Q&A: Search Engine Blacklisting

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I’ve heard that search engines sometimes penalize websites by lowering their search rankings or banning them from search results entirely. How can I find out if this has happened to my site and what can I do to prevent it?

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Search engines like Google and Bing offer ranking guidelines for websites, available in their resource centers. These guidelines are about avoiding tactics intended to manipulate search engines; break the rules, and your site could get blacklisted. 

Most site owners have nothing to worry about. However, you could unknowingly follow bad advice, copy a technique from another site, or hire a firm that engages in these practices. Techniques to avoid include buying links or participating in link exchanges to increase your site’s page rank; hiding words on the page that users can’t see or “stuffing” the page with keywords; setting up the site to show search engines a different page than what users see; and creating multiple pages that are slight variations of the same content. 

Think you’ve run astray of the guidelines? If your site’s no longer visible in search results or you’ve experienced a substantial decline in traffic, review the guidelines. If your site has violated them, fix the problem and file reconsideration requests with Google and Bing; they may lift the penalty. Access the guidelines here: Google and Bing

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