Why did I get slapped?

12 replies
  • SEO
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Hello forum members,

I have a site, escape-ecigarettes.co.uk which is 7 months old and was doing quite well for a new site until 28th March, when there was a big drop in Google keyword ranking positions. We had 3 keywords on page 1 and several close to the top of page 2, they dropped back by around 2 pages at first and have continued to drop off since. One keyword is back on page 1, but the others are all on pages 4-6.

Sales are now virtually zero and I can not afford to pay an SEO company, so I plan to slowly try and learn some SEO myself, but first I need to find out what caused the problem and fix it.

The company that was doing the SEO at the time believe that I caused the problem by posting fake product reviews and customer testimonials. I did not do this for SEO advantage or did I know that it could possibly cause a problem, I simply did it because the site looked so new. The reviews and testimonials were added steadily over a period of 3 months. I have to admit that I got a bit lazy in March and I was just copying reviews and testimonials from competitor sites, again at the time I had no idea this could cause a problem.

All of the reviews and testimonials were removed at the end of April a month after the drop, there has been no bounce back and rankings continue to fall. Have the reviews and testimonial caused the drop? or is it more likely to be something else?

The links that have been built by the SEO company for the site consist mostly of directory sites, 2 people have looked at the links, one says they have definitely caused the problem the other says they are just low quality and have not caused the problem. There is no penalty notice in webmaster tools. Do I have bad links that should be removed?

Could you please also comment on the following issues which have been mention as possible causes:

1. Duplicate home page
2. Duplicate home page content on directory sites
3. Keyword rich internal links pointing to the home page

Any help would be most welcome, I need to find out what needs to be fixed.

Thanks
Wayne
#slapped
  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    It could be a number of issues all at once.

    Your home page content shows up in a lot of other places. Like here, for example... E-cigs: best electronic cigarettes, eversmoke vapor e- cigarettes

    I don't know if your home page content was up first or if that page's content was up first. Either way, it is not a good thing. Potentially,

    As for the directory links, they may or may not be a problem. If they are good solid, moderated directories, they are probably fine. If they are auto-approve directories junked up with a bunch of crappy IM sites, then they could be an issue.

    The copied reviews could be a problem. Kind of depends where these reviews were posted. On your own site or a popular review site (or Google itself), then yeah that is an issue. On a site nobody has ever heard of, probably not a big deal. Fake reviews are bad enough, but just copying and pasting reviews of competitors.... that's not lazy. That's unethical to the extreme. For that alone, I would say the site got what it deserved.
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    • Profile picture of the author waynegraham
      Thanks for your reply.

      The content in the link has been copied from our home page.

      The fake reviews were posted on our own site. I had no idea this could cause a problem I was just trying to improve the appearance of the site. Only a few were copied from other sites.

      Thanks again.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
        Originally Posted by waynegraham View Post

        The fake reviews were posted on our own site. I had no idea this could cause a problem I was just trying to improve the appearance of the site. Only a few were copied from other sites.
        Ya gotta love the

        "But your honor I didn't take much when I stole from my competitors. Whats the big deal?"

        defense.
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        • Profile picture of the author waynegraham
          I hold my hands up, I posted fake reviews on my own new site to make it more appealing to visitors, and yes I copied some (also fake reviews) from other sites.

          Most of the big sites that sell our products in the UK have product reviews which are obviously done in house.

          I spent months working on the content of the site and it's all original content. I have not copied a single word from a competitor.
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  • Profile picture of the author Icematikx
    Your homepage contains duplicate content from here: Why Escape Electronic Cigarettes are for You | Escape UK

    Seriously, stop copy/pasting the same stuff all over your site. If you want a page to rank, it should be UNIQUELY written content that is appealing, engaging and USEFUL. There are absolutely NO SHORTCUTS in digital marketing. You either do it the hard way and reap the benefits, or you slack around and take the penalty like you just have.

    Some of your product pages contain duplicate content from other sites:
    Copyscape Plagiarism Checker - View Content Comparison

    You have tag pages creating hundreds of duplicate content. Here's an example:
    Electronic Cigarettes / Escape Vapourettes

    SEO for e-Commerce sites is a nightmare. It's hard, and you need to make sure every single nut and cranny is setup for success. Why do you think Amazon hire a team of 100+? One web developer can create something that results in 100's of pages of duplicate content - something which the marketing team will obviously hate. Their job is to go through each and every page as changes are made, and rectify any potential issues.

    I see you're in the UK. Feel free to message me if you need further help.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ghoster
    You have a PageRank of 0/10. You shouldn't have ranked so highly in the first place.

    Your articles are too short, and a lot are no more than thinly veiled ads for the product you're selling. Also, when I land on the homepage, it's very apparent that the site exists solely to sell a product. You have content on the site, but the homepage looks like an e-store. Google doesn't want to rank sites like these. They offer nothing of value to the reader. Or, to put it another way, Google doesn't exist to make you rich. It can, if you learn the rules, but they aren't going to bend over backwards to do you any favors. Their search engine is only as profitable as it is useful to its users.

    Why did you think that fake reviews wouldn't cause a problem? You are selling a product and offering fake testimonials. Just because other people do it doesn't make it okay.
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    • Profile picture of the author Icematikx
      Originally Posted by Ghoster View Post

      but the homepage looks like an e-store. Google doesn't want to rank sites like these.
      Amazon is an "e-store", and their homepage offers nothing but products. Same can be said with eBay or any other major online retailer.

      Google is absolutely fine with ranking e-Commerce sites. They present users with the experience they want - to buy something. if I wanted to buy an e-cig, I'd damn hope to come across an e-commerce site, not an Adsense site crammed with 5,000 word articles on buying e-cigs.

      His problem isn't his layout or what's on it, it's what's going on behind the scenes. A mixture of weak links and internal duplicate content is my initial guess without going further.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by Ghoster View Post

      You have a PageRank of 0/10. You shouldn't have ranked so highly in the first place.

      Completely incorrect. PR does not directly correlate to rankings. Second, PR has barely been updated in the past year. You have no idea what the site's PR is anyhow.
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      • Profile picture of the author TommoBedhair
        I would highly advise that you take a deeper look at your links. SEO Agencies here in the UK are still to this day using blackhat link building methods, regardless of the potential penalties their clients can receive.

        Have you received any messages in Webmaster tools? Or are there any Manual Actions on your site? If so, once you have weeded out the negative links and removed them you will most likely need to submit a reconsideration to Google.
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        • Profile picture of the author waynegraham
          Originally Posted by TommoBedhair View Post

          I would highly advise that you take a deeper look at your links. SEO Agencies here in the UK are still to this day using blackhat link building methods, regardless of the potential penalties their clients can receive.

          Have you received any messages in Webmaster tools? Or are there any Manual Actions on your site? If so, once you have weeded out the negative links and removed them you will most likely need to submit a reconsideration to Google.
          No, there are no penalty notices. This is the problem I don't know if the links have been penalised or if they are just low quality.

          Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author BennyP
    Duplicate pages are a no no. Check your backlinks too using ahrefs, majesticseo etc. Log into webmaster tools and download your links. Check if you've been hit with a manual action too. Was your SEO company providing reports?

    Duplicate description text on directory websites is fine, as if it just your business description there isn't much you can change anyway.
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  • Profile picture of the author khuram007
    i am no seo expert. But here is some of what i have learned from experience.
    If you update your website regularly with unique content. You'll search ranking starts to improve.
    If you content is more valueable than the site you copied a little content from. Then you will get most of the hits for that little copied data as well. It is about the overall value of the website.
    Btw, is 0/10 is a rank? I mean 0=nothing. Doesn't it?
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