Thin Content Penalty Using PBN

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Hi All,

I have an Amazon affiliate site -- main 3 money pages all well-written, unique, well-researched content, around 4,000 words each. This is NOT a thin site by any imagination.

Launched the site 5 months ago. Have slowly been building out PBN links to the site. About 10 days ago, one of the pages jumped into the top 3-4 positions in the SERPS (8,100 LMS). So far, so good -- my plan is working. This is with about 15-20 PBN links to this page at this point.

Then this morning, I'm hit with a thin content penalty (manual action) in my WMT account. My rankings plummet into the 50-60s in the SERPS.

My PBN is one that I built myself, and only used it for MY sites. This was not a public PBN at all.

But I have a feeling that's how they caught me. Maybe in the way I set up the hosting, on a re-seller account. Most were unique IP addresses. Only 2 of my 43 domains were de-indexed.

How else would they have singled me out for a MANUAL penalty? I just can't figure it out.

I've given up on trying to salvage the site ... but what do you think about the PBN sites. Again, 41 of 43 are still indexed.

Are these still okay to re-purprose for another site?

Any advice welcome re: thin content penalties.
#content #pbn #penalty #thin
  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    You mentioned re-seller hosting. So you used the same host for all of the sites?
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    • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      You mentioned re-seller hosting. So you used the same host for all of the sites?
      Umm ... yeah. It was my first network, I didn't know what I was doing!

      /runs away crying

      (But why then were only 2 of the sites de-indexed?)
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    • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      You mentioned re-seller hosting. So you used the same host for all of the sites?
      Also, what would you do with the 41 still-indexed domains? Obviously putting them all on the same re-seller was a dumb idea. But are they still useful if I wipe them clean of their content, and then set up new hosting?

      Do I really need 41 separate hosting accounts, or can I put 5-6 of them per account?

      THANK YOU!!!
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

        Also, what would you do with the 41 still-indexed domains? Obviously putting them all on the same re-seller was a dumb idea. But are they still useful if I wipe them clean of their content, and then set up new hosting?

        Do I really need 41 separate hosting accounts, or can I put 5-6 of them per account?

        THANK YOU!!!

        I would probably run a test on them. Build a new test site. Link to it. If you get the same message or if the site's rankings do not improve, trash them and move on.

        And yes, you more or less need 41 different hosting accounts if they are all linking to the same place.

        As I am building a network, I will sometimes loop around and buy another hosting account with the same host, but usually only after at least 3-4 months have passed so I can be pretty sure I am on a different server.
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        • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
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          • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
            Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

            Thank you -- appreciate your help.
            No problem.

            41 sites. That is an expensive lesson to learn if they are trashed.

            Before you build your next network, get someone to teach you some of the ins and outs or buy one of the better courses out there. It will be worth the money to make sure you do not make a simple mistake like this again.
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  • Profile picture of the author TeKn1qu3z
    Thin content always bad for amazon Items as you need great content to show the people how it works. Make sure you had a great reviews on youyr site so it should look like a newly organised site.
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    • Profile picture of the author inetguru_987
      A thin content penalty isn't related to PBN sites. That would be another kind of penalty. You mention you had 4 good pages. What does the rest of the site look like?

      If 4 pages is all you have then I can see why you got slapped.
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      • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
        Originally Posted by inetguru_987 View Post

        A thin content penalty isn't related to PBN sites. That would be another kind of penalty. You mention you had 4 good pages. What does the rest of the site look like?

        If 4 pages is all you have then I can see why you got slapped.
        But I was still in the process of building out the site. It probably had 10,000-15,000 words of content on there.
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        • Profile picture of the author inetguru_987
          Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

          But I was still in the process of building out the site. It probably had 10,000-15,000 words of content on there.
          That I never heard of. Has the domain been around a while Or did you just register it?
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          • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
            Originally Posted by inetguru_987 View Post

            That I never heard of. Has the domain been around a while Or did you just register it?
            It was registered toward the end of May. Was in the Google sandbox for a few months, then just in the past 10 days one of my pages hit the 1st page. About a week later, thin content penalty.
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            • Profile picture of the author inetguru_987
              Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

              It was registered toward the end of May. Was in the Google sandbox for a few months, then just in the past 10 days one of my pages hit the 1st page. About a week later, thin content penalty.
              That is very soon to acquire any kind of penalty. Maybe someone turned you in then they did a manual review. Hard to tell without looking at everything. you should hide your PBN from the regular seo sites. Link Privacy is an excellent plugin.
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        • Profile picture of the author deezn
          Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

          But I was still in the process of building out the site. It probably had 10,000-15,000 words of content on there.
          Thin content doesn't actually mean, thin content.

