[Jillís note: I started answering this question with the usual answer, but
as I looked at the site in question, I realized there was more going on than
meets the eye. Please read through the entire question and my response to
see what I mean! - J ]
We recently released our new website in Feb. and prior to release we held
the number 1 position on Google for [our main keyword phrase] and the number
3 slot and number 2 spots for [additional keyword phrases].
Within days of our release our rankings fell through the roof as did the
number of quality Google leads that were coming through our doors. We seem
to still be holding up well on the other sites but still not like we did
before. We have an SEO firm working with us and we have been with them for 4
years. At this time I am starting to wonder why we continue to fall and what
we/they are not doing right. Is it normal to fall like this after the
launch of a new site? They told us it would be a week or 2 and now we are on
Thanks for your time.
This is common with redesigns when you switch content management systems or
otherwise change your URLs. You will often have to wait for some period for
the search engines to remove your old URLs and index the new ones. Plus,
they sometimes give less weight to new URLs that have no history (or
previous link popularity).
However, then I took a quick glance at the site and noticed some disturbing
things. I thought it would be a good idea to discuss them here so that
others could learn what *not* to do on their own sites, especially as it
seems to have had such a dramatically negative impact on the business.
The home page looked nice and professional at first glance; however, near
the bottom of the page was a scrolling window with a ton of keyword-rich
copy contained in it. Scrolling through that window revealed a ton of
keyword-rich text links. Neither of these things are necessarily search
engine spam in and of themselves, but because of the way they were
integrated into the website, they certainly set off alarm bells in my head.
Companies donít bury great marketing copy that will help sell their products
or services. They do that only when they donít understand how to write for
their users and search engines alike.
Even though this copy was technically visible (one could scroll the inner
window and read it all) the search engines may very well consider it hidden
A quick peek at some of the pages in the ďhiddenĒ links revealed more
problems for this site. The links were pointing to a slew of old-fashioned
doorway pages, the likes of which I hadnít seen since the 1990s! Sure, they
were a bit more sophisticated than the old 90s versions, as they were
integrated into the site template. They could even be mistaken for real
site pages when viewed individually; however, it was pretty much just
ďmadlib spam.Ē In other words, all 20 or so pages said the same thing, only
they switched out keyword phrases for other keyword phrases. They were
poorly written and oftentimes simply gibberish.
Itís scary to know that there are still SEO companies out there creating
this kind of junk. John declined to tell me who his SEO company is, so I
donít know if itís a well-known firm or not. I donít know what he paid for
the pleasure of spamming the search engines either, but I hope it wasnít
much. He also just told me that due to their lack of a search engine
presence in Google for the past few months, theyíve just had to lay someone
off. Now, I donít believe in relying on search engine rankings in order to
successfully run your business, but when you think of the horrible impact a
bad SEO company can have on a business, itís frightening. Iím quite sure
that one day in the not-too-distant future there will be lawsuits based on
this kind of bad SEO. That wonít be good for any of us in the SEO industry.
Johnís CEO is now aware of the problem and theyíre cleaning up the mess. I
suggested that he file a Google reinclusion request once they have removed
If anyone reading this provides this sort of SEO spam to clients, you really
should be ashamed of yourself. If you work for a company that offers this
type of shoddy work and didnít know that it was spam, you may want to voice
your concerns to the folks in charge (and/or find a new job). Being
responsible for a companyís loss of business would not be a good feeling at