Getting A Google Penalty
If your website receives a penalty from Google, it is not a good thing of course, but it does not necessarily mean it is the end of the world when it comes to having your website ranking well. The majority of the time we can recover your site from a Google penalty. We say the majority of the time because there is one exception. Depending on the severity of the punishment associated with your website, may mean that you have to abandon your site and start again. But those instances are sporadic.
WHAT TYPES OF PENALTIES DO GOOGLE ISSUE?
The first thing to understand is that Google only ever issues a penalty if your website has violated their Webmaster Guidelines. The question then is raised, how do you know that your site has violated their guidelines? The answer is you will notice a dramatic drop in your rankings and traffic to your site, and in the worse case scenario, your site will be de-indexed from the web. If the later occurs, it is not impossible to gain your site back again, but it will take a lot of time, effort, and expense, to regain your sites rankings back from its de-indexed status.
So what are the types of penalty you could be hit with?
There are two types of penalty that they will apply to your website if you are breaking their guidelines.
The first is an algorithmic penalty. These kinds of penalties occur as and when Google updates its algorithm, and your website is identified as violating the new changes. The problem with natural penalties like these is they are hard to identify, as it can be for any number of reasons why your site has received a penalty. (See our list of reasons why Google punish a site, below).
The second type of penalty is manually applied to your website when an employee of Google has reviewed your site, and they believe your site was involved in techniques that breach their quality guidelines. You will know if your website has received a manual penalty, as Google will send you a message via your Search Console account.
So if you have seen a significant drop in your rankings and or traffic, then the likelihood is, your site has received a penalty. What then is your next course of action? You speak to us.
Our Google Penalty Recovery process is in 3 stages.
1. We carry out all the necessary research to work out the exact reason for your penalty.
2. We then put together the correct strategy and actions needed to help recover your website from its penalty.
3 We then carry out the work required to restore your site from its penalty.
The length of time it takes to recover your website is dependent on the type of penalty you have received, the severity of it, and the amount of work carried out.
Reasons Why Google Will Issue A Penalty
There are many reasons as to why Google will slap a penalty on your site. And as you will see from the list below, a penalty is applied to your site if you or your SEO company have been carrying out some pretty shady activities, usually what is referred to as Black Hat SEO. (As a side note NTA Digital NEVER carry out these types of activities as we always carry out industry best practices.)
UNNATURAL LINKS TO YOUR SITE
In the old days of SEO, websites were gaining links from all sorts of sources and methods, and would generate links to manipulate rankings. A link from a site that is about adventure sports and has a high authority within Google, that links to your website which is about plumbing services, could very well be seen by Google as an unnatural link
UNNATURAL LINKS FROM YOUR SITE
So the reverse is the same. You link out to sites that are not relevant to the theme of your site or the content within it. One of the big things in the past was link exchanging. I would put a link on my site to yours, you would do the same to mine and of course, if we were in unrelated niches, these would look unnatural. Google look at these links and ask the question ‘why is there a link from here to there? And if it is not natural to link to another site, then a penalty is probable.
WordPress websites are the most popular sites on the web due to the ease and effectiveness of the CMS system that runs it. The wide variety of plugins that make a WordPress website look great and function brilliantly come with price. The price being if you don’t keep them updated, out of date versions can be prone to hackers who place malware within the plugin, or worse still, within your site. If your site gets hacked and is not dealt with, Google will penalise it as part of the infection on your site, could be passed on to visitors. Hacked sites can be cleaned up without too much difficulty, but can be expensive to solve because of the work that may be needed to clean your site and get the penalty removed.
THIN OR SHALLOW CONTENT
Google describes thin content as having “little or no added value”. Now this doesn’t refer to one off or a few pages, but what it does refer to is sites that use automated systems to generate pages by scraping content from other sites and posting it. the content will undoubtedly by duplicate, and in the case of using software like RSS feed generators, the content will only be a few lines at best. Have multiple pages like this and Google will give you a penalty.
