So You’ve Been Penalized by Google. Now What?
Dear Rocket Media,
I hired a seemingly good SEO company and got totally screwed. My website was penalized and my rankings have been completely destroyed. Please help!
Does this sound like a similar situation you’ve been in?
We’ve had several clients come to us who hired an SEO company they thought they could trust, only to find out later they were dabbling in some questionable SEO tactics.
These tactics are usually referred to as “blackhat SEO.” And if your website is associated with these practices, you run the risk of being penalized by search engines or seeing a huge drop in page rankings. (And we all know, it’s never good to be on Google’s bad side.)
We’re going to talk about what to do if you find yourself in a rut and what to look out for in the future.
What to do if your SEO has taken a hit
If your SEO has taken a hit because of these practices, the good news is it’s not the end of the world.
While there are many possible reasons your website could have taken a hit, here are a few things you can do:
- Utilize Google’s Webmaster tools: Google has a plethora of tools available for you to check the health of your website and see the actions that are currently being taken against your website.
- Follow recommended actions by Google: Google also has a lot of great resources available about what to do to make sure your website is following proper guidelines going forward.
- Consult an trustworthy SEO expert: One of the best things you can do is consult an SEO expert to help correct the issues with your website. They can help you correct the damage that’s been done in the past. (Grab a recommendation from a friend or colleague who has worked with a trustworthy company in the past.)
A few messy practices to look out for:
- Guaranteed rankings: If a company is guaranteeing results based on their SEO efforts, they are waving a giant red flag. While it’s good to get an idea of what you should expect to see based on SEO, results are never guaranteed.
- Duplicate content: Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” This can cause a real issue for SEO, but Google provides a lot of great info for proactively addressing duplicate content.
- Keyword stuffing: Keyword stuffing is when a web page is loaded with terms that don’t provide value to the reader with the sole intent to try and gain higher visibility in search engines.
Example: “We sell the best above ground pools in San Antonio. Our above ground pools come in various shapes and sizes. You can buy our above ground pools in blue, green and red. If you’re interested in buying an above ground pool for your San Antonio home, contact our San Antonio above ground pool expert at 555-1234.”
- Participating in link schemes: A few examples of link schemes include buying links, link exchanges and using automated programs to create links to your website. These are a big no-no and can really hurt your website.
- Creating fake physical addresses for the company: Sometimes people do this to try and appear in map results for keywords they are targeting in areas they company serves, but does not have a physical location.
Many of these techniques may result in a temporary increase in visitors. But it will destroy your website’s reputation and rankings in the long run.
Above all, ask more questions
Before you work with a company, always ask more questions about what they consider best practices to determine if you should work with them.
While they probably won’t give you a step-by-step look into what they’ll be doing, you should be able to ask important questions and get honest answers.
You’re ultimately responsible for your website and should know when something isn’t right. There is no excuse for ignorance.
Still have questions about SEO that we didn’t answer? Leave us a comment on Facebook!