We all must have heard the word the penalty, which in general means a punishment imposed or occurred for violation of any law or rule.
Google Penalty is also known as the Sandbox Effect is a punishment to a website that violates the guidelines of Google Webmaster.
Google penalties are not always done manually but they impact websites affecting their performance in search results.
If Google has imposed a penalty on your site, it means your site is no longer listed on search results or your ranking for your targeted word has dropped. Your target audience can’t find you, as a result, your traffic falls, and finally, the revenue which you get; drops.
Why do sites get a Google Penalty?
Google is the most widely used search engine in the world or we can say it is the first choice of users around the globe. This is because users trust the relevant search results of Google. But when any site tries to manipulate the search results, it is a harm to Google’s product.
Google imposes a penalty on the site by constantly updating the algorithms that Google uses to crawl and inspect websites. So, before optimizing a web page you must be aware of the guidelines directed by Google and have a good understanding of Google algorithms.
Some of the reasons for which Google can penalize your site are-
Using manipulative methods to increase your site’s ranking and providing a poor user experience to the visitor of your site are two main reasons for which Google can penalize your site.
Here is a detailed list of activities you should not do to avoid Google penalties.
- Buying Links
Buying or selling links is against the guideline of Google webmaster. Google penalizes a site for the violation of this act.
Paid links mean exchanging money for the links or posts that contain links, Exchanging goods or services for the links, or sending someone a free product in exchange for them. Sponsored guest posts and paid reviews are also considered paid links.
Over a decade, buying links has become increasingly risky because Google’s ability to seek and destroy the SEO value of paid links has become very accurate.
Today, the trend of organic link building and content marketing is rising in the SEO industry.
SEO experts say that the best way of earning links is to create valuable content and link it to reputed and related sites.
- Excessive use of reciprocal links-
Reciprocal links undoubtedly boost your SEO and build your site authority but excessive use of reciprocal links can harm your site ranking.
Reciprocal links also known as traded links or exchanged links are against Google the rule of Google webmaster.
If you try to manipulate search results by exchanging links, there is a high risk of penalizing you by Google.
The exchange of links occurs when two brands agree to trade links to boost the SEO and authority of their site.
If you want to grow the authority and ranking of your site, focus on less risky strategies.
- Copied or duplicate content-
Duplicate content appears on the internet in more than one place. That’s one place’ is the reallocation provided with a unique website address but if the same content appears at more than one web address the content is defined as duplicate content.
Duplicate content not only brings you a Google penalty but also affects your search engine ranking.
- Keyword stuffed content-
Keywords are very crucial in SEO. But it is always said that excessive use of anything is bad. Excess use of keywords in your content can hurt your page ranking on search engines. Google can penalize your site if it finds you stuffing too many keywords.
Google dislikes strategies like SEO keyword stuffing because these methods focus on beating the search engine algorithm rather than a great user experience.
- Slow speed –
A quickly loaded site is always preferred over the site which takes time to get loaded. Speed of page is a matter of user experience. Google rolled out a new page speed update to their algorithm in July 2018. This makes speed a crucial factor for everyone.
Google has announced penalties for websites with slow loading speed. For Google, the user experience is very important. Google wants its users to quickly get answers to their questions. Speed of the page is a determining factor of page ranking in Google Search engine.
- Spun Content-
The spinning of content is the process of rewriting an article and creating a new article from already existing original content. For SEO practice it is not always possible to provide new and freshly written content.
As a solution to this problem, SEO takes the help of the spinning tool. The spinning of content is done to avoid duplicate or copied issues. But spinning of content is not always good. The spun content produced with the spinning tool’s help of penalizing you used to is considered to be of low quality by Google.
It is because it does not contain any new ideas. Besides this, spun reallocation provides low-quality content, content also increases the bounce rate of your website because the content doesn’t have the power to retain its visitors by penalizing you.
- Comment Spam-
Comment spam means the presence of replies that are irrelevant to the blog entry, along with a link that leads to the commenter’s website.
Comment spam is considered a black hat SEO strategy that is used to try and improve the site’s popularity and anchor text. When the algorithm sees a spam comment there are chances for you to receive a penalty from Google. Your website may also lose rank or there may be a sudden fall in traffic. a
How can you identify that your site is penalized?
Fall in search engine ranking and sudden decline in traffic of your site are indications that Google may have penalized your website. Other than this you can follow the following steps to find whether your site is penalized by Google or not-
- Login to your account to open webmasters tools. Press the “Search Traffic” button to open manual action. If you find any message indicating any penalties, your site is penalized by Google.
- If there is a significant loss in traffic on your site, this is an indication of the penalty charged on your site.
- Type the query of your domain into the search line to see if it is indexed as one of the top ten results. If not, it hints about the possible penalty.
- The partial penalty is identified by typing the name of the domain and the main keyword in the search line and if some pages do not show up, you might suffer from any type of penalty.
