Google's Most Common Penalty

49 comments

By now you've heard about the +-30 penalty, and you may have even heard of the Google 950 penalty being discussed here, and here, but let me tell you about the most common penalty Google uses.

It doesn't have a catchy name, and people generally refuse to talk about it because this particular penalty requires taking responsibility. It's much easier to blame the +-30 penalty, the Sandbox or the new 950 penalty than it is to accept that you've been nailed with the most common penalty of all. What is it you ask?

It's the My Site Sucks Ass And Google Just Figured It Out penalty.

Let me 'splain what it is and why it occurs. It's at least as plausible as half of the half-baked theories out there at the moment.

It's quite simple really. Google gives webmasters a chance. Also known as 'give them enough rope'. Sites start out with an idea and a hardworking webmaster. But somewhere along the way, the content ends up being a remash of all the content that has gone before.

Ads take over content real estate. So A Widget Forum is added. And a Widget Resource page, and a Widget Directory, and soon, the site is just a replica of all the other widget sites. With fewer links and a bored webmaster. In short, the site sucks ass. But there for awhile, Google couldn't tell that it sucked ass. So they waited. (see, Give Them Enough Rope above).

Unfortunately, the benevolent Google god's patience inspires hope in the poor Webmaster. Google loves me! This is easy! Then, when the wrath of the Google Gods is unleashed upon the poor faithful, they, like humans have for centuries, blame everyone but themselves.

It must be OOP, or the +-30 Penalty, or the 950 Penalty, or a Commercial Terms filter, or a new LSA filter. Maybe if I light a candle and say a Hail Sergey? Anything but the dreaded truth. My Site Sucks Ass And Google Just Figured It Out.

Comments

Awesome.

Next I will go read an article on how to use the Google Search API, which will be equally as useful as the fantastic article I just read.

Chances are, your site sucks ass. Everyone's pretty much does. Our job in the industry is not to create sites that dont suck ass, it is to make sites that do suck ass rank.

Russ

My man, it's posted in Bollocks. Which should've have been a clue.

>>Our job in the industry is not to create sites that dont suck ass, it is to make sites that do suck ass rank.

And I disagree with your entire philosophy, and I am so glad that I do. But that's beside the point.

DG for president of something

DG, in a world where multi-way recips are dressed up as memes, backscratching for friends is marketed as social media, and the new blogerati whore their content to the next-lowest bidder, you are a pleasure to read. Keep the faith.

So your saying there's "Ass

So your saying there's "Ass Rank" now too ?

I believe

"ass rank" is something that should be avoided. Sounds like another penalty.

Awesome post, DG!

Awesome post, DG! I couldn't agree more.

I had a former consulting client email me the other day wondering why his site lost all his rankings. I took one look and said, "huh? Where did all the REAL content that the site used to have go?" It was a website based on a real magazine and they had the magazine content there previously when I was consulting with them. Today, it's just a shell of its former self. It's basically just a pile of meaningless landing pages focused on a variety of keywords.

And he had to ask why he lost all his rankings? :O If he writes back, I'll be sure to tell him because his site sucks ass!

Agreed - Great Post

I have to agree. I thoroughly enjoyed this post too. More truth than poetry here, IMO.

Initialisms

If you have to break the news to someone, it goes down easier if you use an initialism, like the MSSA penalty, or the GMC penalty. When they ask, and they will, just the fact that the penalty has an initialism makes it easier for them to accept. ; )

What about when you start on

What about when you start on a project that ranks pretty well, but that you know sucks ass? It's like the most stressful SEO project EVER! Any day Google might wake up, and then... WHAMMO. You're SEO caused a problem.

The number one reason you need to know how to detect ass sucking websites? To avoid taking them on as SEO projects.

The fact is

The fact is most of us that know what we're talking about (and I don't proclaim to qualify) are no longer just SEO's, but business strategists and forward thinking entrepreneurs. We learned the ropes with SEO and now we know what it takes to start something that really works and has value to something other than our bank account...although there are still those things around, and we do take advantage. The concept of linkbait is the prime example. If people don't like it, no one will link to it. If it sucks ass and doesn't do anyone any good, it won't rank!

It is down to laziness in

It is down to laziness in whois info, duplicate content for the same serps. Quite obvious really. Some sites we have rewritten and they have come back with the help of a zillion links.

Our job in the industry is

Our job in the industry is not to create sites that dont suck ass, it is to make sites that do suck ass rank.

Personally, I'd much prefer to take sites that suck ass and make them not suck ass. Seems to make better sense.

ROFLMAO

Brilliant post DG - nothing like telling the truth even when its going to hurt.

