Inexperienced marketers and web designers can easily negatively affect rankings and organic traffic to a website. Intentionally trying to manipulate your rankings using grey-hat or black-hat techniques can be detrimental to your website position in the result pages. But does this mean your site visibility could be permanently damaged beyond repair?
Google can indeed penalize your site for using illegitimate tactics, but that does not mean you cannot recover from these penalties. Learn more about what to watch out for and how to recover in this article.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) improves the quality and quantity of organic traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. The keyword here is improving your website; it never states tricking Google into showing your page more.
Google's search results are compiled by a highly complex algorithm that works with crawlers. That algorithm can demote specific sites acting nefariously to show more legitimate search results.
Penalties and de-ranking explained.
Google wants the best user experience for searchers because users can easily use another search engine for their questions. If they find that search results are inaccurate or full of spam pages, they will quickly move to a search engine like Bing or DuckDuckGo.
When a person lies to you, what that person says will carry less weight, trust needs to be established for you to believe them, and depending on the lie, that trust may take a very long time to be earned. The same can be said for search engines; if they do not trust your content, you might not show up as high in search engine result pages (SERPs) until you can prove that trust again.
Are penalties permanent?
The short answer is no; you always have an opportunity to recover from a manual or algorithmic penalty. Same as in life, you always have a chance to redeem yourself. Depending on the penalty will determine how long that time will be.
There are two types of penalties:
- Algorithmic penalties: an automated process that lowers your rankings by Google's algorithm.
- Manual actions: a manual process performed by Google staff to delist your website from search results.
The severity of each penalty:
- Algorithmic penalties: are often minor and are easier to have reversed. They are typically reassessed when a new core update rolls out.
- Manual actions: are infrequent and happen to extremely spammy sites. These sites must clean up their act and submit a review request, which could take months or even years.
How to Ruin Your Website Rankings
- You created a lot of low-quality links to your site
- You failed to fix a high percentage of 301 redirects of broken links (404s)
- Your site has duplicate content
- You have poorly executed title or meta tags updates
- You have negatively changed or removed content
- You have incorrectly used noindex tag, robots.txt file, and nofollow attribute
- Your site is getting lots of low-quality traffic
- You have ignored recent google ranking algorithm updates
- You have violated copyright knowingly or unknowingly
- There is a rise in local competition and you haven't adapted
- Your site is not mobile-friendly and not ready for voice search
- You have become a victim of negative SEO
- Your site has suddenly become unsafe
- You have unnatural links pointing to other sites
- You have recently changed the internal linking of your website
- You recently added lots of pages on your site with low-quality content
Worst case scenario
You can always move your website to a new domain name in a worst-case scenario. It's most likely not ideal, but you can rest assured you are not at a total loss.
Tips for Avoiding SEO Penalties
Avoiding penalties in SEO is very simple:
- Work with experts: Experts are typically people that have prior experience and testimonials, someone that you can get on a video call and discuss strategy.
- Focus on what you are getting: SEO isn't magic; it takes a lot of work. So anyone optimizing your website should have a list of completed items to show you every month.
- Analyze your traffic: If your organic traffic suddenly drops, investigate why and potential causes. These fluctuations can typically be easily fixed if caught in time.
By following these rules, you shouldn't fear getting a Google penalty. The chances of your site being entirely ruined by Google are far to none. SEO requires continually adding new content and optimizations to your website to stay healthy; SEO is not a "set it and forget it" process; it takes a lot of hard work and consistent dedication. Don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like help with your search engine optimization process.