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Regarding John Mueller's Comments on "Algorithmic Penalty Limbo," How to Reach Out & Request Review
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We have been dealing with ranking/traffic drops since June of 2020 and, although there is no way to know for sure, we believe there is an algorithmic penalty applied on our domain. As of now, we have lost over 90% of our original traffic. Before this drop, we were an authoritative website seeing over 2 million visitors per month with consistent rankings in positions 1-3 for a large amount of high-value/high difficulty keywords. We have always conducted 100% ethical practices in line with Google's guidelines and have made many improvements to the site to try and reverse the downward trend. We did see a decent bump from the most recent November core update, but nowhere close to restoring traffic.

We are fully aware the site could have been penalized justifiably by Google and the June/July core update, however, we have also been experiencing largescale negative SEO campaigns pointed toward our business. Additionally, a business that conducts black hat tactics submitted several false DMCA claims against our domain during this timeframe. We are also seeing spammy results and non-authoritative content ranking for important queries. Even instances where copyright infringed content is outranking us.

At this point, we have tried almost every Google recommendation to improve our website and restore our traffic. We have consulted several SEO experts as well who have been unable to identify any major issues/red flags. We fully believe we are doing everything right (and were doing everything right before this drop) but are afraid that Google somehow thinks our website is untrustworthy.

This morning, while browsing SEO Roundtable, I came across an article discussing "Algorithm Penalty Limbo" (https://www.seroundtable.com/google-algorithm-penalty-limbo-32499.html) and it had some interesting content. Per the article,
"Google's John Mueller said in this past Friday's hangout that in rare situations some sites can get stuck in some sort of algorithmic penalty limbo or black hole state and not be able to recover because Google stopped updating that algorithm. He said this can lead to some sites not being able to recover for several years."
He went on to say,
"The chances of any random website kind of falling into is fairly low but it is something where if you struggle and you really see that you're doing a lot of things right and nothing seems to be working then do do reach out to us and see if there's something on our side that might be stuck,"
We have extensive documentation of all our SEO efforts and throughout all of this have wondered if we were stuck because of an algorithmic penalty error. We have not had a human reviewer on our site since before the June/July core update and, after feeling like we've done everything right SEO-wise, reading this article compelled us to try and reach out to see if there's a chance the issues are coming from the Google side of things.

All that said, there isn't a formal channel for this type of outreach (at least one that we're aware of) so I'm curious if someone could provide me with the appropriate channel? Conversely, if there is someone who could escalate this issue within Google I'd be happy to explain everything in further detail.

Thank you for any help you can provide!
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Hey there Micheal
 
Great question about the formal channel and worth asking. Was something I noticed in the hangout too.
 
And, it was a great hangout and discussion on Barry's post too.
 
We haven't heard of any formal channel but I do know John and others do respond on Twitter or on those hangouts. And, we always field as many questions as we can and escalate if we can't work stuff out.
 
It is worth stating that John was quite clear that this was a rare situation so caution does have to be advised that a flood of "check my site" questions won't be easy to field and not the best way to deal with these things.
 
And, if sites are posted here we dont have access to much more than brain power and years of experience of looking at thousands of sites.
 
I've escalated this to see if we can get a bit of clarity thought i doubt we will get a 1-800-check-my-site-for-google-rarities helpline set up!!
 
Great question all the same.
 
Rt2
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Hi Micheal
 
So, a little bit of good news which always gets packaged in "no promises" wrapping paper.
 
I asked around and if you share your URL and we see what we can find out.
 
Use bit.ly if you want to mask your url.
 
RT2
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Hey RT2,

Thanks so much for the quick response -- we really appreciate you looking into this matter! And totally understand your statements in the initial reply and that these instances are rare. That said, we truly believe we have been doing everything right in terms of following Google guidelines, best practices, and maintaining an ethical approach to everything we do. Our site has strong core web vitals, fast page speeds, and good page experience metrics. We have always taken SEO seriously and try to stay up to date with any new recommendations, too.

Here is the bit.ly for our site: https://bit.ly/31fGhWe

Any insight you could provide here would be extremely useful so thanks again for taking the time to help!
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Interesting,  we sit in the same boat.    would be nice to have option for review ...  I did open ticket here as well, but so far no real issues found on our site but ranking just keep on dropping.  it feels like the more we change the worst it gets ;-)
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The content of the website does not match the publisher's business profile panel in SERP

The medical article How to Make Distillate Infused Cannabis Edibles is not reviewed by a confirmed medical expert. The information about the author of the article Erin Hiatt does not have external sources confirming the authorization of the author to create medical content. 

The content About Us has no info about legitimizing the publisher. 

Possibly a government license / permit is required to publish medical content. 

Google has increased requirements for medical content. The content of your website can be rated as having a low level of trustworthiness.
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@Paul Stovak 
Please create a separate poster with a detailed description of your problem
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@ Nikolaj Antonov
I have do this and also delete it here to not have duplicates.

Best
Paul
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Hey @Nikolaj Antonov,

Appreciate the reply. I'm admittedly a little confused by your responses.

