Get back on track after a Google penalty by following this guide.
It's every website owner's worst nightmare - the Google penalty.
One day, seemingly out of the blue, your SERP ranking plummets, and your website traffic slumps significantly.
Yep, Google is punishing you. And you are probably wondering why.
Read on to find out the types of penalties Google hands out and, even more crucially, how you can recover from such a significant hit.
The Google Algorithm
Google uses a highly-advanced, complex and, quite frankly, a scarily intelligent ranking algorithm to determine which websites will sit on its search engine results pages (SERPs).
This algorithm is updated literally hundreds of times a year, and for that reason, you can understand why SEO has a lot to keep up with. As Google evolves and becomes increasingly smarter, search engine optimization has got to move with it.
Google Penguin and Link Penalties
In terms of links specifically, Google Penguin is the part of the algorithm that is responsible for detecting spam links or links that are over-optimized or irrelevant.
Penguin will penalize you for these links by down-ranking you. The severity of this can vary, but sometimes a site can be downgraded by dozens of pages. The implications of this are obvious; anyone rarely looks beyond the first page or two of any search engine.
As Penguin works in real-time, it will constantly monitor backlink profiles. For this reason, it's important to be vigilant and check both your website and backlink profile, as well.
What Is a Link Penalty?
A link penalty is a result of low-quality, spammy, or unnatural links on a website's link profile. Google sees these as an attempt to manipulate your website's rankings, which isn't good, considering Google loves organic.
Anything seen as artificial is a red flag for the search engine giant.
If it suspects anything is afoot, be confident that they will investigate. Depending on the outcome, you could be hit with a penalty or even unceremoniously removed from the Google index completely.
While a Google penalty is bad, it's definitely the lesser of two evils.
A penalty will result in Google maneuvering your website down the ranks, meaning that you are much less visible to organic traffic.
The Two Types Of Google Penalty
When it comes to Google, there are two separate types of punishment. They are:
- A manual penalty
- An Algorithmic penalty
Let's discuss each in a bit more detail.
Manual penalties are imposed by a member of Google's team. This means a real person - not a bot - will check your link profile and give you a penalty if they deem it appropriate. The penalties can be triggered by various factors, from a spam report by a competitor to simply bad luck.
An algorithmic penalty is performed by Penguin without any human help. These are the most common forms of penalties as Penguin works in real-time, continually scanning profiles and eliminating those that it doesn't deem as trustworthy.
Both these penalties have bad consequences for any site, which is why you need to closely monitor your backlinks to avoid a nasty surprise from Google. That is, never use low-quality links; concentrate on organic link building tactics to secure only relevant, quality links.
Recovering from a Link Penalty
If you've been hit with a link penalty, it means there are too many bad links on your website. The solution to this is disavowing them or removing them in order to recover and clean up your link profile.
If you received a manual penalty, then you can contact Google and submit a request for reconsideration. If, however, it's algorithmic Google penalties that have made life difficult, you should start to see results happen quicker now that Penguin works in real-time.
There may be instances where you can reach out to webmasters, asking them to remove their links to your website. It might be the case that it was an honest mistake, so in theory, they would be willing to take it down, and everyone should be happy.
But, the sad reality is that in many more cases than not, you won't get a response if you do try to get in touch. This gives you only one option: manually disavowing these links. You'll need to ask Google not to take these links into account when assessing your site.
Disavowing Bad Backlinks
Google Search Console (once known as Google Webmaster Tools) has a Disavow Links tool where you can submit the backlinks that you want Google to disavow.
While a serious drop in both rankings and traffic is a scary thing to have to happen and clearly means there's something wrong with your site, it's important not to kneejerk and rush to disavow links. Ensure that this is the problem first, ruling out anything else that may be to blame.
Disavowing links can sometimes do a lot of harm, so it should not be done in a hurry and without careful consideration.
Check Your Outbound Links
As well as disavowing or altogether removing bad links, it's also a great idea to delve into your website and check for any potentially bad outbound links where you might be linking to a website that won't be held in high regard. These can have an impact on your overall link profile and could play a part in receiving a penalty.
Remove any links that are irrelevant and, therefore, not required. If you do need to keep some of them, set them as nofollow links so Google understands that it shouldn't consider them when crawling your website's backlink profile.
Once you've performed the above instructions, you should begin to see a recovery from the penalty you were hit with.
How damaging can a Google penalty be?
Google penalties can potentially be devastating, causing significant damage to a website's ranking and traffic. If a large percentage of a website's traffic comes from Google - which is likely - it will result in fewer potential leads being directed to the website.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a useful tool that allows you to measure your website's traffic and overall performance, as well as fix issues and make your site look as attractive as possible to Google. Using a tool such as Google Search Console can go some way to helping you avoid a nasty penalty.
Do I really need backlinks?
A high-quality backlink campaign is vital for just about any website. It allows your website to appear higher in the SERPs due to increased authority, and, therefore, more search traffic will head to your website.
In fact, having a killer backlink strategy is one of the most beneficial SEO methods to help bring more potential leads to your door, so it should definitely not be ignored.
What's the best course of action to prevent a Google penalty?
One of the more common sense strategies to prevent being hit by a Google penalty is to know the rules and follow them. However, there's a lot of room for error, and a Google penalty recovery isn't always easy.
Sometimes, it's just best to leave it to the experts, like us. We can hand-craft you a killer campaign that won't throw your website at the mercy of Google.
Don't Run The Risk Of A Google Penalty
When it comes to SEO, there's a lot of room for things to go wrong - if you don't know exactly what you are doing. The dreaded Google penalty is an ever-present threat that, frankly, we don't think you should have to worry about.
Why not let us help you smash your SEO goals with our range of services, including guest blogs and niche edits? Contact Link City today to hear more about how we can help you to grow your website - and sales.