Is Your Website On Its Way To A Google Penalty?

Posted - January 29, 2021
A graphs showing an extreme loss in traffic

You launch your website with the best of intentions, but Google algorithm changes and the need to outrank the competition may tempt you to “cheat” the system. The end result can be a dreaded Google penalty.

Google penalties can be devastating to your bottom line ⁠— avoid them at all costs! Here’s a detailed look at what Google penalties are, and some of the most common actions that cause them.

What Are Google Penalties?

Over the years, Google began to favor high quality content above all else when ranking websites for its search engine. With each algorithm update, the need for quality content becomes even more essential, and if sites don’t keep up with changes or practice blackhat search engine optimization (SEO), they will eventually become penalized and fall off of Google’s rankings.

There are two types of penalties to look out for:

Manual Actions

Google search console showing a manual action on a site

When Google representatives physically find a problem with a website, owners may receive a manual action that brings the problem to light and outlines the length of the penalty and how site managers should address it.

Manual actions are usually caused by:

  • Spam
  • A hacked website
  • Unnatural links to and from the website, and other issues we’ll address later

Algorithmic Penalties

These penalties are a little more difficult for users to catch. While they aren’t necessarily penalties that Google informs you about and how to fix them, they are a technical penalty that occurs because a site no longer meets Google standards after a large update.

With an algorithmic penalty, users usually don’t find out there’s a problem until calls stop coming through and their bottom line is severely affected.

Signs That You’ve Got a Google Penalty

Fortunately, there are signs that you can look out for that will bring a hidden penalty to light. If you’re experiencing any of the following issues with your website, you most likely have a penalty to resolve:

  • Your brand name isn’t even ranking well anymore
  • Complete removal from Google search results
  • Searching for your site brings up no results

Can You Reverse a Penalty?

Yes, website managers can reverse penalties and most of the time, your site can eventually build back its pre-penalty reputation. However, the reversal process is something that usually requires the touch of an SEO company to ensure that the corrections comply with Google standards.

What Are the Most Common Reasons Behind Penalties?

There are seemingly countless reasons for Google to directly or indirectly penalize a website. If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in traffic or rankings, here are some common issues you should consider when reviewing your site.

Bought Links

Paying for links can seem like the easiest way to the top of the search results. However, Googlebot will quickly discover this action and create a long-term problem for your site’s credibility.

Buying links usually means you’re buying links that are spammy, low-quality, or don’t even lead to a legitimate page. When your site becomes riddled with these types of links, your site’s authority plummets.

a google warning showing unnatural links on a website

Therefore, until you disavow or switch out bad links with genuine replacements, you can expect Google to continue ranking your pages lower or outright not ranking them at all.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content hurts everyone involved. Not only is it unethical to directly scrape content from one site and add it to your own, but you could end up disrupting you and the other site’s rankings.

When Google crawlers discover duplicate content they don’t know how to distinguish or separate the multiple versions of the content. Unless duplicate content comes from a site with much higher authority than yours, Google usually can’t figure out who the culprit is. This could lead to Google penalizing both sites.

Thin Content

Google cares about the value and quality of each page on your website. Therefore, if you have several pages that have little content or low-quality content that’s overstuffed with keywords, Google will most likely send a manual penalty your way. 

Based on the recent BERT update, your site’s content should always provide original, relevant content that answers user questions about the subject at hand. This type of content should thicken up your page’s value and help prevent future Google penalties with regard to this issue. 

Keyword Stuffing

While it’s important to use keywords and context to ensure your page ranks well during searches, overusing keywords is detrimental to your cause. Google is essentially the all seeing eye of the internet. 

If Google’s crawlers notice that your site is overusing keywords in an attempt to game the system, then you could receive  a manual penalty.

Site Error Pages

Just like you don’t find sites riddled with error pages credible, neither does Google. If your site has an error page problem, this makes the navigation of your content difficult for users. Linking to too many error pages throughout your site will bring down a penalty on your brand and diminish site credibility and rankings on Google search results.

Easily Correct Site Penalties with Dallas SEO Dogs

Although a switched out link or updated content can correct some Google penalties, not every business owner has the time to pore through SEO tools and make the manual changes that get their site ranking again. 

Dallas SEO Dogs is a team of SEO specialists that can help websites reclaim their coveted spots on Google, and prevent future Google Penalties from stealing away future financial prospects. Contact us today to learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.