89
    I am also wondering why it happened .......... 1-10 backlinks a day are not a lot ..........
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  • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
    Originally Posted by Boedicea View Post

    Hi all, I'm new, and I'm sure what happened to me today is familar to many of you. I'd really appreciate any tips or words of advice from the old pros!

    Here's my problem: I got kicked in the pants by Google.

    Suddenly, my site that seemed to be gaining momentum quite nicely dropped 150 places or more for most of my keywords. My primary keyword isn't even ranking in the top 200 anymore.

    The site's still #2 in Bing for some of those lesser keywords, then for Google it's at, say, 168.

    I believe this is called a 'sandbox' penalty?

    [...]

    What would you do?
    This sounds like the "Google Dance", to me. It's happened to most of my sites at some point or other - some very quickly after launch, some after a few weeks and others after months.

    All you can do is keep working: add more content and keep building backlinks, and eventually - one day - you should see either a gradual increase in rankings again, or a dramatic leap.

    This is a very common situation, but no-one can really say for how long it'll last. In my experience it could range from days to weeks to months. But the rankings nearly always come back up, unless there was some other reason behind their decline in the first place.
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by DireStraits View Post

      This is a very common situation, but no-one can really say for how long it'll last. In my experience it could range from days to weeks to months. But the rankings nearly always come back up, unless there was some other reason behind their decline in the first place.
      Thanks, this is good to hear!

      I must say "Google Dance" is a more reassuring term than "sandbox penalty" . Though I'm not sure where the two differ, either, except I guess that a sandbox penalty is less easy to escape from?

      My own inclination is also to just keep adding content and links at a slow-but-steady rate, and your reply seems to reinforce that. I just hope it doesn't mean no clicks/visitors for months on end...
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Worner
    "Google Kicked Me in the Pants -- What Would You Do?"

    I think the more important question is, what was Google doing in your pants in the first place?

    -Chris
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by Chris Worner View Post

      I think the more important question is, what was Google doing in your pants in the first place?

      -Chris
      LOL, erm. Perhaps I should have phrased that differently, eh?

      I like Google, sure, but I don't like Google THAT much...
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    How about building a business that does not rely on Google for its success?

    Harvey Segal did it, and you can too.

    Learn about Harvey's story here: How to Make Money on the Net (Not an affiliate link, but if you want my affiliate link, ask for it. LOL)
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    • Profile picture of the author Richard Van
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      How about building a business that does not rely on Google for its success?
      Exactly what I'm doing with all my new projects. I'm forgetting all 3rd party reliance from now on.

      Feel free to PM me that affiliate link.
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      Wibble, bark, my old man's a mushroom etc...

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  • Profile picture of the author nick1980
    That happened to one of my sites a while back. I rose all the way up to page 3 for one of my main keywords, and then Google slapped me well and truly in the chops and I fell all the way back down to page 40, screaming "Noooooooooooooh" as I went. I'm back up to page 2 now though. As long as you haven't done anything to violate Google's TOS, I'm sure you'll see some improvement, and very soon. Keep adding content, creating good quality backlinks and eventually you'll be rewarded.
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by nick1980 View Post

      That happened to one of my sites a while back. I rose all the way up to page 3 for one of my main keywords, and then Google slapped me well and truly in the chops and I fell all the way back down to page 40, screaming "Noooooooooooooh" as I went.
      Hee, yes, that's exactly how I feel right now. I was up to page 2 for the main keyword, and page 1 for sub-keywords! Noooooooooooo!

      But I am pretty sure I haven't violated Google's TOS, so that makes me hopeful that the drop will eventually correct itself -- like yours did.

      It really helps to hear about other people who experienced similar issues and got back on top of the rankings. I hope things can turn around for me, too.
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by Boedicea View Post

        I am pretty sure I haven't violated Google's TOS, so that makes me hopeful that the drop will eventually correct itself -- like yours did.

        If you were in violation of Google's TOS, your site would have been completed erased from Google.

        A search query of site:domain.com would return zero results.

        You have already said that your site can still be found inside Google, so your site has simply lost rankings.

        If it was a penalty related drop, all rankings your site had would have been dropped an equal number of places. Those types of penalties are usually -100 or something of that nature. The killer of course is -1000, since Google only publishes the top 1000 results at most.
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        Publish Coloring Books for Profit (WSOTD 7-30-2015)
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        • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
          Originally Posted by tpw View Post

          If you were in violation of Google's TOS, your site would have been completed erased from Google.

          A search query of site:domain.com would return zero results.

          You have already said that your site can still be found inside Google, so your site has simply lost rankings.
          Right, thanks! That's something, at least.

