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Wow, we don't rank for our own brand name in Google stay tuned guys... Gonne be 100% transparent about it here and keep you guys in the loop...

Wondering why links from places like this can't offset whatever signal is making us look bad in the algo:

http://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/SEERWisdomTreeACECaseStudy.pdf
http://advertising.microsoft.com/small-business/seer-interactive
http://www.clintonfoundation.org/what-we-do/clinton-economic-opportunity-initiative/entrepreneurship/philadelphia-entrepreneur-mentoring-program (link from BILL freakin clinton)
http://www.cnbc.com/id/45526165/Defending_Your_Reputation_With_a_Strong_Offense
http://www.rackspace.com/knowledge_center/seer_casestudy
http://basecamp.com/easy-to-use
http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors
http://www.aweber.com/blog/email-marketing/customer-spotlight-seer-interactive.htm
http://mashable.com/2011/11/30/google-analytics-new-features/
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/jobs/Inq_JobbingBlog_You-are-what-you-tweet.html
http://www.cio.com/article/700561/9_Ways_Google_Can_Help_Your_Business?page=2&taxonomyId=3119
http://www.computerworlduk.com/how-to/it-business/3339417/9-ways-google-can-help-your-business/
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/seo/are-you-placing-too-big-of-a-bet-on-social-medias-direct-impact-on-seo-rankings/3874

Wondering why

2700 subscribers to our RSS feed doesn't offset this (with Google owning google reader, can't they see real activity on our blog?
http://screencast.com/t/GGsJ5Jr9s

almost 200k views of our vids on my channel does't offset this:
http://screencast.com/t/xldrgafo

Or real engagement in G+:
http://screencast.com/t/5CmN6pmw
or
http://screencast.com/t/AFoUGOFbCucm


I think this is all just a hiccup, but lets see where this goes.
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77 comments
 
Kevin do you mind sharing privately?
 
Especially strange since many on your team appear to have authorship status.
 
Might've been a link velocity trigger. But yes, your link profile looks strong & healthy enough. If your site can get hit like this, none is safe.
 
Barry, honestly that is what has me shaking in my boots! Our BL profile should keep us pretty well protected. Learning a LOT about Google today.
 
Something similar to this happened to a client of mine. Pinging set it right a few hours later.
 
Pretty crazy, had you gotten any messages/warnings from GWT?
 
Ranking #1 while signed out on .com from Ireland. Same result incognito on a separate machine. 2nd in the Serp is Quora.
 
The parked domain thing could be an issue seeing as though your pages all look indexed, but are lacking any ranking of any kind. Really looking forward to the follow up post on this!
 
+Edmondo Antonacci I don't think it could have been parked domains. We've been registered since 2002, we even have our real name (mine in fact), address, and phone number on the whois records, and there are no ads on our front page. We have no Ads linking to anywhere else and our IP's are with Rackspace so we shouldn't have C-block issues.
 
Did you get a Google Webmaster Tools notification Will?
 
I've got you guys on page 3 or page 4 depending on the proxy, with the title tag adjusted to just 'SEER Interactive' - which is now a pretty common title tag adjustment for brand searches.

This 30-40 spot penalty is pretty commonly reported as part of the over optimization penalty that may or may not be happening. If you run a 'site:' search, you get a homepage title tag result that reads:

"SEM / SEO company - w/ top ethical SEO consultants at our SEO ..."

Now, I know that's not the title tag you're running now, but SEO in the tag three times plus the specific drop makes me wonder if what happened is the result of an aggressive over optimization filter.
 
Wil, did you have any server downtime today/yesterday?
 
No notification on that Luella :(
 
+Matthew Brown so I had someone else say the same thing, and to be honest its left over from 2-3 years ago, so I changed it today, but if that was the case, you could look for anyone with 2+ mentions of a keyword in their title tag and just TANK EM for their own brand name with some low quality links or something. The SEO's who also got hit have much less aggressive titles FYI.
 
Was a thought...my fear is Google is close to rolling something out (Over optimized). If this impacts branding then the fallout could be large. I was just talking to someone yesterday about what the 2012 Panda/MayDay or Vince would be. I hope this is not it. Watching closely...
 
+Wil Reynolds notice that there is an HTTPS version (possible confusions?) Also - any issues with sub-domains?
 
Hi, +Wil Reynolds i think Google will say - "Look you were doing wrong things and have got some links, so I need to get you down" .. just post in Google Webmaster forum.. i have been fighting a lonely war there so far..
 