          Thin content means little to no added value. If the reviewer felt the only purpose for your site was to be an Amazon affiliate, you will be punished for thin content even if you had 10,000 words per page.

          Here are a few common examples of pages that often have thin content with little or no added value:

          Automatically generated content
          Thin affiliate pages
          Content from other sources. For example: Scraped content or low-quality guest blog posts
          Doorway pages
          https://support.google.com/webmaster.../2604719?hl=en

          You need to add value, not a word count. Remember that. What purpose does your website serve other than trying to make an Amazon sale? Google is okay with you making money. But you need to provide value.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    I kinda doubt a manual reviewer dug too deep If you had 40 domains on the same host for a PBN. In other words I doubt links are the problem. If they tanked 2 network domains, why not tank all 40?

    Either way 1 host is risky, best make sure those are at least legit sites.
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    • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      I kinda doubt a manual reviewer dug too deep If you had 40 domains on the same host for a PBN. In other words I doubt links are the problem. If they tanked 2 network domains, why not tank all 40?

      Either way 1 host is risky, best make sure those are at least legit sites.
      Appreciate the perspective.

      If it wasn't the PBN, then why/how the manual review?

      There are other blatant Amazon/niche sites ranking on the 1st page for several of my main keywords, so why would my site have been targeted manually, but not theirs?
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim3
    Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

    ... main 3 money pages all well-written, unique, well-researched content, around 4,000 words each. This is NOT a thin site by any imagination.
    Question Michael,
    how many other pages do you have on your site without any affiliate links?

    'Thin' does not translate to the number of words on page.
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    • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
      Originally Posted by Tim3 View Post

      Question Michael,
      how many other pages do you have on your site without any affiliate links?

      'Thin' does not translate to the number of words on page.
      Only the standard about, privacy, etc pages.

      But as I mentioned, the site is still pretty new, and before I was going to invest in paying for more articles (non-affiliate articles), I wanted to make sure that the site was a potential winner. And again, one of the pages just hit Page 1 in the last two weeks, so I really was still in the process of building the site out. Seems premature to slap me with a penalty.

      I know what you're saying. But there are full-on, legit, affiliate sites that don't seem to have this problem. Example: The Sweethome
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      • Profile picture of the author Tim3
        Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

        Only the standard about, privacy, etc pages.

        But as I mentioned, the site is still pretty new, and before I was going to invest in paying for more articles (non-affiliate articles), I wanted to make sure that the site was a potential winner. And again, one of the pages just hit Page 1 in the last two weeks, so I really was still in the process of building the site out. Seems premature to slap me with a penalty.

        I know what you're saying. But there are full-on, legit, affiliate sites that don't seem to have this problem. Example:
        Yes I see what you are saying also, but your site is not quite (yet) in the same league as your example Sweethome, that is an oldish site, that has 55k backlinks, and some good ones by the looks of it, it also seems in some way connected to Wirecutter, another big, established site.

        I get your idea of not wanting to spend unnessarily, but I think you did it arse-about-face, the plain articles should have been added at the same time, That could be conjecture, but it is the way I have always done it and never had a problem.

        If the site bombs or doesn't do much good, I just use another site to reuse those articles on.
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  • Profile picture of the author Curtis2011
    Even with 1000's of words per page, if each page was only focused on selling a product, then Google could consider it thin content because all you have is sales copy and nothing purely informational.
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    • Profile picture of the author patadeperro
      Originally Posted by Curtis2011 View Post

      Even with 1000's of words per page, if each page was only focused on selling a product, then Google could consider it thin content because all you have is sales copy and nothing purely informational.
      This is the only relevant information in this thread, because the thin content penalty has nothing to do with your backlinks, the reality is that you are looking into that direction because you belive that because you have "400 original content" then you cant be penalized, which is not true, if Google does not see any value you add to the query then why rank you instead to send you directly to the Amazon page?

