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Old 04-03-2008   #1
hitsusa
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Bizarre Google Filter Affecting Ranking & Indexing?

My blog seems to have gotten onto the wrong side of a bizarre Google filter. My traffic has dropped from 2 million visitors in December to only 400k in March because every single one of my new posts aren't getting indexed correctly.

Problems started in mid-December and have been gradually getting worse. First, every new post got indexed to the home page of my blog instead of the actual URL.

Then, two days and then three days started going by before my posts would show up. Even worse, old ones started disappearing, just a few at first and then more and more until finally about two hundred had vanished.

Three bizarre Google filter symptoms:

Filter Effect #1 - About half of my top-ranked older posts disappeared from SERPs, but you can still see them if you switch languages at Google.com

Example:
google.com/search?hl=en&q= is the English results
google.com/search?hl=no&q= is the Norwegian results
google.com/search?hl=fi&q= is the Finnish results
google.com/search?hl=ro&q= is the Romanian results

If you search for the phrase Tucker Chapman (a post I wrote back in November), you won't see my former #1 post anywhere in Google's English SERPs even though it was the #1 result for three months before disappearing.

If you switch to any of those three languages at Google.com, you can still see my post at #1 or #2.

Example: google.com/search?hl=no&q=Tucker+Chapman

Any other language though and the results are about the same as English results.

This has happened to roughly 100 of my older posts, usually because someone copied them 100% and posted them on Blogspot or some other junk site.

So, there has to be some bizarre filter at work here (something automated by Matt Cutts group maybe that somehow sees my original post as the spam copy?), although I'm not sure how it could be that bad at figuring out who was first when you're already in the SERPs.

When I search for the title of the disappeared post plus my site name, my original post doesn't show at all although the site map and the archive copy do.

I've done a series of DMCA complaints with Google and gotten about 20 of them restored so far, but they never come back at the top of the SERPS. It's like Google sees the restored post as brand new with zero history to it.


Filter Effect #2 - Google indexing (not crawling, but showing up in Google SERPs) has slowed dramatically. Now, it takes anywhere from 4 days to 7 days for a new post to appear in the SERPs.

This leads to some very strange occurences where people copy my original content 100% and then get ranked for it immediately while my post ends up in the omitted results.

Again, doing DMCA complaints gets some relief, but it's time consuming and irritating.

Previously, my average time to see a new post in Google's SERPs was about 15 minutes total. Now, it's 4 days minimum and often longer (new posts indexed once a week maybe? while Googlebot is all over the site every hour of the day)


Filter Effect #3 - Legitimate use of RSS snippets of my content on other sites are causing my posts to end up in omitted results.

In the last week, I've had three posts fail to make anything but the dreaded omitted results because RSS Micro included a snippet on an RSS search results page (even though it had a link back to my post).

I've had the same thing happen from RSS use by several other legit sites as well.

Even worse, two posts from the week before that had legitimate snippets indexed first never even made the omitted results. And that's when searching for a unique phrase from sentence one or sentence two of the post.

These three filter effects aren't the only bizarre things I'm seeing in the Google SERPs. I had one post that ranked #1 back at Christmas time for a news story titled Triplets Widowed Dad and then it got replaced by a snippet showing html links from my sitemap that ended up in the #11 spot.


All in all, it's very, very strange...

I have a sitemap, use a comprehensive robots.txt file, and never had any problems with getting hundreds of posts indexed in the top 10 results.

Now, I can still get top results for some posts, but only after incredible time lags and often, multiple DMCA complaints.

So, there has to be some bizarre Google filter at work here that's affecting both anything of mine that's copied and anything new that I write.

I have a blog post up with dozens of screenshots of different examples of this bizarre filter in action. I can PM it to anyone who wants to take a look and try to figure out what's going on.
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Old 04-03-2008   #2
j0nyDzine
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Re: Bizarre Google Filter Affecting Ranking & Indexing?

I'm curious...
The junk/splog sites that were copying you verbatim and beating you to the post - how are they sitting to Google? high PR or just an overnight site with little relevance? I'm wondering if you're having some long term issues after someone has G bombed you or something of the like...
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Old 04-03-2008   #3
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Re: Bizarre Google Filter Affecting Ranking & Indexing?

Most are Blogspot spam blogs and a few are massive standalone copy sites that copy hundreds of blog posts a day.

Had one Blogspot spammer who copied fifteen posts in two weeks time and ran them through a Markov generator script to randomly substitute gibberish phrases to avoid duplicate content filter.

