To begin, it’s necessary to understand how Google penalties work. Google, of course, doesn’t just - poof! - make websites disappear. It makes websites disappear from Google rankings. However, since Google is the most used search engine, disappearing from Google makes your business the equivalent of invisible. You’re still there, but no one searching for what you do or sell will be able to find you on Google unless they type your address into the address bar.
Google has two types of penalties - manual and algorithmic. If you get a manual penalty it means that someone at Google deliberately targeted your website for Google punishment. The good thing about a manual penalty is that you’ll get a notification in your Google Webmaster Tools and you’ll have an idea of what you must do to have the penalty lifted.
More challenging to undo is the algorithmic penalty because one can only guess why your business declined in Google’s complex and opaque algorithm. There could be one, two, or many reasons why your site was downgraded, and you must try to address any possibilities in order to recover from this type of penalty. It’s very time consuming and trial-and-error. Since both manual and algorithmic penalties can be costly and time consuming, this article will be about how to avoid either of them.
The first and most important thing to do to avoid breaking Google’s house rules is to familiarize yourself with those rules. Google tells you very plainly what they expect from your business if you would like to enjoy higher rankings. These rules have only solidified over time. Several years ago it was possible to fudge them a bit, or even ignore most of them and rank highly in Google. Many, many businesses did this - too many for Google’s liking, so they cracked down. Now, like it or not, it’s necessary to toe the line. Really toe it. Google rewards good, original content. If you want your business’s rankings to rise and remain high, you need to create good, original content and keep creating it.
After you are familiar with Google’s rules, go over your website with a fine tooth comb looking for incompatibilities. Is the content well written and original? Is there any keyword stuffing? If so, remove it. Have your images been tagged in the useful and accurate way Google prefers? If not, tag them correctly. A bit of housekeeping now will save you a lot of work when Google updates its algorithm again...and again.
Once you’ve gone over your own site, you need to look at what kind of links are coming to your sites from other sites and, if they are iffy or shady, start the process of getting rid of them. All links to your site can be found using Google Webmaster Tools. It can take a significant amount of time to contact other website owners and ask them to remove links or apply for disavowal of links, so periodically check your site’s link profile to make sure bad stuff hasn’t crept in. The most important thing, when examining links, is determining whether, on the whole, they appear natural. No business can control all incoming links to their website. Google knows this. But they expect that, as a whole, your link profile to appear natural and unmanipulated, as if the content you have created has generated interest on its own, not that you paid or swapped links for.
Once you have accomplished your site and link profile audits, go forward with one goal: well written, interesting, regular, and original content from now on. Try out different media as well: use pictures, videos, podcasts or other audio interviews along with written pieces. Appeal to your widest audience and don’t get lazy. Google will reward you if you stick to this system and keep at it. You will need to remain updated on future changes to Google’s algorithm, but if you follow Google’s guidelines and rules, you should not be penalized. All of the changes they have made to their algorithm thus far have only reinforced their vision, and the vision hasn’t changed. Google wants to bring the most accurate results to its searchers.
If you follow the above advice, you should remain Google penalty free. If you’ve been targeted by Google or its algorithm for penalty, Corporate Conversions would be happy to help undo the damage. Don’t despair! We’ve successfully brought other companies back from Google oblivion. It takes some work, but it can be done and is worth doing.
+Max Friar is a co-founder of Corporate Conversions, LLC. Max enjoys comprehensive website audits and analysis and helping clients with full-scope SEO solutions. Max resides in Grand Rapids with his wife, Cori, and three children, Brenna, Max, and Jack.