“I’ll be back.” The SEO Nightmare That Won’t End

Google penalty - SEO algorithm

Imagine this:

You spend a lot of money on professional SEO services and nothing else because you decide organic performance is most important to your business. After months or even years, your site is finally ranking on the first page of Google for relevant search terms. You’re elated, you’ve made it to the top, and are getting plenty of traffic now. Your competitors won’t know what hit them.

Then one day, your site vanishes from Google entirely. Your traffic, which was nearly solely generated by your search engine position, has dropped to nothing and your site becomes a ghost town.

You breathe a sigh of relief when you see there is an appeal process and send in your application. Only, you realise after months of waiting, rejections and reapplications; you’re entirely at the mercy of whichever Google employee was randomly selected to review your case. You’re stuck without your primary traffic producer until you’re lucky enough to get someone in a good mood who decides to put you out of your misery. Even then, you might not necessarily make it back to your top tier position straight away.

Think we are being dramatic? Well,  unfortunately, this is the reality of SEO. Anyone can get banned from Google at any time with no real prompt or reason. We know this because we have lived through it. The good news is if you take the right steps it doesn’t have to play out the way we have described above. While we can’t guarantee you will never get banned, we can help minimise the damage if it ever does happen.

Even SEO Shark was hit by a manual review and removed from Google a few months ago.
“I’ll be back” we swore to our Google overlords as we started our tedious journey through the appeal department.

The secret to our survival, and what we recommend you do is to ensure your business isn’t heavily reliant on SEO alone. If 80% or more of your traffic is driven by organic search results, you’re in danger. On the other hand, if your business adopts a diversified digital marketing strategy, it might still hurt but we know you will recover.

Thankfully for us, SEO wasn’t our only avenue for traffic; we had PPC, social media and good old-fashioned word of mouth to carry us through our dark days. Now, we aren’t going to pretend we didn’t notice any kind of drop off during this period. The difference was, we were able to sustain a healthy level of traffic and leads despite temporarily losing a core channel of exposure. We came out the other side having strengthened our other resources with a newfound appreciation for diversified approaches to digital marketing.

Having lived to tell the tale, we want to ensure you have everything at your disposal to do the same should the situation arise. So, take a moment to check out your site analytics and see for yourself how much of your traffic is coming from organic search. If its more than 80%, it’s probably time to start thinking about spicing up your online activity. What’s critical here is that we aren’t necessarily saying SEO shouldn’t be generating a high proportion of your traffic, after all, it is one of the most effective long-term and cost-effective techniques to employ. What we are saying is that you need to exercise caution and not rely on a single source to get you customers – essentially, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

While the risk might not be imminent, there is no way to ensure you’re entirely safe at any point in time. Especially given these situations can drag on for extended periods of time and severely impede on financial performance, consider this as a safeguard against potential business failure. After all, there is just no way to know how long it will take to review and approve your site, so unless you’re wiling to put your entire business on the line – we heavily suggest incorporating some non-SEO activities into your digital marketing plan.

Obviously, if you have the funds and it makes financial sense to regain the same level of traffic through a PPC campaign, go for it. However, we know not every business can afford to go down this route and that it can become expensive very quickly, so instead of focusing all efforts in this area, we recommend using all appropriate online platforms at your disposal. For example, say you’re B2B company – perhaps it’s time to strengthen that neglected LinkedIn account.

Don’t worry if you’re feeling a little stumped right now, our free digital marketing guide should lead you in the right direction.