Google Reconsideration filed - Real Estate Webmasters
Well, it was a really long weekend - anyone following the "Not ranking for Real Estate Webmasters" knows what I am talking about. For those of you that don't - It appears that Real Estate Webmasters has been assessed a Google penalty (Dropping us a couple of pages down the SERPS) after a very long investigation and audit, and speaking to several notable search engine personalities including Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz.org (Rand you are a great friend, thank you) the general concensus is that we likely got caught up in the "paid links" net due to the fact that we do in fact sell featured listings in our directory, and technically we did provide a search engine friendly link - so although it was not our intention to "sell links" (Free listings get the exact same kind of link as paid ones, featured just means you get a special spot in the top of the page) - we may in fact of tripped their filter.
So after a complete audit of the directory - going through and nofollowing any and all outbound links or buttons and making several changes to our TOS and sales pages (Removing and reference to link popularity benefits) I submitted our request for re-inclusion.
Now we wait.......
Google as I'm sure you can imagine is a very busy place, and it takes several weeks for such a re-inclusion request to be processed, I am more than confident that from the perspective of the REW domain http://www.realestatewebmasters.com this was the only thing that could have remotely been construed as a violation of Google's TOS - I have addressed the issues and cannot wait to have this penalty lifted. Thank you everyone who has supported us, and especially supported me personally - Regrettably as is sometimes the case with these kinds of situations - those who would one day like to one be our competition decided to take this opportunity to post unfounded defamatory statements aimed at REW and it's membership, in time I hope they learn that if they would like to attain the level of success and respect we have earned, they must earn it themselves through their own actions, quality of service and treatment of others (Customers and competition alike).
I am very proud of the level of restraint and professionalism members displayed when they were sent unsolicited emails or came across these posts. These people do these things to attract attention, and generate controversy by celebrating others misfortune thinking it will generate them business - I don't think they truly appreciate the only thing they accomplish in this is to damage their own reputation. If they do manage to land a client or two because of this kind of behavior - it will not be an REW member and it makes me very proud to say that. It will be the kind of person that agrees with these kinds of tactics and shares similar morals and ethics - Those clients you can have :)
Once again - thank you for your support, our Google traffic is down a bit, but our spirits most certainly are not. Overall we are still seeing great traffic from other search engines, referrals and our members are here and focusing on what is important, and that is building better websites and better relationships - The Google issue will sort itself out in short order and we look forward to having our traffic referrals to our members back up to normal levels.