One of the biggest manufactures of user-generated spam are forums and websites with blogs that do not control comment submissions. Websites that get hit with this penalty are those sites that allow people to comment on their blog without first authenticating the submission. So what you end up with is a blog post on an accountancy website talking about new tax laws, and all the comments are about Viagra, links to porn sites, gaming software, and so on. Too many posts on your site with these types of comments, will result in a user generated spam penalty
Keyword stuffing was a technique that was very popular back in the early days of Google, where website owners would try and mention the keyword they wanted to rank for, as many times on the page as they could. We would give you an example, but of course, we don’t want to receive a penalty for stuffing this page with keywords, so here is an image to explain it.
SEO’ers and website owners used to believe that they could manipulate Google to rank their site, by hiding text within a web page. The way to do it would be to make the content or the link the same colour as the background on the page. Or they would hide the text or link behind an image on the page. The problem with that is its not the actual page that Google reads, its the code that makes the page that Google reads, so any hidden text from the human eye, will be spotted immediately by Google and seen as a way of trying to manipulate them, resulting in… yes you guessed it, a penalty.
Cloaking is a Black Hat SEO technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user’s browser. In other words, you see one thing and Google sees another. You maybe wondering why would anyone do that? Well it could be because they are selling or promoting something dangerous or illegal, and they don’t want Google to see it.
It is unlikely if you are a proper and ethical business that you will be using free hosting. But in the pas free hosting services where used to generate websites that created spam and poor quality content. While Google understand that there maybe a need for a website to use free hosting, they will be watching those sites very carefully to monitor the content created.
So I have a number of websites that are similar to yours and I will link from these sites to yours to give you relevance and authority. The best thing is I will only charge you $50 a link for the year and guarantee improved rankings or your money back. OK for the sake of the Google bot, I am simply describing what a paid link is. I’m not offering this service…promise!! Joking aside, this was a massive rage through what was called ‘link farms’ PBN networks (Private Blog Networks) and other very poor and low quality websites. Now there is nothing technically wrong with a paid link, because after all Google offer the service themselves, through Adsense (where you pay Google for an advert for your site to be placed on another relevant website) What is wrong is the type of paid link, and that covers most of the paid links website owners employ. Here is what Google say is a paid link:
“exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a ‘free’ product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.”
AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED CONTENT
Now hopefully you can tell that this content has been written manually and not put together by some automated system. If you do think the latter then I need to check my writing style. According to Google automatically generated content is content that includes but not limited to:
- Text that make no sense to the reader but which may contain search keywords.
Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing
Text generated through automated processes, such as Markov chains
Text generated using automated synonymizing or obfuscation techniques
Text generated from scraping Atom/RSS feeds or search results
Stitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value (source)
There are times when redirects within a website are perfectly fine. In fact most redirects are set up with good intentions. These are commonly known as a 301 or 302 redirect. And the reason why you would put one of these redirects in place could be because a page as moved. A sneaky redirect is when you are promoting one type of thing, and a person is redirected to something completely different. The intention of sneaky redirects is similar to to that of cloaking, as mentioned above.
According to Wikipedia – Doorway pages are web pages that are created for the deliberate manipulation of search engine indexes. A doorway page will affect the index of a search engine by inserting results for particular phrases while sending visitors to a different page. Doorway pages that redirect visitors without their knowledge use some form of cloaking.
Scraped content is when you either use a software to crawl the web for content on a particular subject, or do it manually. Either way the intent is to use the content without changing it in any way. People do this as a way of increasing the pages on their site, but of course doing this act is in and of itself straight forward plagiarism. There is nothing wrong with taking bits of content from another site, if you of course give credit to the source, but not whole pages after pages.
CREATING PAGES WITH MALICIOUS BEHAVIOR
This covers pages that as they load start downloading something onto your computer (usually malware – which can occur on your site without you knowing, if you have been hacked. Or a person clicks on something on the site and are lead to a section or part of the page that is different to what they were wanting to see.
I’ve gone through a number of the key reasons why your website would receive a Google penalty, if it ever does. Hopefully this will never be the case for you, but if it is, then speak to us because a website hit by a Google penalty is not beyond hope, it will just may take time to save it.