Are you wondering what has happened to your website? If it has disappeared from the first page and is now featuring on page 10 then it may be that you have been given a penalty from Google. This may be a “manual” penalty or it could be that your website has been subjected to an “algorithmic update”. Either way, it appears that Google doesn’t rate your website anymore.
Manual Google Penalty
Let’s first look at a manual penalty. What does that actually mean? It means that someone from Google has had a look at your website and discovered that you are not adhering to Googles guidelines. This could be because your website has:
Unnatural links to it – meaning that it looks like a whole load of low quality links have been bought. Google HATES websites which buy links.
Thin or little content – the website has low quality pages or copied content
Has hidden text – sometimes websites have hidden text to try and fool the search engines
Keyword stuffing – too much of the same keyword is being used in order to manipulate the outcome on search engines.
They will alert you to the penalty in Google webmaster tools. Having this notification allows you to fix the situation as you have some guidance on what is wrong.
Algorithmic Google Penalty
What about this? The search engines use over 200 signals to determine where to rank a website. These signals are used in an algorithm or a very complicated equation. For example, the signals used may include rating the quality of the links coming to your website, or how specific and relevant your website titles are etc. Google updates this algorithm regularly to improve search quality for users and to weed out spam. It is constantly looking to provide the user with exactly what they searched for and give a good user experience. If your site has dodgy links, poor quality content or keyword stuffing but has been doing quite well in rankings, this high will probably be short term. Google may release an update to its algorithm which penalises some of the practises which are helping you rank and you find that your website has sunk as a result.
Can it be fixed?
What can you do to fix this? With a manual penalty it is slightly easier because you will have a notification from Google about the penalty. You can take steps to amend your website so that it falls within guidelines again. You can then submit a reconsideration request and hope Google will accept it and let you back into the fold.
With an algorithmic penalty it is harder to know what has actually occurred. You need to investigate whether there have been any major updates from Google and correlate that with your slide down the rankings.
Google release cutely named algorithmic updates called Panda and Penguin and these tend to cause shifts in rankings. Penguin updates specifically weed out tactics used to manipulate Google. In this case you have to work out why you’ve been penalised and then remedy the situation. You do not submit a reconsideration request. If you think it is bad links causing you problems, then you need to work out which ones are problematic and ask webmasters to remove them. If this is not possible then you can submit a disavow file through Google webmaster tools. In this case, you hope that Google will take notice of all your hard work at cleaning things up. There are companies like this one who can help with this Google Penalty Removal,
If you are a new website and want to hire a SEO consultant to help increase your organic traffic, the best advice is do your homework before you hire. Ensure the SEO consultant is following best practices and will not cause your website harm in the future. Black hat techniques can be used to gain you quick wins in Google ranking. This may sound great as you will have loads of traffic short term. But long term it can be a disaster once Google decides to pull a plug on these techniques (as it usually does). The SEO consultant walks away and you are left with a website which has plummeted and needing to rebuild its reputation. If you are guaranteed rankings then be careful as promises may come at a price.
We can provide help to get your website back on track if you suffer from these penalties. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Caroline Phillips is the owner of Alba SEO Services which offers quality SEO services to SME's. Established since 2013, Alba SEO has a track record of success.
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