It’s true YouTube and I made up! In under 24 hours of writing my blog post I was able to get my account reinstated and all flags removed off my videos! This whole experience sent me through a wide range of emotions but I am glad I went through it and came out on top! In today’s post I am I will cover everything from why my account REALLY got flagged and suspended, how I got it back to normal, my thoughts about YouTube and their policies, and what to do if this happens to you. So let’s jump into it!
First of all, I have to really thank all of you for the awesome, uplifting comments you left me! It honestly surprised me how many people actually cared about me and my YouTube channel. Thank you all! PS – There may be typos in this post. I hardly slept last night and it’s 1:30 am right now…it’s time for bed! I’ll proof read again in the morning.
Why My Account Really Got Suspended
It turns out my theory and explanation in yesterday post was pretty darn accurate. I was able to talk to 3 different Google employees and was able to get a very good grasp on what actually happens. Google has systems and algorithms in place to detect spam on their site and part of those algorithms or systems use the keywords in video titles to detect spam. Although, I don’t really know what the trigger words are or why some videos with the triggers words in the title get set off and others don’t; I do know if you fall into that detection you get flagged. Just to be fair/honest/transparent, I didn’t get a direct quote of them saying that, but from picking up the pieces from the employees I am 99% confident, that is what happens. By doing some research I found the most common ones are titles containing YouTube Views and Make Money Online. (If you are thinking about doing videos on those topics, I would recommend saving yourself the trouble and just skipping it.)
But it makes sense, for every 1 legit video on those topics there could be at least 100 spammy videos because of nature of those keywords. YouTube’s end goal is to create a good user experience and if 1 legit video gets flagged with 100 spammy videos the end result ultimately creates a better experience for the end user. I get it. I agree with it. And have no complaints about it because they allow you to appeal it and they manually review the appeals 7 days a week 24 hours a day. If your video is legit it should come back, it’s just a matter of how fast they can review it. What isn’t clear is what their entire definition of spam actually is, but I do know videos with deceptive titles and thumbnails are considered spam.
My first video got flagged because it was about getting more YouTube views and fit the requirement for their spam alert. It got flagged and I appealed it. But, they didn’t review it in time because I actually got a REAL flag ( I mean real as in a real person flagged it. It was not actually a spammy video) on one of my videos. The flag was marking my video as spam and that sent my account into suspension. It was completely random and bad timing that it all happened within 72 hours.
Normally, one spam flag on one video will not send your account into suspension. But, the fact that I already had a flag (which was set off by YouTube’s system) cause the second flag to push me over the top and sent my channel into a 2 week suspension. It was wrongfully flagged of course, but everything just happen to line up to trigger the suspension.
Let Me Address A Few Issues
I did receive a few emails from people asking if they thought YouTube was targeting me because I teach people how to rank videos and it was a valid concern. But, after talking to the employees I can honestly say that was not the case. Plus, I always teach people to rank videos as natural as possible. I encourage you to not buy views, not buy subscribers, not to keyword stuff, and to only put out quality content. The main thing that YouTube is trying to avoid is people buying views, buying subscribers, and keyword stuffing and they even list that in their terms of service.
When it comes to backlinking some people have different views than me, while some agree. I am going to put bluntly address this and be done with it (whether you agree or not I don’t care. You are all adults and can make up your own decisions on what you want to do)… when you link to you video from your own blog post you are backlinking. I don’t care who you are…if you post a link on your own website/blog to your YouTube video you are creating a manufactured link. Is that wrong? I don’t think it is, so what’s the problem with creating some other blogs with good content and linking those to your video? It’s the same thing. I wouldn’t go over board and start pumping hundreds of thousand of links to your video. I also STRONGLY believe you need to have quality content and should not depend on 100% backlinks to rank videos. If you create good videos, with high audience retention rates, on a channel with authority, that gets real comments, real shares, real views with some backlinks you will always out rank anyone who tries to rank a crappy video with 100,000 backlinks. EITHER way, backlinking is not listed in the community guidelines or terms of service anywhere. The issue with backlinking is this…it will work with the current algorithm…but the current algorithm is always changing to favor quality content, so that should always be your main focus. Whether you use backlinking or not I don’t care, the main thing to take away is quality and adding value should always be your #1 goal. I can also tell you backlinking did not play a role with my account being flagged.
What I Did To Get My Account Back
I went through the appeal process. I followed the info here to appeal my first video being flagged. I waited for about 72 hours and nothing had happened, but that didn’t surprise me because I am sure they get thousands of daily appeals to go through. Then my second flag came in and my account was suspended. At this point, I went to this form and appealed the suspension.
Now it was just a waiting game and I was still completely unsure of why I was flagged. Even though I felt confident everything would be ok there was still that thought in my head of “what if it isn’t ok?” “What if the person reviewing my video accidentally thinks it’s spam?” It was scary, gut wrenching, stressful and I couldn’t even sleep!
I had two friends, who are awesome YouTubers, send me some info about other people who went through similar situations. The first was Gideon Shalwick, who sent me one of the best blog posts on the topic I have read/listened to so far. It explained everything better than I could have and gave some solid advice on how to get your account reinstated, check it out. The second was James Wedmore, who had a student go through the same thing I did. In fact, James’s student modeled what he did based on Gideon’s podcast. You can see that interview with James and his student here. Gideon, if you are reading this thank you so much!
