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List of Google Penalties

List of Google Penalties and How to Recover from Google Penalties?

Google Penalties and How to Recover?

Google penalties are designed to help improve the quality of search results. The penalties can be triggered by various factors, the most common of which is dubious backlinks pointing to a site. Google penalties are generated by Google’s algorithm to ensure that websites don’t show up for certain search terms. When a website is penalized, it won’t be shown in Google’s search results for certain keywords or phrases.

What are some of the Google Penalties?

There are many ways to get penalized and you can’t be sure that you won’t be penalized by Google or any other search engine. You need to make sure that your content is original, optimized for the keywords you want to rank for, and written in a way that satisfies Google’s best practices. Listed below are the top seven google penalties that can happen to a website and a comprehensive guide on how to avoid them.

User-generated spam

Automated users and bad SEOs leave behind a trail of spam in the comments sections of content. Especially your blogs, forums, guest posting articles. They use email accounts which are typically created with a purpose to comment on posts, blogs, and other text-based media that require user engagement. The comments that they create are irrelevant to the topic and often include advertisement or links to malicious sites with malware.

User-generated spamImage Source

At times the sole purpose of these types of links are to get a backlink for themselves from your site and improve their page authority. This impacts the trust factor (T) as per Google’s core algorithm update E.A.T. of your website.

How to avoid getting penalized from user-generated spammy content?

  • Use comment moderation tools
  • Use anti-spam tools
  • Use no-follow attributes and UGC attributes
  • Use no-index meta tag

Thin content

Sites with thin content are penalized by Google for not providing their users with the quality of websites they deserve. Thin content would include sites with little or no text on them, sites that have been copied from other websites, and sites that are poorly designed and difficult to use. Google introduced Panda algorithm update 4.0 in 2016 to tackle this problem and reduce visibility for pages with low quality content (commonly known as doorway pages). Best case example is eBay loosing up to 80% of it’s organic ranking after this algorithm update from Google.

How to avoid getting penalized for thin content issue?

  • You probably don’t have the time, manpower or resources for 100% inhouse content production. Before you outsource your content work to a third party, you must consider that mass-producing content can lead to a lack of quality control and a lack of creativity. The mass-production of content is sure to leads to low-quality work. Outsourcing makes things even worse; the content may not be aligned with your in-house brand.
  • If you’re struggling with the quality of your content or don’t have the time to write it yourself, consider freelancers who can provide engaging, industry-related articles that will be valuable to your readers. Connecting with them on-on-one is much easier and can be done in your free time.
  • It’s important to research keywords so your content matches what people are actually looking for. Don’t go too broad with your keyword concept. Limit it to “find me a pet sitter” instead of just “pet care”.
  • One way to improve your site’s online visibility is to create pillar pages, which are also called cornerstone content. These are pages that you put the most effort into and they’ll be a hub of information that viewers can easily navigate through to find what they’re looking for on your website. Helps your E.A.T.
  • Group shorter pages containing similar keywords together and create one longer page that is more specific for a single keyword.

Keyword Stuffing

One of the most common mistakes in web design is overusing keywords on a site. This is known as keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of loading a page with keywords, preventing users from easily finding the information they are looking for. This is a black-hat search engine optimization technique by tricking Google into ranking your website higher than it deserves to be ranked.

Keyword stuffingImage source

How to avoid getting penalized from Keyword stuffing?

  • Use keywords and incorporate them natural and conversational. Avoid repeat use of keywords that you could easily do away with.
  • Try to focus on one keyword and use long-tail and/or semantic version of the same (LSI keywords)

Hidden links and texts

Ever noticed a site with text that looks like it’s been hidden? Well, when users come across these sites, they are redirected through an affiliate link and the affiliate gets paid for the conversion. For example, if you click on a link from Facebook and end up on a site with hidden text, then you will be taken to another website that will earn money through the click-through. This is a Black-Hat SEO technique which uses hidden texts and links for the sole purpose of SEO ranks and not for the user. This is a practice that is forbidden by Google and goes against its webmaster guidelines. Some of the best examples are as follows:
  • Keeping the font size to 0 intentionally to trick the user
  • Tricking users/visitors using white text or by using background linking
  • Tricking users/visitors by hiding the text behind images
  • Use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to place text out off-screen
  • Making the background color same as the color of hyper-links

How to avoid getting penalized from Hidden links and texts?

