Yandex algorithm “Baden-Baden”: what is scary and how to remove

Article author: Kirill Buzakov,
SEO-optimizer of the company SEO.RU

Yandex’s Baden-Baden filter, launched in March 2017, was the search engine’s response to over-optimized texts. This is a punishment for sites that host articles not for people, but for search engines.

Despite the fact that the algorithm is already more than 3 years old, websites that have been banned are still coming to work. Therefore, we will tell you more about this algorithm, about what types of it there are and how to get rid of them.

For which particular texts is “Baden-Baden” superimposed?

  • Over-optimized. When writing these materials, the first thing I thought about was improving the textual factors of page ranking, and not about the benefits for the visitor.
  • Not containing sufficient semantic load or even without it. In such texts, there are no specifics, but there are many words. This is done to increase the volume of the material. For example, in the text about a product there are several paragraphs about its cost, purchase at a low price, but there is no specific figure anywhere. This also includes articles with geo-dependent queries, in which there is no specific information about the provision of services or about the specifics of purchasing goods in the location in question.
  • Partially or entirely hidden from site users. You cannot place texts using the property display with meaning none (display: none) – Yandex punishes for this.

How to quickly understand that this filter is imposed on the site?

The first bell is a sharp decline in positions. Information about this and other violations is also displayed in Yandex.Webmaster in the “Diagnostics” – “Security and Violations” section:

Yandex.Webmaster Diagnostics Security and Violations

The message about the imposition of the filter itself looks like this:

filter overlay message

Ban “Baden-Baden” is imposed on individual search queries (query-dependent “Baden-Baden”) or the entire site for all queries (host “Baden-Baden”). Let’s consider each in more detail.

Request-dependent “Baden-Baden”

This type of algorithm is similar to another Yandex filter that appeared much earlier, in 2011 – “Over-optimization”.

What happens to the site and its performance?

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If this ban is imposed, the site’s position drops sharply from 7 to 30 points. The pages that fall under the filter lose significantly in the incoming search traffic. At the same time, you can notice a sharp increase in positions if you change the request, and even insignificantly.

What to do?

  1. Analyze the texts in those sections on the site that have dropped their positions. To speed up the check, you can use specialized services, for example, “Turgenev”.

  2. Then it is recommended to delete all found problematic materials. As a last resort – temporarily (while the materials are being rewritten) to close the texts or their parts using the tag noindex

  3. After that, you need to check the volume of the placed texts and, if necessary, reduce it. You also need to figure out the queries: check and optimize inconsistent search phrases and queries of two or three words in the text, change the density of their occurrences in the articles themselves, in headings and meta tags. Next comes the actual work with the text and the solution of all the problems found: depending on the “scale of the defeat”, you need to either change the materials or write new ones from scratch.

    In addition, it is important to consider the location of the texts on the pages.

    For example, in my practice there was such a case. The site fell under “Baden-Baden”, on the category pages above the product cards there were voluminous articles, clearly not very useful for users. What we did: significantly reduced the volume, reduced the density of occurrences of search queries and moved the text down, under the product cards. After removing the filter, the page began to occupy even higher positions than before.

  4. After you have deleted all the problematic texts or after you have posted the updated ones on the site, you need to click the “I fixed everything” button in Yandex.Webmaster under the violation report and write an appeal to Yandex technical support about solving problems on the site.

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I fixed everything

The latter is optional, but in some cases it helps to reduce the waiting time for updates.

As usual, Yandex responds to such messages:

As usual, Yandex responds to such messages

IMPORTANT: do not click on the button “I fixed everything” if you are not sure that you have deleted all the problematic texts on the site, or if you have deliberately removed not all low-quality materials. After this, the problem is likely to persist, and the process will only drag on. And you won’t be able to press the test button again right away. At the same time, the requirements for checking text content may become stricter.

How long does it take to remove the filter?

After you have completed all the previous steps, and Yandex has started checking, the positions can return either after the next one, or only after a few updates of the issue. On average, if done correctly, the process takes up to a month.

Host “Baden-Baden”

This filter option is similar to the manual “Over-optimization” used by Yandex’s antispam analysts.

What happens to the site and its performance?

The application of the filter, as in the first case, can be fixed by means of a message in Yandex.Webmaster or by manually checking query positions.

The drawdown in this case will be about 20 positions. When checking manually, it is important to take into account that, despite such a decline, the site will remain in the top for vital queries (URL and site name).

What to do?

Deal with the main reason for imposing a filter: are all texts on the site of poor quality, or is it in some particularly over-optimized sections. If it is difficult to identify the cause, then you need to write to Yandex technical support: they can provide 1-2 examples of URLs of problem pages.

To speed up the process, it is recommended to immediately delete all texts on the site. The exception is the technical sections (the page with information about the delivery terms, the page with the company’s contact details, but they also need to be checked and, if necessary, corrected and re-arranged first). Positions can increase significantly in the period after you deleted the old texts, but before the new ones are published.

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After deleting, you need to send a signal to check in Yandex.Webmaster, write to technical support and after these actions, start processing low-quality materials. It will be best to place them after removing the filter.

The process of text processing itself in the case of a host ban does not differ from a request-dependent ban. Let’s duplicate the scheme: you need to rewrite the texts completely or reduce them by 70-90%, not forgetting to take into account inconsistent search phrases and queries consisting of 2-3 words. We also look at the density of their occurrence not only in the materials themselves, but also in the titles and meta tags. Remember the logic of placing the text block on the page.

It is worth noting that hiding texts with the noindex tag may not have the desired effect. And still remember that you do not need to click on the button “I fixed everything” just like that.

How long does it take to remove the filter?

If you did everything correctly, the whole process takes up to a month.

How can I avoid overlapping “Baden-Baden”?

  • Place only high-quality content on the site pages.
  • Avoid a high density of occurrences of search queries in texts, titles, meta tags and other page elements.
  • Use LSI copywriting techniques when creating content.
  • Refuse from uninformative voluminous materials, as well as from articles generated automatically.
  • Check the originality of texts and their quality using specialized seo services, and avoid mistakes in the use of search phrases.
  • Don’t add a lot of images, especially if they are not related to the subject of the material.
  • Format text, use numbered and bulleted lists and other ways to improve the visual perception of content.
  • Use tags strong and italic only where it is really needed, and not for additional highlighting of search phrases.
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