A Naive Mistake Cost Me My Google Rankings

Little do you know but you too could be making mistakes with your website that are costing you your search engine rankings.

Goggle and the other search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to keep pace of search engine spammers. Some novice website owners may be like me and be making big mistakes in the eyes of the search engine bots which will lower their search engine ranking or blot their website right out of existence from everyone except those people that have been given their website URL.

Let me tell you my mistakes and what I've learned from them... In 2000, I started a small research vineyard. Soon I wanted a website to tell people about it, advise others how to grow grapes, and get my research information out to the public.

I was on a shoe-string budge so I learned HTML myself. My website was quickly posted to one of those "free" website hosts. Two months later, my website was hitting the top "5" in the search engine rankings for all of my keywords. I had lots of relevant content which made this possible. I was in heaven!

I soon realized that the free web host didn't provide all that a webmaster wants (cgi-bin, commerce, etc). I found a better host provider at a reasonable price and I moved my website.

Big Mistake #1: I didn't remove the pages from the free website host. I figured with time, that host would see no activity and just drop me from their server to make more room for other websites. Little did I know how long that free website would persist on the Internet.

Big Mistake #2: This one is much like the first one, just done in a different manner. After three years, I got tired of my website's appearance. I had learned CSS and wanted to make my website more uniform and professional looking. Slowly, I began transitioning my pages to the new look. Since the search engines knew the old pages, I simply left them on the backend of my website, while naming the new pages differently and more google friendly. Little did I know at the time the search engines would spider both the new and the old pages now.

I really didn't know that I was doing anything wrong. When I checked my search engine rankings, I still ranked very high. I should have paid more attention and noticed that sometimes it was the new pages that ranked up there but often it was the old pages. They had been there all along and still commanded those high search engine rankings. Once in a while I even saw some of the old pages from the free web host days.

I guess I was only concerned about my search engine rankings, not which pages, new or old were being indexed. After all, as long as my site was getting noticed, And traffic was coming to my website so why care?

Big Mistake #3: I wanted to put up more relative content in the form of articles related to growing grapes and win on my website. I though this would help my search engine rankings for some keywords I was low in and also help my website visitors.

I purchased a program named "Article Equalizer" to make this task easier on myself. Being a new user of this program, I began to use this software with the templates that came with the program. It seemed to work well and produced the results I wanted.

Little did I know that by using the built-in templates that came with this software, a "finger print" would be placed in the resulting pages that would identify that I used this program to generate the index to the article and the article pages themselves.

Mistake #4: To aggravate the above mistake, I loaded the index page to the back end of my website. This index page was a collection of hyperlinks, no content, just links.

Goggle drastically changed its algorithm early in the year 2005. The unthinkable happened. Not only did my search engine rankings drop, they disappeared altogether. I wasn't even in Google. Google had treated me as a search engine spammer! I had lost my top rankings and now wasn't even indexed.

I had violated Googles new rules. I learn a lot from my mistakes. What rules did I violate? First, I had multiple pages of the same content all over the web and my own website. Google says, "Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content." Boy, had I done that. And without even knowing it. I had links up on the search engines that lead to multiple pages on my own site and to my old free one.

I had created pages that had multiple links that lead back to my main page through my article directory index. I know it looked like I was spamming Google but it was just a naive mistake, compounded through the software that was going to save me time.

Naive mistakes can cost you everything when you're running up against google. My laziness cost me. I didn't erase what I had created before and had used a program to save me some time.

I've remedied my mistakes but am yet to be found in Google. They are unforgiving in that respect but I believe that I will soon be back in their good graces. Learn from my mistakes and don't make them. If you have disappeared from Google, you might want to check and see if you too have made some naive mistakes like I did. Change your website to conform to Google's guidelines and then re-submit your site. If that doesn't work. You'll have to start all over with a new domain name. And that can be a painful waste of time.

Jim Bruce of Ristvin Marketing helps newbie internet marketers develop their online businesses through advice and business software. You can find out more at http://www.ristvinmarketing.com

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