What a Google penalty looks like

A day doesn’t go by when I’m not contacted by a real estate agent or a new blogger who wants to exchange links. I even get requests to add a link by webmasters of sites that have nothing to do with real estate. Knowing how Google views such reciprocal links, I’m tempted to remove even my blogroll. At the very least, I’ll think twice about adding anyone else.

Be careful before exchanging links with anyone, and avoid it if possible. Make your content so compelling that people link to you, and keep your outgoing links, especially on your homepage of your static site, limited.

What it Looks Like to Be Hit By Google’s Real Estate Reciprocal Link Penalty

Algorithm March

My main website is currently #1 in Google, in organic results, for the search terms “Seattle real estate for sale“, before Realtor.com, Trulia or any local real estate brokerage. It also is in the top 10 for “Seattle Homes”, “Seattle Homes for Sale” and “Seattle, Washington Real Estate”, and I try to update the site weekly. However, due to an old penalty, my site is practically non-existent in Yahoo. Though the penalty has been lifted, I’ve had a hard time getting anywhere or regaining my past placement.

Being penalized by Google for excessive and/or spammy reciprocal linking can take affect in several different ways. One of the most common ways is the -30 effect where your website is immediately dropped 30 ranking points. If you have experienced loss of rankings within Google and you have questionable spammy reciprocal links (especially Realtor to Realtor linking), you may be penalized. If you do believe you have been penalized, you will need to follow the Google reinclusion instructions after your site is cleaned up.

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(NOTE: 4/15, the site is #2 for “Seattle Real Estate for Sale”. I wonder what I did wrong today??)

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8 comments

  1. Virginia Beach Estates, Inc.

    This is very true. However, I haven’t heard to many cases where Yahoo! keeps your site excluded. Back in 2005, I was slapped with a huge Google penelty and have just recently started to recover. Without going in to all of the details, I can safely say that getting large amounts of links from sites that are directory related, blog related, spam related, etc. is simply playing a game of risk with the gbot. I have high rankings for the keywords, “Virginia Beach Real Estate” and everything similar. What kind of software or tactics did you use that got you crunched in Yahoo!?

    Vince Talerico

  2. Halfdeck

    There’s nothing wrong with adding links in your blogroll as long as the reason you’re adding links has nothing to do with increasing search engine ranking or getting paid for increasing someone else’s rank.

    That said, if your site deserves to be #1, there’s a good chance it will rank #1 sooner or later. It’s better to strive to be the best than trying to fool Google into thinking you’re best.

  3. Marlow Harris

    I unwittingly created a “link farm” by creating a page for each state of the union. I had info about the state (state bird, state wildflower, major industries, that sort of thing) and then put links on there to Realtors in each State. Of course, those same Realtors linked back to me, and since many of those used the same hosting company, it looked very suspicious. We were all banned from Google and then Yahoo banned every site hosted by the same company.

    Only by removing my “states” pages and filing a reinclusion request with an apology, have I been able to get back in to Google.

    I had mistakenly believed that only black hat SEO professionals selling viagra and ambien got blacklisted, but I learned the hard way that this is not the case.

  4. Overland Park Real Estate

    When I first started my SEO crusade I was sucked into those link exchange directories, I quickly learned that relevant links are the way to go and playing with Google fire (trying to work the system) will only burn you.

  5. Joy Canova

    My business partner and I have mostly used our website to provide content to our clients. Need to do a sex offender search? A neighborhood review? Need information on oil heat? Go to our webpage for the tools you need for research.

    Now, as we try to move our site ahead with SEO, I am happy to learn that content-rich is the way to go. I just attended a Biznik class on this very topic.

    There are a number of things I can do to help the crawlers find us and rank us higher, but I still believe the best policy is to build a site that is helpful for the consumer. If you follow a trend to outsmart the bots, they will catch up at some point and change the algorithm anyway.

    Its all about content and authenticity, and frankly, I like that.

  6. Landflip

    This was a very interesting article. There is a whole internet world out there that I think a lot of us do not understand. I learned a great deal from this article and the comments provided by readers. This has really struck me, and I am interested in reading more about this subject. Thank you for sharing this information.

  7. 101

    I have been using a linksmanager.com since about December and have been fine. My site was started in Sepetmber 2007 and I already have a pagerank of 4 (I hear pagerank 3 is usually tops for agent sites). They seem to think and say they do not violate any search engine rules.

    I have been jumping back in forth on page 1 and 2 of the “City” Real Estate search on google. The top site for that search also uses linksmanager.com