Guide to Search Filters, Penalties and Bannings

16 comments
Source Title:
A Guide to Search Engine Filters, Penalties, Bannings, and Reinclusion
Story Text:

Stuntdubl has posted a great guide to search engine filters, penalties and bannings for those that push their SEO to the limit.

Anyone who has pushed the bleeding edge of search engine optimization has had a site go greybar, or just totally tank from the SERPs. It really sucks. Sometimes it’s worth a reinclusion request, and sometimes it’s best to keep walking and never look back. Bannings are a very interesting phenomena that don’t get discussed often except by those who are proud to be blackhat.

Wonderful information in that post, certainly worth a bookmark.

Comments

another great effort

Todd's stuff really is becoming some of the best no bull shit Search commentary going around.

If he's not already I'd expect he will be getting a few speaking invites for WMW, SES and the like.

Thanks GerBot!

Thanks for the kind words. Now if only I could get folks to comment on the posts here...I think there are is a lot of good discussion to be had on the subject of bannings, penalties, and filters that is less nonsense than that we normally see.

I would love to here the opinions of some of the folks that have more experience with these issues on the subject of hand bannings vs. algorithmic bannings, and what is most likely to trigger either.

One thing that I missed in the article was discussing the "slow death" type penalties of not being cached or tossed into supplemental results more specifically. Both of these can cause BIG rankings problems, and identifying why and how these issues occur would be very valuable for determining how to remedy them in my mind.

not being cached

I've always found that pages with duplicate content are the ones not being cached and with just their url in the Google serps.
These duplicate blocks of text need to be more than 30 words or say 30% of a page's content. I'm fairly confident that it is the first website with this content that is the one listed.
I can get these pages listed simply by changing a few words around in each line.

Another interesting thing I've noted is that Google has no problem banning a website from the Google serps but allowing it to stay in the adsense network.

I also noted that two sites I've had banned where part of a group of 4 sites I had. The other two sites did not have adsense and still rank. I literally performed the same optimisation and link building on each of the four sites.

Good stuff Todd,Just to add

Good stuff Todd,

Just to add to your comments on recognizing a Yahoo! ban.

Yahoo
I’m a little more fond of Yahoo’s method as it makes a bit more sense, and is helpful for a user that may still be looking for a banned site…a site:yoursitehere.com returns only one result for the homepage. No other pages will be indexed.

I have a site that for all intents and purposes is banned in Yahoo! A site:mysite.com search brings up 5000+ pages, but all of them are title and url only, no text snippets. A linkdomain:mysite.com shows 4,600 IBLS, but the site won't come up for any searches, not even the name of the company. Slurp only comes once in a while and gets a couple of pages and leaves. So it seems that you can have plenty of pages indexed and still be screwed ;)

The ironic thing is, this site is totally white-hat.

Good Stuff as always from Todd

Nice job Todd, really good stuff. I have to say, I've never really had a problem recovering from an algorithmic ban, it may take a little time, but normally works out ok. Hand bans, however, take a VERY long time to recover from, sometimes not at all, in my experience. It tends to take more than a few phone calls to work out in any case.

Maybe there are only hand bans?

Quote:
I've never really had a problem recovering from an algorithmic ban, it may take a little time, but normally works out ok. Hand bans, however, take a VERY long time to recover from

I guess the former could almost be seen as a "penalty" rather than a banning. Perhaps this is where some of the confusion comes into play? From all I've seen and heard, a banning is the real tough one to get over. Apparently getting forgiveness from a computer is easier than from a human;) Perhaps the term "banning" should only be used when implying human intervention, where the terms "penalties" and "filters" could be used for varying degrees of algo created problems.

I would imagine there could be some more SERIOUS (and thus more harsh) penalties that occur algorithmically, but even in their worst case, are probably not as tough to overcome as a hand banning?

Quote:
A linkdomain:mysite.com shows 4,600 IBLS, but the site won't come up for any searches, not even the name of the company. Slurp only comes once in a while and gets a couple of pages and leaves. So it seems that you can have plenty of pages indexed and still be screwed

Very interesting phpmaven...sounds similar to the "slow death" type de-indexing at Google. This I would think would also fall under the algorithmically done category, which tends to be more difficult to initialy detect as a problem. The algo penalties are definitely becoming more stealth in implementation, and thus makin' life as an SEO more difficult. I think the speculative comparisons from "algo penalties" vs. "hand bannings" is a very enlightening topic that we could probably glean quite a bit from to prevent these types of problems from occurring.

"Algorithmically done" is right

Very interesting phpmaven...sounds similar to the "slow death" type de-indexing at Google. This I would think would also fall under the algorithmically done category

Hey, that's a great new way to tell your clients that their site is hosed.

Your site is "algorithmically done" mate!

"phone calls?"

It tends to take more than a few phone calls to work out in any case.

Hey jsavvy, you got some numbers you want to share with us poor saps that try to e-mail Google/Yahoo! to no avail ;)

semantics can be confusing

Perhaps the term "banning" should only be used when implying human intervention, where the terms "penalties" and "filters" could be used for varying degrees of algo created problems.

I agree, however often times very harsh "penalties" can often appear to have the same result as a "banning" therefore making it difficult to distinguish.

"you got some numbers you want to share "

You just need to have:
Clifford Chance law firm

fax:

Yahoo! UK Ltd
Legal Department
125 Shaftesbury Avenue
London
WC2H 8AD
tel 020 7131 1000
fax 020 7131 1001

about 100 pages of legal dribble

oh sure, should I just post

oh sure, should I just post them or PM you ;-)

just PM me

I know a guy who knows a guy who met this lady who's neighbour used to baby sit for one of the law firm's partners old primary school football team mates.

or are you referring to Yahoo? because I don't have the same contacts there.

I agree - bannings and

I agree - bannings and penalties are definitely an issue that aren't discussed enough, possibly because it brings all sorts of risks with it - or example, if someone saw one of their websites banned, does that not imply that any of their clients could also face penalties? Of course not - but I seem to recall Danny Sullivan commenting on after the WordPress spamming event, some WordPress users thought *they* were also banned for simply using Wordpress.

So true Brian

There is definitely a stigma associated with penalties and bannings, and for good reason. It is difficult enough at times defending aspects of the SEO industry to clients. It's a shame that we can't see a more open discussion, at least on the SEMANTICS of what we refer to as penalties, filters, and bannings.

The "head in the sand syndrome" is not gonna help to diagnose and remedy the problems which really is the ultimate job of a consultant worth their salt.

Quote:
Your site is "algorithmically done" mate!

Hahahaha.

I heard Mike Grehan say something on a panel at SES to the effect of "no one likes when I tell them their baby is ugly". I think folks like it even less when you have to break to them that their baby is "algorithmically done" ;)

Semantics

Filters - when a drop in rankings occurs across sites that share a similar attribute (attribute being something such as history of domain, linking ratios, architecture, etc.) Filters generally imply ability to easily remedy.

Penalties - when a drop in rankings occur on a per site basis, still algorithmic but more targeted. Penalties imply more severe ranking/indexing changes and tend to be more difficult to remedy.

Bannings - human-applied exile of a particular website, complete drop in rankings. Bannings imply the domain should be thrown out, or if a branded domain, maybe recovered only after years of persistent begging ;-)

This is how I tend to define it

Filters

I define filters as the processes that kick in as the SERPs are being delivered.

Things like the duplicate content filter that kicks in when Google considers the page title and snippet to be the same. Or the indented entry filter that kicks in when there is more than one result from the same domain.

And I think I've read or heard Google reps using the same language. The raw SERPs are generated and then filtered on a page-by-page basis, or at least something along those lines.

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