These days link penalties are incredibly common. In it’s race to offer a clean and fair ranking system, Google is becoming quicker than ever to penalize major sites for apparent transgressions. Here at Barefoot, the number of enquiries beginning with ‘I’ve been Penguined, can you help?’ has gone through the roof. All of which is problematic for anyone working on the web. Because if you’re hit, your chances of recovering your traffic and business are far from good. If you’re a big fish like Interflora for example, it can happen within a matter of days. Having been caught in some truly extreme cases of link manipulation, a company like that can carry on as before with scarcely a hiccup in their revenue stream. But for most people, the flatlined traffic graph does not make a sudden miraculous return to life. It stays flat.
Negative SEO works
The biggest problem, as far as we can see, with Google’s system is that it makes it incredibly easy to spam someone elses site, tank their rankings, possibly bankrupt the business, and there’s next to nothing they can do about it. Has one of your competitors pissed you off? Look no further than this Fiverr Negative SEO gig. For a mere $5 you can send enough canned spam to their site that they will surely be penalised within a matter of days. And should Google not notice, you can simply alert Google about the spam directly right here. If you are unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of that kind of behaviour, you are – to use plain English – completely screwed. Google are not open to listening to your appeals. Quite simply, your only recourse is to pay an SEO company to mount a link removal campaign, clean up your site and create a lot of good content, then start from scratch. We do this a lot for people so we know two things about this process: (a) it’s expensive. Contacting several thousand webmasters takes a lot of time and, even when submitting the most scrupulously prepared document to Google, along with your disavow file, it often gets knocked back. (b) Even when it does get accepted (we have a very high success rate with this work): you may not get your traffic back.
Ok enough negativity, how can we protect ourselves from the volatility of Google?
- The best solution is simply not to put all your eggs in one basket. That means if you’re running a successful site and have some spare capital start another one. Investing in a completely separate income stream is a very savvy solution in an uncertain market like this. Build a new site, new content, new links and consider it a pragmatic investment. Once this works, build a third site, and a fourth.
- If you’re traffic’s coming predominantly from Google, focus on social media and other sources. The less you’re dependent on Google, the better you can sleep at night.
- Conduct regular link audits to ensure there are no potential problems with your linking profile.
- If you’re not creating truly brilliant content, you need to be. Creating the best link bait you can is going to get you the only kind of safe, truly white hat link profile there is. And when you’re mentioned on a number of well known, highly respected authority sites, you start to become one yourself.
- Use press releases and co citations to make your web profile as impressive as possible: one thing we do know is that bigger companies recover faster. Google can simply not offer a good service and not have Interflora in their index, for example.