Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Don’t Anger the Google Gods!

A sobering story from Forbes Magazine:

Don’t Anger the Google Gods!

That’s the lesson Paul Sanar learned–too late–last year. Up until last fall, the 21-year-old New Yorker depended solely on the search engine to keep traffic flowing to Skyfacet.com, his online diamond business; Sanar says he sold $3 million dollars worth of jewelry a year. Then, he says, Google turned its back on Skyfacet.com, condemning the site to Internet obscurity.

Beginning in September 2006, Skyfacet no longer showed up on the first few pages of Google’s results when users typed in search terms like “diamonds” and “engagement ring.” The site’s traffic vanished, and Sanar says his sales dropped $500,000 in three months.
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In retrospect, Sanar thinks he can trace his problem to a search marketing consultant he had paid $35,000 to improve Skyfacet’s Google rankings. He now believes the consultant mistakenly replicated content on many of the site’s pages, making them look like duplicate that is, spam content. But even after he reversed the consultant’s changes, he couldn’t get Skyfacet’s pages out of Google Hell, where they remain today. [They’re referring to Google’s Supplemental Index — Bill]
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“So many of the rules are vague,” Jhalani says. But he admits that he tried gray-area tactics like buying links from more established sites to juice his traffic.

Jhalani says he removed the links that may have offended Google, but the site remained in Google’s gulag. Jhalani wrote Google asking the search engine to reappraise MySolitaire; nothing happened. Since Google ranks sites partially by the quality of sites that link to them, he painstakingly contacted every site that seemed to be of low quality and linked to MySolitaire, asking them to remove their links, sometimes even sending cease-and-desist letters. Finally the site returned to Google’s main index last June, though Jhalani has no way of knowing just what finally caused Google’s algorithm to forgive him.

There are a couple of lessons here.

  • First, you need to be able to trust your SEO consultant. ESPECIALLY if they’re charging $35,000! (Most of Rank Magic’s clients spend less than a tenth of that amount.)
  • And second, using black-hat SEO tactics, also known as search engine spam and referred to in the article euphemistically as “gray-area tactics”, will bite you in the rear sooner or later. That’s why Rank Magic never utilizes those techniques.
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