What is a Google Penalty?

What is a Google Penalty?

What is a Google Penalty? This is the question many people find themselves asking when they start focusing on SEO. The search engines crawl your webpage looking for ranking factors, and anything that violates Google can result in a penalty. This can be a manual penalty or an algorithmic penalty, but the result isn’t pleasant either way.

Defining a Google Penalty

In the simplest form, a Google penalty is when a website experiences a negative impact on their search ranking. This could be due to an algorithmic penalty where you didn’t update your website to enhance the user experience and follow Google’s best practices guidelines. If you didn’t, your website would fall in the rankings after an algorithm update like Panda or Penguin. It could also be a manual penalty for getting caught using black hat SEO. Penalties, and the factors that lead to them, can often be picked up through an SEO audit.

Common Black Hat SEO Tactics that Violate Google

Google has set standards for every website, and the end goal is to give the best user experience possible. To do this, websites have to conform to Google’s standards, even if they update on a regular basis. The biggest flags that can drop your website in the search results include:

  • Cloaking/Doorway Pages – Cloaking or creating doorway pages is where you show an entirely different page than shows up on the search results when a person clicks on your link. This also includes image cloaking where you hide one image behind another image.
  • Keyword Stuffing – Keyword stuffing is the act of adding a lot of keywords into your meta descriptions, content and backlink anchor text. The hope with this tactic is to gain an unfair ranking advantage.
  • Duplicate Content – If you take content from a highly successful source and copy/paste it onto your site, this violates Google’s duplicate content rule. Your content must be free of plagiarism unless you quote it and/or link to it.
  • Link Schemes – Link schemes are a black hat SEO tactic where you load your pages with links from your homepage to manipulate your page rank.
  • Bad Links – Bad links are links on your site that don’t come from reputable sources. Repeating the links or linking to a source not relevant to your content are all forms of bad links.

How to Submit a Reconsideration Request

If you’re on the receiving end of either a manual penalty or an algorithmic penalty, you can fix the issue and ask Google to reconsider. You do this by submitting a reconsideration request. You have to create a Google Webmaster Tools account and submit through there. Google will look and decide if it’ll remove the penalty or not.

Looking to avoid Google penalties?

Factors that can lead to Google penalties can often be identified with a proactive SEO audit. If you need help running an audit on your website, get in contact with us and we’d be happy to identify how you can improve your SEO.