Every person with a website knows that feeling – you could get up the next morning, only to discover all that heard-earned search engine traffic you had fought for has disappeared over-night because Google changed a few lines of code in their algorithm. If you are one of the unlucky few who saw their worst search engine nightmare come true, then here is a simple process for helping you get your rankings back in no time.
If you’ve recently been slapped with a Google penalty, you know it can really affect the traffic coming to your site. You can go from being incredibly successful, bringing in a myriad of traffic on a daily basis, to barely getting any visitors when you are slapped with a penalty from Google.
Known as the largest search engine operating system, Google has a lot of pull on your traffic. It is actually accountable for roughly 69.3% of all searches. In just last October alone, it controlled over 12.6 billion searches.
The quality of these Google searches and the traffic that it brings to your site is stellar, because SEO has been known to offer the largest impression on consumer interest. Inbound marketing leads used with Google’s search engines offer a whopping 14.6% conversation rate compared to other common outbound marketing leads like cold calling and pay per click advertising, whose conversion rates are much lower.
But maybe you don’t even know you’ve been penalized. Sometimes the effects are so small at first, it’s hard to tell.
There are quite a few reasons why Google could frown on you, but the long and short of it is – if you are caught violating their guidelines, then you will witness a dramatic fall in your search engine rankings.
The more worrisome issue is, you could follow their guidelines to a t, and still end up being penalized! After all, negative SEO attacks cannot be discounted.
So what can you do?
Before you do anything, educate yourself to help understand what these penalties are and how you got them in the first place. This will allow you to figure out the right plan of action.
To help get you started, here are some key points in dealing with Google penalties:
Which penalties are affecting your site?
If you are experiencing traffic drops to your site, don’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have been penalized. There are other reasons why traffic has been dropping and a lot of the times it’s a technical problem with your server, improper redirects, crawling challenges or content by blocked by robots.txt.
But technical difficulties aren’t the only thing that can cause your traffic to drop. There are other things to consider, too. If you’re promoting a seasonal vocation, your traffic might not be as high as it was during the time of high season.
There are two main penalties to watch for: manual and algorithmic.
Manual: This type of penalty happens when a manual quality rater finds something suspicious on your site. An easy way to figure out whether you have been penalized with a manual action is by signing into the Google Search Console( https://www.google.com/webmasters/ ) and clicking on your messages. A rater will have written the issue here for you to view.
Algorithmic: Google can detect violations with its various algorithms but unlike a manual penalty, you won’t get a message in your Search Console explaining the issue. You will need to manually figure out when the penalty happened by using Search Console for indexing problems and/or Google Analytics for any traffic-related issues.
Sometimes people even need to use both. You’ll need to do a little digging to understand which algorithm change your site has been slapped with. To do so, you’ll first need to find the date when you noticed the penalty took place, such as when your traffic significantly dropped. After that, you’ll need to pair it with the date when Google performed one of its many algorithms and see if they match up.
You have a penalty. Now what?
Now that you have a penalty, it’s important to understand how you got it. There are several reasons for a manual penalties including unnatural links on your site. These can be from outside sources, or ones that you’ve put in there yourself. Unnatural links can lead to spam sites making your site appear suspicious in Google’s eyes.
Spammy content found on your site is another red flag. There are many reasons why you’re being flagged for spam such as having suspicious comments backlinking to bad sites or filling your site with duplicate content found from outside sources.
As for algorithmic penalties, there are two main ones to keep an eye out for. The Panda algorithm distributes penalties for invaluable, poorly written content, while the Penguin algorithm penalizes for bad backlinks that are found in unusual link systems.
How do you fix the problem?
While some problems can easily be fixed, like deleting unwanted spammy comments on your site or limit the amount of links you use, others can be harder and more time consuming. When fixing unnatural links, you have to get a list of your backlinks to help search for the penalty before you’re able to lift it.
If you need to fix a Penguin or Panda penalty, you’ll have to take the necessary actions such as removing any duplicated content, and then wait for the algorithm to run again to see if your penalty is removed.
You are able to submit a reconsideration request to Google if you were hit with a manual action. To find this form, go to the Search Console and click “Manual Actions” under the “Search Traffic” tab.
This detailed request will explain why the penalty happened, how you fixed the issue and how you plant to prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
How do you not get penalized again?
The last thing you want is to get hit with another penalty again. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help prevent from future problems to occur.
Stay on top of audits: Remember to conduct SEO and content audits regularly. This can include keeping an eye on links, check your messages in Search Console and never approve any comments that look like spam.
Watch SEO sites: Keep up on the news so you’re always clued in on changes that might cause penalties down the road.
Don’t get lost in temptation: There are lot of scams out there that say they can offer you too-good-to-be-true offers. Don’t fall for them. Building traffic to your site and placement on SEO takes time, but well worth it when you do it right.
While you can’t always prevent penalties from happening, you can stay well-informed giving you a better chance at keeping your SEO ranking high and your website thriving.
If you prefer to have a professional company handle your SEO rankings and monitoring, contact us.