The absence of a benefit is not a penalty.

16 replies
  • SEO
  • |
I know this post won't make any difference to almost anyone, but I feel like I need to say it anyway.

People need to learn what the word "penalty" means.

I have seen so many people talking about their sites being penalized for something due to Google algorithm changes. For example, "Oh, XYZ used to work, but now Google penalizes you for it!" and how do you know that, Mr. Hypothetical?" "I used to be ranked at the top of Google, and now I'm on the second page!" Okay, so that constitutes a penalty how, exactly? "Well, obviously they didn't like it so they knocked my site down!"

This is not how things work. Whether it was an exact match domain, a certain kind of backlink, using certain anchor text, or what have you, you were probably doing it because it provided a benefit. If that thing no longer provides the benefit it once did, then, it isn't providing a benefit. That's not necessarily a penalty.

If I give you $100 for your birthday, am I penalizing you on the day after by not giving you $100 again? Of course not.

This inability to distinguish a lack of benefit from a penalty has people running around talking about how sites shouldn't do X, or Google hates Y, all because their site or sites aren't getting the same rankings they used to. Frequently the people who are doing this were completely dependent on this same X or Y for all their results. (Incidentally, if your entire business is built around a gimmick, well, you deserve what you get.) These people can't isolate whether they are being penalized or not because they don't have any other variable to test. It just contributes to all the noise and silliness that already exists in that world.

For people discussing SEO and website building practices: choose your words wisely. For people looking for information on how to rank your sites or smart SEO methods: consider these words when deciding who to listen to or who to buy from. It makes it easy to identify the frauds.

Also, since I rarely look at the WSO area, have there been any "LEARN HOW TO AVOID THE EMD UPDATE PENALTY" products posted yet? I wouldn't be surprised at all.
#absence #benefit #penalty
  • Profile picture of the author Lena Williams
    You raised some really great points and explained about the penalty very well. It will help a lot to remove the misconceptions about google penalty now.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7101033].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author boxoun
    Yup and too many think they deserve 1st page
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102075].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Chucky
    Good point!

    On something not directly related, reminded me of something I read somewhere "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102218].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author rcostica
    I can't agree with you on this one. You gave the $100 comparison, but that's not quite accurate. If a website had been ranking for 2 years in a row on the top position and all the sudden it's nowhere in the top 100, than I would certainly say that it has been penalized. It's more like letting your child watch cartoons, but when he does something bad, you don't let him anymore and this will go on until the child starts behaving properly. That is a punishment (or penalty) and it's a fairly similar case to Google penalties. You do something against Google rules the "punish" you for it until you don't do it anymore. In this post https://plus.google.com/+MattCutts/posts/NAWunDzJSHC Matt Cutts says that "In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demotewww.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days." That also sounds like a penalty and that's what they do to all sites.
    Signature
    Cadouri barbati, ideale pentru barbatii din viata ta
    Echipamente si camere video profesionale
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102242].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Paperchasing
      Originally Posted by rcostica View Post

      I can't agree with you on this one. You gave the $100 comparison, but that's not quite accurate. If a website had been ranking for 2 years in a row on the top position and all the sudden it's nowhere in the top 100, than I would certainly say that it has been penalized.
      It doesn't matter what you call it, it's still not true. My comparison is accurate to what I was talking about, but you don't seem to understand what that was.

      Originally Posted by rcostica View Post

      It's more like letting your child watch cartoons, but when he does something bad, you don't let him anymore and this will go on until the child starts behaving properly. That is a punishment (or penalty) and it's a fairly similar case to Google penalties. You do something against Google rules the "punish" you for it until you don't do it anymore.
      Once again, you don't understand what I'm talking about. I'm not saying that penalties don't exist. I'm saying that you can't assume you're being penalized for something just because you're not benefiting from it.

      I'll give you an hypothetical. Let's imagine you have a website, and you are getting backlinks from one specific website and one website only. Yeah, I know this doesn't actually happen in real life, but this is just an example. Now, let's say that your site ranks highly for a keyword due in large part to those backlinks. Suddenly, one day, that site disappears off the face of the earth. In response, your ranking in the SERPS drops.

      Are you being penalized for being linked to that site? No. You just are not receiving a benefit from its links anymore...because it doesn't exist.

      It's an important distinction because you can stop doing something that's completely harmless under the false assumption that it's hurting you, when in reality it's not making any difference either way.

      SEO is just one example of this fallacy. I see it in a lot of material that is supposed to teach marketing concepts or techniques as well.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102392].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sqnwk
    If I went from the first page down to the second I would not consider that a penalty but so many websites disappeared from search engine results you have to assume that they were penalized or if you want to call it filtered out
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102245].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author rcostica
    Originally Posted by Paperchasing View Post

    This is not how things work. Whether it was an exact match domain, a certain kind of backlink, using certain anchor text, or what have you, you were probably doing it because it provided a benefit. If that thing no longer provides the benefit it once did, then, it isn't providing a benefit. That's not necessarily a penalty.
    Saying that "that thing no longer provides the benefit it once did" probably mislead me into thinking that you were, in fact, saying that penalties do not exist. It's not that it doesn't provide that benefit anymore, but Google clearly states that sites will be penalized if they use deceptive practices: As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.
    While there are those who say "I used to be ranked at the top of Google, and now I'm on the second page!" and in their case you are correct, saying that "Oh, XYZ used to work, but now Google penalizes you for it!" is not wrong. Before every algorithm update, Google gives a pretty good idea regarding what kind of SERP manipulation technique the update will target and penalize, so there's nothing hypothetical about that.
    Signature
    Cadouri barbati, ideale pentru barbatii din viata ta
    Echipamente si camere video profesionale
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102644].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Chris Silvey
    Sorry but you are way off base on this I do not know where to start.