          If it had gotten completely erased I would give up on it, right away, I think. That doesn't seem like something you could get back from.
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  • Profile picture of the author Geraldm
    Google does things all the time that defy belief. The best thing to do is move on ... if you're in the IM game then you cannot rely on just one website.

    Trying to figure out what google is doing with your website is futile and counter productive. The best thing you can do now is move on … leave the website alone and start building more websites.... In about 4-6 months come back to it and see if it has improved at all on Google … if it has then continue with it (post new articles, get more backlinks etc), if it hasn’t then just move on….

    Remember IM is like throwing mud at a wall …. You only want to focus your attention on the mud that sticks to the wall and not the majority which fall off …. It’s all a numbers game, don’t forget that!

    Just my 2 cents worth

    Cheers …
    G.
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by netfq View Post

      Trying to figure out what google is doing with your website is futile and counter productive. The best thing you can do now is move on ... leave the website alone and start building more websites.... In about 4-6 months come back to it and see if it has improved at all on Google ... if it has then continue with it (post new articles, get more backlinks etc), if it hasn't then just move on....

      Remember IM is like throwing mud at a wall .... You only want to focus your attention on the mud that sticks to the wall and not the majority which fall off .... It's all a numbers game, don't forget that!

      Just my 2 cents worth

      G.
      Thanks for your $0.02!

      I agree, it is not productive for me to keep wondering what I did wrong.

      I was hoping it would be something that's easily fixable, so I can avoid it for the next time -- but if it's just Google moving in mysterious ways, then there's nothing I can do.

      And I will definitely branch out into more websites, different niches etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by Vincent Cheng View Post

      I guess, the best way to go now, is also to build traffic from multiple sources so as to not depend on google too much, which seems to have a tendency to do such things. Hope this helps.
      Hi Vincent, Yeah, that's going to be the tricky part I think -- not just for this site but for others as well.

      I've noticed that with search engine traffic, even if I rank very high on Yahoo or Bing and less high on Google, 90% of traffic is still coming in via Google...it is a force to be reckoned with.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nail Yener
    Hi Boedicea,

    I had the same issue (Google dance or whatever) with one of my sites about a year ago and it stayed like that for more than 6 months. Disappearing for a few weeks and coming back to the first page for a few days and so on. Since the site was not a high quality one, I didn't bother with it and left it to its fate. One day, it came to the first page again and it is steady now for a couple of months.

    I did some research about this when the site first started to disappear because I didn't want to have the same issue with my future sites. In my opinion the problem with my site was that I created all the backlinks to the home page and not to any inner pages. I cannot prove whether this is a valid argument or not but comparing with my other sites that never had such a ranking dance, this makes sense to me.

    If you haven't backlinked to your inner pages, I would recommend you start doing so.
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    • Profile picture of the author JRemington
      I was in this hell for 3 weeks once and only resolved it by masking or cloaking all my affiliate links.

      As a naïve beginner, I went into my sites steaming full ahead and made quite a few silly mistakes, like that one, which cost me money having no traffic for 3 weeks on 3 sites.

      Some ads are very bad for Google, who may well send you to the last page of the SERP if your links are not masked and have too many characters in it.

      Example:

      Google does not like: ]http://fzehr? /.zerkjhzre.hop=jimmyboy/?.makemecash.com

      It prefers: http://www.yoursite. com/affiliatecloaked

      Want loads of interesting info on this? I found some when this happened to me.

      Check out this thread to read some great info
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by Nail Yener View Post

      Hi Boedicea,
      (...)
      In my opinion the problem with my site was that I created all the backlinks to the home page and not to any inner pages. I cannot prove whether this is a valid argument or not but comparing with my other sites that never had such a ranking dance, this makes sense to me.
      Hi Nail,

      Not sure it's what is going on in this specific case, but a good tip anyway, thanks!

      I have linked to inner pages and supporting articles as well as the home page, I think about a 50/50 mix of home page and other page links.

      I'm very glad to hear your site got back to page 1 eventually!
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        It sounds like you're doing everything right. Keep on keeping on.

        Google makes no secret that they tweak their algorithm constantly. When they do, a portion of the sites indexed see their rank go up or down, only to change again with the next tweak. It's the nature of the beast.

        What people are calling the "Google dance" is, I believe, Google experimenting with algo changes, evaluating them, and either reversing the change or making another change back closer to the original.

        Work on finding traffic sources that are not Google based, and dancing the next dance won't be so stressful...
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  • Profile picture of the author Steven Miranda
    I don't think it is a sandbox. Sounds like Google dance effect to me. I think the way to get out of it is to keep building new content and keep building backlinks. Get away from blog comments.
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    • Profile picture of the author budin
      Google is getting complicated each day, I would suggest to all 'SEO activists', try looking for a new source of free marketing that don't require a lot of time and energy, maybe video marketing in youtube would be a good start.
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by Steven Miranda View Post

      I don't think it is a sandbox. Sounds like Google dance effect to me. I think the way to get out of it is to keep building new content and keep building backlinks. Get away from blog comments.
      Thanks Steven! You say to avoid the blog comments. I assume that's for a while, not forever?

