Google Webmaster Manual Penalties?

18 replies
Hi there,

I have a Webmaster account with 5 sites in it.

The sites are each completely unrelated to each other.

They are part of my private PR network. Each site uses a different theme and has a different look to each other. They were set up, at some cost, by a very well known "expert" in setting up such networks.

The sites are themed for 5 different markets, and each site links out to sites in their markets. They each link out to only 1 or 2 sites. They also link out to a bunch of authority type sites.

Each site has appropriate contact, privacy, terms and conditions, etc. pages.

Each site has between 3 and 5 posts, which are all completely original content.

I can't see how these sites could be more white hat than this.

One site is a PR3, 2 sites are PR2, 1 is PR1 and 1 is PR0.

They all have passable Trust - between 8 and 12 in Majestic.

All 5 sites have been given a manual penalty - all at the same time - and all for PURE SPAM.

There is no spam that I can see related to even one of these sites, let alone all 5.

Can anyone shed any light on any of this?

Any intelligent comments would be greatly appreciated!
#google #manual #penalties #webmaster
  • Profile picture of the author vishwa
    Can you please share your sites which have received penalty. So, We can look in to it and provide you more accurate data.
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    • Profile picture of the author Wealthyclark
      What type of link building/advertising have you been doing or having done?
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      • Profile picture of the author solution4u
        Originally Posted by Wealthyclark View Post

        What type of link building/advertising have you been doing or having done?
        Hi, Wealthyclark - completely variable - e.g. one has had about 1,000 links built to it in the past 90 days being a mixture of Web 2.0 and some, admittedly spammy comment links in there, but another site has had only 18 links built to it in the past 90 days!

        I don't think the "pure spam" manual penalty has anything to do with links TO the site, though? It seems to be talking about spam on the actual site - Google itself defines it as "The site appears to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping content from other websites, and/or other repeated or egregious violations of Google's quality guidelines."

        That's why I mentioned that these sites have original content on them only. There is absolutely nothing that would constitute gibberish, there is no cloaking or scraping of content from other websites, and I can't work out what other "egregious" violations they could possibly be talking about.

        Any other assistance from anyone with this would be greatly appreciated!
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    • Profile picture of the author solution4u
      Originally Posted by vishwa View Post

      Can you please share your sites which have received penalty. So, We can look in to it and provide you more accurate data.
      Thanks, Vishwa, but I'm not prepared to disclose my sites in a public forum!
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      • Profile picture of the author vishwa
        Originally Posted by solution4u View Post

        Thanks, Vishwa, but I'm not prepared to disclose my sites in a public forum!
        Is All your external links have nofollow attribute? If no, then this may be the problem.
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        • Profile picture of the author solution4u
          Thanks guys for your input. Here are the responses:

          Originally Posted by vishwa View Post

          Is All your external links have nofollow attribute? If no, then this may be the problem.
          Some do, some don't - variable.

          Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

          That's your problem. You told Google the sites are connected to each other through ownership.

          Everything you did do make them look different, have different themes, etc.was wasted. Moreover, since this is a "network" - a blog network, they are all a target.

          Initially, you claim there are all pure white hat. Obviously, what you are doing is not "white hat" in Google's playbook. Then you admit, well, a thousand links just came pouring in, including spammy and "2.0" ones.

          To be blunt: why in the world you submit any network site to Google webmaster tools? Let alone all the sites to the same account?

          Given that Google was told all the sites are connected, and there are linking problems, I'm guessing the content isn't all that great. Either you, and / or the "expert" did this wrong and it was only a matter of time before Google trashed all the sites.

          When you are trying to avoid Google's radar for what you are doing to manipulate backlinks, the last thing you should be doing is making it laughably easy for Google to penalize the entire network by putting all the sites in the same GWT account. Or any GWT account.

          .
          Yes, I think you have hit the nail on the head with the 5 sites being in the same Webmaster account. It made it easy for Google to penalise all 5, but surely they have to have some type of valid reason when they claim the sites are "pure spam". They are not.

          I didn't say that 1000 links came pouring in - they were built over a 3 month period - that's 333 links per month, or 11 links per day on average - hardly pouring in. And that was only 1 of the 5 sites.

          You can "guess" that the content "isn't that great" all you want - you are completely wrong in your guess. They content is high quality - very readable, on topic, and completely original on Copyscape.

          And the Webmaster account contained 5 sites - certainly not all of our sites! - that really would be stupid.

