Google strives to provide its users with the best possible experience, which includes presenting only high-quality, valuable and relevant search results. Websites that try to fool Google in order to rank higher and ultimately receive more clicks can be severely penalized.
Why does my website get penalized?
Not every breach is intentional, but Google does not differentiate between accidental and deliberate actions. Being hacked is one of the most common reasons websites are penalized. However, other reasons include simply not providing quality content, using outdated SEO strategies or trying to be sneaky by employing methods such as keyword-stuffing, paying for backlinks and hiding content throughout the website.
Which tactics Google deems ‘unworthy’ has changed over time. Keeping up with algorithm changes and updated guidelines is not an easy task. But if you find that your click rates have dropped overnight for no apparent reason, chances are that Google has put you in the sin bin.
What types of penalties are there?
There are 2 main categories for Google penalties: You can either receive a manual penalty or trigger an algorithm breach. A manual penalty means that a Google staff member manually reviewed your website and found a violation of their guidelines. If you got this level of attention from Google, you’re in real trouble! An algorithm breach is detected when Google crawls websites, especially after an algorithm update. Almost all sudden drops in rankings will be due to an algorithm that has picked up something Google doesn’t like.
Depending on the severity of the breach, penalties can affect parts of your website or result in your entire website being devalued or removed entirely from the search index, meaning it no longer shows in search results.
Here is how to proceed after a penalty highly depends on which category you fall into.
I’ve been penalized – what now?
In order to recover from a Google penalty, you first need to identify what kind of penalty you have received.
Google will send you a manual action report via the Google Search Console and notify you of your wrongdoing. Once you have fixed the issue(s), you need to file a reconsideration request, explaining what steps you have undertaken to remedy the problem and how you are going to avoid a repeat in the future.
At the same time, you need to ask to have your website re-evaluated. The review will again be done manually, so before sending in the request you have to make sure all issues are thoroughly resolved.
The hardest thing about algorithm breaches is that you will not be notified about them. Unlike manual penalties, algorithmic filtering does not result in alerts being sent out. The only way to find out whether you have been penalized is to check the time period when your website started losing traffic and see if it correlates with any recent algorithm updates.
Once you know what problems your website has, all you need to do is sit down and get your website back in shape! Being up-to-date with the latest Google guidelines, algorithms and successful SEO strategies is the best way to avoid further complications. Simple right? Probably just easier to call us!
What comes next?
Unfortunately, a penalty removal does not always mean instant recovery. Depending on the issue that was identified on your website, it may take some time for Google to crawl, re-evaluate and re-rank it. In general, websites recover a lot faster from algorithm breaches (once rectified) than manual penalties.
The best way to handle Google penalties is to avoid them completely. If you think your website might be at risk of breaching Google standards and guidelines or if you have already received a penalty, contact the friendly team at Energise Web today. We specialize in search engine optimisation and can help you get your website back into the rankings.