Believe it or not. The importance of organic traffic, especially for small businesses is here to stay! Millions of small businesses depend on Google search traffic to drive conversions and sales. With a colossal amount of information inundating the search engines everyday and with a spate in shady SEO practices, Google has time and again tightened its grip on filtering out low quality websites from its search results.
Webmasters these days understand the power of search engine optimization and getting in front of their audience. A study by Eye Centric has found that at least 70% on individuals searching on Google and Bing will ignore paid search ads, focusing instead on organic search results. Furthermore, search is the number one driver of traffic to websites, beating out social media by over 300%. Therefore, capitalizing on this search potential is imperative for site owners. Because nearly all the websites rely on Google for their web presence, anything that compromises their search engine rankings could be a financial nightmare. Unfortunately, because people are so eager to get ahead with SEO, they make critical mistakes to fast-track their way to the top of search engine results. This is where Google is compelled to crackdown on the offenders & penalise them by rolling out various algorithmic/manual updates that rock their rankings! Boom!
Types of Google Penalties:
If you ever get hit by Google for using manipulative tactics intended to influence the search engine rankings, you will most likely to be hit by either manual action or an algorithmic update. Let’s discuss each one of them in more details:
a) Manual Penalties
Google employs a team of dedicated search engineers who are entrusted with the task of manually cracking down on such websites that violate its content quality guidelines. For example, using manipulative tactics to influence search rankings like paid links, keyword stuffing, link exchanges, etc.
These are essentially punishments for any type of spammy behavior, and aren’t directly related to their algorithms. You can check out your Google Search Console for notifications regarding this type of penalty. According to the eminent Google search engineer, Matt Cutts, there are over 400,000 manual penalties applied each month. Here’s Google’s own list of common manual actions that could get you into trouble.
b) Algorithmic Penalties
Algorithmic penalties are a little more difficult to identify, and pinpointing the cause takes a bit of research. Take a look at the Google Algorithmic Change History. If you notice a sudden decrease in your search engine traffic, compare the change log to your own analytics and determine when and why you were hit.
Sure, many of the websites that Google penalizes deserve the penalty. However, there are also a fair amount of sites that simply make mistakes because they don’t understand proper SEO or what constitutes for a Google penalty.
The two most common types of Algorithmic Penalties are:
1. Penguin &
The Panda algorithm patrols content. Getting hit by this algorithmic penalty is worse, because you won’t be able to see your rankings increase again until the next new update. This algorithm prevents “shallow content” from appearing in search results. Shallow content refers to low quality content created purposefully for building links, but offers no value to the readers.
Of course, what constitutes as shallow content varies from person to person, but there are quite a few red flags to look for, such as Duplicate content, spun content (whether manually or using spinning software), and short content. Penguin identifies unnatural link profiles: think of it as backlink policing. It monitors backlinks by focusing on three critical link factors: quality, volume, and diversity. Too many low-quality links appear to be garnered through black-hat SEO tactics. The volume of links also matters: if your website receives a spurt of links at random intervals, it seems unnatural. Lastly, the diversity of links refers to where the links are coming from. You wouldn’t want all of your links to come from a single source sure as forums or blog comments.
Over 95% of Google penalties come from poor backlink profiles. To stay in good graces with Penguin, white hat SEO tactics are necessary. If you’re hit by a Penguin penalty, it’s very difficult to bounce back. Always be extra cautious with your link-building strategy to ensure you don’t lose traffic because of a penalty.
Fixing Google Penalties:
According to Skylar Malley, CEO of a Denver based SEO company, “As Google attempts to catch the offenders and cheaters, innocent companies and websites are sadly affected and hit with manual spam actions and spam filters. As website owners attempt to recover, it becomes critical they begin by understanding what went wrong and how to fix it.”
While the goal is to focus on preventative measures, sometimes penalties just happen and there’s nothing you can do but work on fixing it. And although fixing Google penalties isn’t the easiest task in the world, it’s still possible. For example, to fix your backlinks, you’d simply open your Google Webmaster Tools and check out the “links to your site.” Then you’ll either manually disavow all the spurious/low quality backlinks Or Use tools like Monitor Backlinks to help you remove the bad links that you don’t want to be associated with.
Backlinks is an example of an easier fix. Others, like Panda algorithm hits, aren’t as easy. For those that aren’t as web-savvy, you may want to work with a marketing and/or SEO agency that can complete a comprehensive analysis of your site, identify, and fix weak areas that could cause you trouble. Have a plan in place for auditing your backlink profile monthly, and ensuring there are no sites stealing your content that could create an issue for you.