Types of Google penalty
When you realize that your website is penalized, the first thing you should do is to identify the type of penalty Google has imposed on you.
The two main types of penalty are-
- Manual Penalty-
If a human reviewer at Google finds that page on your website is not compliant with Google webmaster quality guidelines then a manual action is issued from Google on your website.
This affects the search engine ranking or sometimes a website may get omitted from search results.
Manual penalties are usually sent for the following reasons-
- Unnatural links to your website
- Unnatural links from your website
- User-generated content spam
- Hacked website
- Thin content with low or no added value
- Pure spam
- Hidden text or keyword stuffing
- Spammy structured markup
Manual penalties are given by Google workers who audit your site against their quality parameters and find that you are violating any of them.
- Algorithmic Penalty
Algorithms are designed to reward websites that match up to their quality standards. Algorithmic Penalties are given by the algorithms which regularly check all the websites for some predefined rules, and penalize you if you are against any one of them.
To find the type of algorithmic penalty your site has you need to correlate the period of loss of traffic and a new algorithmic update. For this, you need to check Google Algorithm History.
Do the following to keep yourself up to date with all the latest changes to Google Search Algorithm-
- Follow Matt Cutts on Twitter. You will know all the new changes.
- Follow Google WebMaster on YouTube which provides you tips on SEO
- Check Mozcast or Algroo for new changes that are not officially recognized by Google.
Difference Between Google Filter and Penalty
To organize search results Google uses Filter and Penalty.
Google Filter is done without the involvement of any human action while penalties occur when a Google employee physically audits your website.
Google filter is activated when multiple versions of the same web pages are published on the internet.
Google removes (filters) websites from search results that appear to be duplicates of the original. This is done to give credit to the original article. To do so they choose the correct source but provide that low-quality content is not always successful. That’s why we try to avoid using duplicate content on our website.
When Google releases its quality updates like Penguin and Panda in that situation also Google activates its filter.
Google releases quality updates when Google engineers find patterns in their algorithm that are manipulating search results. These updates usually take time of months or years.
When we talk about the penalties, these are the negative actions on a website that tries to manipulate the Google search results to rank higher in search engines.
Role of Panda and Penguin Algorithm
After hearing the word Panda and Penguin the image of two cute black and white animals come to our mind. But here Panda and Penguin are the two latest algorithm updates of Google which impact the keyword ranking.
Google constantly changes its search algorithm around 500+ times per year. In the last few years, some of the significant changes have been named after animals like pandas, penguins, pigeons, and hummingbirds.
Panda algorithm update of Google focuses on the quality of content and penalizes a site that offers low-quality content to its users. This algorithm affects any website more than other algorithms. The first Panda algorithm was developed in the year 2011 and it decreased the traffic of a lot of low-quality websites.
It very precisely detects the low-quality contents and categorizes the content in high-quality, small, and medium quality. The purpose of the update is to keep low-quality content out from the top results on SERP.
Once you are affected by the Panda algorithm, after solving the issue causing the hit; you have to wait for the algorithm to run again to get your ranking and traffic back. It mainly focuses on the on-page factors.
The latest Panda update (Panda 4.1) was Google’s 27th release.
Penguin Algorithm updates on the other hand target filtering out spammy websites. Penguin focuses on unnatural links or spam links to your website. Webspam tactics are those aimed at manipulating search results using activities that are against the guidelines of Google such as link building schemes. The Penguin was founded in the year 2012 and has affected over 3% of all queries since then. Penguin doesn’t affect the whole site at once, rather some specific pages that have the most unnatural backlinks.
Manual Penalties and Algorithmic Penalties are a part of SEO. If you find any kind of penalty on your site, stop it and correct it before it gets too late.
How to recover from Google Penalty?
On the way to recovery from the Google penalty, the very first step is to understand the cause of the penalty, only then you can proceed on the path of recovery. You need to know whether your website is hit by a manual penalty or is an algorithmic penalty.
You first need to find the cause of the sudden fall in your traffic. For each cause, there is a different Google penalty recovery method.
Recovery from Manual Penalty
To confirm whether your site is hit by a manual action, you need to first log in to Google Webmaster Tools. There you will find the notification of penalty and the detailed reason for that. Following that, you can start the recovery process.
Recovery from Algorithmic Penalty
Finding out the manual actions is easy. But it is not the same in the case of the Algorithmic penalty. For this, you need to observe a fall in traffic of your website and find if Google has announced an algorithm update during that time.
Having a Google penalty is not good for any site. If you are hit by any penalty there are ways to recover but the process of recovery is very tough. It can help you to improve your site’s reputation but it’s very difficult to regain your lost position.
It’s always advised to avoid bad backlinks and duplicate content on your site. Other than this you should stop uploading any low-quality content and anchor text distribution.