10 Reasons Why Google Penalized your Website?

google penalized your website
Image courtesy of Yoast SEO Plugin

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.

1. Algorithmic Penalty

An automatic penalty imposed when the behavior of a website does not correspond to Google guidelines. Numerous algorithms scan a site for this and scans usually occur 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Site-wide Penalty

The site-wide penalty is 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, which may mean your content doesn’t show up in a search, rather than simply receiving a penalty.

10 Reasons why Google to Penalizing your website

1. Duplicate content

The problem: 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–maybe across your entire website, not just the offending pages.

The solution: Have unique, high-quality content on your site created on your site on a consistent basis. Tweaking existing content doesn’t count as new content and there’s no mythical percentage of newness that moves your content to unique.

So, always check user-generated content to ensure it’s unique to your site and, if you write content about a new topic, bring something new to the table. That shouldn’t be very hard given almost everything changes over time.

2. Internal 404s

An internal 404 means that a particular piece of content is no longer available.

The problem: If a website generates internal 404s, it means the users aren’t getting what they are looking for, which signals Google that there are errors and problems with your content. Excessive 404s may get Google to penalize the page that is driving the traffic and ultimately the entire website.

Often 404s come from reader comments or links to old content that websites removed without redirecting the URL to a different piece of content. That’s just bad etiquette and you shouldn’t do it as it hurts both your website and websites of folks backlinking to you.

The solution:  Never remove a piece of content unless you set up a redirect to send it to another page that might address the user’s need for information. Track bad backlinks to other sites on your page and remove or replace the link, as appropriate.

3. 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.

The problem: Abusing the H1 tag communicates to Google that you are trying to manipulate SERPs with keywords and Google penalized your website in return.

The solution: Only use H1 tags as titles and use H2 tags (or H3, H4 …) in the body of your content. This conforms to what we all learned about headings and subheadings in school.

4. Keyword stuffed content

Keyword stuffing is a relic of a bygone age of black hat SEO. It means your content overuses your keywords, possibly even creating nonsense content in your efforts to use the keywords.

The problem: 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.

The solution: balance your use of keywords with the word count of your content to ensure you’re providing a great value to readers.

5. Slow speeds

A website that is slow to load can frustrate 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.

6. Missing Sitemaps

A sitemap allows Google to understand how your website is put together. Google uses XML sitemap to access your site;

The problem: a missing sitemap most defiantly leads to the site being penalized or not crawled at all. When a site isn’t crawled, the content isn’t available on search.

The solution: Ensure the sitemap is updated and submit it in Webmasters Tools account.

7. Overusing meta keywords

Overusing Meta keywords also sends 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 on a page.

8. 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.

9. Reciprocal links

In recent past, swapping links between websites was a common SEO practice, but be careful if you are doing it a lot as Google detects too many reciprocal links and penalizes you for trying to manipulate the algorithm.

10. 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.

I use Yoast’s SEO plugin for my WordPress site to help manage my SEO, produce sitemaps, and caution me against doing something that might get a penalty from Google. I highly recommend you make your life easier by using Yoast.

Need marketing help to support business growth?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});