I am really hoping you can help me figure out what is going on with my website rank dramatically dropping in the Google SERPs, as it is greatly hurting my business that I have been running for over 16 years. I run a very popular video game site, cheatcc.com. We have been around since 1997. We normally get over 400,000 visitors a day to our site. For many years we had ranked in the first spot for most video game keywords that had “cheats”, “codes”, or “cheat codes” in them until July 1st. On that day, we began all of a sudden losing our first place rank for some popular keywords, like "GTA 4 cheats", "Fallout: New Vegas cheats", "Skyrim cheats", and more. We had held the first spot for those keywords and others for many years. However, overnight we were bumped to the second spot. This affected our traffic by around 3% to 5% over the next couple of weeks.
Nothing much else changed between July 1st and July 18th. Then, early in the morning on July 19th, we were completely delisted from Google. I had no idea what was going on, but after doing some reach, I realized it was because of an ad tag from ExitJunction.com. We had been running that tag on our site for over a year. I had no idea that we were violating Google’s guidelines because of that ad tag, but we immediately removed it from the site. We found out that was the problem by reading the "A reminder about manipulative or deceptive behavior” post at http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com.
Once we removed that tag from our site, we submitted a reconsideration request on 7/19, and were able to get relisted back on Google on 7/22. Our traffic and rank from Google pretty much returned to normal for a couple of days. However, on 7/25 we received a "Manual spam action revoked” in response to our reconsideration request, even though we had already been relisted on 7/22. We didn’t know what to think of it, but later that day we took about a 10% hit to our traffic from Google. It sure seems like receiving the "Manual spam action revoked” message and the hit to our traffic later that day is related, but I obviously don’t know for sure.
Over the past couple of weeks since we have been relisted on Google, our traffic from Google and SERPs ranking have continued to drop gradually. We also took another huge hit of 20% of our traffic from Google in the evening on 8/5. We have now lost about a total of 50% of our traffic from Google since the beginning of July, with almost all of it coming after getting delisted from Google.
We provide very high quality content and have been a very popular and authoritative game site for many years. We haven’t had any issues with losing rank in the Google SERPs until the very beginning of July. There are no messages in Webmaster Tools from Google saying there are any problems with our site. We have had our site checked out by a couple of people that know a lot about SEO, and they can’t find anything wrong with it. We haven’t made any big changes to it for quite a while. I don’t understand exactly what is going on, but I am hoping you can provide me with some suggestions and ideas of what is going on and what to do about it.
Do you think this entire problem has to do with the ExitJunction ad tag, and we began getting punished for it at the beginning of July and are still being punished for it? Do you think even though we have been relisted and got the "Manual spam action revoked” message that there is still either a manual or automatic penalty against our site? If so, do you think it will automatically fall off? If so, how long would a penalty like this take to fall off? When it does fall off, would we return to our normal rankings or not? If it is a penalty, why are we slowly falling in the SERPs instead of just immediately falling when the penalty was implemented? Do you think we can recover from this?
If you don’t think the entire problem is due the the ExitJunction ad tag/delisting. What else do you think is causing it? If you don’t know, how do you think I could find out what is causing the problem?
What do you suggest I do about this whole situation? How do you think it would be best to handle it since I have no idea exactly what is going on?
Thanks for reading this post and any help you can provide to me about what is happening and what to do about it.