According to Forbes.com in an article titled "Condemned To Google Hell" online diamond merchants MySoltaire.com and Skyfacet.com lost ranking and business due to violations of Google's rules of the ranking game.
Skyfacet apparently paid someone to optimize the site for $35,000 and the SEO firm foolishly duplicated content, a big no-no and Google banished Skyfacet from the front page results which is the same a shotgun blast to the stomach, you're dead.
Mysoltaire.com suffered from a different malady;
"Amit Jhalani, the site's vice president of search marketing, says he figures that cost his business $250,000 in sales, and he says he still doesn't know why the site's pages got Google's thumbs-down.
"So many of the rules are vague," Jhalani says. But he admits that he tried gray-area tactics like buying links from more established sites to juice his traffic. "For a small site like ours, you have to stay right on the edge to compete with sites with bigger budgets," he confesses.
Jhalani says he removed the links that may have offended Google, but the site remained in Google's gulag. Jhalani wrote Google asking the search engine to reappraise MySolitaire; nothing happened. Since Google ranks sites partially by the quality of sites that link to them, he painstakingly contacted every site that seemed to be of low quality and linked to MySolitaire, asking them to remove their links, sometimes even sending cease-and-desist letters. Finally the site returned to Google's main index last June, though Jhalani has no way of knowing just what finally caused Google's algorithm to forgive him."
Cease and desist from linking? Amazing. Can you potentially be sued for linking to someone? This would open a whole new can of worms that goes against the intent of the Internet I think.
I doubt Google intends or intended for it to come to this but has it?
My takeaway from the Forbes article is this.
- Follow Google Webmaster Guidelines.
- Don't buy links.
- I'm not charging enough if others are charging 35k for that kind of service.