Beating Google – How I Fought for My Websites (and Won)

Today’s post is a guest post by Bryan over at SimpleIMSolutions.com. I find Bryan’s experience with the Google reconsideration team to be quite fascinating and so I wanted to share it with you.  One of the most motivating points that I take from this story is that Google manually reviewed his Niche Sites that are monetized with Adsense (the kind of sites I talk about all the time here), and they essentially gave the sites their “blessing” if you will.  So, this is motivating in the fact that Google is fine with the kind of niche sites that we are all building as long as they are the right kind of quality.  It also makes me want to try my hand a second time with the Google reconsideration team with some of my sites that were de-indexed over a year ago.  Anyway, read Bryan’s experience below to get all the details:

As someone who has built several websites over the last couple of years, I have worked hard at refining my site design, content production and SEO skills. My only goal is to build out websites that not only enhance the user experience, but also meet and exceed all of the Google Quality Guidelines.

In other words, the websites I create are there to either answer the query of the visitor or point them in the right direction (i.e. using Adsense ads). As I started to create more and more solid websites, my income slowly started to rise. I really couldn’t believe my progress I had made in such a short time.

Then, the worst thing happened that I never saw coming in a million years – Nearly HALF of my websites were DE-INDEXED from GOOGLE!

No, these were not penalized – they were completely eliminated. It was as if the websites never existed. Google wiped them clean from their index. At that point, the game was over for me. At least it felt that way.

A Rug Pulled From Under My Feet

It all happened one morning in September (right when I was beginning to have days where I earned up to $60+ per day on Adsense alone). Half of my websites (including my biggest earners at the time) were gone. My income went down to pennies per day, all at the drop of the hat.

You can imagine the feeling. I was completely devastated. However, I believe in my websites and my process. I knew that they not only followed the guidelines set by Google, but they also topped every single top 10 listing on Google for their particular keywords. So, the next step was the most logical one – submit a reconsideration request.

Now We Play the Waiting Game

Distraught, I typed up a quick reconsideration request to Google and sent it off. Nearly 2 weeks went by with no answer or final verdict on the status of my websites that were eliminated from the search results. Frustrated, I figured I would give it one more shot to try to show Google why my sites did not deserve to be de-indexed.

I Wasn’t Going to Go Down Easy

I spent nearly an hour writing up a fully detailed report, complete with evidence that supported my claim. I even drilled down other websites and their poor quality, giving specific examples of what rules they were violating and compared my websites to those. If those poor quality websites could exist in the search results, then I wanted a clear explanation telling me why mine could not.

After triple checking my write-up, I shot it off again to Google. I didn’t stress out too much over this last one and spent most of the time re-working my current and future goals instead. I was willing to stay patient and wait things out. What else did I have to lose?

It All Changed One Morning in October

From time to time, I would check the SERPS to see if my sites would miraculously pop-up. Time and time again, they never did – until one morning in mid-October. While doing my usual check in Google, I noticed one of my websites came up with results, showing that pages were indexed. I thought I was dreaming, so I checked another – more results. I nearly fell out of my chair – ALL OF MY WEBSITES WERE BACK!

I ran over to Google Webmaster Tools to login and noticed I had a message with the subject “Manual Spam Action Revoked”. Basically, Google admitted they made a goof and after giving my websites another manual review, they deemed them as meeting their quality guidelines and would be re-indexed once again.

Finally, the month-long battle was over and I never felt any better.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fight

Before I even thought about submitting a request for reconsideration, I reached out for advice. A lot of people told me I should just forget about it all and take a loss, stating that submitting a reconsideration request would only make things worse. Anyone with that mindset is only going to set themselves up for failure.

You see, you shouldn’t have to live in fear of “the big bad G”. As long as you are providing search visitors with quality information they are looking for, you should have nothing to fear. Imagine if I would’ve sat and did nothing out of “fear” – all of that time and money would be down the drain!

Some Helpful Tips on Getting Your Site(s) Back

In the end, I still don’t know the “exact” reason as to what put Google onto my websites. Originally, I thought a competitor filed a report (which I still think could be the case). Even though I hit a stroke of bad luck, I managed to get back what was mine by standing my ground. It’s all you can do.

If you are currently facing a situation like this, here are a handful of helpful tips that may help you win over the hearts of Google:

  • Make sure that your website follows the Google Quality Guidelines. Ensure that you have a clean layout, smooth site navigation and minimal clutter. Content should be quality and relevant to what your visitors should expect to see.
  • If filing for a reconsideration request, make sure to give examples and evidence that supports your claim. This is CRUCIAL! A simple “I want my sites back” is never enough. A manual review is your chance to plead your case, so make the most of it.
  • Don’t be afraid to submit another request if you need to. I would suggest waiting a couple weeks in between requests before submitting a second one.

What Do You Think?