      Also, do you think social bookmarking/profiles are okay to keep going with, albeit at a slow rate?

      For example, I write and post a new article, I create bookmarks to that article during the next few days.
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  • Profile picture of the author philiptrav
    thats the problem with the web these days;G oogle has too much control over us all. I have a very establised website that was making 300 to 500 per day for several months up to 4 months ago, it has made around 60 to 100 k for the last 5 years. at this time I was so happy, just raking in the cash as i slept, the site takes 3 minutes to update a day but i can spend much more time if I want. One day I got up and checked my reports, ahhhg $20 for the whole day, the next $23 etc etc, it was horrible, still to this day it has not come back. I have slowely been adding a few links here and there, it is a non content site so i can't do anythng there, i just hope it comes back before the holiday shopping season soon.

    i wish u luck too
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by philiptrav View Post

      thats the problem with the web these days;G oogle has too much control over us all. I have a very establised website that was making 300 to 500 per day for several months up to 4 months ago, it has made around 60 to 100 k for the last 5 years. at this time I was so happy, just raking in the cash as i slept, the site takes 3 minutes to update a day but i can spend much more time if I want. One day I got up and checked my reports, ahhhg $20 for the whole day, the next $23 etc etc, it was horrible, still to this day it has not come back. I have slowely been adding a few links here and there, it is a non content site so i can't do anythng there, i just hope it comes back before the holiday shopping season soon.
      Holy cow, Philip, you had a site making 60 to 100 k a year for the last 5 years??

      And that got dumped?!

      So many sympathies. I do hope for you that it comes back before the shopping season...
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    Consider your site dropping in rank a blessing.

    Ive experienced this numerous times with my own sites, and EVERY time they have returned ranked much higher.

    I gaurantee you your site will be right up there in a matter of days
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by ramone_johnny View Post

      I gaurantee you your site will be right up there in a matter of days
      I'll be back in a week to tell you how it goes, how's that? Thanks for your positive take on this!
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  • Profile picture of the author prasanth5
    Any business for that matter cannot be built exclusively of Google. Hence one can only hope that the ranking improves in the course of time.
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  • Profile picture of the author visimedia
    kinda weird... What if you just build steady and slow backlinks to that site?
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  • Profile picture of the author tbsweet52
    Keep posting articles, keep building links at the pace you were doing. Like an above post said, your rankings should come back the same or even stronger.

    I'm only assuming your site was hit because it was a small affiliate site. From reading on other forums those seem to be the ones that get hit first/the worst.
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  • Profile picture of the author NicSennen
    Just check the source code of your site to make sure it hasn't been hacked with concealed spam links. If that's ok then just do as the others have said and keep building links gradually. I would diversify the sources of my links a bit as well with web 2.0 sites and article submission.
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by NicSennen View Post

      Just check the source code of your site to make sure it hasn't been hacked with concealed spam links. If that's ok then just do as the others have said and keep building links gradually. I would diversify the sources of my links a bit as well with web 2.0 sites and article submission.
      Yeah, I think you're right re: diversifying, and I will do that. Also, I'll check my source code and plugins -- I haven't installed anything new recently, and they're all updated, but you never know.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ben Dixon
    If you've really only done what you've said in your OP, you are doing nothing wrong, in fact you're doing it just right.

    Continue exactly as you have been and your rank will improve over time. You can't expect a brand new site to rank without work. I don't think it's the 'sandbox penalty', more like you are just seeing your true current ranking.
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  • Profile picture of the author joshuatim11
    Is there any kind of notification is send when this occurs by google or is there any tool which can tell us that we are penalize or what?
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    • Profile picture of the author Boedicea
      Originally Posted by joshuatim11 View Post

      Is there any kind of notification is send when this occurs by google or is there any tool which can tell us that we are penalize or what?
      There's no notification when Google drops your rankings, Joshua -- at least, not for me, and I'm willing to bet not for anyone!

      Also, I really doubt that there's a tool available that tells you anything about Google's inner workings or why they do what they do. Nobody has that kind of intel except Google themselves.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Kage
        Originally Posted by Boedicea View Post

        There's no notification when Google drops your rankings, Joshua -- at least, not for me, and I'm willing to bet not for anyone!

        Also, I really doubt that there's a tool available that tells you anything about Google's inner workings or why they do what they do. Nobody has that kind of intel except Google themselves.
        I sometimes wonder if even Google knows what it is doing. We all know the big sites aren't going to drop. Manipulation at its finest(from Google that is).
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