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You wake up in the morning, check out your Google analytics and you notice your traffic dropped drastically. Next, you check Google and enter your keywords to check your rankings and you notice you just aren’t in the first page anymore. Your blood pressure increases, your pulse throbs and you can feel your heart beat faster. ‘Did Google just penalize me??
And if you’re wondering – yes this stuff really happens. Stuff like this happen in SEO all the time!
So what do you need to do when this happens to you?
First, check if it is a traffic drop or a rankings drop
What’s a rankings drop? Well a rankings drop (if ever you’re using a rank checking software) is going down on your Google keywords ranking. For example, you’re supposed to be on page 1 and ranking second or third place and then suddenly you drop to page 2.
If you’re not checking your ranking (meaning you’re just tracking your Google analytics) and you notice a drop in your Google search traffic – that’s a traffic drop. And it can be due to several reasons. For example, people might just not be searching for your set of keywords anymore because it’s Christmas time and everyone’s happy with what they’ve got – hey, it happens!
That’s why it’s so important to track your rankings – especially the ones in the first page of the SERPs. So that you’ll know the reason behind a traffic drop or increase.
Second, if you’ve identified that you lost traffic due to a particular set of keywords, then that’s when you try to see if you were indeed penalized by Google. Because it’s either Google really did penalize you OR some of your links do not hold that much power/Google juice anymore or those links have simply disappeared – or were removed.
Sometimes it’s with the links and not with the practices we do as SEO’s. Because if you know you’re doing things right, meaning you’re not doing anything to piss Google off, then you probably weren’t penalized to begin with. It’s probably with the links.
How can you check if there is any change in your links? Well, you have go to the sites where you get backlinks from and check out if they’re still there or if they moved or changed your link or whatnot. There are a lot of tools in the net to see where all your backlinks come from. i would suggest SEO toolbar from Aaron Wall’s SEO Book.
When you’re sure you were indeed ‘doinked’ by Google
Maybe you know you did something wrong – maybe you did cloaking or you hid some texts, or you spammed some sites, and you end up with the conclusion that Google did ‘doink’ you out of it’s index then the question you’re facing now is “How do I get back in?”
Well, you have to check the factors of your offense against Google
First, you have to identify the severity of your offense.
How serious was your crime? Mass buying links? Cloaking adult content? There are different weights for different crimes. They don’t all amount to the same punishment.
Second, is this your first offense or is it a repeat?
Maybe you didn’t mean it or you didn’t know that what you did was offensive to Google. Maybe you didn’t mean to manipulate their search algorithm. Maybe – if it’s your first time. Try doing it again, and of course you lose the benefit of the doubt. And you want that benefit when facing the Google spam team.
Third, are you a big player or a dispensable site?
Are you a big brand on the web? Are you giving out valuable information to people? Are you a known name through the internet? Google will most probably go easier on the big and established brands out there. But if you’re small and dispensable, don’t count on it.
What to do to get back in:
Submit a re-inclusion request
Of course, to get back in, you have to submit a re-inclusion request. Yep you have to swallow your pride and beg on your knees depending on how much you value your domain name.
You can also give a tweet to Google Webspam team’s program manger Brian White: @brianwhite just to say “Hi, my site’s been sandboxed coz I made a boo-boo.”
Spill it all out
Google probably knows each and every detail of your offense against them. If you fail to tell them anything regarding your offense (and perhaps say you’re sorry for each and that you will never do it again) they’ll make it harder for you to get back in if not reject you altogether. Google spam team wants a full accounting of what you did.
If that doesn’t work
Raise the white flag and move on to another domain. Google probably won’t include you back again anymore. All we can do is hope for Google to be nice and include us back again. Unfortunately, Google can also catch bad moods. Sometimes you have to decide that it’s time to move on and leave the hopes of getting your site indexed back again.
Tips for Keeps: All this is the hassle of getting caught practicing black hat SEO. It will burn your brand to the ground.
That’s why I only give my clients pure white hat SEO and clean internet marketing. I take care of their brands because the hassle of pleading with Google to take me back just doesn’t appeal to me. And my advice is, make sure you practice white hat too.
You can check out SEOmoz’s video about Google penalty here!