UPDATE – I got my account back, here’s the update!
It’s a gut wrenching feeling when you see a years worth of hard work thrown right out the window and what makes it worse is that is was done by your best friend. Yes, YouTube is my businesses best friend and we were getting along great! Together we had gained over 4,000 awesome subscribers, just about 300,000 views and we were proud to be teaching others how to grow their business using YouTube ethically. I emphasis ethically because there are a lot of people looking to make a quick buck and trick others into scams, buying thousand of fake views, filling YouTube with spam and harassing others. Not only was I against all that, but I strongly encouraged others to use YouTube ethically and stay within their guidelines and rules. In fact, in one of my last videos titled “How To Get More Views On YouTube – Top 9 Techniques”, I gave 9 ethical ways to get more views and directly told people not to buy views. As you can see, YouTube and I got along great, we had a great respect for one another, and quite frankly…we loved each other (don’t tell my wife). In today’s post I am going to tell you the story of how it all fell apart in 72 hours.
It All Began With Strike One
It all started when I woke up Friday morning (1/31/14) to an email saying my video titled “How To Get More Views On YouTube – Top 9 Techniques” was flagged as inappropriate, violated the community rules and has been removed. My first thought was, “this is a joke because YouTube and I are best friends. I always follow their rules” and I halfway expected the from field of the email to say The Price Of Nigeria (you know…the guy who has 50 million dollars he needs to transfer to the US and wants to put it in your account). But, unfortunately it was wasn’t from the Prince, it was from YouTube.
It’s hard to describe my first thought when I realized this was actually real, but, confused, shocked, and stunned pretty much sum it up. I quickly jumped out of bed, went to the computer, logged into my account and the video was flagged in red. Being that I am VERY careful to follow my pal, YouTube’s, rules I began thinking maybe I misread the guidelines (yes I have read them, their playbooks and read through their creators info on producing good content). After reading their community guidelines, what felt like 20 times, I was still in a great state of confusion. Nothing I did in that video violated their terms.
At this point, I began to think why someone would flag the video and every scenario ran through my head. Was it a competitor? Was is some kid who was in a bad mood because I didn’t sub4sub them (subscribe back to their channel because they subscribed to mine)? I had no idea what it was, but the thing that got me worried was this line of their email:
“Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content in violation of these guidelines, and have been disabled: ”
That worried me because my pal YouTube was saying someone flagged the video, which at that point they reviewed it themselves and agreed it violated the terms. Shoot! What heck did I do wrong?
What Did I Do Wrong?
After doing some research, on YouTube of course because I still love them, I realized there were certain types of videos and certain keywords in the title of videos that will automatically get flagged without warning. This means that if a video title contains any keywords YouTube has on the naughty list that video gets flagged without anyone actually flagging it. I believe this is their way of having those videos go through the appeal process so they can manually review them to be sure they are quality videos and not spam. This of course is all theory, no one has hard actual proof of this. But, it seemed to be a very common occurrence among videos that contained keywords like “youtube views” “get more youtube views”, etc in the title.
Alright! If this was true, it was starting to make sense. People buying YouTube views is a very big problem within YouTube and there are a lot of people who promote their YouTube view buying service by creating videos titled “How to get more YouTube views” to get people to click on it and then that video says “Use our service to get cheap, fast and easy views”. It now made sense why my video got flagged. They just want to make sure it was legit.
At this point, I started to feel a lot better because I can totally understand why it got flagged. YouTube did still love me, it was just a process they use to keep the good quality videos up and the bad ones out. I am on board with that, if I have to have my video down for a few days just to help them fight off the Spammers…I am ALL FOR IT! From the research I found, all I had to do was appeal the flag and they would manually review it (which they probably didn’t do earlier even though the email said they did) and the video would be back in a few days. Sweet! Appeal sent, time to wait!
