If you follow me on Twitter or read Shoemoney’s latest post, then you already know I’ve been let back into the Google search engine. This post will explain how I did it and provide some background into my battle with Google.
Despite Shoe’s attention grabbing headline, Google did not give in to me. Then again, I didn’t give in to Google either despite my headline. The three year saga ended to the benefit of all parties involved. I am back in Google and Google no longer looks bad when someone does a search for John Chow.
Background Information – Playing with Fire
Three years ago, Google decided to make an example out of me because I was violating some major rules in their Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically, I was selling paid links, writing paid review and created a huge link building scheme to rank for certain keywords. This all happened around the time when I was trying to present myself as an “evil” blogger.
When the Google slap hit, many bloggers wrote me off, saying that without the Google traffic, I would slip off into the sunset and never be heard from again. After all, who can possibly survive without the help of big daddy Google?
I had two choices. I could correct my blog to comply with Google like all the other webmasters did when they got slapped. Some were let back in, some weren’t. Instead, I chose the other route, which said, “Screw you Google! People say I can’t build my blog without you. I’m going to prove them wrong!”
You know the rest of the story. Without the help of Google traffic for the past three years, John Chow dot Com continued to grow in both traffic and income. The blog and the brand are bigger than ever. I had accomplished what many bloggers and SEO “experts” said could not be done.
Why I Decided To Get Back Into Google
The decision to try to get back into Google was made a month ago after discussions with Shoemoney and Neil Patel. Since the challenge of building a blog without Google was pretty much done and proven, the new challenge was trying to get back into Google. Would Google even talk to me after I’ve made them look bad for three years?
The other reason for trying to get back was purely financial. Three years ago, paid links were a big part of the blog’s income. However, as time passed, I moved the blog’s income stream to a backend system. As the backend income grew, paid link became a smaller and smaller percentage of the blog income. At the time I removed them, the paid links accounted for about 2.5% of blog income. I knew I had to remove the paid links and comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in order to get back in and since the links made up so little of my income, it wasn’t a big deal to dump them.
I also worked out that I would need Google to send me only 2,000 visitors per month in order to make up the income lost by the paid links. I know how much I make from every new visitor that comes to my blog (I explain how I do this in my How I Make $40,000 a Month from a Blog post). I knew that if Google were to let me back in at full strength, I would get far more than 2,000 referrals a month from them.
Testing The Google Waters
The normal way for getting a banned/slapped site back into Google is to correct whatever got you banned in the first place and then send a reconsideration request using Google Webmaster Tools. There is no assurance or guarantee that Google will reconsider you and let you back in. You just basically have to hope and pray. This was something I didn’t want to do.
To test if Google would let me back into the index, I came up with the idea of creating a duplicate blog that was Google compliant on JohnChow.ca and redirected the Googlebot to it. If Google would rank the dot ca blog correctly, I would then make the same changes to the dot com blog and redirect the bot back. However, I made a grave mistake. When you show your visitors one thing but something else to the Googlebot, that is known as cloaking and it’s against the Webmaster Rules. The end result was the dot ca blog getting slapped and the dot com blog getting a PageRank of ZERO. I was off to a really bad start.
The Dinner That Changed Everything
Neil told me the best way to get back into Google was just to talk to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. Neil told me that Matt is an extremely fair guy and would be open to the idea of letting me back in even after that stupid cloaking trick. Neil facilitated an introduction and Matt and I exchanged several emails. I got the feeling that Matt must work 24 hours a day because every time he emailed me, it was after 10PM.
Neil was correct in saying that Matt was extremely fair and after correcting one misunderstanding, Matt informed me that a member of his team had submitted a reconsideration request on my behalf. The next day, I was back in Google.
The process I went through to get back in Google is probably beyond the means of most webmasters. Because of this, my recommendation to you is just to work with Google and comply with their Webmaster Guidelines instead of going against them. Sure, it might be fun to be like John Chow and play the rebel but you have to keep in mind that I am the exception and not the rule. Most blogs can not grow to any meaningful size without Google traffic.
Thanks goes out to Shoemoney, Neil Patel and Matt Cutts for making it possible for me to get John Chow dot Com back into Google.