The reasons why Google penalized your website are many, but the underlying cause is the same — your website is not working to support Google’s goals of providing high-quality, accurate, and fast results to users.
Why should you care if Google penalized your website? It means less traffic through organic search. A bigger problem is that if Google doesn’t think your content is any good, why would users come to your site in the first place? Why have a website if it isn’t supporting your market performance?
It is a well-known fact that Google continuously updates its algorithm to identify websites working towards the same goal as itself and those that don’t. Google rewards websites in its good books by boosting their rank and penalizes others by dropping their ranking in search.
As a site owner, you can find out if Google penalized your website or not using Webmasters Tools, which also helps identify crawl errors and other important information you need to keep your website humming along. The Webmasters Guide, published by Google, is a useful resource for developers who want to optimize their websites for search.
Four Main Categories of Penalty Google Imposes
Whether you are an SEO expert or a website owner, the first step to take when you detect a drop in ranking is to check if Google penalized your website and the type of penalty. There are several of them; however, we will discuss the four most common types of penalties.
- Algorithmic Penalty
An automatic penalty imposed when the behavior of a website do not correspond to Google guidelines. Numerous algorithms scan a site for this and usually occurs whenever a new algorithm update is introduced, and the website owner is unaware. For example, the Panda update penalized sites with low-quality content; Penguin targeted links of low quality, and so on.
- Manual Penalty
In this type of penalty, the Google team reviews your website in response to an alert generated by an algorithm or due to a complaint filed against the site. If the Google team detects the warning to be genuine, most likely Google penalized your website.
- Partial Manual Penalty
This penalty is based on the reviewer’s conclusion that your website has issues with content or link that does not match the guidelines or is unsuitable to your page.
- Site-wide Penalty
The site-wide penalty has to be the most dreaded of all penalties. Google views your website as spam and drops your ranking substantially, sometimes even blacklisting or de-indexing the site.
Reasons for Google to Penalizing your website
- Duplicate content
This one is a no-brainer. Duplicate content on a site does not provide value to Google or the user. Therefore, it can lead to a penalty. Have unique and high-quality content on your site.
- Internal 404s
If a website is giving internal 404s, it means the users are not getting what they are looking for, which signals Google that there are errors and problems with your content. Due to this Google may penalize the page that is driving the traffic and ultimately the website.
- Overusing H1 tags
The structure of the content is essential for Google bots to understand the architecture of your website. H1 tags are especially important because they help Google understand the topic of the page. Abusing the H1 tag can communicate to Google that you are trying to manipulate SERP with keywords and Google penalized your website
- Keyword stuffed content
When it comes to the density of keywords, there is no given standard. Every expert has their own opinion. However, content with very high keyword density almost always means a poorly written piece. Google will penalize a website with an unreasonable amount of keywords on a page.
- Slow speeds
A website that is slow to load can be frustrating for the user, something that is a sin in the books of Google. Hence, if your website speed is slow, Google penalized your website. Here are some expert suggestions on Quora to increase website speed.
- Missing Sitemaps
A sitemap allows Google to understand how your website is put together. Google uses XML sitemap to access your site; missing sitemap will most defiantly lead to the site being penalized or not crawled. Ensure the sitemap is updated and submit it in Webmasters Tools account.
- Overusing meta keywords
Overusing Meta keywords also send a signal to Google that you are adopting unfair practices to gain rank. As a rule of thumb, use no more than five Meta tags in a page.
- Excessive Affiliate Links
Although Google does not discourage affiliate links, it can be a sign that the content on the website might not be up to the mark. Some people try and outsmart Google by masking affiliate links with redirects; however, Google has wised up to these tactics.
- Reciprocal links
In recent past, swapping links between websites was a common SEO practice, but be careful if you are doing it a lot Google will detect it and penalize you for trying to manipulate the algorithm.
- Non-responsive Website
A responsive website ensures that the user has good experience with the content on your site using any device – mobile, desktop, or notepad. A website that is non-responsive will increase your bounce rate as users leave the website immediately and affect your rankings.
After having gone through the article, you must realize that many factors ensure your website ranks in Google and is not penalized. A sure shot that takes all the hassle away is having high-quality content on your website, architecture as per the guidelines, and no SEO black hat tactics. If your site provides a good experience and adds value to the user, the website will rank no matter the algorithm update.
About the Author
Harry is a SEO Strategist at Seoz – a leading SEO Brisbane Agency.