7 Lessons I Learned While Being Banned in Google for 12 hours

I am feeling it, so pardon typo's

First, we all have beliefs, but some instances test those, today I was tested. SEER Interactive not ranking for our own brand name is a farce in the industry, how would people look at us? Like people who espouse quality link building but then are dirty spammers in the back end. I have worked so hard to not take the short "cutts" (just got off the phone with a prospective client who worked with some agency who has a horrible backlink profile) and even when presented with hard work vs lazy opps, I opted to go the hard way, the right way, the way that would create long term rankings today for 12 hours I was made a fool. When I had the option to bury my head in the sand and act like it didn't happen I said F it, lets be transparent about this and learn something.

Second, social signals ain't saving you pal! Would would think that with 2700+ blog readers in feedburner (Google property) almost 200k video views in Youtube (Google Property) and being in tons of circles there would be a check that says before banning a site at least check to see if they are trying to do something valuable in the web. Lesson learned, anchor text and linking for good or bad is still the champ of rankings. PERIOD!

Third, I got some great friends. I think it was Tom Anthony who was like dude, if you register a tumblr, I'll change all my link from you old site to your new one. Like that's LOVE! Thank you for that bro. KFC for you anytime on me! Big thanks to Distlled crew, some of which were like yo, I'm in a meeting but when I get out I'll take a look, Gianluca, Rand, Tom, Ian, all ya'll and a lot more. Whoever started the #freeseer hashtag it gave me a second to laugh! With friends like that who needs to rank well on search engines, I'll get my referrals for you all! :) Make friends who have pull, if I was an upstart SEO who inherited a site with a bunch of bad links, I wouldn't have enough connections to put this on Google's radar, I feel bad for those guys. Today start helping people and making connections, it will pay off in times where you need them most.

Fourth, I learned to be a client for a day.. But it was the fear, the brow of sweat, the swear words, the helplessness, did I say the fear? It was good to learn what its like from a clients perspective when something they've worked on got zapped (whether its deserved or not), its scary and I got to feel what they feel and I think I'll be a better account advocate for our clients when something goes wrong and they get spooked. I actually learned an empathy today that I don't think I had before, so while I wish this crap never happened, it did and I learned a lesson.

Fifth, Google is far from perfect. I never thought this would happen to US, I mean we're SEER Interactive dang nabit. Seriousy, with links from GOOGLE (in a pdf but whatever), Microsoft,, Bill Clinton Foundation,, Zdnet, CNBC, Basecamp, Rackspace, and our social signals I thought we were impervious, guess what NONE of us are, and a lot of us don't have hundreds of people who will spread the word and make sure people are Google know whats up. I am not linking to the above linking source for fear of looking reciprocal, LOL! I don't rely on search engines to drive direct leads very much, its more thought leadership of SEER (protip: people typing in SEO company are at times not the best prospective clients) but for so many of you who do...DIVERSIFY your lead sources, relying on something that can be accidentally taken away so quickly is insane, thank God it came back quickly. Remember back in the day when Google only made 1 change every few months? With this many algo changes at once, expect crazy things to happen.

Sixth, SEER has a lot of baggage. We relaunched our site and spiked our 404's but since we were ranking for our brand and a lot of our blog posts, I said who cares, but as my friends dug through my site they found a LOT of architectural issues, lazy crap I never thought would impact us (and still don't) but it is sloppy. I hope Mark writes a blog about all the fixes he's gonna do to our blog, he's one of the new guys at SEER who has strong tech chops. Thanks to everyone who showed them to me, man we got work to do!

Seven, things are not what they seem. People sent me a lot of crappy recommendations on things I should fix, it was interesting to see at times how people instead of saying that's weird Google messed up, would be like "yo, you got three misspellings on your homepage." I'm like REALLY DAWG? The whole web would break if misspellings became that strong of a signal. Its like when people talked about JC Penney and why they got hit, a lot of people STILL don't know what really happened, but oh how quickly things spread right?

Oh one more...Negative SEO...this is something I think I gotta watch more closely & try to protect clients from. I mentioned this a while back, but I basically on one of these social networks, that a fragile backlink portfolio is BEGGING for a competitor to push you right over the edge. What I mean is this, if I am reverse engineering how you rank for a keyword and I see tons and tons of anchor text from low quality pages and like no trusted links or branded links, you are in essence making it MUCH easier for me to buy a bunch of links, to push you over the edge, hello fiverr! Watch your 301's guys, something is a lil wonky right now.

Then when you go to Google and say "well THESE paid links were ours, but THOSE paid links, weren't, I swear, really I swear." Guess what, Google ain't believing you homie! And we've already covered that social is not going to protect you. So the lesson, is if we can get hit, YOU can DEFINITELY get hit, so start beefing up your quality backlinks. In that way if you ever get hit, you can actually SHOW Google that you have been doing quality outreach and regular old marketing. Nothing is worse than seeing a site hit with a penalty, and once you jump on the sword and say "I got rid of all the bad links" all that is left is garbage. Meaning to get your rankings back you are starting form scratch.

Well I think I'm gonna have a beer, I deserve it! I hope this never happens to any of you.

At least I found out I was wrong about this...

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Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds
CEO & Vice President