Hopefully this has shed some light on what you can do if your sites become de-indexed. Remember that SEO is never guaranteed and things can change quickly, so it’s always best to be on top of things. As long as you have the user experience in your mind, you shouldn’t have a problem generating income from your efforts!

About the Author

Bryan is the front-man for SimpleIMSolutions – the blog dedicated to documenting his Adsense, SEO and affiliate marketing journey. Subscribe for juicy marketing info, state of the art tips and other hot ideas to help you build your online business!


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52 Comments for this entry

  1. Amir says:

    That’s awesome. I’ve read a lot about Google being unresponsive to things like this but I’m glad it worked out for you. Also another reason why I want to make a site that isn’t purely 100% SEO traffic.

    • I definitely agree that traffic diversification is always good, but I’m addicted to the SEO part of building niche sites. Just something fun about seeing your site move up in the ranks (and the increase in earnings is always good, too).

      Either way, if you ever run into a situation like this, persistence is definitely key to getting Google’s attention.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Half of your sites de-indexed overnight?! Yea I could imagine how you felt. I’m just starting out with some sites and I’m doing my best to stay up to Google’s standards. Hopefully, I do a good job and this never happens but if it does you just showed me how to get back in. Thanks, Bryan.

  3. semir says:

    hi
    since i dont have the budget for quality content, i make the content my self. and most of the time it is like reporting and asking the visitors.! may be i will change this after i get money!
    thanks for sharing! it hurts to hear that seo is a game which can be changed overnight for micro niche sites that is very bad thing! it always scares me.

  4. Andy says:

    I was thinking about putting up some PLR blogs on some parked domains I have sitting around. After reading this I’ll reconsider. I don’t want G coming after my legit sites because of the PLR sites.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Do you have an opinion on leaving a smaller G footprint with multiple adsense accounts, not using G analytics, and mulitiple hosting accounts?

  5. MatthewN says:

    Bryan

    For me the biggest question is this : what was the difference between the sites that got de-indexed and those that didn’t?

    Presumably the Google spam team used a common thread.

    Something many people have noted, who have lost all their sites, is that there’s often something common to that batch of sites which isn’t common to another batch – such as different Analytics IDs or that all of the de-indexed group had been added to the same Webmaster Tools account.

    Do you think the same happened with you?

    • Hey Matt – interesting thing here is that there wasn’t any direct relation that I could find. Two sites out of the batch were on Webmaster tools, yet so was one that remained indexed. Some had utilized GA and some didn’t. I didn’t see anything that would directly give me a good idea on why half were de-indexed and half weren’t. Heck, one of them was an Amazon site with no Adsense and didn’t use Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics.

      In the end, I’m still unclear as to why these sites were specifically targeted, but I’m glad I fought for them and got them back.

      Bryan

      • Bob says:

        Hi Bryan

        I m sure you looked at this thing from every possible angle but Matt’s question is so important I thought I would add a list of possible commonalities on the off chance you didnt think of one. Common to the deindexed sites and not the ones that they left alone of course.

        – Company contact Info
        – Company payment info ie paypal account, check payee etc..
        use of same theme
        – Common Google accounts: Adwords, AdSense, Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Gmail, Docs
        – Email accounts
        – IP address
        – Hosting company
        – Repetive site design or common elements
        – Backlinking profile
        – Backlinking rollout schedule
        – Backlinking tools used
        – Whois info
        – Common domain registrar
        – Site internal linking structure.
        – Common Adsense ad blocks
        – Same size AdSense adblocks in same layout on page.

        As you suggested it may just be that a competitor handed them a list of sites. I sure hope they didnt take down sites randomly!

        Bob

        • Hey Bob – Thanks for putting together such an extensive list. Sadly, if any of these were reasons why this half of my sites were de-indexed, then it wouldn’t explain why half of the others remained (as I follow the same plan on all of my niche sites that I have built thus far).

          I’ll break it down quick:

          – All had privacy policy and contact info clearly stated
          – Common accounts wouldn’t have anything to do with it, or I would’ve lost everything
          – All on the same host
          – All share same whois info
          – All follow same backlink structure and plan
          – All themes are different on each site (except for a couple)
          – I buy all of my domains from the same registrar
          – Site layout is fairly consistent, save for a site or two
          – I keep internal linking structures the same as well

          I guess what I’m saying here (and it’s probably not good for those who want to find a clear, specific reason that could have triggered the manual review) is that nothing thus far explains why only half of my sites were de-indexed at the time. If anything, they should have all went.

          Either way, I’m still happy at the end of the day since I got them back. I knew what I was doing wasn’t violating anything. Google saw that and realized they made a mistake. While it sucks that some of us have to go through things like this, just know that as long as you know what you’re doing is right and you prove that any time there is adversity against you, you’ll be just fine.

