What is a Google Penalty?
A Google Penalty is when your website is being punished for doing something wrong, such as trying to cheat the system by engaging in black hat SEO strategies.
When this happens, the pages or website as a whole will either get a slap on the wrist and suffer a dramatic drop in rankings in the SERP. Even worse, they might get omitted from search results completely (which is an expulsion from the search engine’s index).
Of course, as a result of this kind of penalty, your prospective audience will have a hard time finding you, thus leading to a drop in your organic traffic, and ultimately negatively impacting your revenue.
What are the Different Types of Penalties?
As Google’s main purpose is to provide its users with the most relevant search results, whenever it finds any websites trying to manipulate the search index to show up at the top of the page, it’s seen as a threat to the Google product. This is because the more relevant pages will end up getting buried under irrelevant results, hence harm the overall user experience since the results are deceiving. Now it’s important to understand that there are 2 types of penalties in the forms of Manual and Algorithmic.
Google Penalty is a “manual action” issued by a human reviewer from Google after auditing a website and determining if there are pages that directly violate Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines. This could include underhanded techniques such as cloaking, sneaky redirects or even phishing schemes. Of course, there are also some cases where websites get penalized for violating the terms and conditions without intentionally breaking the rules.
Contrastly, algorithm-based penalties are not technically classified as “Google Penalties” (at least not by Google) but they still have a negative impact on your ranking. This happens automatically as a result of a search algorithm update released to rank websites.
These penalties are quite common and in the past decade, there have been several significant algorithm changes. Panda and Penguin were two of the updates which showed notable effects in ranking across the web, the former focusing on content quality and the latter focusing on the quality of backlinks.
How Do You Know You Have Been Manually Penalized?
Recovering from being penalized by Google can be difficult. Depending on the extent and severity of the issue that needs to be addressed, there have been some cases where manual penalties last about 30 days or can stay for a longer period of time before they expire. And even when they expire, it doesn’t mean that your website is free to recover previous rankings or pull in the same amount of traffic as before.
If your site is affected by a manual action, resolve it as soon as possible. Google will notify you in a Manual actions report and in the Google Search Console message center. The messages will specify the reasons for the manual action and what parts of your website are affected so that you can analyze each point and work on an appropriate recovery process.
There is a high likelihood that you will panic once you get the notification of the penalty. However, it’s important to remember that you can troubleshoot the particular issues if you make the necessary changes to meet the various criteria, though this may be tedious and require some time.
Once you have remedied your problems, you will need to request a reconsideration from Google by submitting a request for a reassessment of the website. After further examination, if your website looks clean, Google will lift the penalty.
How To Avoid Google Penalties?
There are many things that can trigger Google to issue your website these penalties. Begin by ensuring your website is free of the following summarized list of techniques to not raise any red flags.
- Malware, spam, phishing or viruses – This really speaks for itself but it’s important to note that it can also affect your website if your hosting provider violates the guidelines as well.
- Hidden links or text – Examples of this practice could be using white text over a white background or writing in a font size of 0.
- Keyword stuffing – This is when you unnaturally overuse certain keywords or phrases on your pages for the sake of filling the page and repeating in hopes of giving you a boost in organic ranking.
- Cloaking – This is when you show different pages and content to users than are being shown to the search engines, and vice versa.
- A high volume of duplicate or scraped content – This can be the copying and replacing of internal or external content without providing any original content or value for each page.
- Pages full of irrelevant keywords – This often includes auto-generated gibberish, scraped content or even affiliate pages created for promoting affiliate links.
- Deceptive mobile redirects – This is the action of redirecting users to a different page than when is shown to the search engine.
It is recommended to spend some time on a regular basis to make sure your website is in compliance with the most up to date guidelines. In addition to this list of triggers you want to avoid, you should also strive to constantly monitor your website for hacking as well as removing user-generated spam.
Google is constantly evolving and undergoes extensive quality evaluation before rolling out new algorithm updates that help crawl the web and inspect websites. Once you receive a Google penalty, it is rather difficult to regain your ranking back and recover your loss in organic traffic as well as revenue.
With that said, do yourself a favour and don’t let your website receive a Google Penalty by trying to outsmart Google’s AI by manipulating the search results with petty tricks, as it will only come back and bite you at a higher cost.
When it comes to SEO, it’s not a place to test the waters and go rogue. As boring as it sounds, you need to play by the rules. If you want to learn more on how to do this the right way or require professional help recovering from a penalty, then look no further than the team of SEO experts at TechWyse.
Ensure your website sticks to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines as well as continue to build a high-quality backlink profile and pump out good content to bring in traffic the healthy way.