What are the penalties and why they occur?
All administrators strive to rank their websites high in the search engine results, some of them use not very correct methods to reach the first positions, so Google introduces algorithms to monitor for such unfair practices. Google's penalties impose restrictions on the sites that limit their visibility in search engines or drastically reduce traffic to them.
How to recognize if your website has been penalized?
If your site is restricted by any of Google's algorithms, then you will immediately feel a noticeable drop in the traffic and visibility of the website in the search engine.
You are probably using Google's tools to track your site's keyword rankings, such as the Google Search Console.
What are the most common types of penalties by Google?
Some of Google's most popular algorithms are Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird.
The Panda algorithm is the main reason we all strive to create quality and relevant content. It monitors for duplicate or poor quality content and aims to rank high in the SERP sites with good and unique content such as in-depth reports, researches, thoughtful analysis.
Most often Panda reacts to:
Too little content
Excessive use of keywords or so-called Keyword stuffing (read more about keyword stuffing in our article "How to write successful and SEO optimized blog posts in 2021")
Low user activity
The Penguin algorithm aims to track sites that violate Google's policies by using unnatural anchor texts of inbound links coming from other sites, dishonest tactics that aim to mislead search engines by repeatedly using keywords or phrases in the content, sites containing spam, viruses, or adware. It aims to support the action of its predecessor Panda and to filter even better for poor quality content, allowing only websites that have value and are relevant to the topic researcher by the user to the highest positions in the search results of Google.
Links from low quality and/or spam sites
Links from sites created for links only (satellite sites)
Links from inappropriate sites
Links that are obviously paid
Links with anchor text that is over-optimized
Sites with a bad user experience
Hidden links leading to external sites
The Hummingbird algorithm is an advanced improvement on search engines in the direction of displaying information relevant to the user's queries. Search engines have evolved to such an extent that they can even understand the lemma - the basic form of the words. This is how they understand if we write in plural, what gender is mentioned etc. making the repetition of one and the same word in a page unnecessary. You probably have heard the phrase "Write for the people not for the machines.” more often recently because of the Hummingbird algorithm which makes the search engine more intuitive and intelligent. Excessive use of a particular keyword is eliminated. You need to create well-written, meaningful content that uses many synonyms and phrases related to the target keyword. In this way, the level of content published on the websites is significantly improved and people manage to get useful information when they make a query in the search engines.
The Hummingbird algorithm will penalize:
• Exact match keyword targeting
• Keywords Stuffing
• Poor user experience
How to avoid Google penalties?
Often read the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Often check Googles guides for new rules which can occur
You have to check on a regular basis all your links and content
In order to avoid new problems follow all new updates of Google
When considering advertisement and affiliated links think wise and never choose shady practices;
Make sure you have SSL certificate in order to keep your website well secured;
Use legit website hosting provider;
To recover your domain after penalty -submit a reconsideration request after you have corrected all previous issues.
How to recover your domain reputation?
Once penalized it is not easy to recover your domain reputation and start showing in the search engines again, but it’s not impossible. Here I will mention some of the most obvious things you have to check for and improve your website, but this is not an in-depth tutorial on the topic and will not give you a full list, because every case is different and might require additional research or long communication with the Google’s teams.
There are two types of penalties you can get - a manual penalty which is imposed by the Google spam team and an algorithmic penalty.
In the Google Search Console, you can check for any notifications. If you have been penalized by Google there will be a letter from Google’s teams which will inform you what is the reason and how to improve your domain reputation.
To find out what is the type of your penalty you will have to research very accurately what was the time when the drop of traffic occurred and all the activities you have done on your website at that time. There might be a backlink which the algorithm doesn’t like or find spammy or duplicated content you need to remove or rewrite, so it will be unique.
Not being well-informed about a law doesn’t make you innocent. Same with the search engines - not knowing about a rule won’t save you from a penalty. This is why you should always keep yourself informed about the latest changes in the ever-changing algorithms.
There are many useful websites where you can find tones of information on the topic, but the website in the Google Developers Guidelines you will find a lot of official and well-structured information, so keep an eye on it.
Always try to be transparent and write content for your readers instead for the machines, take only relevant links to your website, and check for spammy content on websites to which you are linked to prevent penalties.