Update – Removing One Comment Results in 20 Page SERP Boost

A few days ago, I decided to thoroughly investigate why I had completely lost SERP rankings for a particular search phrase. The URL in question had been wildly popular for more than a year, and it contributed a significant amount of traffic to one of my busiest (and most profitable) domains.

During the investigation, I noticed an odd comment that had been copied from other sources.

And it wasn’t just one source – this comment was about five paragraphs and managed to rip off about a dozen quotes that are as old as the internet itself.  My first instinct was that this had to be a major problem, but I couldn’t be sure until the search results updated.

Sure enough, within just four days of making the change my site has gone up twenty whole pages in the SERPs.  That means in about 100 hours, I gained 200 spots in the rankings.

Now, I wish I could pull that off for every phrase I want to rank for!

One Problem Fixed, a New One Pops Up

Now that the issue I was working on last week is fixed, I’ve discovered a brand new problem instead.  As of this morning, one of this domain’s major keyword phrases has fallen in to a new crater after showing early signs of trouble late last month.

After a bit of excessive social bookmarking, the URL in question ended up with a three page drop – from five to thirty-two.  I decided to end the bookmark campaign and focus on adding some new content to that page and a lot of new posts to this blog in particular.

Well, it seemed to work at first, with the URL slowly creeping up to 23 over the last two weeks.  Energized by the results, I continued adding more new posts about that topic as well as the other themes I cover on this blog.

Unfortunately, that seems to have stopped working – and I woke up this morning to find a huge crash, right down to page 20.  (Why does Google keep putting me on page 20!)  Minus 200 overnight. This -200 penalty seems to be a new trend in Google and I’s relationship.

On this one, I don’t have any ideas.  The URL in question passes Copyscape with the exception of some links back to my site that match the “recent posts” section of the sidebar.  I wouldn’t think that hypertext links would cause a plagiarism problem in Google, so this one is stumping me.  I do know that the last July update took manipulated links out to the woodshed, but I took the warning and backed off from building unnatural links.

At least the good news is that traffic is up overall, and all of the keywords are doing better except the one that actually matters.

Anyway, in Caffeine, that URL is currently shown as #8 and just about all of my target keywords and phrases are doing better.  Will the newest update bring some much needed revenue to my bank account, or am I looking for a part time job for the first time in almost two years?


  1. It can really be a problem when spammy comments can bring down your site, especially because you don’t always recognize them as spam. It does make sense though, from Google’s perspective, because it holds the website owner responsible for the content on his site regardless of who put it there. Your other problem sounds like the result of building too many links too quickly. It can be hard to clear your name after you’ve received a penalty for that. I once got the -30 penalty and that was hard enough to get out of. It took me about a month and a half to be sure I’m in the clear again. For a while I was bouncing around between page 1, page 2, and not being in the first 100 results at all.

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