Maybe they think you are a parked domain. ;-)
 
Google to SEER -

"Well I can restore the position only if you promise to pay more attention to natural link building and do a little bit of advertisement in Adwords . ahem ahem "
 
+Wil Reynolds, not that it has as big of an impact, but you rank #3 for "seer" when logged into G+. Without the connection, it's still buried for me.

+Maggie Thistleton, I looked at your example, and you were number one for the domain words, "reading glasses shopper", but it was showing your IP (206.188.22.170/) instead of your domain for that listing.
 
There is absolutely no way a title tag can torpedo a site. I did a search for "seo company" with my location set to the US, and this was the title tag of the site in teh #2 spot:

SEO Services | SEO Firm | Professional SEO Services Company

Not even a brand mention.
 
In general, I agree with +Annie Cushing - and if this indeed a case of a newly implemented OverOp penalty, then it likely looks at more than the title tag. Internal and external anchors, the META Description tags, etc.

But then again, this isn't Google circa 2006, and I'm prone to throw out a lot of my 'absolutes' when it comes to Google in 2012. More than a few times, I've done the double take and wondered "Why is THIS site still ranking?" only to have said site disappear in days or weeks.

May not be a "penalty". Could be an overly aggressive filter. Or hey, maybe an empty parked domain file.
 
+Matthew Hunt The day Google tanks a site with the authority SEER has over a page title - while awarding another one w/ a more aggressive title with a #2 rank for a term as competitive as "seo company" - is the day I start searching on Yahoo. I'm not usually big on absolutes, but that theory just doesn't have any basis in reality, in my opinion.
 
+Wil Reynolds Sorry to hear this. It has to be a glitch. From here in the UK, signed out, your site is buried. That's insane.

Good luck man!
 
Doesn't look good right now. Looking forward to a positive update.
 
+Wil Reynolds I have you on page 3 now for "seer interactive" (without quotes). We have been looking at this and discussing it most of the day here at Critical Mass in Chicago and across our UK and Canadian offices. Totally baffling! If you need anything let me know, we would be glad to help in any way we can.
 
It almost has to be an over-optimization filter. What else could it be? I'm guessing that the over-optimization is based on the BL profile and not the on-page factors, but I guess there's no way to say for sure..
 
I'm so glad people are realizing that this update didn't just impact black hat SEOS, but also a lot of us white hats. The crusade on spam has left so many good hard working IM'S penalized and their competition (wikipedia/facebook/sites with 0 SEO done) shining stars
 
+Annie Cushing I didn't think it would be just the title, but a result of a bunch of on-page/on-site factors. If it was the OOP filter/penalty in any form. In any case, all of this is guessing.

Since Wil's bio page ranks page 5 for 'Wil Reynolds', I kind of lean towards +David Hermansen that it's offsite in nature
 
+Wil Reynolds In Canada, down on the bottom of page 3 on Google.com. #7 on page 3 on Google.CA. Have noticed lots of weirdness with some searches myself. Maybe it's time to say, "Go, DuckDuckGo." At least their results seem way more relevant.
 
I'm seeing major fluctuations over the past couple of weeks for some well established, authority sites in different niches. Can't get my head round it currently. Will, I get you at #42 in Google.co.uk for 'seer interactive'. Hope you get this sorted soon. I'll be following with interest.
 
I really cannot see what white hat methods truly exist other than link bait and viral content. Google has been trying for years to discount EMDs and link spam and it seems that they are finally getting somewhere. However, I have not seen these changes increasing the quality of the SERPs as whether a site gets penalised or not seems arbitrary.
 
I had something like this happen to me in 2005, where an old blog of mine suddenly stopped ranking at # 1 for its own name, and moved back 3-4 pages in Google's search results.

I noticed that a Bloglines page that was showing excerpts for the first 10 posts from my blog had replaced it, and was ranking in the first result, instead. For some reason, Bloglines had made this kind of post page from individual blogs public. This was shortly after Ask.com had purchased Bloglines.

The solution was simple.

I attended an SES conference in NY and sat in the front row during a "meet the crawlers" session. (Where I met Rand for the first time, who was sitting a couple of seats away from me). When Q&A started, I raised my hand to ask a question, and since they were just pulling out the microphone for questioners, the moderator chose me to ask a question first.

I explained the scenario, to the Ask VP of search, a Microsoft rep, and a Google Rep, and explained to the Ask rep that their republishing of my content in the manner that they were was unethical (at which point he did a facepalm). The Google rep asked me what the PageRanks of the pages where (mine was a 5, and the bloglines page scraping my content was a 0). He found that a little hard to believe and asked for my URL so that he could check into it after the conference.