    First off every webmaster as well as search engines gets its guidance by following W3.org Web Standards. These give the elements for all search engines to check and for webmaster to follow. Search engines are keyword based, this is the whole system to base search results as well as webmasters to optimize for SEO. To be in compliance.

    Google takes these elements and standards, obliterates some practices, as well as implements new ones.

    Now contrary to your gift giving view, the fact is serp weight has always weighed on these elements since the inception of the Internet. It is a standard and not a Gift.

    Penalties are stated by Google in black and white. These penalties are put in place for those that do not follow Their Changes on Their System.

    Now lets dive into the EMD update. EMDs, especially aged EMDs are not gimmics, yes they can be used that way, but EMDs often represent business names.
    Take for instance all the brick and mortar businesses out there that have static sites. They are not content sites, not there to swindle people, but to represent as a base for contact. There position now is zero. Did they deserve to be blown off of Google?

    How about new sites in the making? Should they be penalized because they do not have X amount of Index Pages, X amount of backlinks? You have to start somewhere.

    I pointed some of this out yesterday to Matt Cutts as well as the effects these do on global economics
    People have the right to complain about these updates because they change the standards we are accustomed too. They affect peoples lively hood as well as their investments.
    Signature
    WP Animate - Increases Conversions & Clicks!
    Create Amazing CSS3 Animations in just a few Clicks - New!

    WPHeadline.net - Create Blazing Headlines in just a few clicks. Updated to WordPress 4.1.1
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102714].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Paperchasing
      Originally Posted by Chris Silvey View Post

      Sorry but you are way off base on this I do not know where to start.

      First off every webmaster as well as search engines gets its guidance by following W3.org Web Standards. These give the elements for all search engines to check and for webmaster to follow. Search engines are keyword based, this is the whole system to base search results as well as webmasters to optimize for SEO. To be in compliance.

      Google takes these elements and standards, obliterates some practices, as well as implements new ones.

      Now contrary to your gift giving view, the fact is serp weight has always weighed on these elements since the inception of the Internet. It is a standard and not a Gift.

      Penalties are stated by Google in black and white. These penalties are put in place for those that do not follow Their Changes on Their System.

      Now lets dive into the EMD update. EMDs, especially aged EMDs are not gimmics, yes they can be used that way, but EMDs often represent business names.
      Take for instance all the brick and mortar businesses out there that have static sites. They are not content sites, not there to swindle people, but to represent as a base for contact. There position now is zero. Did they deserve to be blown off of Google?

      How about new sites in the making? Should they be penalized because they do not have X amount of Index Pages, X amount of backlinks? You have to start somewhere.

      I pointed some of this out yesterday to Matt Cutts as well as the effects these do on global economics
      People have the right to complain about these updates because they change the standards we are accustomed too. They affect peoples lively hood as well as their investments.
      None of this has anything to do with what I was saying.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102815].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sandra98
    If OP is saying that the EMD update (or whatever you call the past week's update) is a removed benefit rather than a penalty, I would disagree.

    As much as I can tell, Google is punishing sites for certain factors, EMD, PMD, on-page, off-page, etc. I see a lot of affected sites dropping 950 in rank. A lot of these sites are not poor in content either. If it's just a removed benefit, I doubt that so many sites would have ended up ranking at the very bottom, even below pages that are not relevant to the keywords searched.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102833].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Paperchasing
      Originally Posted by sandra98 View Post

      If OP is saying that the EMD update (or whatever you call the past week's update) is a removed benefit rather than a penalty, I would disagree.

      As much as I can tell, Google is punishing sites for certain factors, EMD, PMD, on-page, off-page, etc. I see a lot of affected sites dropping 950 in rank. A lot of these sites are not poor in content either. If it's just a removed benefit, I doubt that so many sites would have ended up ranking at the very bottom, even below pages that are not relevant to the keywords searched.
      I am not. I am saying exactly what was stated, which is that the absence of a benefit does not constitute a penalty, anymore than the absence of a paycheck constitutes a fine.

      This wasn't even initially about SEO; I just used SEO as an example because it was simple. Then the thread got moved to this forum. Oh well.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102889].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Alisha1
    Yes you pointed out a great information here. Then why people again doing this, I don't understand why people work against the Google policies and after get hit run down again and again. I only want to say if people do ethical work there is no need to worry any of Panda, Penguin updates.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102844].message }}
  • {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7102902].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Lucid
    I hate the word penalty when talking about ranking sites. I know, Google uses it but I don't see it as a penalty. More like an opportunity lost. I also hate the use of the words indexed/de-indexed used in these forums because that's not really what's happening. A poor choice of words but only because of my database background.

