We too have disavowed twice all of the bad links and removed as many others as possible and still no recovery.
Now on the first page of Google for all of our keywords
sits Target, Walmart, Home Depot etc.
Small businesses like mine with better selection, price, customer service etc. have been pushed back to page 2 or 3 and forced to spend more on AdWords to try to hang on. We desperately trying to stay in business now with our organic traffic down 80%.
Something needs to change and I hope soon. Great article Sugarrae I loved it!” ~ Steve January 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm in WebProNews
NOTE: This was one of 62 comments that were originally in the version of Sugar Rae’s post Google Propaganda, SEO and Why Marketers Need to Wake Up when I captured the two used in this post.
WebProNews has since DELETED those comments.
WHY? Too compelling? The public deserves to
know how small businesses are being affected.
Day after day more small businesses are laid to waste, barely hanging on, having to let their employees go or even close their doors in the path of Google’s relentless quest to favor big brands.
“The internet is fast becoming a “cesspool” where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said…Brands are the solution, not the problem,” Mr. Schmidt said. “Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.“
Aaron Wall quoted the Google CEO in that post from February 2009 and has written about it many times since that date. Those of us who see the handwriting on the wall have sounded the alarm – but many still shut their ears and their minds because they do not want to acknowledge the truth.
Pandaed and Penguined
Plumetting Traffic and Sales
Year after year, more small businesses fall victim to Google’s updates. MayDay, Farmer – later officially dubbed Panda, Penguins of various numbers – all intentionally destroy jobs and businesses by taking away their traffic and sales.
“I purchased a very old, authoritative website with over 3000 pages well written, extremely detailed content on a specific niche. It has links from Wikipedia, Time, NaturalNews, Wikihow, Mahalo, Examiner and so on. I lost 97% of Google traffic few months ago.” ~ Jakub ~
These are not churn and burn websites put up by spammers – these are real businesses – many open for 10-12 years who have employees and overhead. Or should I say – used to have employees and overhead. Those jobs are gone.
Michael Alan wrote on January 27, 2014 at 12:36 pm
“Here’s the deal, Google finally figured out what big advertisers did decades ago, THE BIG MONEY IS AT THE BIG CORPORATIONS. So going forward, any tactic that levels the field for the small guy will be eliminated so that the internet is a BIG guy platform only, just as TV commercials are.”
For 5.5 years I managed AdWords accounts for small businesses during the golden years of PPC. I was there before conversion tracking and before Google bought Urchin and started giving it away as Google Analytics.
I warned my clients Google would use these tools to know which keywords convert. That eventually they would not be able to compete in Google’s zero sum game. But that even if they didn’t share – their competitors would.
I could see where Google was going. I showed Bob Cringely at PBS what Google was doing and he wrote about Google’s bad behavior for the PBS blog.
And then I walked away from making $100/hr cash in advance to spend the last 6 years figuring out how small business can survive Google’s assaults.
“Who is Google to decide how the internet is run and how businesses operate within this space? What makes the Big G. the be-all end-all when it comes to how sites are built, optimized, marketed, and monetized? Yes, it is a huge company, and its innovations have changed the way people operate within cyberspace, but I for one don’t view it as the all-encompassing technological deity that people make it out to be.” ~ Eric Nisall in Looking At Google’s Updates And Actions From A Business Perspective
PageRank, SERPs, Traffic
Few realize that Google plays many games independently of each other. Real PR, toolbar PR, serps, personalized serps, real traffic, distribution fraud, automating the churning of who is up and who is down.
Google can take away your traffic by causing your site to stop
ranking for everything except your name and URL.
Or they can sneakily take away sales while still sending you the same or even more traffic by causing you to not rank only for the specific keyword phrases that generate sales.
They can de-index your site so no one can find it at all, but often they WILL let your site be found if someone uses your URL or name – but never otherwise.
Or they can make an example of you by taking away your publicly visible PageRank (PR).
When Google wants to destroy a business
or blog, they set their public PR to 0.
This is why they do not turn it off – because they can use it to terrify sites into submission. Here is the Matt Cutt’s video Dan refers to below:
In The Gaping Flaw in Penguin 4′s Bloody Maw, Dan from info.vilesilencer asks:
“Why don’t you turn off the PageRank Toolbar feature? It is widely used by link sellers as a grading system. Why do you continue to display PageRank publicly? It appears to have little relevance, except to spammers“
Matt’s response was that we’d be surprised how many regular people (that’s basically non-SEO types or NST’s) use the toolbar to figure out how reputable something is. So what he’s confirmed from Google’s perspective is that NST’s use the PageRank Toolbar as a trust mechanism.
This is my entire reasoning for turning it off because the NST is fooled by a manipulated PageRank number, which is more of an anti-trust — Why does it still exist?
