One quick preface. Why am I referring to Google predominantly in this article? Quite simply because Google is the most popular search in the world, and because many other search engines, such as AOL, Compuserve, and even our local Cox.net look to Google for their results. Therefore, being accepted by Google offers great potential for traffic.
The year 2006 saw more than a few major upheavals on Google, some of which have spelled disaster for millions of web sites.
Google's changes were very sweeping. Several basic parameters were revised in what were named 'PageRank Updates.' During these revisions, Google changed many of the things it was looking for in a site, and implemented harsh crackdowns on sites it deemed as using more dubious methods in order to cheat the system.
Unfortunately these 'suspicious methods,' such as hidden text and pages, and misleading content are commonplace, especially in sites which were created by less experienced developers. In some cases, designers often try anything to get a site onto Google, including using any or all search engine optimization (SEO) techniques they can find.
For site owners, the best way to see if this has happened to you is to go to Google and type in site: www.yoursitename and see how many pages Google has recorded for your site.
This result should be at least equal to the number of pages on your site. If there are no results found, or only one, there is something wrong, unless you only have one page.
A second test to see if you have succumbed to Google's wrath is to go HERE and enter your site address. You will be shown how Google judges your site.
There is a 0-10 scale of ranking results, with 0 meaning blacklisted or nothing indexed, and 10 meaning 'Super efficient global site.' I don't know of any major sites, not even Microsoft, who have a 10. Most professionally developed sites average around five. If your site has less than a three it is not good, and, if you returned a zero it is most likely that your site has been blacklisted.
What can you do if you return nothing on both of the above tests? In the good old days, if you were banned from a Search Engine, you were banned forever, with no chance of reprieve. All you could do was buy a new 'clean' domain name and have a new site designed using more ethical SEO techniques.
As another option, the only way you could get traffic to a blacklisted site is to pay for it, using something like Google's AdWords program, or Yahoos Sponsored Search. Both of these can result in never ending outgoings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.
However, all is not lost. Google is softening up somewhat, and is giving a 'second chance.' If a blacklisted site is cleaned up and made more search engine friendly it can at least have a chance of being accepted back into the Google fold. We can help you acheive the search results you are looking for.
The year 2007 may be the time to start with a clean slate if your web site is not all it should be.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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