Now I am feeling really good. YouTube is still my bff, I didn’t actually violate the guidelines and everything will be fine in a few days. Even though things were looking up, my YouTube account still had a strike on it since my video was flagged. That is just how the system works, it’s programmed like that, even if a keyword triggered my video to get flagged instead of an actual person. The problem is that strike lasts for 6 months and if any other of my videos get flagged within those 6 months my account can be suspended or terminated. The good thing is that that was the first flag I had ever gotten and I have been on YouTube for over a year; so I should be fine over the next few days. Once my appeal goes through, the strike and flag will get removed and my account will be in good standing. And this is when YouTube and I started to have relationship problems.
Strike 2 You’re OUT
It is now Sunday, (2/2/14) and I get a comment on one of my videos: “you damn spammer”. This confuses me beyond belief because I freakin’ hate spam/spammers and am the EXACT opposite of that. So, I look up the video and realized it is actually an unlisted video, which means this video shouldn’t even be coming up in the search results. The only way you can see this video is if I send you the link directly or you go to a page I set up with this video on it. Either way, you can not access this video unless I actually send you to it.
Turns out this video was actually on a thank you page I have set up once someone opts into my email list/newsletter. For those of you who are not familiar with internet marketing, when someone signs up to your email list they have to enter in their name and/or email address and they are sent an email to confirm that subscription. You are suppose to send them this confirmation email to ensure they actually signed up, this process helps fight unwanted emails! It is common procedure when someone hits enter to submit their email and/or name to bring them to a thank you page that says something along the lines of “Thank you for joining our newsletter. You are almost signed up. We just need you to check your email because we sent you a confirmation email to make sure you were the one who actually signed up. Open that email and click the link and that’s it”. Most people will put up a video on the thank you page saying exactly that.
You probably guessed it, but, the video that got the comment “you damn spammer” was a video I created telling them to check their email and hit the confirmation email. It was a video designed to make sure they would get my emails only if they really wanted them. The irony in the whole thing is that they actually had to sign up for my newsletter to see that video. This means opt’ed in to get my emails, which is the EXACT opposite of spam. AND, they didn’t have to hit the confirmation link in the email if they didn’t want my emails, and every single one of my emails has an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Why they are calling me a spammer is beyond me.
Minutes after receiving the comment “you damn spammer” I get another notice from YouTube that the exact same video with the comment “you damn spammer” has been flagged as spam. WTF! How is that video spam? It is purposely hidden from the public! The only people I want seeing that video are the one who are opting into my email list and it was designed to make sure they actually wanted my emails! Well, I am a smart cookie and I can put two and two together. This person opt’ed into my list, left me a comment and flagged my video as spam to YouTube. Uh oh, that is a second flag!
Side note- The funny thing is the person actually read my first email and is still on my list. Not sure why they are on a “spammers” email list still when they can easily not confirm the link or unsubscribe any time. And the person’s YouTube name is actually the same name they used in their email address, which means I have their contact info now. Although I am tempted to get some kind of revenge on them or even display their info in this post I am not going to because I am an honest, ethical, good hearted person who believes in Karma. Alright…back to the story…
Ah Man, Strike Two
Even though (I believe) the first flag was a default flag and no one actually flagged it, YouTube’s system sees my account with two flagged videos within 6 months and my account is suspended. Just like that, one person sends my entire account into suspension. One. Single. Person. Came in between two BFF’s and tore them apart.
I was actually looking at two of favorite videos before all this happened and between those two videos I have over 1,200 social shares, meaning over 1,200 people went out of their way to share those videos on their social media accounts. They also had over 500 comments, most of which were thanking me for making those videos. This alone should be proof enough I only deliver solid content, make great videos, try to be a positive influence in and on YouTube and am the opposite of spam. I am hoping my late BFF, YouTube realizes this as I begin the appeal process. More on that in a minute.
The thing that that bothers me the most isn’t that my account is suspended. It’s that I strive to bring good quality content that helps people. I put hours and hours into one single video designed to help business owners market their business. Then one person’s ignorance can take it all down in a matter of seconds. Plus, that person is still on my email list receiving all the free marketing content/tips I give out to my email subscribers! Don’t mark my video as spam if you are going to stay on my email list receiving and reading my emails. But, I always tend to find the humor in everything and the funny thing here is that they signed up for my Free Local Video Marketing course which is made up of unlisted YouTube videos…that are now gone…because of them. I guess they aren’t getting the course now haha oh well.
