Recovering from a Google penalty
We recently had a Arkansas waterfowl hunting outfitter call us looking for a new website. He let us know that he had his website since 1996 and he had received a lot of business from his website - up until summer of 2012. After summer 2012, he said the calls just stopped coming in. Not only that, he was not even ranking in the first 500 SERP's in Google. Wow, not good, but not the first time we have seen this.
Take a look - You can see the website is ranking in Bing & Yahoo but disappears in Google. Why? Penalty! How long? Indefinite until it get's fixed.
No where to be found in Google
Fixing the Google penalty & re-branding strategy
I had a hunch that he a Google penalty and let my new client know I wanted to check in to what the issue was first. After a more extensive audit, I realized he did in fact get penalized by Google. I told the client that I can fix the issues and get him out of the penalty box. However, getting the site recognized again may take a few months to reappear in Google again.
Let's take a look at a few of the issues surrounding the website, branding and other factors hurting his rankings.
1. Duplicate Content, Website Branding, Redirection Issues - The client had 2 websites (unknown to him) and they both pointed to the same content. In addition, there were redirection issues and Google decided to rank his website named www.duck-hunting-guides.com instead of his main domain (business name) of www.flyingfeathersguideservice.com. I personally hate dashed domain names and think it's terrible branding. I took care of the issue by redirecting www.duck-hunting-guides.com to his www.flyingfeathersguideservice.com website. The other redirection issue that I found odd was that there was a result in Google for https://duck-hunting-guides.com/ and the result was pointed to a bass fishing tackle website. Odd. Notice the "https"? The "s" is the SSL version of the website, which meant the issue was at the website host or the host was configured incorrectly. That's another penalty in Google.
2. Hidden Links & Links Schemes - There were hidden links all over the website which pointed to the previous web developer's other websites. I'm not going to state why this is because I don't know, but obviously the former developer was attempting to gain for those sites and leverage off of my new clients website.
Hidden links in the code. Example: condosforrentaspencolorado.com
3. Over Optimization - The former website has the same keywords dropped in at very high ratio all over the website. "Arkansas Duck Hunting Guides" text showed up way too many times and the wording was unnatural for anyone to read.
4. Bad Design & Text hard to read - If I'm a potential client, I don't want to see a design that looks like a 3rd grader built it. On the black background, trying to read the green text was scorching my eyeballs. People judge a book by the cover, so make your cover look good!
Poor web design and hard to read text.
5. Increased competition - There were not as many websites in 1996 as there are today. Today, if you want to set your website apart from your competitors, you need to have a professionally-built website that looks good and shows up at the top of the search engines. Hiring a cheap or rookie web company will hinder your bottom line.
6. No Logo or Identity - The website had no conceivable logo. So, it was time to give him a logo that people can identify as Flying Feathers Guide Service.
Now that's a nice logo!
Story After the Google Penalty and Website Redesign
Although the website took over 2 months to show back up in Google, it went from not appearing in Google, to appearing on the first page for a variety of terms.
1st page - arkansas waterfowl hunting
1st page - arkansas waterfowl hunting guides
1st page - arkansas waterfowl hunting outfitters
1st page - arkansas waterfowl hunts
1st page - arkansas duck hunting guides
1st page - arkansas duck hunting outfitters
First page for "arkansas duck hunting guides"
New website design
It's important to have a good looking website. It can be #1 in Google, but if it looks like crap, you will lose business. Fortunately, we cleaned up our client's website and he should be looking at several years of good fortune. View the website at www.flyingfeathersguideservice.com
New website design for Flying Feathers Guide Service
I really enjoyed this project because the client was awesome to work with and trusted us. Trust is a important factor in selecting a website company.
Make sure you pick your design company wisely because by about the time Google comes out with a new algorithm update, your site may be the next one to go down, paralyzing your sales.