First, The Background

One of my client’s has a very robust, enterprise level site. Thousands of pages, 50k plus inbound links, lots of original content, and a damn fine technical SEO structure (if I do say so myself). However, the client’s site was not showing up for any search queries in Google and only about 150 pages were indexed. Despite months of banging our head against the wall trying to figure out what was going on, we still weren’t getting any love from Google. We didn’t think that the site was being punished, we just thought that something was blocking the site from being crawled and indexed properly. We were getting crawled/cached regularly, but not increasing the number of indexed pages or the search rankings.

We spent months trouble shooting this site, making changes, increasing site efficiency, only to see our efforts get smacked-down by Google. This site was only getting about 3-5 hits a day from Google…not what you would call a successful campaign.

We finally came to the conclusion that we had to have gotten punished or flagged somewhere along the way. We thought that maybe the person who owned the domain before our client had conducted some spammy practices and gotten the site flagged…that wasn’t it. Then we started digging into all of the backlinks on the site. When we took over the project, there were approx. 35K backlinks pointing at the site, a majority of them were from a very large affiliate who was running ads for our client. As we dug into these backlinks and ads we noticed that they were not redirected through a 3rd party like Doubleclick or any other ad tracking software. We thought that was kind of elementary and glanced over it. When we inquired about all of these links we found out that all of them were implemented on the affiliate site and pointed at our client’s site in a 1-week timespan. AH-HA!!! This is when it hit us! Our client’s site went from a hundred or so links to over 30K in just under a week…all from the same domain.

It was obvious at that point that our site had gotten flagged by Google and was being left out of the results pages.

What to do Next??

We had to convince someone at Google to re-include our site in the SERPs. So, we logged in to our webmaster account (Google Webmaster Tools) and clicked on "Request Reconsideration" in the bottom right of the dashboard screen:

I read the guidelines for submitting a reconsideration request and crafted a couple of paragraphs about the situation and why our client’s site should not have been flagged. I kept in mind that a human will read this and I tried to appeal to this person logically and from a business perspective. Here’s the exact request that I submitted:

We purchased the www.ExampleSite.com domain back in Oct 2007. Within weeks of launching this domain we 301 redirected www.PreviousDomain.com (a Page Rank 5 site at the time) to www.ExampleSite.com. Despite having a large, content rich site we have been unable to establish any PageRank or rankings in Google; we can only conclude that we are being penalized for something. Is it possible that there was a penalty levied on the www.ExampleSite.com domain by the previous owner, which has carried over to our ownership? Also, within weeks of launching the new site we struck an affiliate relationship with a site named www.AffiliateSite.com. We believe www.AffiliateSite.com, at that time, may have been using a very primitive ad serving system and listed all of our banner ads on its site, but all of those ads were not re-directed through some type of intermediary, they were all straight links to our site. Since www.AffiliateSite.com has nearly 100k pages, we instantly received tens of thousands of links pointing to our site. We realize this could have triggered the Google algorithm to penalize our site. So, we have changed tactics and are now using the proper redirects for all of our affiliate ads. www.ExampleSite.com is an ethical, legitimate business. We are running a valid business model that people find valuable; we are not using any unethical tactics. We believe that we have been penalized for actions outside of our control and are requesting an investigation into our site and it’s ability to rank well in Google. Any info you can give would be appreciated. Please feel free to contact me:My Info, email address, phone number.

The Results

After I submitted my request I received the typical confirmation statement, something like "we get a lot of inquiries and it may take us a while to get back to you and there’s no guarantee of getting re-included…..blah, blah, blah". I never received any response from Google about my request, nor did I get any follow up (it’s been over 2 months at this point). However, within about 2 weeks of submitting the request, the number of indexed pages skyrocketed. After about 1 month of the request we saw our client’s organic traffic take on an exponential curve. Here’s the analytics graph from Mar 1 through Jun 6 for our client’s Google organic traffic:

As you can see, the request appears to have worked. We’re now realizing the traffic that we should have gotten several months ago.

The Lesson

Always investigate what has been done to a site before you take on a new client. We spent months trying to figure out how to get this site ranked, when all we needed to do was look at what happened before we took on the account. – When you submit a request, make sure you write a compelling case for your site and try to leave emotion out of it. This is business and the receiving entity on the other end is a person. Appeal to their logic, make your case, and cross your fingers. Despite never receiving a formal response from Google, seeing our traffic take-off is good enough. It’s nice to know that our request for reconsideration was taken seriously and that we actually got results.

Comments

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Jonathan Elder • 9 years ago

I've also had issues with a domain we purchased not showing up in google, although nowhere near the scale of yours. I may try the request consideration button and see what happens!

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