Wednesday, October 01, 2008

SEO Lessons Learned, no pain no gain

I was thinking of the old weight lifter saying " no pain, no gain".

SEO is like that in many ways. The following is a case study of a client I have had for 6 years and his web site has achieved great results, at least up until today.

He was attacked by evil hackers and they deleted all his web pages. I found the problem by checking his rankings as I do monthly. I do not check any clients web site as this is their responsibility as I agree to with the thousands of clients we have at HTP Company.

Anyway the client's web site was down for about one week and it took a few days for the hosting company to turn the site back on.

Regarding the SEO effects:

Google took his home page completely out of the Google index. They left a few of his internal pages cached.

Google Local is a separate database from the core Google listings (index). The client's home page stayed in Google Local while it was not in the main Google index. So this was very interesting to see and learn from. His ranking dropped from A to I in Google Local and is interesting to study as for a secondary keyword phrase his Google Local listing was and has been #I. So it appears that this Google Local #A ranking was tried to his home page. It seems to me some strange things happen with Google Local and that the two different databases (indexes) of regular Google and Google Local and how they interact and interface with each other.

Now while painful we have to try to regain all that this client has lost. I wish we could just phone Google and explain the mistake and that Google will put us back where we were today.

So some of the SEO questions are:

1. Will his top rankings just come back by themselves?

2. If yes, how long will it take?

3. If no, why and what SEO lessons can we learn? e.g. why if every thing is back exactly as it was before his site was down, why did Google not rank him back at the top again.

As of today his site is back up and Google does not have his home page indexed at all. How long will it take for his home page to be indexed again? His site was PR5 and now it shows greybar.

Some factors to consider are aging of the back links and will Google consider all his high quality natural backlinks as new. Meaning does he lose the benefit of all the years of aging?

I was surprised that Google took his home page out of the Google index after one week. This used to take much longer to happen a few years ago. So this proves at least some of the changes Google has made of the last few years and slows how important it is to check that your web site is working everyday. I suggest to all our clients they assign 1-2+ staff in their company to check that their web site is up and working everyday.