My Term Tanked, My Traffic Tanked
Google is getting smarter and smarter very day, hence you will often hear that good content updated frequently with good links get you good SEO rankings, which is very true. Now if you cheat and get caught, you get penalised or blacklisted, BUT what if someone uses these techniques to get me blacklisted!?!
When your traffic goes from flying high to rock bottom you can be fairly sure either you have done something wrong, or you have been targeted.
The Techniques in Question
Basically showing different content on a page to a search engine than you do to site visitors.
These are usually pages optimised for specific keywords/phrase, with low quality content that guide users to a single destination.
If you get caught
If you get caught using these practices you may get an email from Google telling you, “you are in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines”, “you have been removed from our search results” and once you have corrected this you can “submit your site for reconsideration”. This is assuming Google know how to contact you and tell you this.
How can I tell?
It is fairly easy to see this has happened, your Google analytics traffic bar will “Tank” (go from high to very low) and if you get the email, you can consider this a fairly big clue.
Please note the penalties may come in the form of time penalties, like a sin bin. Even after you have corrected it, it may be some time before Google restores your ranking, and even then you may have to work to get it back to where it was.
That’s why you should have Google Analytics
If for no other reason, you should have Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, so they can contact you when you site offends them.
But I didn’t do it...Honest!
We won’t discuss the how, but it is possible for people who have moved over to the “darkside” to use these techniques to their advantage and rather than getting their site higher, making yours low. Kill all the competition and you are the only one left standing!
What to do?
That’s not so easy!
Make sure you (or some helpful colleague) haven’t actually somehow done what Google have said you did. If you have, fix it.
If you/your site aren't guilty, you need to find out who/what has. Using your Analytics you should be able to find out which terms have crashed, and do a search relating to them, and find that link(s) to your site (finding the links may not always be easy).
If you can find the offending pages, either try to tell Google to get them removed from the index or contact the webmaster and ask for them to be removed, and this should fix your problem. Google is apparently creating a tool for Google Webmaster Tools, to block/no follow these links (but it will probably only work for Google and those powered by Google).
If you can find them try talking to Google (it might work).
If all else fails employ an SEO expert, some may just want to skip steps 1 through to 3.
You should keep a careful eye on your stats watching for sudden changes (either direction could work against you), be careful who you link to, and watch who is linking to you. At all time use SEO techniques within Google’s (and others) Webmaster Guidelines, and build your sites SEO slowly and carefully, a sudden flurry can get the search engines twitchy.
Good luck SEO fans.
Written by Stephen Allen, Technical Director, Titan Websites.