If you run a company that relies on online traffic to drive key business outcomes I imagine you have heard of the dreaded Google penalty. However, to clear up any misunderstanding, a Google penalty refers to Googles response when a site undertakes activities that contravene its webmaster guidelines. This intentional penalisation of your website and the associated negative impact on your sites rankings and traffic, occurs when your site is manually reviewed or as a result of one of the regular updates of the algorithms that dictate search results.
Why have you been penalised? There are a number of reasons, but most commonly it relates to the use of ‘black hat’ techniques used to create or manipulate backlinks to fool search engines into favouring your company over others in search results.
These dodgy backlink techniques are often referred to as ‘link spam’ and Google in particular comes down hard on offending websites. Common sources of link spam include:
Have you endured endless drivel in the comments section on your website with links to disreputable urls? Comment spam refers to links left in article comments sections with the sole purpose of promoting another website.
A classic technique for search optimisation in the past has been leveraging the countless blog networks available to drive huge volumes of links from sites that appear unconnected to the website promoted. Google is on to this now and has targeted large blog networks with crippling Google penalties to negate this link spam practice.
In the past it has been popular practice to pay sites a fee for url links in an attempt to populate backlinks to your website and impact positively on search engine results. Googles recent terms of service changes make it clear that a nofollow attribute is crucial for paid advertising links to avoid being considered link spam.
Guest blog posts
Guest blogs were once considered a tried and trusted practice for building reputation and search prominence for your website. However, Google now considers guest blog posts as a spam technique following the Penguin algorithm update.
So What Is The Impact On Your Site?
If you are caught contravening Googles webmaster guidelines then the results can be extremely damaging. The Google penalty imposed can range from a small drop in rankings for a specific keyword, or perhaps an individual page, through to an entire site being slapped with major penalties and a huge drop in reputation and search traffic. Needless to say such a penalty can be difficult to recover from. Google wants to discourage offending websites (and other companies) from adopting these mischievous practices and looks to remove any ill gotten gains. Often the impact will extend beyond the sites that took part in the manipulation and will include other websites or blogs that provide outbound links.
What to do about your Google Penalty?
The first step involves discovering if your website has in fact been impacted. Typically this means leveraging Google webmaster tools to review site impacts against the timing of known Google updates.
The second step necessitates completing a comprehensive site audit to establish exactly what needs to be done to lift your site out of Googles ‘sandbox’ and rebuild its reputation again. At SEO Guru we provide complete site audit services and a step by step approach to recovering lost site rank and regaining traffic. Contact us today if your website has been on the receiving end of a Google penalty.