    When talking about a site being indexed, it simply means that it's in the database. Google knows about it, has visited it and gathered information about it in order to rank it.

    Now if a page ranks highly (pages are ranked, not sites as a whole) it's only because it scores well on all the factors (you call them benefits, I don't like it but hey) that Google considers compared to other pages. If the page loses that ranking, it's not because of being de-indexed. The page is still in the database, it's just that now, it doesn't score as well as it used to be. There's no "penalty", simply a change of how the page scores in some of those factors.

    There are a few reasons why a page would lose or gain ranking. The major one is a change in how Google calculates those rankings. They are always doing that and any change will have an impact on some pages. For example, if a new ranking factor is a having white characters on a blue background (bad so if you don't have that combination, you score high on that factor), all those pages that do have white on blue will lose a bit. Those which don't might gain a little.

    Note it may be that you score the same as before, it may just be that others are now scoring better. And you are not de-indexed if you don't see your page being ranked anymore. You just are majorly not scoring well at all. The page is still in the database, you simply need to figure out the factors that made you lose that ranking and make some changes. Sqnwk used filtered out. In databases, filter out means to completely remove from the results based on some criteria. I don't believe that's what's happening but, to use another database term, your order has changed.

    Now you are right about people thinking they rank well or not because of a single factor. You can't make an assumption as to why something worked or not because of one thing. Ranking pages is more complicated than that.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7104896].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
    Great post. There really truly are a lot of people using exactly the wrong words to describe situations.

    Are they morons? Are they simply ignorant? Perhaps they only speak ESL. Either way, it tends to make discussions lose their meaning quickly. Removing the 'boost' once given to EMDs in no way penalized anyone's site.
    Signature
    Free Special Report on Mindset - Level Up with Positive Thinking
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7104968].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by Chris Silvey View Post

      Sorry but you are way off base on this I do not know where to start.

      First off every webmaster as well as search engines gets its guidance by following W3.org Web Standards. These give the elements for all search engines to check and for webmaster to follow. Search engines are keyword based, this is the whole system to base search results as well as webmasters to optimize for SEO. To be in compliance.

      Google takes these elements and standards, obliterates some practices, as well as implements new ones.

      Now contrary to your gift giving view, the fact is serp weight has always weighed on these elements since the inception of the Internet. It is a standard and not a Gift.

      Penalties are stated by Google in black and white. These penalties are put in place for those that do not follow Their Changes on Their System.

      Now lets dive into the EMD update. EMDs, especially aged EMDs are not gimmics, yes they can be used that way, but EMDs often represent business names.
      Take for instance all the brick and mortar businesses out there that have static sites. They are not content sites, not there to swindle people, but to represent as a base for contact. There position now is zero. Did they deserve to be blown off of Google?

      How about new sites in the making? Should they be penalized because they do not have X amount of Index Pages, X amount of backlinks? You have to start somewhere.

      I pointed some of this out yesterday to Matt Cutts as well as the effects these do on global economics
      People have the right to complain about these updates because they change the standards we are accustomed too. They affect peoples lively hood as well as their investments.
      Who the hell decided Google has to follow the W3.org Web Standards? Lol. That is one of the funniest things I have ever heard. Google is its own platform. The same goes for every other search engine out there. They do not need to follow some silly standards setup by some other organization. If they decide they want to rank sites based on how many pretty colors are used, they can do that. If they want to rank sites based on how many pictures they have, they can do that. It's their system. They can do whatever the hell they want with it.

      As for your little comment about EMD's... Nobody is saying an EMD can no longer rank. Not Google. Not anyone else. They just dropped the unnatural boost they used to give to them.

      Turn it around the other way. Was it fair that a site of equal content and value or even slightly superior in those regards could not outrank their competitor without putting in more effort to overcome the EMD? No, it really wasn't. Now the playing field is leveled.


      Originally Posted by sandra98 View Post

      If OP is saying that the EMD update (or whatever you call the past week's update) is a removed benefit rather than a penalty, I would disagree.

      As much as I can tell, Google is punishing sites for certain factors, EMD, PMD, on-page, off-page, etc. I see a lot of affected sites dropping 950 in rank. A lot of these sites are not poor in content either. If it's just a removed benefit, I doubt that so many sites would have ended up ranking at the very bottom, even below pages that are not relevant to the keywords searched.
      There is no way to accurately quantify the boost given by an EMD without having Google's algorithm. It really depends on the level of competition throughout the SERP. In some SERPs, an EMD may have only moved a site up 4-5 spots. In others, the competition may have been so weak it was provided a boost of 500 spots. There is really no way to be certain.

      There is also the possibility that EMD's allowed sites to overcome other big shortcomings. Maybe an EMD was not as impacted by Panda as it would have been without the EMD. Now with the EMD bonus removed, sites are ranking where they belong.
      Signature
      Get the TIPS and STRATEGIES I use to HELP businesses GROW through SEO.
      Delivered to you each week!

      >>> Sign Up Now <<<
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7105127].message }}

Trending Topics