So are we going to rename some of the other penalties

+30 -> MSSA-ALB - My site sucks ass a little bit
950 -> MSSA-QAL - My site sucks ass quite a lot
Commercial Terms Filter -> MSSA-AT - My site sucks ass absolutely totally

Sorry DG, that is just more

Sorry DG, that is just more wordy nonsense.

The only interesting bit of SEO is getting a site to rank better than it actually deserves by exploiting the SEs inability to recognise quality if it bit them on the arse.

Making a site that actually IS the best and actually DESERVES to rank well is a wimpy 'pointy white hat' solution to the problem - where's the fun in that?

You'll be suggesting that we all go and get real jobs next.

Ass Rank???

So your saying there's "Ass Rank" now too?

Uhhh, yeah? Every woman on the street gets an ass rank. Come on...

No Millinery Involved

4eyes, doesn't matter what's fun, and there's no hat color involved unless you mean to imply that 'blackhats' are incapable of creating good sites. That my friend, is simply more bullshit. I'm talking about accepting responsibility when a site tanks if the site sucks ass. Plain and simple. No need to debate for hours in forums about the +-30 penalty or the Commercial Terms penalty or any of that other bullshit. Just accept that the site sucks ass, Google figured it out and move on.

Sure it's fun to game the engines, but I don't suggest doing that with a client's high-value domain name. Do that with your own POS 5-hyphen, scraped, cloaked, keyword-stuffed nightmare. Just don't come to any forum bitching when Google figures out the site sucks ass.

And you must know that I'm speaking directly to you, but to all those folks out there that blame everything but themselves when some POS site falls in the SERPs. In short, if you are promoting a webshite, don't get all bitchy when you get hit with the MSSA penalty.

DG,

DG,
There is no point in getting 'all bitchy' when people continue to behave in the same way that they always have. It isn't news that people look for anything to blame other than themselves - its old hat.

And for the record, my post was a joke.

No offense intended, old chap, but you are still a 'whinger', even if you are 'whinging' about people 'whinging'.

I guess some people take themselves way too seriously.

Not complaining though, just a little surprised.

Quote:
And you must know that I'm speaking directly to you..

Is that really what you meant to say?

IATMS

All "penalties" fall under the IATMS umbrella. The rest of it is nonsense.

Its about the money stupid.

Goog has never instituted an algo change that was detrimental to adwords revenue and never will. With top line revenue growth nearing its peak, expect more "penalties".

Of course the penalty thing makes nice spin for goog and fanbois because they can hide commercial bias behind the "bad webmasters" spiel.

Well Shit

>>Is that really what you meant to say?

No. The exact opposite of that. Try this one: And you must know that I'm notspeaking directly to you,

Now, for the record, the original post was intended as a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. And again, for the record, I told Aaron after I posted it that people wouldn't like it because people hate to hear the truth.

>>I guess some people take themselves way too seriously.

I certainly agree with that statement. ; )

Actually, thats a good point

Actually, thats a good point hardball, the belief that Google:
* is ABLE to rank based on quality
* and WANTS to rank based on quality
* and ACTUALLY ranks based on quality

... is, at best, naïve.

wouldn't like it because

Quote:
wouldn't like it because people hate to hear the truth.

Dear, oh dear

Now that is a problematic statement.

Do you REALLY think that is the truth - I had given you the credit for it being 'tongue in cheek', hence my attempt at humour, but.... well, come on, you know better than that.

People do not hate to hear the truth - but they DO hate to hear people attempt to prove that their 'truth' is 'the truth' without any evidence.

Some people also hate people posting 'wordy nonsense' purely as an attempt to get some controversial discussion going - which I suspect it more the case here.

If I didn't know better, I'd suspect it was just linkbait - surely not though - that would far too close to SEO trickery instead of building a genuinely better site.

Hail Sergey

Good idea, DG.

Figured out the solution to this penalty: HailSergey.com

C'mon now

We've all created sites that suck. Most of the 'penalties' I've investigated in forums could be attributed to 'sites that suck syndrome'. Occasionally, I see a site that drops for inexplicable reasons, but it isn't common.

So, the next time you see a site drop like a rock, if you can't find out what caused it, you can blame some hypothetical penalty or you can attribute it to what I believe to be Google's most common penalty.

ROFL @ Hail Sergey. Now we need a voodoo site, you know, so we can stick pins in Sergey, or at least shake a chicken bone at him...

So, the next time you see a

Quote:
So, the next time you see a site drop like a rock, if you can't find out what caused it, you can blame some hypothetical penalty or you can attribute it to what I believe to be Google's most common penalty.

See - there you go with wordiness' again ;)

Here's my re-worded wordy version of 'the truth':

Next time you see a site drop like a rock, if you can't find out what caused it, do NOT assume that Google suddenly found a way of ranking quality sites better UNLESS you can see some specific evidence to support that. You can blame Google's hypothetical desire to rank quality sites regardless of its impact on their finances, or you can attribute it to the most common historical reason - they f**ed up again.

