Imagine how shocking it would be when one morning you wake up and see the #1 position of your web page disappear from the Google search results. Where you were once located on the first page of Google, you are now nowhere to be seen. Your website traffic numbers now tank since people can’t find your site, and you’re left wondering what happened.
Oh yeah, it’s possible, and this next point is very important:
Google is on a mission to provide accurate and unique content to its user via search engine optimization.
That’s not the worst part. Worst part is this: Google punishes itself 5 times for breaking its own rule. From this example, you can imagine that ignorance is no excuse. You break the rules of SEO and then you have to pay for it. END OF STORY. And not even the best SEO tips can help at that point.
In this article, I will tell you how to come back from Google penalties if they’re rendered upon your website, some of the Dos and Don’ts, but before that let see what things can get you Google penalties.
#1 Panda content penalty
Google Panda was first released in February 2011. Panda’s initial goal was to penalize those sites which have:
- Thin Content
- Scraping Content
- Duplicate content
Google has been updating its panda algorithm at an irregular interval of approximately once a month. The most recent being on January 13, 2013. The sites which are affected by panda typically experienced a drop in SEO ranking, or their page disappearing from the search results entirely. That’s heavy.
Panda is a filter that is supposed to prevent low-quality sites from ranking and it also rewards those sites that generate original content, deals with topics in depth and with quality, usability, that are social and that have little advertising.
How to Know if Your Site’s been Affected by Panda?
There are a few simple things to check if you wish to know whether your site is completely free from the wrath of an angry Panda or not.
Take a single content-piece from your site that’s relatively uncommon across the web and perform a Google search for the keywords that are related to it. If irrelevant, or less relevant results appear before your site’s result, chances are, your site is being affected by Panda.
A more foolproof way of doing this would be to search for the first three or four words in the title of your content. For example, if the title of a blog post of your site is, “Google Panda is definitely named after Navneet Panda”, you could perform a search for, “Google Panda is definitely named”. If it doesn’t return your blog post at the top of the SERP, there’s something to worry about, because that starting phrase would be extremely unusual to be used as title by another content piece on the web.
The thing with Panda is that it usually doesn’t completely de-index your site from the Google index, unlike Penguin. While Penguin could’ve completely not let you see your own post at all in Google, Panda would still present it in front of you, albeit not as one of the first few results.
Here’s an example of site that was hit by Panda.
#2 Penguin websites penalty
Google launched the penguin in April 2012. Penguin aim to combat the web spam and it catches those sites which have:
- Spun Content
- Low-Quality Content
- Keyword Stuffing
Penguin is an update Google made to the way it calculates where to place or rank a website in a search. Its aim is to stop the spammers; those that use ‘black hat’ SEO techniques to artificially increase where their sites rank on Google.
Back links (links from other websites to your site) have been an important part of legitimate search engine optimization (‘white hat’) for many years. Back links are considered an indication of the quality and relevancy of a site, an endorsement of your content by others.
The Penguin update was intended to catch those that buy back links or obtain them through link networks to artificially boost the number of links to their site – penalizing these webmasters and making way for legitimate sites that contain quality, relevant content to move up the search.
But webmaster acting legitimately has also been caught by Penguin, seeing their site suddenly drop in the rankings or disappear off the search network altogether.
And while a penalized webmaster rushed to fix the problems with their websites and remove the links causing the problems, they were often waiting months or even years for their previous ranking to return because the changes they made were often only recognized the next time a new Penguin update was released.
How to Know if Your Site’s been Affected by Penguin?
If the number of visitors to your website has taken a nose dive, compared to a few days before and the drop in numbers is from visitors arriving at your site from Google search, your website could have been hit by Penguin.
You’ll be able to see this in your website’s analytics tools. If you don’t already use any, Google Analytics is a free and effective way to see what’s going on with your website’s traffic. Where are the visitors coming from? What do they do when they arrive at your website?
If you think you have been affected, look through your site for anything that could look like spam. Check to see if you have received any messages from Google directly, informing you of spam detected on your site.
You can find out who is linking to your site by using the Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) by viewing ‘Links to your site’ under ‘Search Traffic’.
Here’s an example of site that was hit by Penguin.
#3 Unnatural link penalty
These penalties are manual penalties that Google can place on sites when they determine that a site is widely attempting to manipulate the search engine results by creating links.
Most webmasters believe that if someone files a spam report against you, then this will open up your site for a manual review. Some have speculated that Google monitors some of the more competitive niches such as “payday loans”, “car insurance”, casino sites, etc. and manually checks for unnatural links. No one knows for sure.
A manual unnatural links penalty can affect the entire site, a single page, or even just one keyword. Sometimes a site can be penalized and be totally removed from the Google index. Other times, the site can still be in the index but not be shown in the first 10 pages for any of its keywords. Or, sometimes the penalty will not be as severe and may only affect one or two keywords. Here is a quote from Matt Cutts regarding a site that was penalized on a keyword level:
The site in this example would not be able to rank for the keywords that they had used as anchors for sites that embedded their widgets.
After reading this, you might feel that you are walking into a Jungle where everywhere is a death trap and you probably don’t want to fall in that death trap. Same is the case with the Google SEO Penalties, the webmaster here doesn’t want their sites to fall into the trap of Google and get penalized.
So how can we protect our sites from the trap of the Google SEO Penalty?
There are few things which can really help you from Google penalty and they are:
Show Relevant Content
Google made it clear that providing relevant content to the user is important. If the user finds difficulties in finding the relevant content, then Google will penalize your sites. So to avoid the penalty you should always keep in mind that the content should be relevant to the topic or the site which you are promoting.
Analyze Your Bad Backlink
Analyze the quality of the backlink, whether it’s linking to the relevant websites or not. If it is not linking to the relevant websites then remove it because it will prevent you from Google Penalties. If you don’t want anything bad to happen then always keep an eye on the backlinks that your website has.
Avoid the Shortcuts
Remember it takes years to generate genuine visitors and traffic to your sites, it isn’t the easiest thing to attain, and there are no shortcuts in winning that race. So always try to avoid the forum which claims to generate tens-of-thousands of a visitors in a month using black hat technique, it’s tempting but they don’t last long; someday they will get penalized for their actions.
If you are doing something that might get your website penalized.
Move on with good SEO practices.
Hopefully, you will avoid the penalty and your site will grow in a way that is help by Google, not hurt by it.