Easy Guide To Handling Google Penalties


Google Penalties

If you work in the search industry for long enough, chances are at some point you’re going to have to deal with a penalty or an algorithm change. It can be incredibly devastating: After spending hours upon hours to eek your traffic stats up, all of a sudden one day it comes crashing down. Your Analytics chart looks like a bird taking a nosedive.

What can you do? The first step is to diagnose what happened, and then come up with an appropriate plan of action.

Check for Global Algorithm Changes

There are two kinds of algorithm changes to look out for. First, there are industry-specific algorithm changes. Then there are global algorithm changes that affect everyone.

The best way to check for global algorithm changes is to hop on search engine forums and browse search engine blogs. There webmasters will compare notes with one another and point out any major shifts in the search engines.

Identify Industry-Specific Algorithm Changes

Another thing to look into is whether or not the algorithm has changed in your specific industry.

The best way to do this is to look at the rest of your competitors. Have others been hit as well? Or is it just your site?

If it’s just your site, then it’s probably something wrong with your site specifically. If the listings of your whole industry have shifted, then it’s probably an industry wide shift.

Have You Been De-Listed?

The most drastic action Google can take is to de-list a site completely. This is rare and only happens when they believe you’re engaging in foul play.

The easiest way to figure out if you’ve been de-listed is to type in “site:example.com” with your domain in Google. If you can’t find your site, that means your pages have been removed.

You can also figure out if you’ve been delisted by typing in your exact site name. If you don’t come up and you used to, you probably got de-listed. If you can find your site using “site:” but not by typing your own site name, that probably means you got a massive penalty, but didn’t get delisted entirely.

Identify and Fix the Cause of the Penalty

There are many reasons why you might have gotten penalized by Google. Here are some of the most common.

Link manipulation. If Google thinks you’re trying to generate backlinks using unethical methods, they’ll blacklist you. Check your backlinks and see if you have an over-concentration of certain link sources. Are you getting linked to from link farms and other non-real websites? What about anchor texts? Do you have an unnaturally high concentration of anchor texts, or is there a natural mix of keyword rich links and “click here” links?

Low quality content. Do you have duplicate content on your site? Do you have spun content? Do you have scraped content or syndicated RSS content? What about article directory content? Do you have spelling mistakes in your content? All of these can lead to penalizations from Google. If you don’t have A+ content, Google is naturally going to give you a hard time.

Hacked website. Is your website redirecting traffic from Google somewhere else? Is it trying to install malware on people’s computers? Getting hacked is actually a relatively common occurrence. If you don’t have the latest version of WordPress or if you haven’t secured your MySQL server or if you have incorrect file permissions set, it’s not difficult for a hacker to get into your server.

Bad changes. Another reason for a drop in rankings could come from making changes to your site. If you had a site that was doing very well, then you changed your internal linking structure and had your rankings drop a month later, those two events could be linked. Whenever you make changes to your site, you should keep track of those changes in a change log. If you notice a drop in traffic, look back on your change log and see if you notice anything that could cause that drop.

Once you’ve identified the reason you got penalized, come up with a concrete plan to fix it. For example, if you got penalized for anchor text stuffing, go back and try to change some of the anchor texts or build new links with no keywords in your anchor texts. If you got penalized for getting hacked, hire someone on eLance or oDesk to comb through your server and fix any and all the security leaks.

Once you’ve fixed the root cause of your penalty, you can usually expect to get back in the search engine rankings within 30 to 60 days.
Thank you to my Guest Post Author: Sameer Panjwani

Sameer is the  founder of Directory Maximizer, a company offering link building solutions through manual directory submissions

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