SEO marketing is an effective strategy for using Google’s algorithm to help your message reach a wider audience. However, there’s a fine line between great SEO marketing and black-hat tricks that Google will punish you for. And if you’re not an expert at SEO marketing, it can be hard to figure out how to stay on the right side of that line.
What Is a Google Penalty?
SEO marketing has developed as a way to optimize your site so that Google’s algorithm will accurately identify your webpage as one of the most relevant pages for users in your target audience. But some techniques for doing this are considered manipulative and unfair.
Google penalizes these techniques and practices by dropping your site down in the rankings. Every drop lower comes with a massive decrease in website traffic.
Because Google does not formally announce to you that your website has been penalized, the first sign is often this decrease in traffic. However, you can be more proactive by going to the Google Webmaster Tools to find out about any penalties.
How Does a Site Get Penalized?
Here are some of the most common practices that will cause your site to be penalized by google:
- Paid links without the “nofollow” attribute included
- Links left in comments on articles
- Blog networks presenting themselves as unconnected but posting links for a fee
- Guest blog posts
For a more comprehensive list, you’ll want to check the webmaster guidelines. Google is constantly updating these. Guest blog posts, for example, were long considered acceptable practice but were reclassified as spam in 2014.
Tips for Recovering after a Google Penalty
If you have already been penalized by Google’s algorithm, here are a few tips to help you recover your position and move back up through the rankings:
- Work with SEO Experts in Your Industry. Using acceptable SEO practices that are still effective is not something any novice can pick up. Working with a team of SEO experts who know your industry is the safest way to make sure you recover from and avoid future google penalties.
- Identify & Eliminate the Problems. Figure out where the problems were. About 95% of google penalties are due to bad backlink profiles so you will want to start there. Clean your site of everything that could be causing penalties so that you are ready to start fresh.
- Focus on writing content for people. Many website owners will become so focused on optimizing for google algorithms that they forget to write content that a real human being would want to read. Your SEO techniques may get the user to your website but it’s the actual value of the content that will keep them there and get them sharing in their network. SEO is important but it’s not the only thing that internet marketing is made of.
A google penalty can definitely set you back. But not doing anything about it is even worse. If you’re dealing with a google penalty, it’s important to take the right steps to recover and avoid making the same mistakes in the future. The tips in this article are a great place to start!