Each webmaster’s dream is to have a website with a fantastic search engine authority. Getting on the first page of search engine results requires creativity and patience (maybe a lot of luck too). Site ranking depends on a lot of factors, but mainly revolve around content and link building.
Because of the increasing competition, webmasters have been seen using shortcuts and hacks in order to get a better ranking for pages and website. However, some of these practices can cause penalties.
Google penalties directly impact the reputation and search rankings of a site, and can easily lead publishers to lose search traffic, resulting in decline in advertising revenues. So, let’s begin by understanding a few of the most common Google penalties and tips to avoid them:
What is a Google Penalty?
Google Penalty is a punitive action against a website that do not follow Google’s content policies and/or attempt to game the ranking algorithms, like implementing’black hat’ practices to rank site on search engines.
Google, in its guidelines, asks webmasters/publishers to work on the level of their site in order to secure a good search engine rank. Here are the practices one should avoid:
Automatically Generated Content
Automatically generated content is content created programmatically to manipulate search engine rankings. Such content has no quality value and doesn’t address any topic, and is only created to get crawled by search engine spiders. Including sentences that don’t make sense, created by stitching and combining texts from various well-ranking web pages.
How to avoid:
Copied and keyword stuffed content is readily detected and penalized by Google. Hence, webmasters are recommended to avoid them and generate their own original content.
Cloaking and Sneaky Redirects
Cloaking is an act of displaying different webpages to users and Google. Sneaky redirect practices are used to take users to unrelated webpages without their approval. It’s important that a user clicks on the link intentionally and lands on a page that provides the information promised by the hyperlink. Clocking your links or redirecting users, counts as poor practice.
How to prevent:
Linking your webpages with different webpages on your website is a good search engine optimization practice. However, you need to be careful when adding these links. Make sure that the links have context and do not overdo it. Also, perform a systematic check for broken links and fix them using Google Webmaster Tool.
Hidden Text or Links
Adding deceptive texts and links within a webpage may lead to a penalty. For example, adding white text on white background, or writing text under images to manipulate Google search engine ranking and other similar practices can negative effect both UX and search positions.
How to avoid:
Ensure your content has a readable font size. Avoid linking one little character (like a hyphen) to create links. Not all hidden text is misleading, for example, alternative text added to video and picture files help search engine crawlers comprehend the purpose of that file. However, abusing the alt text for keyword stuffing can backfire and lead to punishment.
Content With No Value
Google enjoys genuine content which informs/educates the audience. Hence, low-value and thin content is pushed down the positions by Google. Examples of such low-value content include:
- Doorway pages–creating multiple domain names to funnel the user to a webpage
- Copy a first piece of content without permission or permission
- Low-quality pages and shallow content
How to prevent:
Place your time and resources in creating original and valuable content. Also, try to be true to the name of the webpage and answer questions related to it. A well-written piece will keep benefiting your site for years.
Pages With Malicious Behavior
Adding hyperlinks to known malicious sites are instantly identified by Google and subjected to penalty. This also includes injecting irrelevant or spam content on your webpages. Also, if there are spammy or low-quality ads appearing on your site, you might be given a penalty.
How to avoid:
You want to manually check and get rid of the malicious links on your website. In the case of advertisements, you need to keep your website protected against ad injections and similar ad fraud practices.
How Does Google Penalize Publishers?
In order to supply the best detection, Google utilizes algorithms and manual audits.
Vetting with manual punishment
A person from Google manually audits your site. If any problems are detected with the website (either on the domain or page level), the writer will get an email from Google with the list of detected issues.
Vetting with algorithms
Automatic penalties are detected by website crawlers and algorithms. The popular ones are mentioned below:
Panda: Launched in 2011, Panda aims to penalise websites with content that is thin and curb malpractices like content farms. This is to make sure that only high-quality sites rank on search engines. A Panda penalty can reduce the ranking of the site and also remove links from result pages.
Penguin: Launched in 2012, Penguin is designed to penalise sites that don’t follow Google Webmaster rules and are included in black-hat practices (such as linking thin sites to inflate backlinks).
Hummingbird: Launched in 2013, Hummingbird was made to identify non-human activity on search engines and websites. Hummingbird prioritises the use of natural language and flow of the material /
In order to maintain the effectiveness of the algorithms, Google releases frequent upgrades to plug loopholes and to improve their accuracy.
Google penalties can be avoided. However, if you’re facing a penalty, then it can be managed. It’s as easy as knowing the rules and following them.
Google Search Console is a free tool which helps publishers measure their site ranking. It enables publishers to re examine their site for errors and then provides methods to correct issues. It’s advised to remain on top of the forthcoming Google search algorithm updates and design your website for the users instead of for search engines.