Fix or Abandon? Should You Move Your Penalized Site Content to A New Domain?

November 20, 2012

Blogging, Google, How To

Fix or Abandon? Should You Move Your Penalized Site Content to A New Domain?

If you keep up with the webmaster forum threads such as the Google Webmaster Forum or Webmaster World you’ll hear about penalized site owners moving their content to a brand new domain name. If the penalty was due to Google Penguin* this tactic would eliminate the work of removing all the spammy back links. But, unless you’ve already assessed your site to make sure on-page factors weren’t to blame you could just be shipping the problem over to a new URL. So…

When should you fix and when should you abandon?

That depends on a number of factors:

  1. Quantity of spammy back links – if you paid someone from Fiverr for instance to build thousands and thousands of back links and you’re in the tens of thousands deep with spammy back links, your site may never be able to recover.
  2. Given the above, if your site content was good quality and not the cause of the penalty, you could delete your current site content and move it to a domain without a duplicate content penalty.

But, consider the following factors before doing something so drastic

After all, if you spent thousands of hours creating quality content, isn’t it worth the time trying to fix your site rather than abandon it?

  1. If you move the content, and the content itself had issues that caused the penalty, then you are bringing all the old problems to the new website.
  2. If you remove as many spammy back links as you can, submit for reconsideration and build high quality links with diversified and brand anchor text links, your site may recover its rankings and traffic much faster than a new site would be able to achieve it.
  3. Does your content reside on a good domain, i.e. either exact match or partial match? If so, you’re not likely to find a better domain and the domain itself would have more value if you fixed the problem. Even if you wanted to sell the domain, you’ve already messed it up and lowered its value by getting it penalized.

Stop and Think

Before you draw any conclusions about your ability to recover or not, make sure your site content is not to blame. If you’ve fixed your back link dilemma, it’s time to analyze your pages.

Do you:

  1. Repeat keywords in your meta title or headline?
  2. Do you have too high a percentage of the same keyword on each page?
  3. Do you have hidden text or links?
  4. Do you link out to poor quality sites?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you have work to do. Fix your pages so they follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines. I try to stick to a 1% keyword concentration on the page. Naturalize your titles and headlines.

Ideally, we’d all love to see Google come out with the link devaluation tool in Webmaster tools, but you know what they say about things that seem too good to be to be true.

Penalized site content tips from Matt Cutts

Here’s two informative videos where Google’s Matt Cutts talks about different issues related to penalized site content:

Hidden content in Read more -drop down:

Duplicate content quoting a source:

If you are contemplating the same issue with your website or blog, please share your thoughts in the comments.

-Theresa Happe

*If you want to learn more about Google Penguin and Panda read this:

[Image: Flickr, Mark Fisher, Creative Commons license]

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About Theresa Happe

Theresa Happe works with where you will find thousands of website domains for sale in every niche.

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7 Responses to “Fix or Abandon? Should You Move Your Penalized Site Content to A New Domain?”

  1. John Garrett Says:

    Great info, Theresa.

    Oh, those Fiverr link packages have brought down many a site! lol. Not to mention some from the Warrior Forum, too.

    I’ve no doubt seen some of the same threads you’ve seen on webmasterworld and elsewhere. every time I see it I think “boy I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision!” It must be incredibly frustrating to have to start completely over or even go back and restructure all the content and fix it.

    I’ve been getting more and more “link removal requests” from people who blanketed my site with actual relevant comments, but the links they left had nothing to do with my site, and now they’re paying for it.

    For me, SEO isn’t a huge priority, but I’d rather stay abreast of the latest info by following Google’s various blogs and avoiding the gotchas than learn it the hard way by taking a huge penalty and being forced to start over.


    • KrisOlin Says:

      Hey, JG wazzup man?

      I’ve been getting some of those link removal requests lately. Ha! And lately some reports from Web Master Tools about 404 errors (over 1,700 of them!) I have no idea where they came from, or what to do with them.


      • John Garrett Says:

        Hey Kris! Yeah man they just came out of the woodwork didn’t they? lol. I feel for people who are trying to clean up their act, but when there’s a ton of requests I may not have the time to go back and remove all the links at once.

        I’m right with you in the Webmaster tools situation. Some of the errors it’s not immediately clear what you’re supposed to do. Ahhhhhh it’s a mess but we just have to plow through. Hope all is well, man!


        • KrisOlin Says:

          JG, I just had a closer look at Webmaster Tools and they say that 404 errors are not causing your site any rating damage (for now), so I’ll just keep on ignoring them until they do 🙂


  2. Lisa Buben Says:

    Thanks for sharing Matt’s video’s, love the one on Duplicate content, very informative.
    Wow, only 1% density? I thought 2-3 was more in the range, now/ And I see many retail sites that rank well using over that amount. I think they (big brands) get a pass on that one.


    • KrisOlin Says:

      I agree Lisa, good old Matt’s videos are always very clear and precise advice. I would have thought also that keyword density should be more than just 1%. Any inside from SEO people on this?



  1. Should You Keep a Penalized Domain or Move On? | Domain Market Blog - August 21, 2015

    […] There are a few factors that could weigh in on whether or not you should fix and stay or abandon and move: […]

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