      That is the biggest problem with most affiliate sites, they add nothing to the results, so they are seeing as a "gateway", and the manual penalty came because you were ranking well (the robot was ranking you due your backlniks) but something "smelled fishy" (we dont know exactly how they saw it, high bounce rate, your average time was lower thatn others,this is pure speculation) and then a manual reviewer saw that you are adding nothing and pum, you are erased from the results
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by patadeperro View Post

        This is the only relevant information in this thread, because the thin content penalty has nothing to do with your backlinks, the reality is that you are looking into that direction because you belive that because you have "400 original content" then you cant be penalized, which is not true, if Google does not see any value you add to the query then why rank you instead to send you directly to the Amazon page?

        That is the biggest problem with most affiliate sites, they add nothing to the results, so they are seeing as a "gateway", and the manual penalty came because you were ranking well (the robot was ranking you due your backlniks) but something "smelled fishy" (we dont know exactly how they saw it, high bounce rate, your average time was lower thatn others,this is pure speculation) and then a manual reviewer saw that you are adding nothing and pum, you are erased from the results
        Actually, as I said above, the "thin content message" is the same message that people have been getting who have had their private networks deindexed. So yeah, it very well could be the backlinks considering he was using a private network.
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        • Profile picture of the author patadeperro
          Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

          Actually, as I said above, the "thin content message" is the same message that people have been getting who have had their private networks deindexed. So yeah, it very well could be the backlinks considering he was using a private network.
          I honestly have never seen that message for people using their PBNs Mike, but I wont argue that since I accept I have never experienced (but it does not mean it does not happend), but in the way he is explaining his problem (amazon affiliate) to me it is much more an issue on his content.
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          • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
            Originally Posted by patadeperro View Post

            I honestly have never seen that message for people using their PBNs Mike, but I wont argue that since I accept I have never experienced (but it does not mean it does not happend), but in the way he is explaining his problem (amazon affiliate) to me it is much more an issue on his content.
            I do not know if it is just because they have standard form letters and did not feel like writing a new one or if they are just blatantly trying to confuse people, but that message went out to a lot of people who got hit with PBNs. Especially the last big round of de-indexings when NoHatDigital went down.

            He very well might have lousy content too, but considering how he described his network I'm leaning towards the network being the problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
    Look at the SERPs for any worthwhile buying keyword -- they are littered with pure "thin" review sites. I can't imagine why only mine would be targeted? As I mentioned, in my niche, half the 1st page are affiliate sites with the vast majority of content being sales copy.

    I still think it has to do with the PBN.

    Oh well, back to the drawing board.
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    • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
      Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

      I still think it has to do with the PBN.
      Or, you could accept what Google told you: it's a content issue. No one has seen your site. But I've seen countless people over the years post in the forum that their content is wonderful and is not thin - then when you see it - it's thin.

      Just because you can find other sites you consider thin doesn't mean anything. 100 people are speeding and the cop pulls you over. The reason is you were speeding - even if 99 others were not nabbed.

      .
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

        Or, you could accept what Google told you: it's a content issue. No one has seen your site. But I've seen countless people over the years post in the forum that their content is wonderful and is not thin - then when you see it - it's thin.

        Just because you can find other sites you consider thin doesn't mean anything. 100 people are speeding and the cop pulls you over. The reason is you were speeding - even if 99 others were not nabbed.

        .
        In his defense, this "thin content" message is the same message that people got in Google's big PBN takedown back in September when they hit 2 or 3 of the big networks.
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        • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
          Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

          In his defense, this "thin content" message is the same message that people got in Google's big PBN takedown back in September when they hit 2 or 3 of the big networks.
          I was thinking of the fact the PBN as a whole was not taken down. Google is so opaque it's probably an issue not even mentioned in this thread.

          The first thing I have done in a situation like this is remove affiliate links and see what happens. Then add content and work on "trust" factors - and see what happens. Then work on backlinks.

          As for the PBN, quite often the 'feeder' sites are very thin. And they only have one link to the hub. They often stick out and are quite obvious. My 2 cents on the PBN issue is don't always use Wordpress, spend more than 5 minutes on the site, and link out as if it was not part of a network - including to competitors if it makes sense.

          Or, if someone is convinced the PBN is trashed and causing rankings to drop, change all the links to a competitor and see what happens.

