So I got hit by Panda/Penguin before two years. My site was completely white-hat, and it was wallpaper related site. Such type of sites have no much text, but I have tried to describe every wallpaper with 100 words (again nothing spammy).

For this two years, nothing has changed, I update content every second day, some backlinks I removed etc etc.

So I start to think to buy new domain and start over. But what should I do with old wallpaper/content. People love them, share, like etc.. Would it be wise to I 301 redirect everything from old to new domain? What would be your recommendation?

  • 2
    How do you know that your site is under penalty?
    – JMC
    Apr 3 '14 at 20:26
  • I am a bit curious too. It may be there is something else going wrong, yes - Google related, but not penalized. It may be something simple that would take only 30-60 days to get out of once discovered and fixed. Can I recommend a hint/URL in the comments so someone can know how to advise?
    – closetnoc
    Apr 3 '14 at 21:00
  • @JMC: It received abut 1500-2000 unique visitors per day, 12-Sep-2012 it start receiving 300 visitors. After that when I published new content, everything start looking good but just for a short period of time. From 12-Sep-2012 til now site had 3 more drop downs (almost no traffic). Right now it receives about 100 unique visitors. Btw. I have also tried with layout change, no effect.
    – RhymeGuy
    Apr 3 '14 at 21:25
  • Seems you need to read more about these penalty's. 301 redirecting will only pass the penalty across and pages with only 100 words will still be considered thin 'content'. Apr 4 '14 at 7:07
  • Alright, but it is such type of site. Wallpaper type of site cannot have long articles, at least I never saw them.
    – RhymeGuy
    Apr 4 '14 at 12:53

Before redirecting everything, consider if it's your content that has the problem or if it's the backlinks that were devalued.

Around the time you saw the drop, many "low quality link" networks were under fire. As the link networks were devalued, so were the sites that they were propping up on the SERPs. If your problem is related to penguin and bad links, redirecting to a new domain would do little to solve the problem.

EDIT: To cap your questions, it's unlikely that you are directly penalized. Google's algorithm probably decided that your site isn't offering anything that warrants high position in the SERPs (right or wrong) so your traffic fell off to match.

One step you can take is to figure out if all of your pages lost incoming traffic or if you just had a few pages that were keeping your traffic so high. If it was only a few pages drawing all the traffic from google, then you may have just been lucky to grab the traffic in the first place. If your homepage lost significant traffic then it's a different story (meaning your entire site was likely devalued on its key search phrases).

For example I was working on a site that lost 20% of its traffic when google removed one page from the top position in the SERPs on a broad keyword search term. We never knew why google liked that one page because it was a terrible page. There's not much we can do to recover that page because things have majorly changed in the SERPs on that search phrase. The homepage however continued to receive the same traffic.


Force google to rank your site higher by making it a great site that offers a lot to users searching for your key search terms. Keep in mind that the landscape of the key search terms leading to your site may have changed dramatically over the years since the "penalty".

  • I never did backlink building, except few reciprocal links with similar sites. As for the content as I said before, its wallpaper related so there isn't much text, except small description (100 words). I hand pick wallpaper/images, tune them in Photoshop and then publish. However there are hundreds of spam sites that are in front of me right now. they stole every single wallpaper from me and yet they do better.
    – RhymeGuy
    Apr 3 '14 at 21:52
  • Are you talking about content theft? If there are several sites with your content, then that may be just a part of your problem. This is an old trick that Google has been trying to fix the most recent familiar updates and you got caught in the middle. You can battle them at their own game. Use Google+, Author markup, Google Webmaster Tools, and whatever you can to identify your site and content as the original. Do it quick to beat the spam sites to the punch. In time, it may all turn around okay. I do not think a 301 will help in this case.
    – closetnoc
    Apr 4 '14 at 0:31
  • I have Google+ account, verified authorship. Google index new content fairly fast, less than a day.
    – RhymeGuy
    Apr 4 '14 at 12:47
  • U just checked, it happened that some high traffic pages were removed. Homepage received same amount of traffic. Does this indicate that I'm maybe hit by the Panda? As I said numerous of times, it wallpaper related site, so in its nature is to have almost no text. Even so, I wrote about 100 words for every wallpaper. But then, how the hell all this spam sites with stolen content still exists all this years?!?!
    – RhymeGuy
    Apr 6 '14 at 17:49

Do you have Google Webmaster Tools? If not, go sign up right now. If you have a manual penalty then it will be in the notification.

If you do not have a manual penalty, then you need to check the quality of all of your backlinks. If you have some spammy sites linking to you, Google can put you in a "bad neighborhood" that will devalue your site. Luckily, if you have spammy backlinks, you can use the disavow tool in Webmaster tools to get Google to ignore those links.

You also need to do some competitive analysis. Search results are not static. You may be on page 1 now, but if 30 other sites do a better job of ranking you may end up on page 4 next week. Look at what the top sites are for specific long tail search terms. Don't just search desktop wallpaper. Search for the specific types you offer like - exotic car desktop wallpaper or something similar. Look at those sites and see what they are doing that you are not. Look at where they are getting their backlinks and such.

Last, don't bother building a new site with 301 redirects. 301 redirects are specifically used to preserve relevance from an old page to a new one. It would do no good to do so, it would be a waste of your time.

  • I have webmaster account. No manual penalty. I checked my link profile before 2-3 months and I removed some links using disavow tool.
    – RhymeGuy
    Apr 4 '14 at 12:49

If you are having a penalty issue doing a 301 redirect will not fix that. It will most likely redirect the penalty.

Be careful when buying old domains, some of them have penalties on them and that is why the owner is selling them.

Get Webmaster Tools, see if there are any manual action penalties. If there aren't see what your rankings are. It could just be that the way Google Ranks your type of product has changed. You can also see the Search terms used to access your website and which type of search (Google Search or Image Search).

If you get most visits from Google Image Search then make sure your image alt tags are correct. Also look at your Google Analytics (or other analytics software) and pinpoint when the drop was then search Google to find if there was an algorithm update then. If there was you may know the cause, after which you can then respond with an action to fix it.

  • I already did and had very good on-page SEO done. Nothing spammy. There isn't any manual penalty in webmaster tools. As for he quality of my content.. well i think is very good compared to the other sites that are above me in the SERP.
    – RhymeGuy
    Apr 4 '14 at 12:51
  • Did you check if any algorithm changes happened at the same time as you're drop in traffic? Maybe you might be having your content stolen, you can check that with copyscape.com
    – Vagish
    Apr 5 '14 at 6:49

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