Infographics March 24th, 2021
Google penalties are the bogeymen of every webmaster’s worst nightmare. To get slapped with a search engine penalty means traffic flatlining, and reaching almost zero SEO visibility; it can take your site months to recover from the damage.
When your SEO rank starts to slip, it is not always done in an explainable way. That is why familiarizing yourself with Google’s guidelines is vital, whether you are a webmaster or the business owner.
Continue reading to learn more about how to diagnose Google penalties and what you can do to avoid them.
A penalty against you can never never be good, whether it is on a football pitch or online. HubSpot defines a Google penalty as a punishment against a website whose content conflicts with the marketing practices enforced by Google.
Google does not appreciate sites using artificial tactics or malpractices that try to outsmart the guidelines. Your site can get penalized or even worse, be removed from the Google index altogether. That is why businesses will work with reputable SEO companies: to employ White Hat SEO tactics for organic link-building strategies.
Google analyzes several unique signals or clues to identify websites using Black Hat SEO strategies. These clues include up-to-date information, word count for specific words on your website, and the general PageRank.
An important source of these signals is called Penguin. Penguin is an algorithm update that Google pushed out back in 2012, and is capable of detecting anything like stuffing, spamming, and using irrelevant keywords.
If that’s not enough, Google also employs human reviewers to audit your website. These reviewers manually go through your site to see if it is in accordance with the Google Webmaster guidelines.
If you know what type of penalty your site is slapped with, you can also know how to best fight it. Listed below are the two types of penalties with which Google can enforce upon your website.
As mentioned before, Google has a spam check team that will report if they see any discrepancies on your website. This penalty can also be reported by a user or a competitor.
When your site gets hit with a manual penalty, you will receive an alert in your Google Search Console account. These notifications will inform you why you were given the penalty, the steps to resolve it, and how to get it removed.
Algorithms weed out sites without any personnel intervention. Algorithms use mathematical formulas to quickly filter out poor websites in real-time. One of the issues with algorithmic penalties is that you get no warning for it. So when you get this penalty, you will have to work out the issue yourself to put things right.
There are a few ways Google can manually penalise you, each with its own specific fix. Here is a list that details the crucial ones to help you avoid them.
Link-scheming penalty is by far the most common penalty Google gives out. Any unethical link created to boost the site’s SERP is a violation of Webmaster Guidelines. This includes buying links from irrelevant and low-quality websites.
All you need to do is not be sneaky. Instead, connect with thought leaders in your niche who will provide you with organic outreach.
Cloaking involves distorting the content that search engines and users see. Here, layered content that’s different from what you are presenting to users is shown to the Google crawlers.
It is also a cloaking violation if you use a sneaky redirect – when your site sends users to a different page than what is shown on Google.
To avoid cloaking, compare the content that users see with the content fetched by Google. You can do this by going to Google Search Console dashboard and navigating to Crawl > Fetch as Google.
Users easily get frustrated with really slow loads. As a result, page speed plays an important role in influencing the Google rankings of your site.
It isn’t easy to assess speed problems, but there are some handy tools available. Google lets you use their own PageSpeed Insights platform that checks the speed of your webpage. If the webpage is slow, it will tell you about the problem with very specific solutions to fix it.
One way to increase speed is by removing any unnecessary elements such as unused pieces of codes. You can also dramatically increase the speed of your website by using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). This lets you distribute a load of your content among a network of servers around different geographical locations.
Keywords help users find the appropriate website on Google. Whether it is unintentional or intentional, some webpages make the mistake of adding too many keywords. However, keyword stuffing is only a bad thing.
You should stick to one primary keyword for every page. The best SEO practice is to keep the keyword density low by keeping it below 2%. Before finalizing the page, run an On-Page SEO report for it to make sure no optimization opportunity got overlooked.
Sloppy or shallow pages that provide content with no value get severely punished by Google.
Here is a list of thin content examples.
This has an easy fix that can last you a lifetime: invest time and money in unique and informational content. Every page should have at least 300 words of copy or content. Once you have written your content, get it analyzed with plagiarism detection software.
All is not lost if you find your website restricted by a Google penalty. Every penalty has its own solution, but there are some general actions that you can take against them.
Here is a list of things you can do to remove a Google penalty:
The only way to remove a link penalty is to disavow the backlinks that caused this. You do this using the Google Disavow Link Tool given in the Google Search Console menu.
Once you choose your domain, the tool will create a file with all the toxic links found in your backlink profile. Google will then no longer take into account these links.
While disavow does help, it is not enough. To cover your tracks, put in the legwork to audit some of the links.
Those that violate guidelines should be removed altogether. You can also request to modify these links by adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute so they cannot pass PageRank.
The reconsideration request comes next once you have fixed the website to fit Google’s guidelines. With manual penalties, Google is more lenient and ready to listen to your requests.
You need to document the actions you took to fix the mistakes and add it to the reconsideration form. Along with this, give a brief explanation of the issue and the solution. An apology at the end will help make your case even better.
If you play smart, you can beat others in the Google search game. However, playing smart should not be confused with pulling one over Google.
You can build a sustainable and booming web presence if you take an organic approach to move up the SEO ranks. To make your website bulletproof, thoroughly research Google’s Webmaster and Quality guidelines.
In case you get a penalty and cannot handle it alone, the SEO community online will come to your rescue.