Everything You Should Know About Google Penalties for SEO
Google penalties are designed to punish any website that may engage in what is known as black hat SEO. These aren’t always handed out by a person, they can be handed out by algorithms, and many people don’t even know they’ve received a penalty, but it can impact a business’ performance in search results and visibility over time.
But how do you avoid a Google penalty? In simplest terms, you have to know what they are and how they function to avoid them.
What’s A Google Penalty?
Google penalties are when Google removes or reduces a website’s ranking because it suspects the website is in violation of its policies or has used ‘black hat’ or underhanded SEO tactics. These penalties are handed out manually and via an algorithm.
Black Hat SEO is when you work against Google’s guidelines with the aim to get a website ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics include using private link networks, keyword stuffing, broken or spammy links and more.
Why Does Google Give Out Penalties?
If you think about it, Google’s main goal is to deliver the most relevant search results. In Google’s eyes, any website that tries to sway the relevancy of these search results goes against this goal. If Google returned unhelpful results, it wouldn’t be as useful as it is today.
A Google penalty is the result of a complex, ever-evolving algorithm that Google employs to crawl and examine websites. There are some specific actions that can lead to penalties being imposed immediately by a Google employee, but there are others that are not made public or can lead to a gradual drop in rankings. This is to safeguard Google from sites attempting to control the search results.
Why A Google Penalty Hurts
If your website receives a penalty from Google, either it will no longer appear in search results, or your ranking will significantly drop for the keywords you want to target.
Your customers will be unable to locate you if your website is penalized by Google. So, your traffic and, ultimately, revenue decrease when you are not visible to your intended audience.
This can happen to any website, a well-intentioned effort to raise your site’s ranking can result in a Google penalty without you even knowing. But it’s not the end of the world.
Some Things That Trigger Google Penalties
To make sure you don’t end up with a Google Penalty, make sure your website does not use any black hat SEO techniques such as the following:
- Low Quality link building
- Unnatural-looking link building
- Hidden text or links
- Cloaking, where you display a different version of the web page to the search engine robots)
- Keyword stuffing
- A lot of duplicate content
- Spyware, adware or viruses
- Deceptive redirecting, where visitors are moved to different pages without clicking anything.
- Pages full of irrelevant links
If you’re wondering how you should keep on top of all of this, all you need to do is remember that anything that harms Google’s user experience will likely end in a penalty.
How To Recover
It’s not always easy to diagnose and remove a penalty. Largely because you need to know exactly what caused a penalty. This can be time consuming and requires expert tools and knowledge, so the best choice is to partner with expert search marketing agencies.