Google’s Matt Cutts has acknowledged the existence of a ‘Position 6′ Google penalty and claimed that the problem should now be fixed. As reported on various websites, the penalty was causing websites with a number one or two ranking to drop down to position number six.
Many people first noticed the drop in rankings in mid to late December through discussion on Webmaster World. A forum administrator compiled research on Google ranking changes in December and noted sites that dropped to position 6 shared the same features:
- Well established site with a long history.
- Long time good rankings for a big search term – usually #1
- Other searches that returned the same url at #1 may also be sent to #6, but not all of them
- Some reports of a #2 result going to #6.
The discussion prompted much speculation about the existence of the penalty, which at the time, was denied by Matt Cutts. The evidence grew stronger when well respected Aaron Wall confirmed seeing the penalty himself.
This prompted Matt to review the case and then responded with the following comment:
“When Barry asked me about “position 6″ in late December, I said that I didn’t know of anything that would cause that. But about a week or so after that, my attention was brought to something that could exhibit that behavior. We’re in the process of changing the behavior; I think the change is live at some datacenters already and will be live at most data centers in the next few weeks.
In general if you think a site might have a penalty (perhaps from past behavior) and you think the site is clean presently, you can do a reconsideration request in our webmaster console to ask Google to take another look at the site.”
From an industry point of view, it’s great to know that Google and specifically Matt Cutts are active in forum discussion and take note when users notice something strange. If your site was affected by the penalty, let us know!