There is no doubt that no matter how smoothly your SEO implementation goes, eventually you’ll run into problems. Most of them won’t be major. They’ll be problems like having out-of-date keywords or meta tags. But you can also have a few major problems with your SEO implementation.
You’ve been banned!
Probably the most worrisome of issues you could encounter is being banned from a search engine, Google specifically. If you depend on your search ranking to keep you in customers and sales, being banned from a search engine is a frightening prospect. Even a single day without search engine visibility can cost your company big, not only monetarily but also in terms of customer loyalty.
There’s good news. Despite the fact that you hear a lot about being banned from search engines, it’s really not all that likely to happen. You have to carry out some pretty offensive tactics (like page hijacking, keyword stuffing, or other decidedly black-hat SEO techniques). Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and even search engines have a bad day now and again.
So what do you do if you’re in a top ranking slot one day and the next your site is nowhere to be found in search rankings? Before you assume you’ve been banned from a search engine, make sure. You can search for your site on Google using the search string site:www.yoursitename.com. If your site is included in Google’s index, the pages that are included in the search rankings should appear in the search results. If they do, you haven’t been banned, but you may have been penalized for something. Try to figure out what and make it better.
If you don’t see any pages listed for your site, it’s still possible that you haven’t been banned. But the best way to find out is to e-mail the search engine. Be professional when you send the e-mail – you don’t want to make matters worse by being rude, especially if you have done something to be banned.
Another of the major problems that you might encounter in your SEO efforts is having your site content stolen. This is usually accomplished by a scraper site that uses a scraper bot to copy the content on your site. This can be an SEO problem because the scraper bot will look for an XML site map. If it finds that map, that makes it far easier for the bot to gather content.
Even without an XML site map, a bot can scrape content from your site, but it’s much harder. So if you worry that your content is in danger, one thing you can do is not use an XML site map at all. In some cases, this is a viable option. In other cases, an XML site map is essential to having some pages within your site indexed.
If not using an XML site map is out of the question, you could place an XML site map on your site, but remove it once the site has been crawled. The best way to know when your web site has been indexed by a crawler is to look at the server logs. Usually you’ll see a request for the robots.txt file in the file log. Around that request you should see the name of the crawler that requested the site map. Once the one that you want to have access to your site map has crawled it, you can delete the file. But remember, this only makes it harder for hackers to exploit your site map, not impossible.
Click fraud has been addressed a couple of times already, but it bears mentioning here briefly. Clickfraud is the most troublesome of SEO problems. And what makes it more troublesome is that it’s very hard to control. If you suspect your PPC ads are being targeted for click fraud, report it immediately to your PPC provider.
Any number of problems, not just click fraud, can arise with your SEO campaign. Everything from inadvertent SEO spam to the issues listed here can happen at any time. But even though the possibility exists, such things don’t happen all the time, in fact probably not as often as all the warnings might make you think.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from the problems that you can encounter with SEO is to follow the guidelines laid out by the search engine or directory that you’re targeting. Avoid black-hat SEO techniques, and in general be professional about how you conduct your SEO efforts.