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
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 penal-
ized 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
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 con-
tent 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. Click
fraud 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.
SEO Beyond the Launch
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