We hear various forms of this question from time to time, and it’s almost always from a business owner who used to get the lion’s share of their business through search engines, but suddenly find that search traffic has dropped off dramatically. For whatever reason, Google just doesn’t seem to appreciate them anymore, and it’s hurting the bottom line.
So why is Google punishing your website?
The short answer is that they usually aren’t. Often, the changes in search rankings are temporary, or are the results of a change to Google’s algorithm. In other words, your site isn’t being singled out, and there is a decent chance that your search rankings might be restored in the near future.
If they aren’t restored after a few days or weeks, however, there are a few things you should know:
You will likely hear directly from Google if you’ve violated their policies. If you truly are being punished, Google will almost always let you know why. Usually, that would have to do with infractions like copyright violations, or promoting products and services that are against their terms. If you haven’t gotten such a notice, and don’t have any reason to think you’ve done wrong, then you probably aren’t being punished, but suffering from a shift in Google’s formula.
Long-term SEO success takes a long-term effort. There are a number of tactics that work on the major search engines in the short term but fail over time (and even most of these are becoming less effective every day). If you’re serious about gaining and maintaining a top search position, it’s important that you have lots of high-quality links and fresh, unique content added to your site on a regular basis. These take an investment of time or money, but they are the only way to find lasting SEO success.
It’s a good idea to try other online marketing tools as well. The rule of thumb against not putting all your eggs in one basket still applies to search engine optimization. Earning a top Google ranking is fantastic, but it shouldn’t be your only source of new customers and revenue. At the very least, you want to have a backup plan to attract traffic, just in case you need to use it.
Google probably isn’t punishing you or your website for anything in particular, but that doesn’t mean you can get or hold great search ranking without trying. Keep these tips in mind, and remember that it takes a lot of work to remain in a favorable search position.