You mention, "The content of the website does not match the publisher's business profile panel SERP." however, the knowledge panel seems accurate to me as it displays our official business entity name and has the appropriate link to our website, parent organization and one of our social media accounts. We have been working on getting a Wikipedia page published to allow the knowledge panel to pull in more information as well. Would you suggest trying to change the name in the panel to our DBA?

Secondly, we're very aware of health/medical content and YMYL pieces needing strong E.A.T. We've even purged many articles from the site where we did not feel we had the strongest E.A.T. That said, I'm unsure how the article How to Make Distillate Infused Cannabis Edibles could be classified as a "medical article." The purpose of the article is to inform readers how to accomplish a task and makes no medical claims. Are there further guidelines for what constitutes medical content?

Regarding our About Us page, do you have advice for displaying information that legitimizes us as a publisher? Based on Google best practices and E.A.T. guidelines we tried to create a page that highlights our expertise, authority and trustworthiness in the content we cover. We talk about our years of experience in various topics, cite expertise of our staff, give information on our goals and purpose and offer historical company information. Are there any suggestions to make this more legitimizing? We are one of the earliest publishers of the content we specialize in.

While we do have some information on the website that discusses medical content, (mainly medical marijuana) we are not a medical resource and make that clear to our readers in our health content disclaimer. That said, medical content makes up for less than 1% of our pages and is not something we monetize.

I'm not sure how many pages you explored, but if you deemed our site a medical content site then is it possible Google thinks the same as well? Would removing all medical content from the site improve our trustworthiness?

We are one of the most experienced companies in our field and have more combined expertise in our space than many of the sites outranking us. In fact, a fair number of the sites that outrank us in important queries do not have any E.A.T. implemented (or other web vitals and important metrics, for that matter). Some do not even list authors on their content, are spam, or have plagiarized our content. As mentioned in my initial post, many instances show that the search results are not providing users with the best quality information.

Finally, you mention "The content of your website can be rated as having a low level of trustworthiness." Is this just in response to the medical content you reviewed? Or sitewide? We have had over 80 million visitors on our site over the years and have helped countless people learn about queries important to them so I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the entire site being untrustworthy as we cover much more than medical content. We operate in an industry that has minimal experience in general and have tried to showcase our longevity and years of practice very transparently. We have been the first to publish many important topics in our industry and, in many instances, sites that now outrank us have simply rewritten that content while providing nothing original or unique.

One of our biggest fears is that Google does not think our site is trustworthy, but after doing almost everything we can to try and show them we are an authoritative figure in this space I'm not sure what else we can do. Especially if content on our site is being categorized as something it is not. Still, I'm not sure how we could go from one of the top authoritative sites in the industry to losing over 90% of our traffic without being given an opportunity to prove ourselves as trustworthy. We built this site from the ground up in a fully ethical manner to capture organic search traffic and nothing has changed on our end.

Do you have any suggestions for reversing this trend? Could this still be an error on Google's end? I still feel strongly that we are doing everything right and that the algorithmic penalty limbo might be a plausible explanation. I do understand that our site might have issues but when stacked up against our competitors and sites that are ranking for the queries we've lost, I see nothing that indicates they have stronger expertise or trustworthiness. Additionally, in combination with all the SEO efforts we've conducted and our commitment to being an ethical site I'm still very confused how the traffic loss could be so severe. We have high volatility and fluctuation in keyword positioning almost every day. One day we will be in the top 5, the next we will be out of the top 100. It's strange because if we were truly untrustworthy one would think we would not be placed into those higher positions at all.

Thanks again for the input, I would love to hear your feedback on the comments I made in this reply!
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You mention, "The content of the website does not match the publisher's business profile panel SERP." however, the knowledge panel seems accurate to me as it displays our official business entity name and has the appropriate link to our website, parent organization and one of our social media accounts. 
So we are talking about a website publisher that is presented in content with the name such as PotGuide. The same publisher has the business profile panel with the name such as PGED Corp. Ask someone to tell you the difference between these names. In addition, the content of the site does not have information about the parent's organization.
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2. Is all of the content on our site grouped under medical content because it pertains to cannabis? 
I said this before: YES. 
3. A Gold Product Expert, RT2, responded to my initial request stating that they had escalated the matter for review with Google. Are your replies the conclusion of this escalation? Or shall we still wait for feedback from RT2?
Expect a response from PT2. 
4. Is this the main issue we are dealing with? Or are there additional areas that need consideration? 
An audit of your website can answer this question. 
5. Do you have any additional advice or feedback for how we can get back on track? 
Follow Google's documentation including requirements and guidelines for high-level content. 
6. Would you recommend we have an M.D. review all of our content? 
It will be Google compliant and can help. Much depends on the details and the level of Google compliance.
Purge all medical/health content? 
Your area of responsibility and solutions.
Is it possible to create educational cannabis content without medical expertise? 
Unlikely. 
For example, if we need medical expertise for an article like "How to Make Distillate Infused Cannabis Gummies," is it safe to say Google favors an M.D. over someone with years of hands-on experience making distillate edibles in a legal, commercial production kitchen?
The drug manufacturer must be licensed from Department of Cannabis Control which in turn may have a basis such as medical expertise from authorized medical experts.
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