Don't let your website end up in Google Jail, blacklisted from search results


Blacklisted!  The word strikes fear in to businesses and web professionals.  The last thing that a website or business that is dependent upon the internet wants to do is find themselves in “Google Jail”.  Sometimes businesses or their marketing agents hope Google “Won’t notice” what they are up to with some of the tricks that they play to game the SEO algorithms.  But sites can end up being blacklisted as the unintended consequences of totally innocent actions or actions outside of the control of the business.  What do you do if this happens to your business?

Find Out Why Your Site is Blacklisted

google search consoleIf this happens to your site, and you have registered in Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) then you should receive an email announcing the action.  You can check in the Search Console under “Manual Actions” to see why your site has been blacklisted.

There are a variety of reasons a site may end up on Google’s bad side.  These include:

  • Hacked Site
  • User Generated Spam
  • Spammy Freehosts
  • Unnatural Links to your site
  • Thin Content
  • Sneaky Redirects
  • Pure Spam
  • Cloaked Images
  • Keyword Stuffing

For more details on each of these, check out the Manual Actions page on Google’s support site.

Recovering From Being Blacklisted

Getting back in Google’s good graces and off of their blacklist will usually require undoing the offending actions on your site or removing offending links from 3rd party sites. Issues such as keyword stuffing and thin content can be resolved by rebuilding your site content to better comply with best practices for SEO.

But fixing the issues doesn’t always result in your site being immediately released from jail.  You can disavow links, but you need to work on getting them removed.  You can create better content, but until Google reviews the site (not just with an automated bot, but probably with a real live person) the site probably won’t be released, assuming everything is cleaned up.

Repeat offenders and very egregious offenders may require some additional steps to ensure that you don’t intend to revert to old practices.  Additionally sites that were hacked or had some sort of virus on them may need to prove that actions have been taken to prevent future problems

Don’t let your business fall in to Google Jail.  Follow best practices for SEO.  If you don’t know what these are, Google lays out a pretty clean support site in the search console that explains many of the basics. They also have a PDF guide for Search Engine Optimization.