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Aug 6th, 2012, 12:30 PM
Restructuring a penalised site
I have a site that was hit quite hard in Penguin thanks to some, er, exotic link building that was done years ago before I knew any better. Non-penalised pages on the site still rank very well so I think it wouldn't take much to turn things around. I went through my links with a fine tooth comb a couple of months ago and removed whatever I could find that didn't smell quite right, but the site is yet to show any signs of recovery.
I'm actually going to restructure the site anyway as it's old and using a massively out of date joomla. I figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone and try and shake off the penalty. So here's my question - what is the best way to deal with penalised URLs that are removed from the site, in my head I could:
- Return a 404 that contains an explanation for the users and a mini site map
- Return a 410 (not ideal from a user perspective)
- 301 the page to a new version of the page (guessing the penalty would follow it, esp if it was due to over-optimising anchor text which most of them probably are)
- 301 the page to a generic page explaining that the site has been restructured with links to useful pages for the users
- 301 the page off the site to another domain or sub domain (eg: mydomainblog.com or blog.mydomain.com) explaining what's happened and linking back to the primary site.
I get a bunch of direct traffic (although not enough to justify keeping the pages as they are) so keeping the users happy/informed/engaged is important to me.
Last edited by baldidiot; Aug 6th, 2012 at 12:32 PM.
Aug 6th, 2012, 01:14 PM
You won't see any recovery until a Penguin refresh rolls out. Hopefully that will happen soon!
If you've cleaned up the links you may not have to do any page restructuring.
Aug 6th, 2012, 01:19 PM
was the site registered with google webmaster tools going this whole time? any messages from google about the penalties?
Originally Posted by baldidiot
if you had, they may have said why you were penalized. in which case, you could send a reconsideration request explaining what happened and everything you did in order to try and remedy the situation.
if you never received any messages or you weren't registered with webmaster tools, then it's tough knowing what exactly happened. it could have for a number of reasons or a combination of a few. you can search the forum and see why some sites have dropped in rankings. (searching for some of the more frequent posters will tend to bring these up, SEO_AM, Dr.Marie and DarrenHayes come to mind because i see them posting a lot in spots like this, but there a tons of others who provide lots of help)
in any case, if you want to restructure your site, i would restructure it in a way that is easiest for your users. they're what's most important. i think the 3rd and 4th options that you laid out would be best for the users, in this scenario.
Aug 6th, 2012, 01:21 PM
Thanks for the input Dr Marie - you have a good point.
I'm actually upgrading some features on the site which will involve some pretty significant changes to the db - most likely this will render a lot of the old URL's obsolete anyway. I figured it's easier to do everything now in one go whilst I'm thinking about it.
Aug 6th, 2012, 01:26 PM
Yes, but no unnatural link messages. Looking at the backlink profiles of the pages that took a dive I'm fairly certain it was to do with the anchor text being used - all money terms and very little variation. Looking at it I can't believe what I wally I was when I first started all those years ago.
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