Anyone who runs a website quickly learns the power of traffic from search engines like Google. It’s free, targeted and that means it typically converts well. So we work hard to get more traffic from Google or other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, etc.
Now imagine one day you wake up and all of that traffic is just gone. Sadly that really does happen sometimes. And yes it can happen to you too.
In fact not to long ago, I had a client who lost as much as 50% of their traffic over the last year and every month it continues to drop even more. They were down over 500,000 unique visitors a day. Can you imagine loosing that much search engine traffic? There were a few different reasons that site was having problems but one in particular was that they didn’t believe the Google rules and guidelines applied to them.
Google lists off things they don’t like and no I’m not talking about SEO here. There isn’t an issue of search engine optimization. This is an issue of following the rules or “guidelines” as Google calls them.
Google says they don’t allow you to create fake doorway pages or automatic redirects. They don’t want you to have a low quality site that offers nothing unique from other sites already out there.
In other words, say you and your friend both create a website dedicated to porn star Jenna Jameson. If your site is exactly the same as the other Jenna Jameson website, what value does it add? You need to do something to make your site truly unique and different from the other. Putting up a website with 27 photos you got from an affiliate program is a violation of the Google TOS and in theory you can have your site banned from Google or de-indexed (removed from the Google search engine all together). Although a de-index isn’t officially a “ban” it does mean that all of the traffic you used to get from Google is now gone! Overnight all that traffic is gone.
Now that scenario is something you did on purpose – you knowingly created a website in that way. But did you know there are some webmasters out there who don’t even realize they are in violation?
Recently it was revealed that many website owners who used a popular traffic program got their sites removed from Google (de-indexed). Some people lost as much as 35,000 to 50,000 visitors a day – poof! All overnight and without warning. They checked out their entire site and they didn’t seem to be doing anything wrong on their own and it took a lot of work to figure out what happened.
So let me tell you the story so you can see just how easy it is to mess up without even realizing you’ve done anything wrong.
You’ve been working hard and are finally getting some traffic to your website. Great. But you aren’t really making a lot of money, at least not as much as you think you should be earning. So you hear about a traffic program that pays you for your traffic and you sign up for an account. They say they will pay you weekly. Sounds great, right? They are going to pay you to sell your clicked traffic, mobile redirects or popunders. You add the code they give you to your pages, so they can track how much traffic you send them and you actually start making some money. Sounds great so far, right?
Only without realizing it, you just violated Google’s rules. Remember Google said they don’t allow automated redirects. That falls under the quality guidelines of “Don’t deceive your users” and according to some it also violates the cloaking rule. Basically that means the search engine visits the site and gets different results than if a user visited the site. If a user visits that site on their cell phone, then the script would automatically redirect them to the advertisers website.
I’ve been hearing a lot of “But everyone is doing it so why am I getting punished?” To that I just have to say what my mother did when I was a little girl … If everyone jumped off of a bridge would you do it too? What I’m trying to say is that you need to be careful about what you do and who you do business with.
Just because 100 or even 10,000 other people are getting away with violating Google’s rules doesn’t mean that you can get away with it too. It’s not a matter of IF you will get caught, only WHEN.
So just remember that before you start doing business with another company or add your link to some website, or install some software, make sure you think about all the potential ramifications. Because it could very well cost you more than you bargained for.
Update / Clarification: Mobile redirection does not mean a website owner redirecting mobile users to a mobile version of their own site. Obviously that is a very acceptable use of automatic redirection. Google’s punishment of those using mobile redirection are those people who automatically redirect traffic to other sites / advertisers. ie: A person searches for Jenna Jameson and goes to JennaJameson.com. The website owner of JennaJameson.com then automatically redirects all traffic from Germany to GermanyPorn.com (making up these things here as an example). That is the kind of naughty redirection I am talking about. Google’s guidelines state it as “Redirecting is the act of sending a visitor to a different URL than the one they initially requested.”
So while I get that some people will pay for your foreign traffic or your mobile traffic and ask you to install a script to automatically redirect that traffic to them, it is technically a violation of Google’s rules and when you get caught it can cause your entire website to get de-indexed or even worse, banned. Do you really want to risk that?