You may have heard the terms “Panda” and “Penguin” and perhaps even “Hummingbird” used as naming conventions for recent updates to Google’s search algorithm. In fact, major changes to the way Google provides search results have been given names since 2003, with the most famous of these being called “Florida” in November 2003. Many regard the Florida update as the beginning of the SEO industry.
With Florida, an abnormal amount of websites either lost ranking or were not found at all. Florida was Google’s way of telling the world that we do not want you to game us. They targeted websites with such things as hidden text and keyword stuffing.
The Big G never tells you the specifics that are used for each update, but they do share basic information such as when Matt Cutts, the head of the Webspam team at Google, texted this on September 28, 2012:
Geek to Human translation: Google will devalue a site when the domain name was created for the sole purpose of getting better rankings (e.g. cheap-viagra-pills-online.com).
This may give you an understanding of why your website traffic has disappeared. Your site could have been heavily penalized, meaning that it shows up on the 3rd or 4th page instead of the 1st, or you are not found at all.
Here’s a quick test, if you feel you may be out of Google, type in the exact name of your business url, like example.com. If you don’t show up on the top of the first page, your business has been removed from their search results.
So how do you recover from this? If the measures used on your site that caused it to be removed were excessive, you may have a tough time convincing them that it was all a tragic mistake. But if it was in fact a tragic mistake, you can appeal to Google.
Here are the steps we take to get our clients back into the search results.
1) Locate links to your website from “Bad Neighborhoods”, there are some free tools that can help you identify these, but the best ones are by paid subscription. Submit the list of them to Google via a disavowed link removal request.
2) Clean up any “Black Hat” SEO tactics on your website. These include such things as hidden or deceptive text, improper linking between pages or other websites and “cloaking” of your pages which is meant to deceive the search engines by sending them to one page and your human visitors to another.
4) Remove any pages from your website that do not directly relate to the main content of your business. If you are selling mustache wax, you should not have a portion of your website dedicated to the sale of Viagra.
5) Review all of your other (if any) websites to make sure they do not excessively link to each other. Linking between your websites is not advised. Google knows that you own them, don’t think you can game them by hiding the relationships either, they will eventually find out.
Once you feel that you have cleaned everything up, then you need to do a Reinclusion Request. This is where you explain to Google what happened and what you did to correct each issue in a very detailed manner. Make sure your tone is positive and that you provide them with your contact information.