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Apache Authors: Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo, Christopher Harrold, Elizabeth White, Talend Inc.

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Counterpoint: Google Does Not Forgive Fast

The Dreaded Google Slap

On January 6, 2014, our social media and content friends over at Brafton published an article titled, “Google forgives fast: Rap Genius on the path to SEO recovery.” The article touches on how, if you manage to fall into the dreaded slap of Google, by following the correct SEO practices, Google will reinclude your site quickly in SERP’s. Without coming down too harshly on this editorial, we couldn’t disagree more with this content if we tried. We are sorry Brafton, we love you but on this note, you’re wrong.

First, Admit Your Mistakes

Here is your scenario. You run a company which relies heavily on healthy SERP’s. For whatever reason, the person you have running your companies’ marketing/SEO campaign proved to have no idea what the hell he/she was doing. Instead of following the advice of Google, this person hired an outside company to spam your company links all over the Internet within websites and forums your website has no place being on. Your company now has links leading back to it from easy to spot link farms, not theme relevant websites, forums which have nothing to do with your company or products and websites which are marked as dangerous/spam.

Sure enough, you receive the dreaded Google slap (also called being deindexed). Your website plummets from the first page of SERP’s to the 7th or 8th – the wilderness of Google. Due to this, your traffic flat lines and your conversions tank. Bad SEO has screwed you.

So, how do you go about fixing your Google slap and begin the process of being reincluded (also called being reindexed) in Google’s search algorithm?

Our friends over at Brafton recommend writing a well written letter to Google to explain your mistakes, explain you understand you practiced black hat SEO and will never, under any circumstances, practice black hat SEO again.

Small side note: Black hat SEO, for those who do not know, is the practice of purposely conducting SEO tactics which goes directly against the best practices of Google. Buying links on a non-theme relevant site is an example.

You should do this. Make no mistake about it, you should send the Google Web Master Team a letter explaining yourself. The thing is, the Google Web Master Team doesn’t care. Let’s ask a question: If you repeatedly do what your boss tells you not to do and then, when you are caught, you apologize, do you think your boss is going to say, “It’s alright. No worries.” No, your boss is going to either dock or fire you. Think of the Google Web Master Team as your SERP boss. They don’t care why you broke their laws. You broke their laws and now, you are going to be punished. Welcome to the dreaded Google Slap.

Admitting your guilt doesn’t help you. Nor does asking for help.

Second, Do the SEO Work

Bad SEO

When Google slaps your SEO dreams into the wasteland of search results, they might provide you with an example of some of the unnatural links in your companies backlinking profile. Note the stress on might provide. The Google Web Master Team will only provide you with a small example of the links they view as spam and black hat. The rest is up to you. This means, if you have a backlink profile of over 500,000 links, it is up to your team to comb through that profile to weed out all of the bad links which your now, ex head of marketing, decided to spam the Internet with.

But here’s the kicker: while you can use Google Web Master tools to view your backlinking profile, don’t make the mistake of thinking Google is willingly providing you with your full backlinking profile. Yes, Google withholds information.

The reason why finding your bad backlinks isn’t simple is because Google never firmly defines what they hold to be as “bad links”. Rather, they provide you with examples. By doing this, Google leaves you to the guess work. Sure, some of your bad links and sites associated with them will be easy to spot. Others though, they are like finding a needle in a haystack. For this reason, we highly recommend using the link report Google sends you as a foundation – not the complete house. To fully see what went wrong in your backlink profile, it is best to use a 3rd party SEO provider like Moz, RavenTools or WebCEO.

Do your SEO work to get reincluded they said. It would be easy they said. Make no mistake, finding bad links is about defining a bad link. The truth: Google has a different definition of “bad link” than you do.

So, should you do your SEO work? Yes. Should you expect to be reincluded on first, second, third or fourth try? Don’t hold your breath.

Third, watch search rankings rise?

Search Engine Results Page

Being reincluded in Google after reviving a hard slap is an act of constant and mind numbing work. It means combing through your link reports. It means contacting websites with links leading back to your site to get them removed. It means waiting weeks on end to hear back from websites which don’t respond to your link removal request. It means compiling detailed reports on your backlink removal efforts so Google can see the work you have done.

Being reincluded in Google SERP means a constant and never ending fight to understand which links are holding you back from reinclusion and documenting every step of your process.

Beyond this, being reincluded in Google SERP means understanding what pages/keywords of your website were slapped the hardest. It isn’t enough to target your website as a whole. No, for reinclusion you need to understand and fix the webpages/keywords on your site which were slapped the hardest. Point in case, one keyword, “Cloud Servers” could have received a harsher hit than another keyword, “Linux Cloud Hosting”. The point here being, to fully fix your backlinking profile, you need to understand how your internal onsite SEO is impacting your overall SEO profile.

Obviously, have great content

No complaints here. It is the new rule of SEO. Content is king. While you fight to for Google reinclusion, continue to produce interesting, theme relevant and shareable content. This content will be your savior because once you bounce back from being slapped, that content, if well written, will rank well and serve as a traffic driver to your website. And please, we can’t believe we even have to say this post Hummingbird, write content for humans first, than search engines. This is to say, produce well written content which answers search queries and is actually, you know, readable. Writing for search engines first (producing spammy and keyword stuffed content hasn’t worked in a long time. Please stop it.


So, does Google forgive fast? Even if you do your work, even if you show all your work and even if you produce the best content around, you’re looking at a period of 6 months – 1 year for reinclusion. So please note: if you are a business who receives 100% of their cash flow from online sales, be a good SEO practitioner. Don’t screw with Google or they will kill your business.

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