Within a couple of days, the Bloglines page disappeared from Google's index (I believe that they removed those types of pages completely), and my page was back ranking at # 1 in Google for its name.

While there may be some other kind of mishap going on, the possibility that Google messed up somehow definitely exists. I would recommend going over everything on the site to continue to improve it anyway though (get rid of link urls for images, for instance), and continuing to work on producing great content and even more great links.

Google luck.
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+Dunstan Barrett Why I got into SEO in the first place - skepticism about the possibility of sites like Altavista and Google never messing up. :)
 
I'm seeing you back up with site links also. 
 
yeah you sure are back! I checked like 20 minutes ago and couldn't find you anywhere on the first 5 pages. My best guess is Google finally caught on that +Annie Cushing is now working for you and someone must have decided you no longer deserve to rank in the SERPs, but then cooler heads prevailed when +Matt Cutts overheard the discussion and he was like - no it's okay - we shouldn't penalize Wil for that. :-)
 
Yup - happend in the last hour...... seer back in for its brand name in the uk
 
So trying to net out what happened... Did you get negative SEO slammed with paid links?
 
Interesting example. I don't believe this was negative SEO from what's been posted about it, but I do think pressure is going to keep building on Google about negative SEO until it reaches tipping point.
 
This penalty is triggered by over use of an anchor text, and the majority of yours (that I can see) are "seer interactive", "will reynolds", "seer seo company", etc. (& not to mention the *former 301 from thinkseer.com) You probably tripped the threshold on the anchor text 'seer interactive', or a related keyword and it dropped you. This new penalty is keyword specific, and after you trigger it for a certain keyword, the more links built with that keyword, the worse and worse it gets. I wonder if there's a problem detecting the difference between a "brand" anchor text, and a keyword, being that technically an exact match domain could be considered a "brand" of that keyword. Just a thought.
 
Torre your comments sound like you are basing it on specific knowledge. Could you share the reference to this? 
 
Hi, I have been in the game a long time. I only work with absolutes, so your guess would be accurate. I have seen this penalty live in action, on both my sites and my clients sites.

This penalty (if its the "unnatural links warning" at least) is based on a Bayesian filter to detect unnatural links via history across your profile. Although these filters have low false positive readings, they can get hung up on certain situations (i.e. brand name anchor text vs exact match domain).

Sadly, the bad part of introducing this to the SEO landscape is that it's quite literally, the birth of Negative SEO. Ya, ya ya.. either listen to the crap Dan Thies said happened, or listen to the truth. Negative SEO was officially possible when Google rolled out the Unnatural Links Warning... Says so in their TOS, which was updated specifically for that.

Worst of all... algorithmic filters such as this new one can be exploited very very easily, given the right circumstances and adequate time. For example, if I find a site that's 70% white hat natural, and 30% anchor text links / unnatural links... I can knock that site out of the rankings no problem at all with the right amount of blog network spam / scrapebox links / de-indexed 301's.

I did have much respect for Google before this update. Although I did/do use Blog networks (which are NOT as bad that the "white hat tadders" make them out to be), I never used junk content, it would always be unique and proofread beforehand. Now, since I used, what I considered to be the "industry standard" in content distribution, some of my clients have completely fallen off the results from this update.

I lost all respect for Google. They have made it harder to move up the SERPS, but kept the junk that's there alone. I have dozens of low quality sites that still rank, while my high quality authority sites got pushed down. Now, what I considered to be "working with Google" over the past 4 years, has suddenly made me a bad guy.

I do hope that Matt Cutts will remove this penalty. I hope so mainly for the Mom & Pop shops out there that lost rankings, and the ones that will get blasted in the near future. I hope so for the Internet marketers who don't want to worry about negative SEO everyday. I hope so for my client(s), who's business is dramatically suffering during this time.

On a final note... If Google wants hell, they're going to get it. And if they open that can of worms (which they have already started to do), the Internet will be a much worse place. I really, really, REALLY, hope that doesn't happen.
 
Sad the Internet has come to a point where we are no longer "allowed" to 301 redirect domains. Sigh, I miss the good ole days. Hell, I'll take November 2011 over this crap. Their mission is now clear, they want people using Adwords, not SEO. Take your "Do no evil" mantra and flush it down the toilet Google.

Maybe on the next update they'll do us all a favor and just make Wolfram alpha 2.0 with PPC ads. That is the ultimate goal, right?
 
+Marshall Sontag To be honest, I have no clue how to go about counteracting them, as Google is very vague and from what I hear, denies 90% of the reconsideration requests. I've been trying to avoid blog network links, and pushing social media as much as possible. So far I do see a bit of positive traction on 2 keywords, but the other 2 are completely off the map.

