Did google penalise me ?

The traffic data in this example has been removed on purpose, but general information used with permission from client.

One of the easiest ways to see if you are penalised by Google is to see how your traffic is doing. Here in this example that show things quite nicely. Here we are looking between February and April 2009.

example of a Google penalty

example of a Google penalty

The client in question received a number of new links via some media attention, which was in turn picked up by some blogs. Initially the traffic grew to about 300% it’s base level, and then suddenly dropped off to about 5% of the traffic in the previous month. The remaining traffic was coming from other search engines, 3rd party site who linked to the client and direct type in traffic.   Looking at the previous traffic , from the start of the year:

Jan 1st to Mar 10

Jan 1st to Mar 10

We see that the traffic to the site was increasing steadily, it had some peaks and dips, in this case due to weekend traffic fluctuations, and then around February 26th there were two big jumps over 2 days. And then suddenly zero. So what happened ? Our guess is that because of the quick increase of the number of links to the site, that Google decided to over night cut off the traffic to it. This was also confirmed by seeing that the clients SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions) were also removed. The site: operator on Google was saying that the domain not in the index. For all of the other queries, where traffic was previously coming from, the client was no longer listed.

Our actions against the penalty

The client contacted us and gave us access to their Google analytics account, where we discovered that there was some strange things going on. When realising that they were no longer showing up within the first 5 pages for queries they normally ranked for and having no results from the site operator. We requested a reconsideration request on Google webmaster tools (click talk to Google on the right hand side, and then request reconsideration. Here we outlined what we thought had happened, and within about 2 weeks the traffic started to come back. We also took it as an opportunity to get some authoritative links from some business partners of the client, in order to add more trust to the domain. To enable faster spidering we also added a XML sitemap. This also helped to see if there were any problems indexing the content again. Note: When you send a reconsideration request you won’t hear back from Google, the only way you can find out if it was granted is if you start to see your site appearing in the index again.

Google on Reconsidering Request

Here is a quick video tutorial from Google on the topic of “Requesting reconsideration”

Further reading

Here are two good posts about the google penalties from SEOmoz.ORG and SearchEngineLand.com and are well worth a read.

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