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In the month of April, an SEO company, SEER Interactive, was hit with the harshest penalty Google can give; they were de-indexed! They were only de-indexed for about 12 hours, but it was enough to shake their resolve and put into question many of the things they held dear. While SEER isn’t an automotive dealer, they fell into some bad habits that some of your competitors, or even you might fall into. It’s also possible that they could have taken their clients down with them. Though they didn’t, could your SEO company get you de-indexed?
The search engines crawl websites with a program called a crawler or spider. The crawler then passes code and information back to the search engine to index. Once added to the index, the search engine can use their ranking algorithm to present that website in searches that it "feels" would be relevant. Being de-indexed does not mean crawlers can't find you, but it does mean that the ranking algorithm can't rank you. This is a harsh punishment, indeed!
SEER Interactive believes that they were the victim of Google’s recent Penguin update. This was an update that looked at links that other websites have pointing to you and the navigation of the site. So what were they guilty of?
Social media is among more than 200 signals that helps establish authority. The greater your authority, the higher your site will rank on Google. Social media marketing is rather new, but it’s also been shown to have an influence on rankings. SEER Interactive had an active and respectable social presence. They focused so much on social media, they let other parts of their site languish.
When you manage a website, you have something to say or something to show. The goal is to make sure you have all the information you have to offer posted and online. SEER Interactive certainly had a lot of content that they wanted to make available to the public, but they didn’t make it easy for Google or their customers to find.
Negative SEO works by manipulating links that point to sites. A negative SEO will reach out to webmasters that have no subject relevance to their target website (i.e. pornography, software sales, pharmaceuticals) and get them to link to a site they want to see de-indexed or at least removed from the search engine results pages that they want to compete on. This is a very shady and underhanded tactic, but it works because Google doesn't like seeing those kinds of links. Google view those as "unnatural" and sites that legitimately engage in getting links from these places are subject to penalty. Link manipulation is one of the fastest ways to get de-indexed known; that's why negative SEO is used to take down strong sites. SEER Interactive had a strong site and may have made some enemies along the way.
Do you spend more of your time on social media platforms in an effort to improve the bottom line? Are there pages on your website that are hard or impossible to get to? Could you have been a victim of Negative SEO? In my next installment, see how SEER Interactive addressed these problems and how you, too, can recover from, or hopefully prevent such a harsh penalty.
Visit Part 2 for the continuation.