Google’s rules for successful search engine optimization are always changing. As its webmasters work to keep its searchers happy, that often means taking away a few of the freedoms traditionally enjoyed by those seeking to optimize their websites in the form of a penalty.
Oftentimes, companies don’t realize their website has been hit with a penalty until they see a drastic decrease in rankings or sales. That’s why it’s very important to stay up to date with Google’s policies.
In order to make the most out of your optimization strategy, you must be able to first identify any penalty you may have received, and then take the proper steps to overcome the penalty. To begin with, know the difference between a manual penalty and an algorithmic penalty.
The definition of this penalty is suggested in it’s name: A human member of Google’s team will manually reach out to your website to let you know you’ve made an infraction in the way you’re optimizing your website. Generally, they’ll send you a notification through your Google Webmasters Tools account. It’s very important to check this account frequently so you lose as little time as possible in fixing the error.
A team member will reach out to your company to inform you of this infraction, which could be a result of several reasons and the intensity of the penalty will depend on how bad the team member deems the offence.
Oftentimes these penalties involve linking scams, such as the paid links scandal headed by J.C. Penney. They found a way to cheat their way to the top of the page through paid links, and only a manual penalty stopped them from taking other websites’ rightfully earned rankings.
In order to overcome this penalty, you must first make the requested changes to your website, and then submit a reconsideration request that may or may not grant you a full recovery.
Algorithm penalties are a little more difficult to detect because, as the name suggests, they’re determined by an algorithm rather than a human being. Most people fall victim to an algorithm penalty simply because Google updated their algorithm unbeknownst to their strategists; they don’t notice they’re falling victim to a penalty until the drop in rankings hurts their bottom line.
Algorithm penalties generally fall into two categories: Panda (problems with the content on your website) and Penguin (poor use of keywords and linking). Algorithmic penalties will usually be the result of one or more of the following:
Thin, low-quality content
Lack of credentials within content
Over optimization on landing pages
Cross-domain linking schemes
Excessive anchor-text links
In order to identify and assess which penalty or penalties you’re experiencing and how to correct them, you can use tools provided by Google.
Your return to a clean bill of website health is dependent on your fixing these errors and beginning again with a renewed, rule-abiding optimization strategy.