Categories: Crawling, indexing & ranking :

Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation.

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Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Marie Haynes 4/19/14 5:25 AM
OK.  This is an odd one.  I recently took on a client that had two penalties listed in their manual spam actions viewer.  They had BOTH a sitewide and a partial action for unnatural links:


I can't say that I have ever seen a site have both a partial and a sitewide unnatural links penalty.  The site was not completely deindexed but was pretty much nonexistent for any searches including brand terms.

We did a very thorough cleanup, and filed for reconsideration 4 days ago.  Today we received this message in WMT:

That's a little weird.  The manual spam actions viewer now shows that the sitewide is gone and the partial remains.  The site is now ranking well again for brand terms.  

Usually if Google downgrades from a sitewide to a partial they will send a response to the reconsideration request that says, "We've processed your request".  But, this is the first time I've seen a site get a new penalty.  They haven't been doing any new link building either.

My guess is that the fact that the site had both a sitewide and a partial penalty was some kind of error and the only way to fix it was to lift the penalties and then issue a new one.  But, if anyone else has any insight I'd be glad to hear it.



Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Paul Macnamara 4/19/14 7:04 AM
Marie, as you know, I am am also dealing with a site that has BOTH a site wide and partial penalty at the same time so I am looking forward to seeing if anyone has any insight as to what happened after your RR.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Lysis 4/19/14 7:47 AM
You guys should look up the thread where the site owner has every penalty on the planet that Google has. He listed them all but I can't remember the site name.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Marie Haynes 4/19/14 5:30 PM
Turns out that later on in the day we got the "We've processed your request" message.  So, it looks like this is a normal sitewide to partial message.  Just not sure why we had to get a new unnatural links penalty given rather than just a downgrade from full to partial.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. StevieD_Web 4/19/14 6:15 PM
>You guys should look up the thread where the site owner has every penalty on the planet that Google has. He listed them all but I can't remember the site name.

>Just not sure why we had to get a new unnatural links penalty given rather than just a downgrade from full to partial.


From reading between the lines of one of those John Mu videos, I deduced Google penalties are bit like a flow chart of badness.  Typically you generate/receive the first penalty found by Google.  First found.  There could be more.  Once the first penalty is corrected, the site still has to run through the entire flow chart of badness checks before being released from the penalty.  Which also means a second/third/fourth penalty could be sequentially applied after the first penalty is lifted.  The flow chart is also multiple segmented.  Branch A nailed your site with a penalty.  Branch B is going to get examined next week and could get you with another penalty  Thus penalty after penalty can be consecutively or sequentially applied to a site. 


Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Paul Macnamara 4/19/14 6:32 PM
I tend to agree that if a site has been impacted by a penalty (manual or algorithmic), it can become more susceptible to other penalties. In some instances,It is almost as though the immunity system of the site becomes damaged and the thresholds that trigger additional penalties are lowered.

This seems to me to be a little bit different though. If a site has a sitewide penalty for unnatural links, why would the viewer also show a partial match penalty? (also for unnatural links) Seems redundant to me. I'm leaning towards glitch in this instance.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. ConanH 4/19/14 6:39 PM
StevieD - to come out of one penalty, just to go through another one sounds real scary. It would be good if all penalties were applied at one time and if some rankings, etc returned after taking appropriate action, then we would know that we are completely out of the woods. Considering the time taken to come out of ONE penalty, it would be difficult for small to medium online businesses to "hold the fort" whilst trying to recover.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. StevieD_Web 4/19/14 6:57 PM
Most sites have done only one stupid (lets say buying links).  I think it is fairly rare (or at least we don't much about it) for multiple penalties (sequential or consecutive) to get slapped on a site.  Obviously it happens, because John Mu was discussing one such case in the video and there are a few mentions on the forum.

I would suspect most of the affected sites know what they have done and are not shocked when it happens.  Might not be happy, but that is different than being surprised.

If you want to go digging... search for the Goat Sex site on the forum.  It is hoot... but don't visit the wayback machine archives because it is major nasty NSFW.  Goat Sex was one of those that layer upon layer of penalties was going to be applied by Google and I would suspect every other search engine.  I strongly doubt the site is ever going to recover.  Matt Cutts said the same about a certain class of "pure spam" website.  Those are not going to recover either.  But again, they know what they did.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. StevieD_Web 4/19/14 6:59 PM
>It is almost as though the immunity system of the site becomes damaged and the thresholds that trigger additional penalties are lowered.

I suspected threshold scores are used with some of the Panda algorithms.  If the site scores 70 on some test platform, the site gets penalized.  To recover the site has to score 75.  In other words it is harder to recover than it is to be penalized.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. StevieD_Web 4/19/14 7:03 PM
>Seems redundant to me. I'm leaning towards glitch in this instance.

Except I know (from her posts) the market segment that Marie has been helping recently and it is possible that multiple link building efforts were being conducted by the site and each one of those efforts could generate their own unique penalty.


That said, when we see multiple penalties applied, somebody will usually flag the thread for review by Googlers and if something is amiss (it seldom is) it will get brought to our attention. 

Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Paul Macnamara 4/19/14 7:04 PM
As interested as I am in penalties there is no way I am doing a search for goat sex.




 It's Easter.
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. ranaground 4/19/14 7:22 PM
+2. @Paul
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Linda Buquet ~ 4/20/14 12:49 PM
+2 @Paul.

I don't deal with organic penalties at all. But often when I am troubleshooting local rank drops for clients I run into them. Usually the ones I see are local penalties, but sometimes organic.

So this thread is helpful to me on several levels. Thanks Marie and hope it gets sorted!
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Marie Haynes 4/21/14 5:47 AM
Thanks for all the replies guys....took some time away from the computer to be with family this weekend.

"Except I know (from her posts) the market segment that Marie has been helping recently and it is possible that multiple link building efforts were being conducted by the site and each one of those efforts could generate their own unique penalty."

This one is actually not a payday loan company but a well known, respected brand.  The link building was pretty tame consisting of primarily guest posting and a smattering of low quality directory links.  I really think there was a glitch in this case in that Google had given them both a partial and a sitewide penalty for unnatural links.  As Paul said, it doesn't make sense to have both.  My thought is that the webspam team wanted to downgrade the sitewide to a partial but because there was already a partial there that would leave them with two partial penalties which definitely wouldn't make sense.  So, instead they removed the partial and slapped a new one on and that caused us to get a notice of a new penalty.

But who knows.  Regardless, we know have a partial...the site is ranking for brand terms...and I'll tackle the partial from here.  

Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Marie Haynes 4/21/14 5:49 AM
Hi Linda!  

"Usually the ones I see are local penalties"

Do local penalties ever cause a message to appear in the manual spam actions viewer in WMT?  I haven't seen that before.  Or do you just suddenly lose rankings?
Re: Instead of lifting our penalty, Google gave us notice of a new one. Very odd situation. Linda Buquet ~ 4/21/14 9:24 AM
No I've never seen them show up there. I have to do it by process of elimination. 

1st I check PURE organic ranking to see if penalty on that side of the house. (Using AOL or Startpage which show PURE Google organic with no local packs getting in the way.) 

But most problems I see they rank high in organic and are what I call "disconnected from the pack." That usually indicates a local penalty or problems like dupes or proximity.

Here is a detailed post about how to troubleshoot local ranking penalties and problems and what to check for. Because I'm sure you run into requests for help with local listings at times.


Be sure to check the Google hack for telling for sure if someone has a local penalty at the bottom of the post. It's pretty accurate and very helpful. Especially for proving to a client they do indeed have a penalty.

FYI, have a Dentist I may be sending your way for organic penalty help.