You’re exactly right, Dan. It IS an anti-trust signal. No one knows what it really means. Or what impact it has on the sites that link to a site that gets penalized.
No one knows if one site getting penalized hurts the sites that site has recommended. Because no one knows, the common reaction is to avoid having anything to do with a site that has PR0 or PR n/a – especially when it used to be PR4 or PR5.
Brands paying for sponsored content require a minimum PageRank, so Google can seriously damage a blogger’s ability to make a living by taking away their PR. The true irony of that is that sponsored posts are nofollow – so the PR doesn’t matter anyway!
I am still receiving requests to publish guest posts. I explained the situation to one PR agency and they said they didn’t care. But in the future, this site will not be on their radar as blog outreach tools use a minimum of PR3 in their searches.
Google has officially declared war on the publishing community.
But they underestimate the importance of reaching your audience. As a blogger or a small business, you can not stop marketing. You can not stop producing compelling content. Google CAN NOT stop content marketing.
How to Avoid Being Penalized
Theoretically, if you are a good little boy or girl, Google will not penalize you. But the reality is, no matter what you do you can still be penalized.
Because of this, some bloggers no longer ever put a link to their own sites when they comment anywhere. Some will never link to a small business for any reason for fear that Google may assume that link is paid.
They might. They have no way of knowing. They just make wild assumptions. Anyone who gets annoyed at you – maybe because you deleted their profanity laced comment – can report your site to Google and get you penalized.
So if you really want to stay safe, do these things:
- Close comments on your site
- Never link out to any site
- Do not link to yourself when you comment
- Do not let anyone link to you. If they do, ask them to remove the links.
That should keep you safe, right? Sorry, no. It won’t. Anyone can still report your site and get you penalized anyway. Not that it would matter – because your site would not be found for anything, anyway.
Unnatural Outbound Links Penalty Message
Some may have noticed that this site has been penalized. There are reasons why Google might have chosen to do that:
- My support for small business
- My writing that Guest Blogging is NOT Done (this penalty came 10 days after I published that post)
- That I choose to use CommentLuv and KeywordLuv to learn more about my commenters and build community
- The links under Recommended on my home page – NONE OF WHICH I ever received one dime to mention (although if these companies were wise they should want me as their brand evangelist because I have been recommending them for free for years because they are so good. See the brands I recommend here.
What the email notice says is different than what the notice in Google Webmaster Tools says. Here is what the notice says:
I first suspected it was either because of the post about guest blogging or because I use CommentLuv and KeywordLuv. Google obviously knows I do – and I have since this blog started in August 2008. Yet they never penalized me until now.
Then I received an email from SEO Journalist Tim Resnik asking me about a recent Google ban of Guest Post Shop customers and sending me a link to a post on searchenginegeeks.wordpress.com which listed a guest post I published.
I have never heard of that company, but I did publish the guest post by Anna Roberson: Top Three Competitive Analysis Tools to Fire Up Your Online Business named on that page.
I encourage you to look at that post and decide for yourself whether it provides value to those who read it. I learned from it and I made the decision to publish it.
That is the likely reason Google penalized this entire site.
Six years of sacrifice helping bloggers and small businesses –
98% of the time at no charge – and Google sees fit
to brand my work with a big fat PR0.
GrowMap is not the only victim of this link snitch. At least some of the other sites they reported – solely because they published a guest post that included a link to a specific site – have also been penalized.
His motivation appears to be competition. He is turning in the clients of a company he considers his competitor. I wonder if he realizes his actions may cost jobs and shut down good small businesses.
Consequences of Google’s Actions
When Google penalizes any site – whether with Panda or Penguin or unnatural links, they are intentionally damaging that business. The usual consequences are:
- Small businesses lose 58, 70 or even 100% of their sales.
- Employees of those businesses lose their jobs.
- Other sites will avoid linking to you “just in case”.
- Blogs that were receiving income for sponsored posts which enable them to hire others lose their incomes.
- You are likely to stop receiving traffic from Google.
Google does not usually immediately take your PageRank or all of your traffic unless they want to make an example of you. They take some of it, and then if you don’t waste thousands of hours playing their reconsideration game they keep taking more.
I have already wasted all the productive hours I’m willing to sacrifice on Google’s disavow alter trying to help other sites and small businesses Google has destroyed.
“In this video Matt Cutts mentioned that Google takes over 400,000 manual actions each month & they get about 5,000 reconsideration request messages each week, so over 95% of the sites which receive notification never reply. Many of those who reply are wasting their time. How many confirmed Penguin 1.0 recoveries are you aware of?