Now just 2 days ago, another client is dropped. And yet, I have not broken the "SEO pact" and reported any competitors for using the same techniques. Maybe I should consider it, since apparently no one cares anymore.

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“When the grass is cut, the snakes will show” – Jay Z
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Note that these are legitimate offline businesses, one a national client with 27,000 backlinks over 3+ years of work.

I can say with certainty that that the penalty is keyword specific, and triggered by over use of anchor text (note: I use variation... more than most ppl.). That's fine and all, but why not discount the links... or may them less effective? Are they admitting that they cannot patch this hole in the algorithm, so instead they have to use force?

It seems making anchor text less effective would be a lot safer and less dramatic for webmasters. I do often wonder if Matt Cutts lives in the same reality as most SEO's.

Rand Fishkin came into the Traffic Planet forum thinking we were a bunch of black hatters, and quickly came to the realization that most of us are actually quite intelligent SEO's, simply doing what works to earn money for ourselves & clients.

Remember that Google has allowed these same techniques to work for the past... forever... and now, suddenly drops everyone that uses them. That's pretty low, IMO.
 
For anyone wanting to the difference between negative SEO of 2011, and negative SEO in it's current form in 2012, here is what I found.

2011:
I have seen a lot of negative SEO attempts on clients in the past, 1,000 blog comments in 1 day, mass spun blog network links, etc. The way the algorithm would react (from my observations, at least) was to "freeze" the result in the SERPS. For example I had a client that got blasted with 1,000+ blog comments in 1 day that was frozen at rank 5 for nearly a month before budging. In 2011, I honestly did not believe negative SEO existed, that pesky little "seo pact" that I honor kept me from attempting it or even caring.

2012:
Back in early March 2012, one of my clients receives a GWT message, and completely falls off 2 main keywords... to nowhere in the SERPS. I have never seen this, so I looked at the Majestic SEO graph & saw that 1,500 links had been built in one day... which appeared to be from a new form of blog network spam... where the homepage had no content, and there was just a bunch of indexed crap pages on the back end.

Well here is the bad part. I had been using blog networks on this client, for years... I did not use crap content, heck the network I use is NOT ALN or BMR... and reviews the posts manually. This client is in an industry where there's not "buzz" going around, it's an older market and they are one of the #1 companies in the nation for this service. Being that the client already had some High PR links, and other various "unnatural" backlinks made it a prime target for negative SEO attack. Likely the attacker knew that any reconsideration request would be denied, as too many links had been previously built.

The fact is that the best negative SEO candidates are the ones that just need that "extra push" to get them over the filter limit. Finding targets can be as easy as analyzing their backlinks and selecting only targets that have a certain % anchor text that you know, if increased even slightly, will trip the filter.

When $5 Fiverr gigs can take out national companies, it's truly a sad day for SEO.
 
Torre, one quick thing...I think googles handling of 301's changed as well. The thinkseer.com domain had been redirected for like 30 months. We obviously were not building any links to it in the last 30 months either. Remember Ian Laurie got hit with a smaller version of what I got too and he had just 301 a site recently. 
 
I agree. I inspected the links to your 301'ed domain, and it had a TON of High PR links (PR4+). Of course, everything I found was legit, but to an algorithm it would've pretty much looked like Pagerank manipulation. I believe there was some odd ~70,000-80,000 links to that domain.
 
However I should note that I discovered people appear to be actively doing negative SEO on your site. Look here: http://www.hitauto.com.cn/bbs/viewthread.php?tid=3453&extra=

One of the techniques these guys use is scraping the site and republishing the content faster than the algo can find it, then mass spamming DOFOLLOW links from ALN / related services at the same time. I'd pay close attention in the upcoming months, it would appear they are trying to make examples of people. (note: i am NOT involved in any sort of negative SEO in any way. I simply take in information from all sources available.)

The effect of said negative SEO techniques is to diminish your "freshness" factor, and THEN hit you with the links, so it's a double combo. And if you have a 301 in the your link profile, I'm sure they blast it too.

With each passing day, and each story of the unnatural links report, negative SEO seems more and more real. Seriously , there has GOT to be a better way than this to get rid of the blatant spammers. They've already ramped up the blog network de-indexing... It seems like between that & tattle tails turning people in, it would be enough.
 
+Stephen Hamilton I have no idea but that might not have been it. It was what I was told to consider as the issue so it wasn't worth it not to listen. To be honest think seer.com had a ton of quality links pointing to it. I do know 301s are acting a little different these days.
 
keep us posted pls.
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