If your website has been ranking well in Google, then suddenly your position has dropped, it is possible that you have been blacklisted or penalised.
Being blacklisted means that you have done something that Google really doesn’t like, and you could drop from their indexes literally overnight. If you have done something less dramatic, but still against Google’s terms, you could be penalised meaning that you will rank, but not as highly. Of course this could be natural, and your website may just not be ranking as well because your competitors have optimised their websites better.
How to tell if you’ve been blacklisted or penalised
Firstly if you have Google Webmaster Tools, look in there it is possible that you’ll have a message alerting you as to why. If not, check your website’s statistics and see if there has been a sudden drop in traffic and if so when was it? Does it correlate any other changes you have made (especially changes to a website’s search engine optimisation)? Does it correlate to any changes in Google’s algorithms? Try searching for your common terms, but also for your company name, are you listed, are there any paterns?
If in doubt, contact an SEO expert and they can help determine what has happened.
Why you would have been penalised
Google are continually developing their algorithms to make searches more accurate and relevant, and by doing this need to penalise websites that try to beat the system. SEO (search engine optimisation) is a sliding scale between search engine friendly tactics (white-hat SEO), and those that directly conflict with the search engine’s terms (black-hat SEO). As search engines develop their algorithms the line between what is allowed, and what isn’t, moves. In addition various SEO agencies have different opinions on what they believe is acceptable, and so they may jeopardise a website’s position trying to achieve a quick-fix.
There are three common algorithms implemented by Google that you may have heard of:
- Panda is a set of algorithm changes that has been implemented since February 2011. It specifically tries to lower the rank of low quality websites have little or no unique content. It promotes sites that are rich in original unique and useful content and therefore have a decent user experience.
- Penguin was first released in April 2012 and was implemented by Google to lower the rank (or blacklist) websites that use black-hat SEO techniques, specifically low quality link building schemes.
- There is a new algorithm called Hummingbird, which allows users to search Google more accurately by asking questions It pays attention to the meaning of the sentence, rather than the individual words. Yes you could be penalised by Hummingbird, but for most it’s unlikely and Google say that original and high quality content is still key.
Algorithm changes are not bad
Although it doesn’t seem like it to someone who’s been penalised, and although it is not always the case, in general algorithm changes are for the best as they improve a user’s searching experience and deliver more accurate and relevant results.
They generally penalise those who are trying to (or appear to be) cheating the system or having low quality content, and conversely reward those who don’t.
Where Webbed Feet UK fit in
I should note that the SEO experts at Webbed Feet UK generally use techniques at the white-hat end of the SEO scale. If a client requests anything towards black-hat we will advise against and explain the consequences, often debating with other 3rd party SEO consultants.
Due to our white-hat techniques our sites are generally pretty resilient to algorithm changes, and only minor tweaks are usually needed. We try and stay one step ahead of the game.
Recovering from a Google penalty or blacklist
Irrespective of your original website designer or content management system, if your website needs recovery from being blacklisted or from a penalty, or if you’re concerned as to why you are not ranking as well as you were in the past, then we can diagnose and fix this for you.
It usually doesn’t happen overnight, and may be tricky to diagnose, but one of our SEO consultants will happily have an initial look and discuss this for no charge and with no obligation.
Prevention is better than cure
If you have been penalised or black listed it is possible that your business could suffer, especially if your business is dependent on your website receiving traffic from search engines.
With the resubmission process being long-winded, it is much better to prevent any potential issues rather than panicking after.
It won’t take us long to have a look at your website, run a few diagnostic tools, and determine whether we think you’re at risk of any future algorithm updates.
Benchmarking, and periodic checks would be an investment, and would help safeguard your website.
Our final piece of advice, and this has been experienced by many of our clients before they worked with us, is be very careful who you choose to manage your SEO campaigns. A few black-hat techniques could literally blacklist your website overnight, and in some cases take years to recover. There are lots of SEO companies that can ‘talk the talk’, but far less that can ‘walk the walk’.
We offer SEO in Salisbury based offices, and can manage websites ranging from single pages, up to large custom built websites with hundreds of thousands of pages.
As always, please contact the Webbed Feet UK team if you have any questions.