Update – I did a search of my name Sold With Video on YouTube after my account got suspended and the results displayed 4+pages of playlists people created using my YouTube videos. People only put good videos into playlist, never spammy videos. I was actually surprised by how many playlist came up, how cool!
What To Do Now?
The best thing about this happening to me is that I now know how to help others go through this exact process. I am extremely grateful for the experience of this because it allows me to take my stress, fear, and pain and turn it into something that will ease others stress, fear and pain if they have to go through this themselves. So here are the steps I took thus far and where I am at as of now.
Step 1 – First Flagged Video
You will get an email from YouTube explaining your video was flagged. This email will have a link to this page: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/185111?hl=en which will allow you to appeal the flag. I have heard it takes a few days but it’s been 72 hours for me and I have not heard anything yet on my first flag.
I have heard of a lot of people getting their videos unflagged after manual review. But, I am pretty sure you will know whether or not you were misusing the guidelines before you even send in the appeal.
Step 2 – Second Flag and Account was Suspended for Two Weeks
As soon as the second flag came in I was unable to access my YouTube account, all my videos were gone from the search results. This hurts and it hurts big time, most of my traffic, leads and biz gen came from my YouTube videos. I do YouTube marketing for a living and not having a YouTube account makes it pretty difficult to show I know what I am talking about to clients. But, I just have to fight on and that is what I did.
I went to this page: https://support.google.com/accounts/contact/suspended?p=youtube&rd=1 and appealed my account being terminated.
Now I am supposed to just sit, wait and hope for the best. But, as an entrepreneur that is not in my nature. I stumbled onto a video from one of my friends, James Wedmore, talking about how one of his students got his YouTube account unbanned and this post from Gideon Shalwick. It inspired me to write this post explaining my stance, what happened, and hopefully help others who go through this same problem. I will update this page of my status, but I need your support! Please leave me a comment under this video, share this post with your friends, and if you know of anyone who can help please forward them this post.
Thank you everyone for reading. I appreciate you all!
Wow, man. Tough break. Sounds like the system is flawed for sure. I have heard other horror stories like this that make me not want to use YouTube although it seems to be an essential channel to be on. Have to have a backup plan. Use Wistia or something. Do you have a recommendation?
Thanks David! I have all my videos saved, but I use YouTube because that is where everyone is searching. I am going to fight to get the account back, it’s on a 2 week suspension right now but I will keep you updated. If I was to use something other than YouTube I would probably use Vimeo.
Hi, very interesting battle… hope you come out on top. Just curious… Where do you store your videos? (I’ve been wondering the best place to store mine).
Thanks Kelly. I just store them on my computer hard drive and back them up on an external drive.
Thanks for the post man. My friend got 1 Gmail email account with 8 pages = 8 youtube channels, for some reason all of his 8 channels got suspended in once and not able to use anymore. He doesn’t know who flagged it as well. Any suggestion?
No suggestions yet, but as I go through this hopefully I can give you some clear guidance. How long ago did that happen?
Keep up the good work Brandon. Karma… Something good will come from this to make up for your troubles.
Thanks for the support Bernie! You’re right something good will come!
Wow. Sorry to hear you are going through this Brandon. You are in a small group of professionals that I regard as totally above board with your youtube videos and I sincerely hope you are able to get this resolved quickly.
Hopefully your videos are still embedded within your website so all will not be lost.
This type thing that youtube can do to anyone reinforces the concept that we should all just use youtube as a tool and nothing more.
Good luck and do keep us posted on your progress,
Wow, thanks for the comment/compliment Jim! I still have all my videos on my computer so I can always upload them again but the ones that were embedded are gone for now.
