Guest Post by Pat Marcello
Search engines are great for business. If you do things right, you’re in for some great free, targeted traffic that only search engines can provide. However, if you do things the wrong way… You could find yourself booted from the results pages or even de-indexed from the search engine completely.
What does that mean?
It means that even if someone goes to Google, for example, and types in your exact URL, Google won’t have a result to show them. This is something you definitely want to avoid! Though I haven’t found any hard statistics on this, I have read that some 70% of Web users type a search query into the address bar, rather than the actual URL.
It’s easier. Instead of going through the “http://www” part, people just type “Amazon” into Google and it’s the first result. Since many browsers’ address bars are also now search query boxes, it’s happening more than ever. And think about it: If they’re typing your brand into Google and it’s not showing up at all? Your competitors are getting your business.
Being indexed in Google is very important, if you want to do business online.
Knowing all of that, you’re now probably worried. What can I do to be sure that Google won’t drop my brand? How will I know if I’m doing something so heinous that Google will boot my brand right into the nether?
Here are things that Google really hates and that can cause you to be de-indexed, at least until you clean up your act and ask politely for reinstatement, which depending on the severity of the offense may never come. Don’t do these things, no matter WHAT you’ve been told:
1. Linking schemes
The way to rise in the search engine results pages (SERPs) is to gather backlinks to your website. A backlink is when webmaster B links to webmaster A’s site, and search engines consider these backlinks a “vote” for your site. The more backlinks or votes you have, the higher your Web page will rise in the SERPs. Google wants this to happen naturally and as a result of your creation of killer, linkable content on your website, not because you paid someone to add a link for you. NO.
A few years ago, buying links was OK. Then, around 2007-2008, Google put its spidery foot down and said, “YOUSHALL NOT PASS!” just like Gandalf. Swear. They didn’t like the fact that webmasters could go to link brokers and buy a bunch of links on pages with high authority. They saw it as “gaming the system,” and just like the Balrog in The Two Towers, they soon cracked the whip on any sites that they saw doing it. And the whip flew in both directions. People selling other webmasters links on their websites were crushed by its blows, too.
In 2013, any kind of link manipulation is a HUGE no-no. Google hates anything that smells like gaming their results. Last year, they also crushed “link wheels,” which were systems of building links among members of the wheel or linking system. So, webmaster A would link to a page on webmaster B’s site, and webmaster B would link to a page on webmaster C’s site and so on. Bad business.
Today, most anything you do to make Google think you have more “votes” for your site than you actually should will get you booted from the system.
2. Content Scraping
Content scraping is where you go to another site and merely copy the information and paste it into your own website. For example, you might like what Wikipedia has to say about a topic, and you might think it’s OK to just copy that text, verbatim, and paste it to your website.
It’s not, and it really never was. It’s plagiarism, and Google put a stop to it with the Panda update last year. This algorithm filter, which they run periodically, looks for scraped content and also duplicate content.
Duplicate content is any content that exists elsewhere on the Internet. It can hurt you the most if you add duplicate content to your own website, such as posting a blog entry to your front page just because you’re too lazy to write something fresh.
Duplicate content on other parts of the Web used to be OK, too. Google didn’t penalize it for you, but they didn’t give you credit for more than one example of it, either. This wasn’t really good for anyone, either, as the original author of the content may not have been the one that had Google credit for what they had labored over to write.
Now, all duplicate content is bad. Never place the same article on your blog, into an article directory (which Google now considers to be “content farms,” more or less), and into LinkedIn at the same time, for example. Bad idea!
Keep everything you write for the Web 100% unique. If you write an article for LinkedIn, post it only to LinkedIn. You can post a link to that article on your blog, but not the article in entirety. It just won’t work.
3. Link cloaking
If you show one page to human visitors and another to search engine spiders, this is known as cloaking and is another MAJOR Google peeve. Several years ago, you could crank out a page, stuffed with keywords for your niche, everywhere possible and show it to spiders, while writing a readable page for human eyes. Yes, people really got away with that stuff.
Not today! If Google catches you doing it – SPLAT! You just hit the skids, my friend, and that will absolutely get you kicked out of Google.
There you have it. Though these aren’t the ONLY three things you can be de-indexed for, these are the major nasties.
If you’ve already done some of this without knowing it was bad for you, you can recover. Get rid of the paid links or links acquired via link wheels. Remove the duplicate content from your site, and if you have any sneaky redirects sending visitors to one page while spiders see another, remove them.
Then, be oh so penitent. Write to Google, explain that you were being a silly newbie and that you will never do such things again, and they’ll relent – some time.
And then again, maybe not.
For more information on what Google wants and doesn’t want, visit Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide here. It will give you all the best practices to follow that will keep you humming along and out of the spider traps.
If you don’t want to do the SEO yourself, that’s what Pat’s company MagnaSites.com is for. Visit for a free SEO evaluation and more information about search engine optimization, something she’s been studying for the last 9 years.