Even if a recovery is deserved, it does not mean one will happen, as errors do happen. And on the off chance recovery happens, recovery does not mean a full restoration of rankings.” ~ Aaron Wall on SEOBook ~
Barry Schwartz on SEO Roundtable:
Only 15% Say The Disavow Tool Benefits Their Rankings
Every day I receive requests to allow guest posts and every day I receive requests to remove links from comments or existing content. The number of hours and amount of money wasted on Google’s nonsense is incalculable.
Unknown Consequences of Google’s Actions
What I don’t know and so far no one has been able to tell me is what the Domino Effect is on other sites. While this is an entertaining video, I add it here so you can visualize how many others are impacted when Google penalizes one site. Imagine each object falling is one real job, blog, or business:
How many will be financially and emotionally damaged by this one selfish person? What Google is doing is destroying jobs, careers, businesses and lives. It is NOT about spam.
We need to stop pretending they care about giving users the best results and realize what they are REALLY doing:
- Eliminating small businesses and jobs
- Preventing bloggers from making a living
- Ensuring getting visibility for small businesses is as difficult as possible
More and more sites worried about their traffic from Google and their PageRank will avoid linking to small businesses and blogs.
As the penalized – weary from hours of requesting link removals – get desperate they will just disavow all the sites that link to them. That will have the domino affect of getting sites that link to others penalized.
Google is killing the Internet as we know it. We can let them scare us into participating in this ridiculous nonsense – or we can do what is right and use links for their original purpose: to provide additional information for our readers.
What I Would Change if I Had It To Do Over
Nothing – and here is why. As I already said, you may get penalized for doing what is right or for playing it cautious and trying to benefit no one. No matter what you do, you may be penalized.
I am well aware that Google does not want us to use CommentLuv and KeywordLuv to build communities. There is no way I will remove them – they are what I will use to reach out to other bloggers and get even more traffic than Google ever sent me.
I tested that in 2009 in Blog Traffic Up 54.87% in the Last 30 Days: Our Proven Traffic Improvement Strategy. I will be doing it again and will publish the results.
I know that major sites refuse to link to small businesses because they’re afraid Google will wrongly assume they were paid to do so. Google’s FUD makes it even harder than it already is for small businesses to survive.
The solution I will use to recover is do
a lot of blog commenting and guest posting.
Many quality sites are artificially invisible. For years, GrayWolfSEO was PR0. I don’t know Michael Gray well enough to know if he did anything or Google finally gave him his PR back.
Google Penalties Are NOT About Spam
Google’s penalties have nothing to do with spam. They are not about “cleaning up the Internet”. They are about Google controlling what we can find online.
How many realize Google hides products in Google Product search listed by small businesses for searches on the phrases that actually convert? See screen captured proof in my post about Google’s Panda update (originally dubbed the Farmer update).
Panda was not about targeting content farms. It primarily took traffic away from sites that compete with Google: competitors to Google Shopping, Google Maps, local directories, and answers sites.
Wise people do not accept propaganda at face value. They look at the evidence to see what really happened. Even those who have been Google fanboys and girls are finally realizing the ‘spin’ is not the truth.
Glenn Alsopp is right. He wrote in No Hat SEO:
“Google’s Ideal Result is That We Censor Ourselves”
Here’s the short version (although I recommend you read the entire post):
“One of the people I’ve really respected for a long time was Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land fame…Barry was selling links far before there were ever any Google guidelines on the subject and well before link buying and selling was a hot topic for SEO blogs…
…Barry stood up to this and basically decided to stick with what he had done all along. He even stuck with it when he received a Pagerank drop from 7 to 4 and a rankings penalty which resulted in reduced search traffic…
…Three years after that original post which Barry received a lot of praise for, he updated his stance…The reason he gave in is the point I’m finally getting to: Sponsors wanted to censor themselves. They just wanted to support his website and personally asked him to no-follow the link.”
Barry did what is right and stood his ground. Others supported him. But Google terrified so many people who are not willing to pay the price for doing the right thing that his sacrifice for their benefit was in vain.
Do the Right Thing
In spite of this site being penalized, I want to encourage bloggers to do the right thing. I made myself a big target by telling the truth about “earned media” and encouraging bloggers to recommend products, services and companies they feel provide excellence.
You can choose to be pawns in the unwinnable game that Google is playing, or you can answer to a higher power and do the right thing. If you do so quietly, you are less likely to be penalized. But as you can see, this site was penalized due to a very high quality guest post that had nothing to do with money.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Google is NOT the only way to get the word out. Be prepared in case the sites you love are penalized. Eventually they are likely to disappear from the search engines. Do this:
- Save the URLs of sites you consider important. Do not bookmark them. Save them ON YOUR HARD DRIVE. I use Tomboy Notes (free and works on Linux, Mac and Windows).