It’s sad that this has happened. Have not had much time to view your videos but have saved all emails and your tutorials to view at an later date. I had a problem similar to this on one of the online selling venues. Some one kept flagging my auctions for no reason and account was suspended. Was a big headache getting them back active. Keep your head up…
You are lucky you have his email. don’t sit back and wait, stop idiots making fun of you and fight it.
He has defamed you and is causing you financial losses every day. Call a few lawyers asap and get them to shoot him an email threatening court action this week, and go through with it. This is what lawyers are for.
Unless he sends a correction letter of misunderstanding to youtube.
You should not let a thug and crook take advantage of you. You are a good marketer and I have learnt lots from you. If it making you money, well every business on-line or bricks and morta sometimes gets robbed.
Fight it hard. you have his details. He is the one that should get black listed for any of his comments. Good Luck
Yea, that is all true. I think the problem is more with the system YouTube has in place. But it is very hard to blast that persons email! Just trying to stay strong!
People should realize.. that most anyone can loose their channel at anytime. All it takes is someone that wants to get your channel terminated what knows what they are doing.
Ive had people do it to my channels and ive done it to other peoples channels.
I got into a niche about 6 months ago and there were literally hundreds of spammy channels in this niche. When I say spammy channels, it means a lot of different things. Some were targeting KW’s, some had the same video 20 times with different keywords, etc etc… I had one of my “Guys” do his thing and within 2 days, all of those hundreds of spammy channels were all terminated. Its not hard to do if you know what your doing.
This is why I dont put much energy into YT anymore. Anyone can kill all your hard work in a matter of minutes and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Yea, its crazy how easy and fast it can happen.
Too bad – people can be mean. You’ll figure it out and make the online world better for us all. Thanks Brandon!
Hey Brandon, been following your emails for a while and I can definitely say that you are one of the most ethical and legit YouTube marketers out there. I have been through this process as well so I know what it’s like to have that gut-wrenching feeling for days..
I wish you the best in getting your account un-banned, it certainly didn’t deserve it from my perspective.
I really appreciate that, thank you so much LayJax
I was going to suggest Vimeo. I have heard good things from others about Vimeo although I myself have not had much success with it but then I have not really really pushed it like I do YouTube. So I can not honestly say whether it does or does not work well. I am wishing you the best. I am forwarding this post on to my friend Karen, I know she went through a similar situation so maybe she can shed some light and give you some suggestions. 😉
Thank you so much Diane. That would be great!
Hi Brandon! Karen here. All I did was write YouTube a lengthy email stating I would sue for defamation of character if they didn’t reinstate my account.
That big red warning sign they put up in place of your channel page is hideous and reads as if you’re some kind of a criminal.
So that’s what I did – and I emailed them Every. Single. Day. I did not let up until my account was back up.
That’s all I did. I’m thinking somebody eventually got the message.
While I was waiting, I uploaded all of my videos to DailyMotion so I could replace all of the video links on my blogs, then I reshared all of my blog posts that had embedded YouTube videos that I’d replaced with the DailyMotion videos.
If you optimize your videos on DM as you do on YT, they can rank just as high on the search engines, once in a while even higher! So in effect, you can do without YT if they’re going to be stubborn.
Yeah, it’s a blow – but do a blog post about it and share it everywhere to reinforce your online standing with your community.
One thing I did do when YT finally reinstated my account was create four different YT accounts and split up my videos into categories. This way if any one of the accounts got hit in the future, I still had other accounts and didn’t lose everything.
So if you haven’t done that yet, I would do that.
And yes, Vimeo is another great video sharing site that I’m guilty of not taking full advantage of and should.
Maybe I’ll do that today – call a Snow Day activity. ROFL
Well, good luck!!!
Karen, thanks so much! I will definitely do this and I will share on my social media sites as well. Thank you thank you!
Sheesh this has happened to several of my peers. You are doing the right thing Brandon. Be diligent, if you haven’t broken the rules you will probably get out of detention 🙂 Blessings!
haha I am hoping so!
