Yesterday I spotted that John Chow was no longer ranking for the search term “John Chow” on Google.
I didn’t want to post about it until John had chance to comment and try to figure out what happened.
Quite a few people search for John Chow, our Adwords ad set up 24 hours ago has had about 400 impressions so far.
Now as a John Chow dot com reader I think he deserves to rank. The blog offers loads of information and Google is being a bit harsh to apply a penalty.
What I think happened
Here is an extract from Google Webmaster Guidelines:
Some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying links in order to improve a site’s ranking is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.
Matt Cutts has more on paid links but you get the general idea – Google doesn’t like people buying and selling links.
Although Google hates paid links they are still very effective and will continue to be effective as long as you follow some simple rules when you buy and sell them. This is where John Chow has gone wrong I believe.
The paid links on the right hand side are totally unrelated to his content so stand out like a sore thumb.
Buying and selling links
If you want to buy and sell links you need to make sure the links are related to your site. If you start buying links from a page that is selling links to casino and v!agra sites then you are asking for trouble. If your site is about mobile phones and you are selling links to p0rn sites then you are going to get a much harsher penalty than if you sell to other phone sites.
When you buy from a good text link broker you can choose the exact pages your link is going on and look at the other outbound links. When you sell links via a broker you can accept or reject the links as you wish. Don’t just accept all the links.
How John Chow can get his rankings back
The best way to get his ranking back is to go through the Google Webmaster Guidelines and solve any issues he can find. Once the site is clean then he needs to submit a reinclusion request in Google Webmaster Central.
Obviously nobody except Google really knows whats going on here, and they aren’t about to tell anybody. If you have a theory please let me know in the comments.