Jane stared at the computer screen with a mixture of disbelief and horror. Her site had disappeared from the Google listings, and her Google toolbar showed a grey line. Her site had been banned from Google, and she wasn’t entirely sure why it happened.
After thinking back for a moment, Jane remembered what might have incurred Google’s wrath. Her fly by night alleged search engine optimization (SEO) expert had added violated Google’s webmaster guidelines, and used her site to do it. The doorway pages, cloaked sections, and hidden text, he had assured her, would give her site much higher search rankings than ever before.
The unscrupulous SEO was partly right, as Jane’s site did rise in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The problem was that the results were short lived, and had got her site banned from the Google index. Her site was nowhere to be found. She didn’t know what to do. She had no idea as to how to get her site reinstated and get herself back into Google’s good graces.
This nightmare scene has been played over and over by many unsuspecting website owners. Their sites have been blocked from the Google listings, and the owners have no idea about how to get their site reindexed. Whether the owner was aware of the breaches of Google’s webmaster guidelines or not, the results were the same. The site got banned.
Something every website owner should know is how to get a site unblocked from a Google ban. It’s also information that every webmaster hopes will never be needed for their websites.
When a site appears to have been banned from the Google listings, the first step is to make absolutely certain that is the case. Often, webmasters will believe their sites have been blocked, when in fact, they were not.
Before reaching the conclusion that a site has been banned, it’s absolutely vital that all other possibilities have been completely ruled out. A mistake is simply too costly in this case, as it might involve the loss of a website and domain name entirely. Due diligence is essential.
One case where a site is often mistakenly thought banned is from being placed in the well known Google “sandbox”. The so-called sandbox is thought to be a dampener placed on new sites in the first month they go live. A website captured by the algorithm dampener will seem to disappear entirely from the Google SERPs. In fact, the site was placed in something like suspended animation. The site has not been banned.
Occasionally, the Google search listings will simply lose a site. The search engines are computer programs. They are not infallible and perfect. Sometimes a website will merely fall through the virtual cracks. After a couple of weeks to a month, the spiders will have crawled the site a few more times. Following a re-indexing, the site will once again be included in the Google search results.
Few things will cause a website owner to see red more than a greyed out PageRank meter on the Google toolbar. If the bar is showing grey, the best course of action is not to panic. The bar may just be not operational at that particular moment. Such glitches in the toolbar readout are not uncommon. There is no need to jump to any sort of worst-case possibility. Give the toolbar reading a couple of days to right itself.
The same panic situation occurs with the apparent loss of PageRank. Many times, the toolbar will show only white space instead of the usual green indicator level. It’s not a sign of being banned, but more likely a minor toolbar problem. Regardless of the reason, if a toolbar shows white, the site is definitely included in the Google rankings.
If following an honest check of all possibilities and all other causes have been ruled out, perhaps the site has been banned from Google. Should that be the case, the only thing to do is to weigh the options and look for solutions to the problem.
A webmaster has three choices in total. The first is to clean up the site to conform with the search engine’s published guidelines and try for reinstatement. The second option is simply abandoning the entire site and the domain name, and making a fresh start. The third possibility is some variation or combination of the first two choices.
The first choice is to clean up the banned website, removing every single one of the potentially offending items. That operation should take place regardless of what is chosen to do with the site. Showing Google serious effort about following the published webmaster guidelines to the letter or better will at least get Google to take a second look at the site.
This is no time for vague promises about maybe making some changes. They simply must take place. Politely writing to Google requesting reinstatement might also help the cause. Google’s response letter will be vague on their part. They will not commit themselves to returning a site to their listings until they are absolutely certain the offending activities are discontinued permanently. The bottom line, if the cleanup and salvage option is chosen, is to wait and see how Google responds. There are no guarantees.
The second choice is to abandon the website and domain name entirely. Creating a brand new site and registering a different domain name might be a good solution in some cases. Starting a new site involves registering a different domain, adding fresh incoming links, and writing entirely new website content.
When developing a replacement site, there should be no duplication of the previous banned site’s content. Everything has to be entirely different. Google will be watching the new site very closely so anything appearing on or relating to the site must be completely in compliance with the search engine webmaster guidelines.
A third option, involving a combination of the old and new site, might be the only choice for some website owners. In many cases, there are strong reasons for maintaining the site and the domain. That is especially true if the site domain is also the company name. Extra care must be taken if a previously banned site is to be continued, however.
An entirely new site should be started immediately, with absolutely no shared or duplicate content from the blocked site. No cross linking between the two sites should ever be considered, as the new site could face a penalty, for linking to a bad neighborhood. Place as much distance between the sites as possible.
To retain existing customers, let them click into the old site, but advertise a relaunch of the new site as a positive event. The visitor traffic will move to the new site if it’s worthwhile for them to do so. If the replacement site is larger and better designed, than its banned predecessor, migrating the customers and link partners shouldn’t pose too much difficulty. It will take time, however, to get everyone switched over to the new site.
A risky possibility for retaining visitor traffic is using a 301 redirect from the banned site to the replacement site. The danger of that idea is possibility that Google might penalize the redirecting site. Linking to a banned site is always frowned upon, and usually penalized in some way by Google. It is not a recommended idea. The site traffic will simply have to be rebuilt.
When a site is banned from Google for violation of the search engine’s published webmaster guidelines, the onus is on the website owner to prove why the site should be reinstated. The search engine is not required to list any site in the search results. The full responsibility is on the webmaster to be in compliance with Google’s principles. That is a fact that is important for every site owner to know and understand.
The first step toward a reconciliation with Google is to remove every element that is in violation of Google’s guidelines. There is simply no other alternative to gain reindexing into the listings. The next step is to write a letter to Google, fully explaining what was done to the site, outlining the removal of the offending elements. The letter should request a complete examination of the site, as well as reinstatement into the search listings.
No website owner should ever think that any search engine optimization company might have some sort of special influence with Google. During a banning, many unscrupulous SEOs will attempt to gain a quick buck by claiming they can get a site unblocked. No search engine optimization firm works with Google. That is a myth perpetuated by dishonest people who have no business claiming to be part of the SEO community. They simply can’t deliver on any of their promises to get a site reinstated.
The best method to getting a site back in Google’s good graces is to adhere completely to Google’s guidelines and then wait. The process will be a slow and frustrating one, so patience is strongly recommended. In the meantime, creating an alternative site as a backup plan, is a sound policy. Should Google elect to maintain the site block, a brand new site featuring brand new content and links, might be the only hope.
Being banned by Google is never a pleasant prospect for any website owner.
Any site suspected of being banned by the search engine should be carefully checked to make absolutely certain that is the case. Often, a site thought to be blocked is merely a glitch in Google’s indexing system or one of their many data centers.
Should the site prove to be banned, remove all offending materials at once. Make sure the site conforms completely to Google’s webmaster guidelines. Request reinstatement and invite a thorough examination of the site to prove there is nothing to hide.
Should the process prove too slow or costly, the best alternative might be to create an entirely new website for the online business. The time spent setting up a site might be less costly than waiting out the reinstatement process.
Under no circumstances should a website owner fall for the offer of unscrupulous SEO firms claiming any sort of special relationship with Google. No such relationships exist between any firms and Google.
Should a site become blocked from Google, it is not the end of the world.
Maintaining a cool head, correcting any website transgressions, and being patient is the best policy to take for any webmaster.