          Originally Posted by sovannachuon View Post

          Login to Majesticseo. With 1000 backlink,

          - How many referring domains and referring IP? If is a dozen or less, that's pretty poor.
          - Under anchor text graph, do you see evenly distributed chart? If so, that's bad. I prefer my money phrase should be around 2% and it comes from high PR. If the chart is so structured it screams for Google's attention.
          - What is your domain look like? Is it mostlyl somesite.com, www.somesite.com, http://somesite.com or click here? Most people get slapped here. You need to dilute your anchor text.
          - What did you use to protect your domains? Paid for privacy? Use plugin? Use fakename for each contact?
          - For those 1000s backlink, what quality? SENuke? Fiverr gig?

          Sovanna
          Of the 1000 links, built over a 3 month period, there are almost 200 domains and referring IPs - pretty high. The anchor text is not evenly distributed at all, and the vast majority are in the "other" category. The money phrase is about 6% - higher than your recommendation, but I still don't think it's all that high? The anchor text is diluted well, I believe. Yes, we paid for privacy on all sites, and there is a fake name for the contact, so perhaps that could be a flag if they were looking closely, but still it doesn't make it "pure spam" as defined by Google itself! Plugins used are few and just the common ones.
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    • Profile picture of the author davidaclark
      Originally Posted by vishwa View Post

      Can you please share your sites which have received penalty. So, We can look in to it and provide you more accurate data.
      Why do you not want to share the links. Surely the sites are on the Internet and indexed by search engines.
      Why the secrecy?
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      • Profile picture of the author solution4u
        Originally Posted by davidaclark View Post

        Why do you not want to share the links. Surely the sites are on the Internet and indexed by search engines.
        Why the secrecy?
        I'm not sure what to say to that, David. And actually they have been deindexed as a result of these manual penalties (not that that fact has anything to do with my reluctance to post the URLs in a public forum).
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  • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
    Originally Posted by solution4u View Post

    I have a Webmaster account with 5 sites in it.
    That's your problem. You told Google the sites are connected to each other through ownership.

    Everything you did do make them look different, have different themes, etc.was wasted. Moreover, since this is a "network" - a blog network, they are all a target.

    Initially, you claim there are all pure white hat. Obviously, what you are doing is not "white hat" in Google's playbook. Then you admit, well, a thousand links just came pouring in, including spammy and "2.0" ones.

    To be blunt: why in the world you submit any network site to Google webmaster tools? Let alone all the sites to the same account?

    Given that Google was told all the sites are connected, and there are linking problems, I'm guessing the content isn't all that great. Either you, and / or the "expert" did this wrong and it was only a matter of time before Google trashed all the sites.

    When you are trying to avoid Google's radar for what you are doing to manipulate backlinks, the last thing you should be doing is making it laughably easy for Google to penalize the entire network by putting all the sites in the same GWT account. Or any GWT account.

    .
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  • Profile picture of the author sovannachuon
    Login to Majesticseo. With 1000 backlink,

    - How many referring domains and referring IP? If is a dozen or less, that's pretty poor.
    - Under anchor text graph, do you see evenly distributed chart? If so, that's bad. I prefer my money phrase should be around 2% and it comes from high PR. If the chart is so structured it screams for Google's attention.
    - What is your domain look like? Is it mostlyl somesite.com, www.somesite.com, http://somesite.com or click here? Most people get slapped here. You need to dilute your anchor text.
    - What did you use to protect your domains? Paid for privacy? Use plugin? Use fakename for each contact?
    - For those 1000s backlink, what quality? SENuke? Fiverr gig?

    Sovanna
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  • Profile picture of the author IMMer1975
    I'm tending to agree with you that the link profile doesn't *seem* like the issue, especially given their very pointed message. And I've not known them to penalize all sites simply because they are owned by the same webmaster account...that would be a law suite in the making. Each site is its own property and should be evaluated as such...independently. Besides, many agencies have many client properties in one webmaster account...it just doesn't make sense that Google would kill the lot. Maybe if you did extensive cross linking and it really was a blog network, but assuming what you've told us, it points to something else.

    Are they wordpress sites? Check your 3rd party plugins CAREFULLY. I've had more than one that has inserted a backlink for nefarious purposes. I have no doubt there could be others that are doing content cloaking or something else. So I'd evaluate your plug-ins first. Then run a scan on your site for malware. You can have malware which redirects certain users at certain times. There are many online services which will scan your site.

    Finally, After verifying all that, you can craft a well reasoned response to the webmaster team. They are far more reasonable than the adsense team. Explain what you did, what you checked, what you corrected - be honest - and ask for a re-evaluation or explanation.