          .
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    • Profile picture of the author Tim3
      Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

      I still think it has to do with the PBN.
      Hmm,
      Question is why would that trigger a thin content penalty and not an unnatural links warning?

      Edit: forget that, Mike just answered it below.

      ...and if Big G was onto your PBN links why would they just deindex just 2 of your domains, out of the dozen or so you built links from and not the whole lot?

      Is there something about the those 2 that made them completely different from the rest?
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    • Profile picture of the author Jayroo
      Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

      Look at the SERPs for any worthwhile buying keyword -- they are littered with pure "thin" review sites. I can't imagine why only mine would be targeted? As I mentioned, in my niche, half the 1st page are affiliate sites with the vast majority of content being sales copy.

      I still think it has to do with the PBN.

      Oh well, back to the drawing board.
      I think you're right. All my sites in my GWT account got a manual thin content penalty too last month, I was on a PBN as well, and I think this is the way they got me too. I don't think it had to do with the stupid thin content rubbish.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
    There was a huge Google PBN de-indexing back in September. All of the affected sites received "thin content" penalties -- and it had nothing to do with thin content:

    Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking Penalties
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  • Profile picture of the author paulgl
    Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post


    Then this morning, I'm hit with a thin content penalty (manual action) in my WMT account. My rankings plummet into the 50-60s in the SERPS.
    So, those websites in the 70-80's have suffered a double secret probation penalty?

    Originally Posted by TeKn1qu3z View Post

    Thin content always bad for amazon Items as you need great content to show the people how it works. Make sure you had a great reviews on youyr site so it should look like a newly organised site.
    ROTFLMAO! If you are not a bot, then one could think of a lot of other things you are.
    Informed and knowledgeable would not be any of them.

    Paul
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    If you were disappointed in your results today, lower your standards tomorrow.

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  • I'm sure the network drew suspicion but what tomb stoned him was obviously:

    main 3 money pages
    If it was a larger site with some kind of non-commercial content mixed in with those 3 lonely pages, you may have not gotten hit with a thin-content penalty.

    But instead you built a site with 3 pages that (based on their length) were probably very obviously setup to do little else than extract traffic from the SERPs..... and then you built a network around it.

    Basically - I lean towards the site being the bigger problem, but it could be the network I suppose and I'm only willing to go there because you execution was so poor.

    You basically built a site that said "Hi, I'm spam."

    You should have executed the site more reasonably (20:1 noncommercial to commercial documents) and if the site was any indication of your network - probably your network as well.

    Basically you didn't know what you were doing and got hit with the most appropriate penalty given you site construction.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelAnthony
    Wait this thread is still going?

    It was "only" 3 pages because the site was only a FEW months old.

    Funny the 20:01 noncommercial to commercial ratio does not apply to a site like this, which is 100% AFFILIATE POSTS.

    The Sweethome

    Yes, their reviews are "real" but they are literally 100% affiliate. They are basically how my site was set up, times 1,000.
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
      Banned
      Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

      Wait this thread is still going?

      It was "only" 3 pages because the site was only a FEW months old.

      Funny the 20:01 noncommercial to commercial ratio does not apply to a site like this, which is 100% AFFILIATE POSTS.

      The Sweethome

      Yes, their reviews are "real" but they are literally 100% affiliate. They are basically how my site was set up, times 1,000.
      Ok, sure, lets call them "real" reviews.
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    • Originally Posted by MichaelAnthony View Post

      It was "only" 3 pages because the site was only a FEW months old.
      Is this an excuse, a reasoning... what?

      You could only manage to put together 3 posts in a "FEW months?" You do realize that is highly condemning of your knowledge and experience, correct? In other words, it's never something you should post as some weird form of validation.

      But whatever, keep making garbage sites, keep getting slapped. It's obviously something you're proud enough of to later attempt to justify.

      -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

      On a completely separate note - that site you posted is complete spam just begging to be slapped.

      .... is that really what you think good affiliate marketing is? REALLY?!?

      If so, don't expect to be successful or in this business for very long.

      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      Ok, sure, lets call them "real" reviews.
      Well, someone really wrote them right? So they are awesome!

      Forget the fact that they were so insecure that they had to include entire sections about "Why you should trust me." That obviously doesn't scream newbie marketer with no following, desperately hoping to get a click, sale and commission.
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