Re: Google has penalized my entire network of 30 + websites with a "-50 penalty." Please help me figure out what I did wrong
Jan 20, 2011 10:27 PM
Posted in group:
Crawling, indexing & ranking
As many of the contributors have taken the time to point out in the reviews of your sites (thanks, Autocrat, GremlinSA, and squibble), Google’s quality guidelines specifically recommend avoiding the use of pages that funnel users to other sites (often via affiliate links) without adding significant value for the user. So, for a site about a TV show, for example, would have to provide some unique value that would make a user happier to visit a page on that site than simply going directly to where the video is hosted.
I’ve read through this thread, and based on your replies it sounds like you have put a lot of work into your sites and are willing to make changes, so let me provide a few specific points of feedback which I hope you find helpful.
You have pointed to user comments as a valuable asset of your site. Stimulating community engagement is certainly a step in the right direction, but keep in mind that if you’re embedding content from other sites which may already have commenting functionality, users may not see a great benefit on being able to discuss something on your site versus where the content is hosted. For an idea of where added value comes into play, let’s look at a page on clicker.com, which you brought up for comparison: http://www.clicker.com/tv/gossip-girl/
While this single page may not have a stunning amount of textual content describing the show, take a look at the functionality it provides: Related shows, Cast & Crew, Categories, a searchable episode guide (which has descriptions for each episode), and links to legal download and streaming options. This isn’t to say that an all-in-one site is always better, but I don’t think all-across-many is the right answer either, because I’m afraid in that case you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin. Rather than working many sites representing different TV shows, I’d personally recommend starting small (one show, one site) and really focusing on making it the best it can be. To borrow from a commonly quoted UNIX philosophy that we’ve adopted at Google, “Do one thing and do it well.” You can build from there and have multiple sites that each do one thing well (again, continuing with the geeky UNIX reference), but remember that maintaining quality is always important in the long term.
As for the original content on your site, you mentioned that you employ writers to make sure that the content is clean and original. When hiring someone else to post content on your site, you should keep a close eye on quality. Questions that I’d recommend asking yourself in the hiring process: Is this person really an expert on your topic? Do they do original research? Keep those questions in mind as we look at the following example. On your Gossip Girl site, I opened up a recent article: http://www.gossip-girl-episodes.com/news/prince-serenading-to-leighton-meester.html The images are hosted on buzznet.com, which has an article about the same concert: http://justjared.buzznet.com/2011/01/19/prince-leighton-meester-concert/ If you read both articles, while the wording may not be exactly duplicate, there are very strong similarities.
First sentence from your site: “The Prince serenaded Leighton Meester during his concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night (Jan. 18).”
First sentence from Just Jared: “Leighton Meester gets serenaded by the legendary Prince during his sold-out concert at New York Ctiy’s Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night (January 18).”
Note these phrases: “serenaded,” “New York City’s Madison Square Garden,” “Tuesday night (Jan[uary] 18)”
Beyond the first sentence, note the similar order and structure: 1. Leighton was sitting in the front row. 2. Prince invited her to the stage. 3. “I Don’t Trust You Anymore” was playing 4. She was smiling and laughing/giggling 5. There were other celebrities there. 6. She’s wearing a cute sweater.
Now, think about it like a search engine who has come across the following situation: - Two pages appear to have roughly the same content - Page B has a subset of page A’s content - Page A was published before page B - Both pages use images from page A’s domain.
When it comes time to rank the two pages, which one do you put first? If you are a user, which page would you like to see at the top of your search results? How would you feel if you were site A?
I hope that you find this feedback useful in your future work on these sites. For any site that you feel fits well within the webmaster guidelines, as always your next step is to request reconsideration in Webmaster Tools. Just remember that you do this after you’ve made any necessary changes to your site. And don’t forget to tune into an all-new episode of Gossip Girl on Monday. ;-)