  • If there is something on your website that you feel necessary to hide, should never be on your site in the first place.
  • Always inspect your suspected URLs on your search console (webmaster tools). Enter the suspected URL in the search box. Click on “View Crawled Page” for hidden CSS or links

“View Crawled Page

Unnatural links to your site

Unnatural links have become an issue for many people running websites and businesses. These links are typically low-quality and can actually hurt your site’s ranking. It is now a penalty on Google’s part to create or use these links. In 2016 Google came out with Penguin algorithm update to detect such links.

How to avoid getting penalized from unnatural links?

Goggle never penalized for backlink-generation for SEO purpose to increase your page authority. However, generating backlinks from ethical sources and by staying within the boundaries of accepted webmaster guidelines. Some DONT’S for your link-building strategy should be as follows:
  • Do not indulge in buying or selling back-links
  • Never engage in Link exchanges or link for a link practice
  • Links from Forum profile / Signature links never helps
  • Google suggests that Blog comment links should be marked as UGC. These no longer help your SEO
  • Again, links farmed from Article directories are no good for your SEO efforts
  • Never rush to build too many links in a short time span. Google’s algorithms can detect this strategy.
  • Never get back-links from Private Blog Networks. They are meant to trick the search engines and all search engines hate them much. These never help in SEO and you are one step away from a penalty.

Hacked Website

Google has announced a penalty for sites that have hacked content. The penalty will last for up to 90 days and will decrease in severity over time. Sites with hacked content should take steps to remove the content as quickly as possible before Google penalizes the site. This type of websites sees a drastic loss in ranking from search results amounting to Google delisting the entire site or moving it to sandbox.

Hacked Website

Hacked WebsiteImage Source

How to avoid getting penalized from a hacked website?

  • Always keep your CMS (WordPress/Drupal/Joomla) updated with the latest updates
  • Create passwords that are difficult to guess and keep changing regularly
  • Get an SSL certificate for your site
  • Get a web-hosting service with a reputation
  • Get a malware scanner to detect suspected hacks
  • Regularly backup your site. Your hosting plan should have this service.
  • Change/hide login URL and limit login attempts to stop DDOS (brute force attacks) – Your hosting company should have this service.

Structured data abuse Penalty

Structured data abuse is the act of using structured data to manipulate or mislead search engine algorithms in order to rank higher on search engine results pages. Structured data refers to the way information is organized, such as companies, labels, categories, and hierarchies, etc. by search engines like Google or Bing to show data in a structured format to the user for convenience at times in the form of star ratings, number of reviews, tabular data, etc. It’s a form of coding developed by schema.org (consortium of search engines like Google, Microsoft, Yandex and Yahoo) to help search engines better understand what a site is about.

How to avoid getting penalized from structured data penalty?

  • Follow ethical ways of getting real reviews as specified by Google my Business. Fake reviews and solicited reviews never help and can impose penalties.
  • We recommend using structured data where sensible and not over-using it.
  • All content on your page should be easy to find and the main message should be clearly conveyed.
  • No illegal activities, violence, or prohibited content here. Do not create mark-ups for these.

Recovering from a Google Penalty – The Ultimate Guide

Google’s algorithms are constantly changing, and the latest updates have been more challenging for marketers to stay on top of. In this article, we have discussed what Google penalties are, how to recover from them, and what you need to do to ensure your site doesn’t suffer another penalty. Google has been growing more and more strict over the years about ranking websites based on their quality and relevancy. And in recent months they have put a ton of pressure on sites that use black hat tactics to rank well in search engines like Google. Sites that have fallen victim to these penalties typically see their rankings drop or plummet completely out of the SERPS altogether. Sometimes, penalties last until it is fixed. Inaction leading to loss of time may lead to the alert no longer showing on your search console, however, the consequences remain forever.

There are a few possible ways to recover from a Google penalty:

If your site was penalized and want to recover it, you should act fast. One way is by doing some link building in order to get rid of the negative links that caused your site to be penalized in the first place.
  • Wait until the site is removed from the penalty list,
  • Disavow your links, and
  • Ask Google to reconsider their decision using Search Console
Understand the problem – Evaluate your website’s performance in light of search engine guidelines Clean up the mess on-site – Fix technical issues and remove low quality content De-index your pages with spammy links and unnatural link building tactics when it is too late to stop getting spammed Engage in natural link building by creating valuable content that deserves links Perform an audit to identify any other penalties imposed by Google Keep track & keep updating Outsourcing your SEO is always a great way for startups who do not have the expertise and resources to create an inhouse team. We are a new age SEO and digital marketing company in Kenya, with over 7 years of experience and proven track record. Reach out to us if your website is impacted by a Google penalty and we would be more than happy to help.
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