We work with a website which was hit by a manual penalty about 2 months ago for “Thin Content”. It didn’t surprise me as the site had grown to over 200,000 pages indexed in Google, where from 1998 until about 2011, the site had about 4,000 pages. Back in 2011 the owner decided to create a page for every state, every city, every zip code to sell their products. They also had tons of similar pages like “Big red widgets” and “Small Red Widgets” and “Medium red widgets”.
During 2012 and 2013 the site’s traffic skyrocketed at it was now ranking for thousands of more phrases in Google. This one shop who had previously sold their product in one city, was now shipping products all over the country. It was good times until the site got a site wide manual penalty for “Thin Content”.
The client was really great and understanding, and only wished to be ranking again for his city and his product like he had for many years prior. He understands that he’ll never be “across the country” again…as least not how he was doing it with all those location pages.
We ended up 410-ing all but about 10,000 pages (removing over 200,000 pages). Of the remaining 10,000 we had a canonical on many of the pages, making the site about 3000 pages now. Not bad for being over 200,000 pages prior to the penalty. All the pages which remained were original content, and not thin pages, and were what we all felt should be the correct size of his website.
We then started the reconsideration request process.
Reconsideration request #1 was denied.
So we kept finding other pages that we didn’t want indexed and 410′ing those, or blocking them in the robots.txt file.
Reconsideration Request #2 was denied.
Again, we’d find some odd pages getting indexed in google so we’d block them as well
Reconsideration Request #3 was denied.
We blocked a few more page that were starting to show in google’s index. Figured that maybe Google was waiting for more of the pages to be removed in the Google index, so figured they just needed to spider enough of the 410′s to untrip the % of thin content penalty. (we were down to 80,000 pages indexed in google (77,000 were still indexed, but 90% were 410′d now and 10% was canonical’d or blocked with the robots.txt…in the end we expected about 3000 pages to remain when google was done indexing)
Last Friday I did reconsideration request #4
On Saturday the client said that they never got the confirmation email from Google about the reconsideration request…and I checked, and they didn’t….so we thought that it must not have gone through.
On Monday I did Reconsideration request #5 thinking that #4 hadn’t gone through…and I got the confirmation email about them receiving the Monday reconsideration request.
On Tuesday we got a denied for the reconsideration request, but this time, there was an example url given in the notes.
Thank god for that, because from that 1 example url, we found 21 pages that were these thin doorway pages like the example page Google gave where they were stuffed with keywords. It was original content so I hadn’t caught it prior, also it was in a folder that had “good” pages…and there were only 20 of these “doorway pages”. Last night I gave the client the list of those 20 URL’s and I told them to 410 those pages.
The next day (today) we got a message from Google saying that the Manual Penalty had been Revoked. We all cheered!
I figured that the Denied we got yesterday must have been from the Friday reconsideration that I did, (the one I thought that it didn’t go through), and then today’s “Manual Penalty has been Revoked” must have been from my Monday Reconsideration request.
So I figured that the client must have worked fast and deleted the 20 urls that I gave them last night, which included the 1 example url which Google had given us on Monday….
….but, they hadn’t. The example url that Google showed us yesterday was still live today… as were the other 20 doorway page urls like it…all live…yesterday we got a “no” with this example link (which led us to find the 20 other pages like this), but today we get a “yes” with those doorway pages still live….
You’d think the guy who looked at this today would have seen that yesterday they gave us a “Denied” with the example link..and that the example link and the other pages like that were still live…but he didn’t….just seems strange.
Is #5 the magic number of reconsideration requests you need to get out? Anyone else have weird thing happen in the reconsideration process?