Putting It Into Action
I decided to write a blog post explaining what happened and why I thought I was wrongly suspended. I did not badmouth YouTube, I did not throw a temper tantrum, I tried to act composed and mature. And I think that played a big role in getting my account reinstated so quickly. Why would YouTube go out of their way if I just bad mouthed them in a blog post? Plus, if you think about it…they don’t have an easy job. Dealing with appeals, figuring out what is spam, determining if something was flagged correctly, and dealing with pissed users is not fun nor easy. It’s better to be civil and show respect if you want respect.
My goal was to write the blog post, send it to my email list and social media accounts and try to get as many positive comments as I could. I wanted to have an article that I could show YouTube that proved I put up good content and I have the testimonials to prove it. The goal was to get YouTube’s attention and create a little ruffle to do so. I wrote it, sent it to all my friends/email list and went to bed. I woke up in the morning with a ton of positive comments from all of you! It was amazing and made me feel so much better!
I now had blog post with some great comments (which came in all day long) and was ready to get it in front of Google and YouTube. I put it on my business Facebook and Twitter accounts and my personal Facebook account. I briefly explained the situation and simply asked people to give it a read, leave a comment and if they knew anyone who worked at Google or YouTube to forward them the post. Turns out I have several friends who know people who work at Google.
I ended up talking to 3 separate Google employees, one of which was going to see if they could get a connection at YouTube to check it out. I had another friend who had a friend that worked at Google and he tagged him in the post to see if he could help, but I didn’t hear back from him for a while. Around 5pm I get an email from Google with the subject “YouTube Account Notification” and I was too nervous to open it. I just sat there staring at it for a few seconds and I decided not to open it. Instead I went to YouTube, typed in my channel name and hit enter…and BOOM there it was! About 2 minutes later the Google employee that my friend tagged in the Facebook post left me this comment:
“A happy ending 🙂
Official explanation of what happened:
With 100 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we count on our community members to know our Community Guidelines and to flag content they believe violates them. We review all flagged content quickly, and if we find that a video does violate the guidelines, we remove it. We also have a team that is dedicated to identifying and removing spam from YouTube. Occasionally, a video flagged by users or identified by our spam team is mistakenly taken down. When this is brought to our attention, we review the content and take appropriate action, including restoring videos or channels that had been removed.
Basically, the account was mistakenly removed for spam. That’s all I know about it so I don’t think I can answer any other clarifying questions.
Good luck with your business!”
I had my account back! But, there was still one problem. The very first video that got flagged was still flagged and my account was in bad standing! So I told him thank you and mentioned the other video was still flagged, but made sure he knew how appreciative I was. He asked for the YouTube URL of the flagged video and in 5 minutes I got another email with the subject line: “Decision On Your Video Appeal” and the flag had been removed! I told him thank you over and over and he told me (we deleted the convo so this may not be exact but it along these lines) “Thank you trying to create ethical content on YouTube :)”
He actually took the time to read my post, he understood the situation, knew I felt I was in the victim role, and appreciated I took the time to put out quality content that followed their community guidelines. It just goes to prove they really care about quality first and want what’s best for the end user.
This is very important!!! He also told me my account would have been reviewed and it would have been reinstated either way, he just helped speed up the process. So if you are in this situation, it looks like they will review your account and if you are within the community guidelines you will get your account back. How they determine whether you stayed within the guidelines…I don’t know. But, I do know mine was clearly within the guidelines and if you’re in this situation your account will be manually reviewed. I was told by all 3 Google employees that they manually review all the appeals, it’s just a matter of time.
What I Would Have Done
If I was not able to get my blog in front of any Google employees I would have put out a press release just like James and Gideon mentioned. I would have titled it something along the lines of “YouTube Bans Video Marketer” and put a link to my blog post in the press release. Luckily I didn’t have to, but you could if you want to try and get faster results.
My Thoughts On YouTube and The Experience
I love YouTube…a lot. It’s my favorite site in the world and I completely understand why their system is the way it is. Yea it sucks when it happens to legit people but if you are truly legit you should get everything reinstated. YouTube gets mind boggling amount of video content uploaded every single day. It seems like the only way to REALLY monitor the content is to allow the community to make the call and then manually review the appeals. Looking back at it now it totally makes sense and seems like the most efficient way to do it. Yes, every once in a while a good YouTube channel will fall into the system.And Yes, it will suck for a few days or a week, but it sounds like it will eventually come back.
The one thing we need to keep in mind is that YouTube is free, they make the rules and we have to follow them. If they delete our free account, that is their prerogative. But that is a little scary if you think about it and it definitely opened up my eyes to how vulnerable my business is currently. The thought of losing my YouTube account had never crossed my mind and when I did lose it for a day I realized a lot of my business, leads, sales, traffic etc relied on that account. I even used my channel as a lot of examples in my marketing material and without it the marketing material is pointless.
Moving forward I am starting to create several streams of leads and sales other than YouTube. Things like paid advertising, joint ventures, creating other training products, offline marketing etc are all in my future and a bright future it is going to be!
I hope this post helps you if you find yourself in this situation and again I appreciate all of you so much!