Friday, August 29, 2014
Many attorneys invest thousands of dollars in search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns in an attempt to improve their ranking in the search engine results and increase their firms’ visibility on the web. On several occasions, we’ve written about black hat techniques that are often employed by SEO consultants; while these strategies may produce quick results, once they are discovered by the search engines, the consequences can be devastating to a firm’s online presence resulting in the ultimate penalty – having your website deindexed.
What does it mean to be deindexed?
Search engines maintain an index of websites that are presented to visitors, depending on the relevance of the site to the user’s search query. Should you violate any of Google’s quality guidelines (set forth for design, content and technical components), you might find that the offending page, or your entire website, is removed from the search engine’s index meaning you will not be found for any search regardless of how relevant it is (e.g. your name or when searching by your URL). When your site is deindexed, visitors will only arrive by typing the URL directly into their browsers (direct traffic) or following a link from a third-party website (referral traffic).
Why would my site be deindexed?
There are a number of reasons why your site might be deindexed. As Google continues to make algorithm updates, this list does change. Some of the top reasons a site might be deindexed are as follows:
If the server that hosts your website crashes or you allow your domain name to expire, and your site goes offline for a period of time (during which a crawling bot lands on your site), your site may be removed from the indexes.
If you have a long list of outgoing links on various pages throughout your site, and these links are no longer functional, the search engines may take it as a cue that your site has not been updated in some time and deindex your site.
It’s important that you refrain from adding hundreds of links at a time to your site. If you do, the search engines will likely suspect that you are engaging in a linking scheme and penalize your site.
Adding too many keywords (or links) and disguising them to the visitor by making the font the same color as the page itself is considered the quintessential black hat technique that is strictly prohibited. Having too many unnatural links into your site may be another reason. Other tactics such as cloaking can also land you in hot water with the search engines.
Google’s Panda update, first introduced in 2011 and since strengthened, aimed to improve the results the search engine giant delivers by cutting down on poor quality content. Excessive duplicate content, content scraping and content riddled with grammatical and spelling errors can get your site deindexed.
How would I know if my site was deindexed?
The first sign for many firms is that the daily calls and online inquiries fall off entirely. Before this occurs, however, many website owners will receive a warning through their Google Webmaster Tools.
How do I get my site reindexed, if it is penalized?
Once your site has been deindexed, it can be reindexed but getting it off of Google or Bing’s naughty list is no easy feat. You will likely need to work with an experienced marketing consultant who can help you to pinpoint the issue, correct the problem and ensure your website meets all Webmaster Guidelines going forward.
At Amicus Creative, we work closely with clients to ensure their websites meet all requirements and only employ white hat seo techniques to improve a firm’s visibility. If your practice has been penalized by the search engines, contact our experienced team for more information about getting your online marketing campaign back on track