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    Penguin hit sites - can't find text when searched with no quotation marks?


    I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed this. I was working on a traffic drop audit for a site and noticed that when I searched for text from the homepage of this site, the site did not appear on Google. However, if I enclosed the text in quotation marks, the site appeared at #1. The same thing applied for several pages of the site, but not for all of them.

    If I searched for the title of each page with no quotes, the page did not appear on Google. If I searched for the title with quotation marks around it, Google would tell me that there are no results for this search.

    This site has no known manual warnings from Google.

    I decided to try this out on other sites that I suspect have been affected by either Penguin or a manual penalty. Now, granted I don't have a large sample size, but I found that on sites where I highly suspected Penguin had affected them, the same thing applied (titles searched in quotes give no results and chunks of text searched without quotes did not display the page in question...with quotes the page displayed in the SERPS just fine.) On sites where unnatural links warnings were received, some of them had perfectly normal search results and others had the issue described above. If my theory is true then I am guessing that those sites had manual warnings PLUS Penguin issues.

    Is it possible that this is a hack to determine whether your site has been affected by Penguin? Has anyone else noticed this?

    However, in a recent discussion in SEOChat, fathom said that he feels that Penguin was actually not a penalty at all but rather Google had simply removed all of the ranking benefit from overused anchor texted links (i.e. disavowed those links). If this is the case, then my above theory would not be true. But, I believe that Penguin is a filter just like Panda. If this is the case, then a page (as opposed to a site in the case of Panda) would be flagged with a Penguin flag and have difficulties ranking for the overoptimized term again until the flag is removed. Removal of the flag likely involves link removal/disavowing and possibly on page deoptimization.

    What do you guys think?
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    When you use without quotations the site is not in your search. But how far back are you looking? Just page 1? Or not in the, say, top 10 page results?
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    Not in top 10 pages.
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    I just tested this on a Penguin hit site. Neither returned results for the site in question. However, entering the website name, which is KID (ish), shows the site. However, even title tag in quotes + sitename does not bring up the site. sitename alone does, but mixed with the title it does not. Very odd.
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    Update: With quotes, I get the "no results found" as well.. Super weird.
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    Does this not also happen with panda hit sites?.

    Comments on this post

    • KernelPanic agrees : That's what I was thinking also, it sounds more like a panda issue to me
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    So you are leaning towards it being some kind of penalty rather than just discounting the links due to the fact that the content is not even being listed when in quotes.

    Why would Google penalise the title but not the rest of the content? Why would searching for the "title" return zero results when the search for "content" does not?
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    Thanks guys.

    Why would Google penalise the title but not the rest of the content? Why would searching for the "title" return zero results when the search for "content" does not?
    If you search for the content in quotes, it does return it, but without quotes it doesn't.

    Does this not also happen with panda hit sites?.
    Yes....and no. Usually with Panda sites, if you search for a chunk of text in quotes the site in question will be displayed in the supplemental results, or if the chunk of text that you searched for was truly unique it will say "No results found for...". In this case, if you search for text in quotes it does appear.

    The other thing is that this site has no drop coincidental with a Panda update. There is an obvious and very dramatic drop on April 24 and the client noticed a large number of his keywords dropped dramatically in the SERPS the morning of April 24. What doesn't make sense though is that the keywords that have been used for the majority of his backlinks are still ranking well. My initial thought when I looked at the data was to say that he was a secondary victim of Penguin - i.e. he had a lot of links from sites that were likely hit by Penguin and as such he lost link juice when Penguin hit those sites.

    But, if this was true, then why isn't his content appearing when searched? There has to be a penalty of some sort. He filed for reconsideration and was told there was no manual penalty. There are no Panda issues that I can see (after about 3 hours of searching) and there is no drop coincidental with a Panda date. I think I have to conclude that this is most likely Penguin.

    It may be that he didn't have a dramatic drop in his most common anchor texted keywords because these keywords also have a number of good links pointing to them.

    I think the question that we have debated several times in this forum is whether or not Penguin actually penalizes a site or simply devalues the bad links. The only reasons that I can see for the content not appearing when searched without quotes and the title not appearing when searched in quotes are:

    1. A manual penalty. He filed for reconsideration and was told no manual penalty back in June but there could be one levied since then. BUT, there was no message in WMT and this webmaster actively checks his WMT.

    2. A Panda issue that I am missing. BUT...there is no drop coincidental with a Panda date.

    3. A Penguin issue.

    As Penguin is the most likely issue in this case, I think that there is actually some type of flag that is placed on Penguin hit sites.
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    Hey

    I have seen this before and have just confirmed it against a few known penguin sites I have been looking at. Similar deal, no manual penalty, big traffic drop when penguin first hit and slow worsening from there on in.

    Something else I noticed is that it is only related to Penguin punished pages. So, homepage or some of the main service pages which have a bunch of anchor text links and big drops for those terms - google a chunk of text, nothing (works in double quotes). Do the same thing for a blog post or some of the content marketing put in place since (which are ranking quite well) and the page pops up in first place.

    So... looks like Penguin not only cripples those keywords but it also effects the pages being promoted by those links making it almost impossible to find them by the usual means.

    Out of interest, have you seen any changes in relation to the 17th of January? I am seeing some folks where they have an EMD and lots of exact match anchors with the same keywords as the EMD seeing huge drops. So, for instance, if we had a site called: www.TheExampleSite.com and lots of links with anchor text of 'Example Site' then there was huge drops for that keyword in analytics on the 17th of Jan and smaller drops for that keyword + another modifying word. (-100 places approx for the main keyword and around -10 for the variations).

    This was on a site with an existing penguin penalty so whether it is an additional bump tieing together the EMD + penguin algorithms or something else entirely is of some interest. I was actually put onto this by another chap on a UK forum and digged into a few sites and he was spot on so would be interested to see what you are seeing.

    Regarding penguin as a devaluation or penalty I think there is no doubt it can be a penalty based on the sites I have looked at AND the WPMU site is another strong example as they had tons of exact match links but tons of great links and content and they got a massive slap across the board and their blog content was not even ranking. Whether it acts like this in every single instance is another matter and certainly it seems to be keyword and page specific in some cases I have looked at.

    One example was a chap who had several sites that all had keyword footer links to his main site - he could not be found for this keyword when I first chatted with him and after these links were removed he bounced back into 2nd place. The keyword was the same as his two word domain name as well and he is still riding at around 3rd place now for what is a fairly competitive term and he is returned for the chunk-of-text type search detailed in this thread.

    I have started helping a few folks that have the full, deluxe penalty package: manual penalty, penguin and panda with a side order of EMD but more interesting are the ones where they have just picked up a link penalty and the content is really good as it gives us a clearer understanding of what is going on related to a specific algorithm (penguin / panda etc).

    Cheers!
    Marcus

    Comments on this post

    • giggity agrees : Thanks for the insight Marcus.
    • Dr.Marie agrees : Thanks!
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    I was thinking about this in bed last night (as you do) and we have a few things going on here re the 17th.

    1. Google denies any update to the algorithm so I don't think they are out and out lieing

    2. Lots of penguin'ised EMD sites seem to have been effected (possibly others as well)

    I think this was a good and honest devaluation and removal of a whole bunch of links and the effects here are just down to removal of these links. If these sites had an existing penalty then it may have made this worse for them but looking at the kind of links that these sites have in link detox it is loads of low quality directories with exact match anchors.

    So, I think the 17th at least, was just a devaluation, but as ever, there may be more to the picture.

    Just my thoughts.

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