Like many here, I have 'poor quality' sites and 'real value' sites - if Google improved its ability to recognise the difference I would be producing only 'real value' sites, trust me.

They haven't, and I ain't.

Would be believable if...

there weren't so many industrial strength ass vacuums ranking in Google's top 10...and staying there for lengthy periods of time.

I propose the counterpoint: the Your site doesn't suck, but Google can't tell penalty.

(and yes, I have some low quality sites too)

No, No, No,

Yer missin' the point. The penalty has nothing to do with Google being able to detect quality, they just suck at detecting sites that suck. Hence, the 'Google just figured it out' bit.

Yeesh, I've had some total crap that ranked well for three to four years. Google is just slow. The difference is, when Google figured out that those sites sucked ass, I didn't blame it on a some non-existent penalty, I knew what it was...

True that

And I agree. I use "Your site's losing rank to the competition, we need to make it better by doing this." instead of blaming some non-existent penalty.

But in the other case, you can't just say "Your site's good, but isn't ranking because Google hasn't yet realized that this other site is crap." You have to find some way to beat it -- which can be as much work as trying to make a crap site good.

Agree with 4eyes

I agree with 4eyes DG sorry. And I feel that really you might be part of the problem. You help promote crappy ads like link building services, buying links, content scraping services on the home page of this forum. And you clearly probably dont give a damn how big of an influence you might have on people but yet still crappy ads are placed adding to the overall problem. Why not place great ads that are actually useful to people and will help them instead of helping promote crappy products and services then you wonder why some peoples sites Suck Ass! Read something that doesnt suck ass jamesdeansblog.blogspot.com

Hence, the 'Google just

Quote:
Hence, the 'Google just figured it out' bit.

Nice if it were true, but sadly the actual track record that I see is more like:

* Google just 'figured it out'
* Google just 'unfigured it out'
* Google just 'figured it out' again.
* Nope, hold one, maybe it is good after all
* Well, perhaps your site is OK, but look at these spammy sites - they are REALLY good.
* Tell you what, we'll put your main index page back at number one for now, but we will sink all your other pages 'cos they REALLY suck.
* Hey look - these results from 5 months ago are far better than last weeks, right...

.... and so on.

Quote:
I knew what it was...

Nah.. you are totally wrong to say you 'knew what it was' - you didn't - you just jumped to the same sort of totally unproven conclusion that the whingers did.

Sure, the general whinging gets on my wick as well, but their logical stand point holds more water than yours.

Your refusal to complain about it is of course the more admirable reaction, its just that you are refusing to complain about the wrong thing.

;)

Have to agree with 4eyes again

I mean come on some of these sites are bouncing from the top to the bottom in the same day. So yeh google figured it out now then now they havent figured it out then they figured it out again. I mean come on now. From top to bottom from the bottom to the top in same day or week without doing anything to there sites. I think google might have dimentia. Read what I think is part of the problem here jamesdeansblog.blogspot.com and here http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=28051

More non-relevant sites

Great post, I agree. We should strive to make sites that are unique and create a positive user experience. The search engines are getting more sophisticated and we actually have to focus on quality not quantity any more.

YEH but........

Yeh but some of the sites do have unique content and have a positive user experience. And yeh you must focus on great quality not just quantity too. But how come some of the sites hit bottom come back in same day or week in all DC's if they suck. Google have dimentia and cant remember who sucks and who doesnt
Read what I think might be the problem here
jamesdeansblog.blogspot.com and here http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=28051

Yeehaw

Someone to argue semantics with. Nope 4eyes, I certainly know when sites suck ass, and if my knowledge that a site sucks is certain, the logical step is to A. Improve the site. B. Let it go.

Sorry, debating points (like penalties that can't be proven) amounts to the same kind of mental exercise as arguing about whether God can make a rock so large that even God can't lift it.

Since you want to talk about logic, let's talk. Do you agree that most sites on the Web suck ass? Hmm... If so, what penalty would be most effective? In fact, so many sites suck ass that Google probably has to grade on a curve. Which would explain the constant movement.

Sorry, all you've managed to point out with all that wordiness is that Google has a difficult time determining that sites suck ass. Already knew that, thanks. ; )

..

Hmmm...
How come... everytime I try to make a suckass page into a good page it drops out of the top 100?

For example... I had a page that ranked #1 for [ ______ News]. The page was real lame 4 or 5 links to News sources and about a 150 words... That page ranked #1 for [ _____ News] for over 2 years.

When I finally got around to adding some real content, a news feed, the site dropped off the SERP and completly out of site... Yup google sure is looking hard for 'quality' content all right...

And yes I did remove the news feed and the page popped right back where it was... So google was telling me by its actions that it likes shitty pages.