IMHO the internet has changed over the last few years in a very negative way…. as usual, the small guys are getting pushed out… for many years i had hundreds of key phrases on page 1 of google. Now the huffingtonpost is #1 with 15 articles on my topic and I have over 1,000 articles ….
Yea, it’s getting pretty wild out there. Authority sites can really do some damage.
Banned from YouTube!? There must be some mistake, Brandon.
I love your videos and training about video marketing (how to do it the legit way!) and have learned a ton of stuff. You give away such valuable, free information, I can’t imagine anyone thinking it’s spam.
I hope you’re back up and running soon, buddy!
Thanks so much Rob!
Hi Brandon, I hope every thing works out well for u.I must give you credit to such a great teacher.I learnt so much from you… Thank You ….Nicky
Nicky, that means so much to me!
Hi Brandon, I remember when you just started. I subcribed your channel rigth soon I watched your first video.You didn´t have 100 subscribed yet. You inspired me as James to do the same job here in Brasil.Meanwhile, put your videos in another channel in Vimeo ,so we can keep in touch with your great content your delivery.
Hope everything goes rigth. Best wishes, good luck
Tavares, Thanks you I really really appreciate it. I will look into Vimeo!
It’s crazy Brandon. Someone like you, that is helping people understand the RIGHT way to use YouTube and Google, gets their account suspended.
Technology is great when it works and with a product like YouTube and Google that people rely on to feed their family and pay their bills it doesn’t seem logical or ethical to use automated technology where an obvious high touch approach would be appropriate.
Robots or Relationships?
Hey Dan I know it seems bizarre. I am hoping it was just a robot or automated system and gets passed in the approval process. We will see.
So sorry to hear this! Frustrating! I do appreciate the info you put out, please don’t let one idiot ruin it for the rest of us! Thanks again for all your work, just be patient and allow things to work themselves out.
I will do my best at getting back up there, thanks Shannon!
Good Morning Brandon:
I am so sorry to hear that something like this could happen. I found your videos several months ago and have been following your advice. Your emails which I subscribe to and the information you market is far from spam and I guess maybe YouTube does have to investigate I still find this absurd. I feel like I need to be sending a message to YouTube myself as well as maybe your other subscribers should do also. Part of my list of things to do today was research some topics on my video marketing (which I’m new to and just done my first video, that is first following your exact instructions and made it to first page in YouTube for two keyword phrases by day two and that’s without any backlinks). Now my plan was to go to your videos because I consider you a very important authority on the subject manner, now I will browse through some other videos but I’m sure I will be reluctant to blindly follow their advice just because of trust and wondering if their advice will work. The one thing I’ve really liked about your videos besides the sound advice is the way you make them entertaining and keep my attention (this is how I learn) which helps me understand what it is I need to focus on and how to go about everything to achieve my end result.
Good luck and I look forward to seeing your videos online soon.
Thanks so much Chris, that means a lot. Yes! Feel free to email YouTube. I am not sure where to go to even do that but I will see if I can find out. Thanks again for the comment, one of the best so far and makes me excited to do what I do.
Hey dang sorry to here that. Yeah people will be haters. I had one of my videos flagged for copy right infringement twice all because I was # 1 on page one. The competition hates winners. The best thing about it once I appealed and my video was reinstated it jumped right back to it’s original spot.
That is so refreshing to hear. How long did the appeal process take?
YouTube strikes again Brandon. You’re not the only one bro so don’t go jumping off a cliff. This has happen to me also and the hundreds of people who I networked with throughout the years. But I did my research some years ago and found out something very interesting about YouTube shutting down accounts automatically. Hey man lets talk about it on Skype sometime today if you have a chance. What I might say will surly surprise you. You can email me you’re Skype ID or just add mines which is “poppa5502” I will love to tell how I went from having 30k subscribers And over 10million views to nothing over night. Just email me bro or just Add me to your Skype. Hope to hear from you.
It’s sort of like paypal limiting accounts. Hope you get your account back. I ws taken back myself when I went to your channel.
Thanks Ben, yea it throw me for a loop.