    Good luck - I know how frustrating it is.
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  • Profile picture of the author solution4u
    Hi cdutoit,

    Thanks for your helpful suggestions. There is no cross linking. Each site is in a different niche entirely, so they don't link to each other and each they link out to different sites (there is nothing to connect them at all).

    Yes, they are WP sites. Someone else mentioned the plugins earlier, but I didn't really follow what was meant. I understand what you are saying and have looked for information on how to check them, but I still don't know how to do that. ?

    I have checked now for malware - this is clear. So I guess after I know how to check the plugins and do that, I will ask for a reconsideration and hope for the best, although I am reluctant to do that without having any clue what raised the flag in the first place.
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  • Profile picture of the author LiftMyRank
    My bet is they were all on the same IP address or some other footprint which made big G think they're a splog network
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    • Profile picture of the author solution4u
      Originally Posted by LiftMyRank View Post

      My bet is they were all on the same IP address or some other footprint which made big G think they're a splog network
      Hi LiftMyRank - No, I forgot to mention this aspect - they were all on different IP addresses. And I can't imagine what other type of footprint you could have in mind? I personally don't think there was any type of footprint, which is why I'm so in the dark about why they have issued a manual penalty for all the sites.
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  • Profile picture of the author IMMer1975
    Regarding the plugins, go back to the wordpress directory and search for each plugin and read the reviews again. Also, do a View Source on your pages in the browser and look for suspicious code. There you might find text in your page which is not visible when viewed as a web page, which is what Google alluded to in their generic message. The malware scan should also help.

    One famous trick used by malware is to check where the visitor is coming from. If you type in the url directly (which the site owner typically does), it does nothing malicious so you never see it. However, if the click to the site is coming from google search results (how most of your visitors find you), then it will redirect or inject 3rdparty content. So try google a phrase that will cause your site to return in the result (if it still does after the penalty) and then click the result.

    Lastly, you did mention that one of the sites has a dubious link profile (my words...). If some of those links are really spammy, use the disavow tool in webmaster to clean up your link profile.

    When you file for a reconsideration request, you need to show that you have done *something*. So, at least you can say that you detected bad links on 1 of your 5 sites and have disavowed them, you scanned for malware across all 5 sites, you analyzed each plug-in etc. Show action.

    If you want to PM me one of the sites in private I can do a quick view source to see if I see anything obvious, though I can't spend any exhaustive time on it.

    Good luck...I hate getting caught in these blanket policies.
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  • Profile picture of the author solution4u
    Thanks, cdutoit, for your helpful suggestions.

    The sites are already deindexed, so I couldn't look for the type of malaware that you mentioned, but I have now gone through carefully in relation to your other suggestions.

    Thanks for your offer to look through the source code. I really appreciate it, but I won't bother you. I've now had someone else do this for me, who didn't find anything untoward.

    I have identified a couple of possible issues - minor things, but things I have now changed and can point to in reconsideration requests.
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  • Profile picture of the author guitarizma
    Banned
    Originally Posted by solution4u View Post

    Hi there,

    I have a Webmaster account with 5 sites in it.

    The sites are each completely unrelated to each other.

    They are part of my private PR network. Each site uses a different theme and has a different look to each other. They were set up, at some cost, by a very well known "expert" in setting up such networks.

    The sites are themed for 5 different markets, and each site links out to sites in their markets. They each link out to only 1 or 2 sites. They also link out to a bunch of authority type sites.

    Each site has appropriate contact, privacy, terms and conditions, etc. pages.

    Each site has between 3 and 5 posts, which are all completely original content.

    I can't see how these sites could be more white hat than this.

    One site is a PR3, 2 sites are PR2, 1 is PR1 and 1 is PR0.

    They all have passable Trust - between 8 and 12 in Majestic.

    All 5 sites have been given a manual penalty - all at the same time - and all for PURE SPAM.

    There is no spam that I can see related to even one of these sites, let alone all 5.

    Can anyone shed any light on any of this?

    Any intelligent comments would be greatly appreciated!
    If its a network and Google knows about it, that's a problem. Also, did you use guest blogging - either for increasing posts or getting backlinks? That can get you penalized too. Yes, guest posting is NOT good for SEO - thats what Matt Cutts says.
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    • Profile picture of the author solution4u
      Originally Posted by guitarizma View Post

      If its a network and Google knows about it, that's a problem. Also, did you use guest blogging - either for increasing posts or getting backlinks? That can get you penalized too. Yes, guest posting is NOT good for SEO - thats what Matt Cutts says.
      No guest posting.
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