- Join our Blogger Mastermind group and gain access to our Blogger Resources Trello boards
- At least save GrowMap.com because it is likely it will eventually be de-indexed because I have no intentions of wasting my precious time playing Google’s game.
Guest Blogging is STILL Not Done
Google may think they control the Internet, but they don’t. They control search traffic with an unfair monopoly created by the media and the money of their owners.
As of right now, though, they do not control the rest of the Internet. While nothing converts like search for instant sales, we can create relationships. Businesses need to focus on getting published where their potential customers hang out.
Ignore PageRank and focus on real people
who may want to buy what you offer.
I encourage businesses to contact me about brand strategy. I have created a process to identify where your buyers are and strategies to reach them.
Bloggers should continue to do the right thing. If you want something published that is controversial, consider having me publish it here so you do not make your site a target.
Agencies and small businesses doing blog outreach need to be ultra-cautious. Do not use Google Authorship. Have bloggers write in their own voice instead of publishing your guest posts.
How to Survive Google
There is no escaping the fact that nothing converts like search. People search when they are ready to buy. Google has an unfair monopoly on search. Until we promote an alternative that is just how it is. Yacy may be the solution we need.
Do not bother to try to recover from Google penalties. As mentioned above, only 15% of professional SEOs feel that is even possible. And Google’s own rep says this:
“If you got hit by a penalty for bad links you’re probably looking at 6 months to a year to recover after you clean things up.” ~ Google spokesperson John Mueller in his Closing Keynote at SMX Israel.
Take the time you would spend playing Google’s games and focus on IMPROVE instead (in priority order):
- Improve your conversion rates by improving usability and TESTING.
- Make sure you know what your potential readers / customers most want.
- Provide compelling incentives to get them on your lists.
- Relationships are what matter – learn to develop them.
- Only send what your subscribers really want to view!
- Visibility is key – get content where your buyers already are.
- Engage consistently until your relationships convert.
Stop worrying about Google and focus on what
really matters: your readers and customers.
“January 31, 2014 at 12:51 am ~ I hate to say I told ya so, so I’ll just say I TRIED to tell ya so back in 2003. If you can ever convince yourself that you don’t NEED google, you’ll find there are a LOT of places to get traffic from that google does not control. The thing is you can’t continue to take the approach it’s about beating google. you have to accept it’s about engaging people.
For almost 20 years SEO has seemed to be satisfied with a 2-4% conversion rate because we could get 10′s of thousands of “hits” by being in the top of google/alta vista/ infoseek/excite/etc.
Now we can get 1000′s of hits from sources other than google but we need to up that conversion rate to 15-25% and believe it or not, once you stop focusing on being #1 in google and stop playing by their self serving guidelines, drastically higher conversion are not only possible, but in fact are much easier to succeed with than trying to walk that thin constantly moving, line google tries to make us all believe is out only option.” ~ Bob Massa ~ [Another comment I saved from the post on WebProNews that was later deleted.]
Install a Marketing System
We need to be creating relationships with our readers. Businesses need to be doing the same with their visitors. In the past some used systems like Salesfusion, OfficeAutoPilot or Infusionsoft. Now there is a marketing lead generation system that costs under $30/mo for up to 30,000 emails that does the same thing.
I have not had time to edit the autoresponder series that comes with that marketing system. It may sound too ‘sales-y’ to be me – but I assure you it IS what we need. We just need to modify the messages going out.
Figuring out what our subscribers actually want to receive should be extremely high on all of our priority lists.
Future of the Internet
Thousands of small businesses’ stories illustrate the future of the Internet if we, the users, do not wake up. 100% of the small businesses I did AdWords management for have been injured by Google.
“My fear Google is that heading the way that that if I want to search for something, they’ll be the ones “owning” the content format I see. It will be made up of paid alongside Google Places, G+, Maps , etc. with a slot or two for wikipedia and the BBC. Any independent content will be a click away…if we are lucky.” ~ Nick Joelson comment in Sugar Rae’s post ~
But as bad as Google is, the Net Neutrality issue is worse. A recent court decision indicates that Internet providers are going to be allowed to charge sites for access. What this means is only those with the deepest pockets will be allowed to have working sites on the Internet.
I encourage bloggers to create group blogs so that you MAY be able to pay to stay online. I say may, because that is only one obstacle to overcome. I have personally seen millionaires told “they aren’t in the club” and their money turned away. So even if we can pay, we may not be allowed to stay online on this Internet.
If the Net Neutrality issue is not overturned, we will need to look at using the darknet. Or going back to bbs. Yesterday, The Washington Post reported on Why the Supreme Court probably won’t take on net neutrality.
Google continues to serve as judge, jury, and executioner. I encourage anyone with wisdom to minimize your use of Google. Here are some links you may find useful:
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