          Bryan

      • steve wyman says:

        I think the team that does these type of tasks just have “rules” that are not obvious. So to reverse engineer their thinking is probably not worth the effort

        As you said just get your sites “right” and ask them to reconsider. Ive seen penalties on sites of mine lifted with out requesting reconsideration. Clear human or algo errors. self corrected

        regards

      • MatthewN says:

        Thanks Bryan. That’s very interesting even though it wasn’t what I wanted to hear :) Predictability >> all

  6. Jason says:

    Great post! This comes in handy as I had several sites de-indexed in October. Wait a minute! All kidding aside, it’s really helpful to have a first hand account of this.

  7. Matt says:

    Interesting article Bryan, were you using the same design/theme across all of your sites?

    • Matt – glad you found it interesting! I always make sure to change up my themes. I believe three sites total shared same theme with different color scheme, so themes wouldn’t have triggered a review as far as I know.

  8. Eric says:

    Hi, Matt and Bryan

    About the same theme and design, I have one question.

    We all know that many people will use free WP theme, and if one theme is really good, lots of people will download it and use it as their website’s theme.

    Let’s say 1800 users use it, so there are 1800 websites use the same theme. Is there any problem? No. Then why if I use it to my 30 niche sites and google will punish me?

    • steve wyman says:

      Hi Eric

      I agree they wont.

      The reason people vary it up is to just reduce the “connection” between sites.

      There was specualtiona while back that sites using the “100K adsense” theme were being tarded with the same brush. But thats becasue people were using the exact same pattern of links and process.

      So I see no reason for not using, say, the Gensis theme framework with just one child theme for 100’s of sites.

      However id vary up the backlinking process.

      hope that makes sense

  9. Hi Brian

    Thanks for sharing your experience it always good to read of real world experiences.

    One thing that i think can help with sites that do get de-indexed is to just carry on creating new content and link. Many times they come back anyway.

    The reconsideration that you followed was excellent. And your 100% right no point demanding. Providing proof also makes the reconsideration teams life easier and that no bad thing.

    Forming a solid argum,ent is so much better than just wailing on.

    qudos

    regards

    • You’re absolutely right Steve! You would be surprised at how many people automatically step down and let their sites go though, rather than put up the fight for something that they worked hard for.

      There was no way I was backing down, especially when I knew I didn’t break any rules and there were sites in the index that actually DID violate TOS in more ways than one.

      Bryan

  10. That really sounds like a nightmare. It’s probably one of my biggest fears.

    I’m currently using a similar theme on most of my sites, but I change the header for each one. The sites look quite different, so I don’t think it should be a problem.

    However, I have the adsense all above the fold in an aggressive position, which I do worry about sometimes.

    • Mike – as long as you are following the Adsense TOS and have a quality website with great content, you should be just fine.

      • Bryan,

        I hope so. My content addresses the keyword term with relevant content so I hope it’s ok.

        It’s good to hear that your sites came back. You must have been so relieved.

    • Eric says:

      Be careful! Your site maybe consider as MFA site and be de-indexed.

      Google will see your above fold part, and the ads area cannot surpass your real content area.

      If you have 30% of above fold part with real content, then your ad area cannot be more than 30% of the above fold part.

      If your ad area is 50% and real content is only 30% of the whole above fold part, then your site will be considered as MFA site.

  11. ryan says:

    A timely posting indeed. I read this yesterday and I was thinking about how I had recently submitted a reconsideration request. In my case it was a brand new domain name (to me at least) and I just could not figure out why it hadn’t ranked after almost 2 months.

    I did a little more checking and went back and it looked like the previous domain owner had caused the problem and had caused the domain to be delisted.

    I simply explained to google that I was a new owner and had built the website to be fully compliant with google’s policy.

    After about a week I received a message that they had processed my request but it still wasn’t showing up so I thought maybe it was lost. However, 3 days later I’m happy to report it is indexed again and I’ll be building it’s rank accordingly.

  12. Charles says:

    Good that you didn’t lose faith and fought against it to get your sites ranked again! This once happened to me years ago and back then I was completely demotivated. I wish I would have digged more into it as I didn’t find any specific problems.

  13. Tom Ewer says:

    Bryan,

    Thank you for writing such a fascinating post – you rarely hear of success on this front.

    May I ask for a brief outline of your backlinking strategy? It would be interesting to know what Google was happy with, when manually reviewed.

    Cheers,

    Tom

  14. Peter says:

    Wow, that’s awesome! Thanks for sharing that! I hope someday I can write a similar post about my current situation…

    Too bad, I am currently in a very -similar but different- bad situation myself. I hope you or somebody can help me with some advice.