He got all 15 indexed and I got zero indexed. Two DMCA complaints got 10 of my 15 indexed, but strangely Google left the gibberish ones indexed as well

This particluar blogpot spammer goes by <snip> if you want to look. He copies 5 to 10 other blog posts a day.

Five of my posts that he copied ranked number one for him...

Even after mine were unlocked by the DMCA complaints, four of mine were still outranked by the gibberish versions. Must be the magical power of Blogspot page rank at work...

Last edited by JohnW : 04-03-2008 at 09:49 PM. Reason: no specifics please
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Old 04-03-2008   #4
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Re: Bizarre Google Filter Affecting Ranking & Indexing?

>there has to be some bizarre Google filter at work

There has for years been a filter on duplicate content. If a copy of your work is first found elsewhere, days in advance of the original being found, you have a good chance that your original will be considered the copy particularly if the other page has good inbound linkage/PR.

Based on your post I would guess that for your problems to happen you either have some site kind of site problem, not enough inbound links power, or a penalty.
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Old 04-04-2008   #5
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Re: Bizarre Google Filter Affecting Ranking & Indexing?

Quote:
not enough inbound links power
I'll go a bit deeper from where John left off. The three "filter effects" you mentioned are basically symptomatic of loss of PageRank or loss of trust. The two quite often go hand in hand so it's sometimes difficult to differentiate (and not always reflected in toolbar pr).

I was kind of confused when I read the Tucker Chapman example in your initial post. I got very much more confused when I visited the site and initially found what I expected -- a site focused on building web traffic -- only then to find all this celebrity chit chat stuff.

If you're confusing a site visitor, me, don't you think you might also be confusing Google and the other SEs? There are a lot of points I can run through -- outdated SEO "techniques", very awkward and confusing backlink profile as examples -- but there are many things that have to be cleaned up.

One major point that appears to be self inflicted (amongst others) is a dupe content problem on the site itself. I searched Google for a snippet of text from one of you celebrity chit chat pages. I was kind of surprised when the SERPs returned three other pages from your site -- and not the seemingly main one (with photos, etc.) -- but stripped down versions with what looked like static URLs.

To be perfectly blunt, I think you have a bit of a mess on your hands here and Google isn't looking too kindly on it. My best advice would be to step back and take a very cold, hard look at the site. Prune non-relevant content (no, you don't want it to go to waste, grab a new domain and put 301s in place). Re-establish you backlink profile for your core theme.

My gut feeling is that this is something that's more likely algorithmically imposed than a manual penalty, so it might take some time to work out of it (3 months? 6 months?).

(Other point: If you've accepted paid links or paid for links or are involved in any other hinky linking schemes those can also be a factor.)
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Old 04-04-2008   #6
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Re: Bizarre Google Filter Affecting Ranking & Indexing?

My website is about how to get website traffic using only white hat SEO techniques.

My blog home page explains that the blog posts are tests of different ranking factors involving on-page SEO. Most people completely forget that when they try to rank well for their chosen keywords and other factors being roughly equal, on-page SEO will always get you top rankings.

Quality content is key to getting traffic and you can be sure that Google measures how visitors react to your page. If they bounce back immediately and hit another result, you move down. If they like what you have to say and bookmark you as a favorite, then you move up. So, regardless of whether my test posts are "celebrity chit chat", sports, news stories, or reviews of other sites, the content gets bookmarked as favorites by between 56% to 63% of visitors.

As far as multiple results showing up for a snippet search, I've updated robots.txt to block the /tag folder from getting indexed. Can't do much about the archive pages or the sitemap getting indexed though.

I agree that somehow my TrustRank has been damaged, but I don't know how it happened or how to fix it. There are no paid links or hinky linking schemes involved.

Never paid much attention to PageRank because it's a non-factor. Everyone that focuses on PageRank is usually spending way too much time on getting links with their keyword anchor text from related sites anyway. It's a better use of time to ignore those linking schemes and just get natural ones anyway.

I base the value of links on how much traffic they send to my site. In an average month I get 300 to 400 different sites sending me at least ten unique visitors. Eventually, Google will adjust their algorithm to devalue all links that don't send actual traffic, so why bother chasing those kinds of links.

As far as "outdated" SEO techniques, 75% of these test posts got top 10 rankings and 90% got top 20 rankings up until mid-December.

Now the percentage making the top 10 is down to 50% because of all the indexing delays and having to do all the DMCA complaints to free up the posts.

Anyone have a better contact at Google who can take a look at the filter situation other than "help at google.com"?
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