is my website sandboxed or penalized

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I find your challenge mildly amusing. I could be wrong, but you seem very eager to have someone proven to be wrong. I welcome an exercise that is intended to be constructive, however, I have no desire to participate in a pissing contest.

We seem to agree on more than we disagree. What I had hoped to point out is that you are drawing a very different conclusion than I from the exact same set of results. Your challenge, as proposed, would not seem to change this dynamic.

I believe the root cause of our differing opinions stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of how a search engine works. You take a website centric approach, focusing on the website topics, domain authority, and the like. It’s a matter of perspective, you see the world from the vantage point of your website, while Google sees it from the vantage point of a search engine. To truly understand a search engine’s goals and methods, it is useful to step outside our own perspective and to look at things from theirs.

The first thing you should ask yourself is “do search engines build indexes of websites or individual web pages (URLs)”? You should realize that Google’s search engine, like all applications in general, is a database application. They are also a web application with a very large user base. The scale of their operations forces them to use simple and elegant query models to satisfy the challenge of scalability.

If you really want to get a deeper understanding of how a large scale application like Google’s search engine might work, you should challenge yourself to build a highly scalable web application or a search engine that performs the type of search indexing that Google does. This would likely change your perspective and you may begin to look at SEO from the perspective of a search engine.

In my own quest for knowledge in the SEO industry, I had an epiphany when I tried to not only understand what the search engines were doing but what would motivate them to do it the way they were doing from a programmers perspective.

I went back and reread the whitepapers authored by all the engineers and founders. I built some scaled-down models and tried to understand the challenges those engineers faced and how they managed to resolve them. Most importantly was understanding the principals that guided their approach, particularly with Google.

During this exercise, I realized there was much that I had learned and forgotten. I had succumbed to much of the common dogma that currently prevails in this industry. Just because 3 out of 5 SEO “experts” believe something, it doesn’t automatically make it true.

If something works for you, you don’t have to understand it to exploit it. However, what do you do when Google comes along with an algorithm tweak that causes your websites to disappear from the top SERPs? I appreciate your enthusiasm and it’s your choice if you want to embrace the black-hat method, but eventually, you will realize that you are on a treadmill. You must never stop gaming the system else your business dries up. The constant search for the next shortcut can be exhaustive.

I have offered some of my hard-earned knowledge for the readers of this forum and have asked for nothing in return. I see you on a quest for knowledge and believe I have been right where you are today. You are on the cusp of understanding some of the principles that search engines have internalized and live by.

Search engines are bound by rules of logic, this makes them open for exploitation, but search engines like Google have a group of engineers that are dedicated to improving the quality of search. If you build quality web pages you become the object of their desire, however, if you are an attempt to game the system you become a target of devaluation. The key to lasting SEO investments is understanding this basic concept.

I see you struggling with the issue of relevance. Going back and forth with statements about relevancy not being important but always having to allow for the effects of relevancy else you theories don’t bear out.

I ask you to consider if the trouble you have with reconciling relevancy with your own experience might be rooted in your perspective. Ask yourself “how does Google view relevancy”? Does Google look at page relevancy or website relevancy? Is it domain authority or is it page authority? Where is the authority when it has no relevance to your targeted keyword? If domain authority truly exists then why does it not transfer equally to each and every page on a website? How can it be different on some pages yet still be the same domain?

I haven’t bought into the concept of “domain authority” because everything attributed to so-called “domain authority” fits neatly into the well-known PageRank algorithm. More importantly, it’s attributed value varies at the individual page level and seemingly in the exact same proportions as PageRank. It doesn’t seem to matter which domains are linked together, the rules for passing PR appears to account for the entire influence in weighting inbound link values regardless of the so-called “domain authority”.

Equally important is that PR, or “domain authority” if you prefer, doesn’t have any impact on rankings in the absence of relevancy. Keep in mind that I use the term relevancy from the perspective of a search engine, which I believe deliberately ignores “websites” in favor of linked webs of individual URLs, regardless of the site they reside on.

The only place they seem to consider your website or domain name is at the presentation layer, not the indexing level (specifically sitelinks and indented listings).

You keep bringing up profile links as both an example of relevancy not mattering and “domain authority” truly making a difference. You assume it is domain authority that gives them the power of influencing your rankings while discounting relevancy. Why don’t you try building profile links that aren’t relevant (as Google views relevancy) and let us know how that works?

The bottom line is they don’t work in the absence of relevancy and this is easily observable. If relevancy doesn’t matter then why aren’t you ranking highly for all sorts of competitive keywords after you add all those backlinks? Why must you add relevant keywords to the profile page if relevancy doesn’t matter? Relevancy isn’t the only thing that matters but it is absolutely essential if you want to influence your web page rankings for a targeted keyword.

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