    I have a number (100+) niche sites, that provided me with a nice amount of money (100$+ per day). Also, I have a company with an Adsense account. On this adsense account we had a warning a couple of months ago, since on one certain page (out of 10000 productpages), it turned out that there was a picture showing the breasts of a women, although the other 9999 products were normal decent everyday products. We decided to take Google adsense of that website completely to avoid our account being disabled. Now suddenly, last week, there was another “problem” with that account again ( I am not sure what, although I do know that I has nothing to do with illegal clicks, but the reason was to be not compliant with the TOS). Therefore, that account was disabled. However, within the next hour, my personal account that I use for all my niches was disabled too! Having a link with the other account, was reason for Google to immediately disable my great earning account too. Furthermore, I will never get the 4500$ that was still open on this account and according to their terms, I never will be able to apply for a new account again.

    At this moment, I really don’t know what to do. I have a huge amount of formerly good earning niche websites, but I don’t know how to monetize them. I applied for Chitika, Bidvertiser, Kontera, AdBrite, Infolinks and more, but I think from what I read in reviews that all this will be waste of time compared to Google Adsense. So, I do know how to create good earning niche websites, but I have no Google Account to monetize them anymore…how “ironic” is that…

    Any great advice from you, Spencer, or any of the visitors would be highly appreciated!

    Peter
    mrkptrs (a) hotmail.com

    • Dencha says:

      Hey Peter,

      I just recently heard about Media.net, it’s very similar to Adsense.

      I personally haven’t used them but their top Publishers are Yahoo! and Investopedia.

      Best of luck man!

    • Sorry to hear about your situation, Peter. Have you considered using CPA marketing? I know some people use CPA offers on their websites that used Adsense in the past and were able to make a decent amount from those alone. Depending on what niches you’re involved in, this could be very lucrative.

      Bryan

      • Peter says:

        Hi Bryan,

        Thanks, I did in the past, but left it because I did not find any good sources. I’ll reconsider it. What service would one recommend these days?

        Peter

  15. David G says:

    Thanks for this info; I am assured that Google does reconsider and correct its mistakes. I believe that they do clean up the internet of rubbish, but it does annoy me when terrible sites always rank above my niche sites.

  16. Sudarshan says:

    Hey Bryan I have been a regular reader of your blog and happy to see you guest blogging at Spencer’s blog :) You are great fighter :)

    Now I have a question directed to you and dave… Should I be worried if my adsense CTR is around 11% for a website that I own? I have been tracking the clicks and they all appear to be genuine ie traffic via google/aol/bing/yahoo… I am afraid that google might flag me… Since you guys own a lot of websites have you seen any website with high CTR ? Thanks!!

    • Good to hear from you Sudarshan! As far as high CTR, as long as you’re following the TOS and have quality traffic, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. In fact, you WANT a high CTR. And, if you are bringing quality traffic to Adwords advertisers, that’s even better.

      Overall, I have a lot of sites that get CTR as high as 20% or more, while others get around 5%. It all depends on the niche, traffic and how well the ads are targeted. The better optimized your content is, the more targeted your ads will be.

      Don’t worry about high CTR though. Google wants to see you bringing quality clicks and traffic to their advertisers, so keep up the good work man!

      Bryan

  17. Peter says:

    Hi Stevewyman,

    Thanks for your message. I have no clue at all. I think it was based on IP addresses.

    I’d like to point everything out to the adsense team, but at this point I am not even sure where to go. I sent a message to the “invalid clicks” form and got back the automated message that my account was not disabled because of bad clicks, “so they could not do anything for me”. However, they did not point me in another direction. So, the first step is even getting the right contact person / desk in order to find out what is / was wrong and how to fix it / get my other account enabled again. So annoying that there seems to be no good alternative..

    Peter

  18. Matt says:

    Hey Guys,

    I have started to follow Spencer’s model of building one page sites to test out a niche and see if I can get a site to rank and earn. If it turns out that I can rank the site, I plan on adding additional content.

    Does anyone think this approach could be flagged as not quality content?

    I outsource the content, but read it myself and make any corrections that I feel are pertinent.

  19. Matt says:

    One more thing. Build My Rank appears to be rejecting domains with only one page of content….so I’m not sure if the 1 page sites are feasible…….any thoughts?

    • Matt – if you want to use BMR for links, you will definitely need sites that have more content. They have become much more strict with sites that have thin content. Depending on your niche and your writing skills, however, it shouldn’t be much to drum up a couple quick quality articles.

      Bryan

  20. Thanks for the story. I think it is great how you continued to keep going and showed awesome persistence until all your sites came back, hopefully stronger than ever.

    Great read!

    Take care

    -Omar

  21. Jon says:

    Bryan – thanks for the good read. This had me on the edge of my chair ;) I’m very glad to hear that Google is willing to work through scenarios like this. Kudos to you on not giving up. Persistence is definitely a key in this kind of business.

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  24. adrian says:

    what happened with Bryan website? I can’t access it:)

  25. You could definitely see your enthusiasm in the article you write.
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