Meta description copied 17 timesSite 12th to 93rd.

Well SEO’ed sites are continuing to disappear from Google - Sites disappearing from Google when other websites copy meta descriptions and words on pages. Clients sites are moving from good rankings to no-where. The good news is, that the sites come back again when their copy is again made unique. But Google, you need to fix this.

I keep a watch on clients rankings, and noted that CitySales Auckland Apartments Real Estate Agents had dropped from around 12th for “Auckland Apartments” on to 93, and that was an inner page ranking for the phrase!

I then on 29/July, changed both the meta description and the content of the page to make it unique. Then on the 31/July the page was recached and by 3/August the home page was back to ranking 12th for “Auckland Apartments”. At the moment we don’t have enough links to get to top ten, but that’s another matter.

Google has been saying a number of times that people copying text on your pages does not effect your websites rankings. On 9 June, Google restated regarding duplicate content due to scrapers.

quote=Google]in most cases the original content can be correctly identified, resulting in no negative effects for the site that originated the content.

quote=Google]… you shouldn’t be very concerned about seeing negative effects on your site’s presence on Google if you notice someone scraping your content.

So lets see how good a case study we can make of this one.

Apparently full rss feeds wont get you banned. But what has happened above (although no rss feed was used), is essentially the same thing - people copying content!

Are we doing the SEO correctly?

We have not been getting additional inbound links for CitySales, they do not have many outbound links, they have been continuing to change content on their website and treat the website as “alive”. So there is no other reason for why the rankings should drop.

The site plummeted in the rankings from 12th for “Auckland Apartment”, to 93rd.

Content changed, and home page reranking

As at the moment Google recached the content that I had changed and made unique again, Google re ranked the home page as 12th, exactly where it had been ranked.

What can we learn

This case study is not an isolated event. I have seen this time and time again for clients websites.

Google, you have to get this issue resolved. I have better things to do than worrying that my clients businesses may be badly effected on a day to day basis.

I want to trust that in general the rankings will be around the same, and improving, or change depending on competitive forces, not bugs in the Google algorithm. I have to resort to checking rankings on a regular basis on many search phrases, then changing content…

Please fix this Google.

I am also adding further links such as this Wises link for Auckland Apartments in an ongoing effort to maintain rankings.

Update 29 August 2008

I have been very pleased to see the homepage get into the top ten for “Auckland Apartments”.

However this morning when I checked, I noted that the ranking had bombed to 87th!!! Very clearly a duplicate content issue, since its not the home page that is even ranking for the search phrase. Shit this makes me wild!!!! (Not that I should use such language online, but come on, this is just stupid).

Google homepage cache 19 Aug 2008.

Many search phrases on the home page and meta description have been copied.

I had hoped that Google had fixed this issue. But clearly the problem still exists. Google, please get this fixed. I have other things to do than continually rewrite the content on clients pages.

Added 16 Sep 08

Google has made some comment on duplicate content

  • Webmaster Central Blog - demystifying duplicate content penalty. They think they are demystifying it, and complain that people are still talking about a penalty. But innocent sites are still being effected by this issue. So Google has their head in the sand on this issue. As at 16Sep08, CitySales is still not ranking for the phrase “Auckland Apartments”. I have added a comment to their blog post. Hopefully they will respond to that specific post!
  • Google webmaster central on duplicate content due to scrapers (quoted above, but not a bad idea to list here again)
  • VanessaFox on ranking as the original source for content you syndicate
  • webmaster help center on duplicate content. This one is interesting, as it clearly mentions that when there are sites with the same text on them, that it filters out those pages.
  • Google webmaster central - Google duplicate content caused by url - about duplication within a site, but still good to read.

Added 24 September 2008

Citysales is still not ranking top 20 for “Auckland Apartments”.

How does information get into Google? Surely once it caches a page, that information on the cache has got into the Google index. Therefore if you take some content from that cache, and search for it, you should be able to find it. Google has recached the homepage several times since the initial penalty 29 August.

But when you look at Google’s cache of, and search per the screenshot, Google reports “No results found”. This does not make sense apart from there being a specific penalty against the website’s homepage. There is obviously a penalty against the homepage for the phrase, since when searching for “Auckland Apartments”, its an inner page that is ranked 68th on Google, per the second screenshot below

Google is now looking into this case study

The first video response to one of my questions, thanks Google.

Reid of Google Search Quality Team Searchmaster had a question about duplicate content. Understandably, this is a popular concern from webmasters. You should check out the Google Webmaster Central Blogwhere my colleague Susan Moskwa recently posted “Demystifying the ‘duplicate content penalty,” which answers many questions and concerns about duplicate content.

Per the Google Webmaster Central Blog - Demystifying he duplicate content penalty, Susan Moskwa of Google has personally commented back to me - yippee

Susan Moskwa of Google @searchmasters: I made an open call here for people to send in examples where they still feel we’re not handling duplicate content correctly. I’ll pass your case study along to the right folks

Lets see how good they are at fixing the bug! At least they are now aware of the issues. And yes, on that “open call” she mentioned, I had sent in this example, but had received no response at that time. Thanks again for your current responses.