Better to have a shitty page at #1 than a great page at # -100...

Seems right

It does seem like the serps are flip flopping. Whats at top is at bottom and whats at bottom is at top. Spam sites rule right now.

The link spamming of

The link spamming of Threadwatch is through the roof lately.

Hmm?

;)

LOL!

Yeh I know it is huh? LOL!

Someone to argue semantics

Quote:
Someone to argue semantics with. Nope 4eyes, I certainly know when sites suck ass..

I know you take pride in your linguistic gymnastics, but for the record, you are not arguing semantics with me here, you are merely misunderstanding or misrepresenting my point.

I have absolute confidence in your ability to recognise when your own sites 'suck ass', as you so eloquently put it, there is no debate there and no mention of such in my post.

The conclusion that you 'jumped to' without foundation was that Google detected the 'ass suckyness' and that this was the reason your site got whacked.

It's a logic thing, wordiness and semantics can do nothing to rescue you here.

Correlation does not prove causation.

Jumping to the conclusion that Google 'sussed' that your site was poor quality is exactly the same poor judgement as jumping to the conclusion that a 'previously unheard of' penalty has been applied. Both are possibilities, neither are proven.

Anyone who monitors the performance of a large number of sites can clearly see that the fluctuations often have no direct connection with 'suckyness detection'. A good deal of the pain experienced by the complaining webmasters is the result of collateral damage caused by a slight 'over-tightening' of the nuts on one of the filters.

I remain of the view that this thread, and in particular the concept of ...

Quote:
It's the My Site Sucks Ass And Google Just Figured It Out penalty

... whilst thinly disguised as humour, is in fact just another example of the linkbait that drives Google's SERPs at the moment.

Arguably, if you add 'linkbait' to the long list of site add-ons in your original post, you probably wouldn't get penalised in the first place. The site would still 'suck ass' though.

So much for building quality, huh.

Vote for Dean

lots0 - I recently added a Yahoo news feed to a questionable site and after a week or so the home page dropped about 20 positions. I removed the feed and today it's back up.

Go figure.

Yeesh. I concede

You win. Your sheer dogged determinedness has convinced me never to try my hand at humor again.

Dude! NO!

Don't give up the gags! SEO is already full of posing tossers who couldn;t get laid in High School, read every self help and get rich scheme book on the shelf (and online most likely) in an attempt to "become someone important" to "show the world".

Viva la humour! LONG LIVE LAUGHTER!!!!

PS; Next time you wanna try humour, PM it to me, and I'll post it over at www.insearchofstuff.com. That way, the ass clowns with their funny bones removed won't be an issue.

DUDE, NO!

Don't give up the gags!

SEO is already full of posing tossers who couldn;t get laid in High School, read every self help and get rich scheme book on the shelf (and online most likely) in an attempt to "become someone important" to "show the world".

Viva la humour! LONG LIVE LAUGHTER!!!!

PS; Next time you wanna try humour, PM it to me, and I'll post it over at www.insearchofstuff.com. That way, the ass clowns with their funny bones removed won't be an issue.

Couldnt agree more

Quote:
Don't give up the gags! SEO is already full of posing tossers who couldn;t get laid in High School, read every self help and get rich scheme book on the shelf (and online most likely) in an attempt to "become someone important" to "show the world".

You do have some people who cant take everything for what it is and know when they got the wool pulled over there eyes. And these people hate that THEY got showed a thing or two. These people wont let you have the last word and they ban from talking to you or hearing your final thoughts and reasonings on anything. As far as reading get rich quick books thats just plain stupid. Real marketers know whats going on and can capitalize off of it. And then when the wool gets pulled over somones eyes the people who think there big shots really do not know anything at all but confusing language to try to make it seem that there right and put alot of thought into it knowing that there wrong and have been played like a fiddle!

>>>Your sheer dogged

>>>Your sheer dogged determinedness has convinced me never to try my hand at humor again.

Promise?

Well,

not if it irritates you...

DG Humour goes both ways,

DG

Humour goes both ways, sorry if my 'having a little fun' at your expense has been taken the wrong way.

I just thought that the 'linkbait humour' left itself open for a bit of a jab back again.

I was well aware that your main point was a witty stab at the general 'whinginess' (if there isn't such a word, there should be) of the web site owners that can't seem to accept that there is no god-given right to ranking. Far be it from me to appear to be defending them - sheesh, even with my tongue firmly in cheek, that would leave a nasty taste.

Keep doing the humour, but keep IN good humour if any of it comes back at you.

How long would thread have lasted without our respective 'post bait' stuff, eh?

Medium Limitations

I think this conversation would have been exactly the same had we been sitting in a bar, yet, much easier to understand. I haven't grimaced once while writing or reading and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

..

Well the whole damn thing went right over my head... ;-)

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