That is really unfortunate. It sucks to have genuine people like you getting flagged while the rest of YouTube is full of spam. (Could it be because Google doesn’t like you teaching people to rank?)
Maybe? I am not sure, but I only had two videos talking about ranking. Everything else was about marketing.
All the hard work and dedication you put into your YouTube business to only be subjected to one person’s reckless flag is gut-wrenching. But I believe you have shed some light on what the bigger problem is: YouTube. The process should be where YouTube has to prove that you did something wrong on your channel. The community-monitored approach is flawed in every way and a property of Google should know this better than anyone else in the business. This isn’t Craigslist.
Fight the good fight, Brandon. This would definitely knock the wind outta my sails. But video is here to stay. We have to embrace it and take some of the knocks along the way. Bumps in the road happen. They can definitely be smoothed out.
It just stinks that it happened to you. But if I know anyone who can make lemonade outta lemons, it’s you. Hang tough.
Well said Jason! Thanks for the support buddy!
Wow… This makes no sense! You’d think that with a simple explanation for strike 2 would be enough for YouTube to correct the account and remove it from being suspended. Sorry to hear Brandon, hopefully this is resolved quickly. You’d think YouTube would have better practices in place to protect their contributers.
Yea its crazy how fast it all happened!
I can only say, that I like the videos which are submitted to me from “soldbyvideo”
Kind regards from Germany
Thanks Gerhard, so much!
Good luck with getting this sorted out mate, your videos are very helpful to us.
Have you been able to actually talk to anyone at youtube? Or is it just emails and automated appeal processes so far?
haha That would be funny to reverse the tables. Just automated stuff so far. Still try to get my foot in the door.
You are not only extremely courageous and classy, in the face on this complete non sense!
But showing true leadership during this temporary setback as well! There is simply no way a guy with your proven real world skills, expertise and extremely kind heart, should have to watch all of your extremely hard work and dedication be sabotaged by someone with far less talent and class!
You hang in there coach!And please continue to let us know what we can do to help!!! One of your many extremely satisfied students! Mark (aka) Mr.Marketing!
Mark you are beyond awesome! This comment means so much to me and makes all this worth pushing through. Thanks buddy!
Brandon I really admire you, and the work you have put in to your channel. Your content is outstanding, and you do not deserve this. Best of luck in getting your channel back, hopefully everyone will learn something from this.
Thank you some much Dirk! I will be updated everyone and using this as a learning experience for sure.
This is a true dillemna, and I cannot believe that YOU of all people would have this happen to them. YouTube, take notice. Pay attention. You have someone here that is providing HIGH QUALITY CONTENT to people who want and need it.
Wishing you the best of luck in getting things sorted out properly.
Boom! I’m back on YouTube! New post coming soon to update everyone on what happened and how I got my account back! Thanks for the comment Ben!
That’s so ridiculous man — Your education and selflessness in teaching others has been much appreciated by me. Why this would happen to someone so credible on trying to teach others on this subject is a little disheartening.
Yea, it threw me for a loop! But, good news it the account is back! I’ll be posting about it soon!
I read thru all of your trials and tribulations – very classy how you have handled all of this. Someone mentioned Karma and it has come back to you.
Glad to hear that your work and passion to help others was not snuffed by someone that misunderstood or who’s jealousy got in the way.
Keep up the great work!
I appreciate that David! Karma definitely came back to me.
Man what an ordeal, I’m so glad everything is working out now. I know you must be sooo relieved and elated. I’m so happy for you and glad I’m hearing it now knowing that it’s behind you in a way. Thankfully you worked thru it and emerged triumphant! You deserve it because you are such a kind and generous person Brandon!
Herb, thank you so much…seriously it means a lot!
Great post. I can appreciate your story how even complying with YT got your temporarily banned. I run a 100% YT optimization business and respect your due diligence.
Hey–I just sent you a message through your soldwithvideo.com contact page about private/custom training, Please let me know if you can help.
Keep up the great work on your videos. Your production value is superb and of course you rankings are stellar.