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    5 Reconsideration Requests to get Out. Magic Number 5?


    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?
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    Even though it's strange that a penalty was lifted without addressing the example cases, do you think its just a matter of a different human reviewing the action?
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    Yes....but odd that the example of the "thin content" that was used was actually a "doorway page"...and there were only 20 of those pages on the whole site....and they were all there the entire time...didn't the second guy see this? nothing changed... just a bit odd....I had more sites get out after 5 reconsideration requests than I have from getting out after 1 reconsideration request...and I've never had one go past 5 reconsideration requests (FYI, I've done over 200 disavows and reconsideration requests over the past 2 years....so fyi, I do a lot of these).
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    No but over-sight on Webspam younglings is the likely reason.
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    Adding:

    Originally Posted by jimsthoughts
    I've done over 200 disavows and reconsideration requests over the past 2 years....so fyi, I do a lot of these.
    Like me, you really don't do all the labor, you are the decision-maker. I am positive Matt does not do all the reviewing labor either. He (and the core team) make decisions on where the "shown good faith line is".
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    The majority of those I personally did all the labor (with help from our tools). It s a project (doing disavows) that I took on personally.
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    I haven't quite found a rhyme or reason to the examples other than they've been showing examples more frequently in the last few months. Thanks for sharing this case.
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    Originally Posted by jimsthoughts
    The majority of those I personally did all the labor (with help from our tools). It s a project (doing disavows) that I took on personally.
    If your only oversight is you using a tool that you invented you will magically get false positives (or false negatives) as the tool is based only on your interpretation of Google's interpretation.

    Frankly, I don't know the difference between a "doorway page" and "thin content". A suggested "doorway page" in SEO is "change the keywords from say Internet Marketing to Search Engine Optimization where the body of page content remains the same... that sound vaguely like thin content?
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    Jim, I wonder if perhaps this happened because of the sample of urls that the webspam team chose to look at. I'm not sure if thin content penalties work in the same way as unnatural links penalties. But, I know that for unnatural links, John Mueller has said that the webspam team takes a look at a sample of the links that they have determined to be unnatural and then sees what you have done with them. That sample may vary from request to request. This is why I think some sites fail and then, when you file again having done very little additional work they pass.

    Logically, you'd think that if they gave you that url as an example that they would want to see that url gone. But, who knows...perhaps they had a list of hundreds of urls that had previously been deemed thin and the sample that they looked at for the final request was more favorable to you.
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    the tool is based only on your interpretation of Google's interpretation
    Yup.....but I'm feeling lucky with my interpretation ... but yup, you're right.

    ...if perhaps this happened because of the sample of urls that the webspam team chose to look at. I'm not sure if thin content penalties work in the same way as unnatural links penalties. But, I know that for unnatural links, John Mueller has said that the webspam team takes a look at a sample of the links that they have determined to be unnatural and then sees what you have done with them
    There were only these 20 spammy doorway pages....they'd been there for years, there were no more than 20 all along....those pages were never touched by me because I never saw them to be honest. I was convinced it was the size of the site and all the city, state, zip code pages....still probably was that as well....but as far as the example page they gave, the url's were like this: site.com/folder/cheap-blue-widgets.htm . Each page was about 500 words, all 4 paragraphs, and all had between 5-10 internal links within the content, filled with about 7 internal links, Everyone of them going to the same page, with the same exact anchor text, saying "cheap blue widgets"....I didn't need any interpenetration for what was an obvious doorway page - no question about it...this was an obvious one... it was pure spam. From there, I was able to identify 20 pages that were like this that were on the site ...so.....if they tool a sample of Keyword Rich Doorway Pages, there would be 20 of them...before and after...none of my previous efforts blocked those 20 pages. I didn't know they existed since the content was unique, and those pages never showed up in the top 1000 urls google would show to me, and they weren't found via a crawl of the site....there was 20 before, and 20 after the penalty.
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    Marie, and congrats on going over 2000 posts! You Rock!
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    Originally Posted by jimsthoughts
    There were only these 20 spammy doorway pages....they'd been there for years, there were no more than 20 all along....those pages were never touched by me because I never saw them to be honest. I was convinced it was the size of the site and all the city, state, zip code pages....still probably was that as well....but as far as the example page they gave, the url's were like this: site.com/folder/cheap-blue-widgets.htm . Each page was about 500 words, all 4 paragraphs, and all had between 5-10 internal links within the content, filled with about 7 internal links, Everyone of them going to the same page, with the same exact anchor text, saying "cheap blue widgets"....I didn't need any interpenetration for what was an obvious doorway page - no question about it...this was an obvious one... it was pure spam. From there, I was able to identify 20 pages that were like this that were on the site ...so.....if they tool a sample of Keyword Rich Doorway Pages, there would be 20 of them...before and after...none of my previous efforts blocked those 20 pages. I didn't know they existed since the content was unique, and those pages never showed up in the top 1000 urls google would show to me, and they weren't found via a crawl of the site....there was 20 before, and 20 after the penalty.
    A Manual Review was initiated by someone doing research. Whether that is a competitor, doing competitive research or a searcher looking for information on a specific topic and finding what they think is webspam, in Google.

    I would gather (in this case) a competitor finding twenty spammy doorway pages (or maybe just one) through their research would point that out to Google. Once pointed out to Google all you can do is find it yourself or have someone point it out to you. Thus, Reconsideration Request #1 to #4 were doomed to fail.

    No matter what, I am not an expert at defining what Google defines as thin, copied, affiliated or auto-generated content anymore than I am an expert at determining what Google determines as an organic or inorganic link.

    These are fluid parameters that change based on the input of evidence Google has been given.

    But I can say, based on your noted evidence - "spammy doorway pages" are indeed webspam and no different than spammy thin pages so you to agree with Google afterthefact and you would clearly reject your own reconsideration request even if it was magical request 156.
    Last edited by fathom; Jul 30th, 2014 at 04:36 PM.

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