Website SEO Google
Did you know Google can make your blog disappear from its search results?
One day, you’re getting a nice little trickle of traffic to a few of your posts. No, it’s nothing major, but it grows with every new post you publish, and you can see Google becoming a major source of traffic for you in the future.
But then it stops.
Poof, every single post and page of your blog disappears from Google. No warning, no alarm bells, nothing. You’re just gone, like you never even existed.
And the worst part?
You don’t even know why. It just feels like the biggest, baddest bully on the Internet decided to knock the crap out of you, leaving you whimpering and bleeding, wondering what on earth you did wrong.
It happens all the time. I know, because it happened to me.
How I Got Blacklisted by Google
About seven years ago, my first blog, Real Estate Answered, was blacklisted by Google.
One day, I was on the first page for the term “real estate investment, ” raking in a few hundred visitors per day, and the next, my site was just gone. I could still access it by typing in the URL, but the steady stream of search traffic stopped. Completely.
Knowing what I know now, I totally deserved it, but at the time, I felt like a mugging victim. I’d just spent three months and hundreds of hours writing sixtysomething articles on real estate investing, but Google erased all that effort in a heartbeat.
Well, I can’t know for sure, but it was probably because I was paying guys in the Philippines to submit my site to a bunch of shoddy link directories. I had also started selling text links on my site – another big no-no.
At the time, I didn’t know any better. I thought everything I was doing was totally legitimate.
With Google though, ignorance is no excuse. You break the rules, you pay the consequences. End of story.
That’s why it’s so important to learn what the rules are.
The Truth about How Google Works
It’s evolving. All the time.
Every day, they tweak their algorithms to filter out spammers. Every year or two, they also roll out major updates that cause huge shifts in search engine rankings for nearly everyone on the web.
What works today may not work tomorrow. In fact, it might even hurt you.
Once upon a time, Google didn’t penalize people for making mistakes. They would withhold benefits, yes, but they wouldn’t actually reduce your ranking or make you disappear.
Now, they’re much more punitive. Even if you don’t make a big enough mistake to get yourself blacklisted, you can still see your search engine results drop overnight if you do something wrong, potentially by dozens of pages.
What, exactly, do they punish you for?
Well, the list is ever-changing, but here are the six sins most likely to land you on their naughty list:
Sin #1: Buying Links
Ever noticed ads from so called SEO firms promising you hundreds of links and a first page ranking for some paltry fee?
Well, ignore them. Here’s why:
Almost without fail, the links are from spammy, disreputable sites and social networking accounts. Getting a link from them is kind of like going to a job interview with a letter of recommendation from a well-known crack dealer. It hurts you, not helps you.
And it doesn’t matter how smart they are. Some of these companies claim they’ll never be found out by Google, because all of the spammy links are pointing to an intermediary page, creating a “link wheel” or “link pyramid.” Supposedly, that’s supposed to protect you.
It might even work… for a while. The problem is, remember how I said Google is always evolving? Even if they don’t catch you today, they are guaranteed to catch you at some point in the future. They always have.
The best policy?
Don’t buy (or sell) links. Period.
Sin #2: Joining the Wrong Link Directories
When considering submitting to a directory, I’d ask questions like:
– Does the directory reject urls? If every url passes a review, the directory gets closer to just a list of links or a free-for-all link site.
– What is the quality of urls in the directory? Suppose a site rejects 25% of submissions, but the urls that are accepted/listed are still quite low-quality or spammy. That doesn’t speak well to the quality of the directory.