The whole ideas behind the SEO are to provide relevant, accurate answers to internet user are queries. That’s Google’s main mission since they started in the late 90s. Unfortunately, after 20+ years of such mission, there are still businesses that think more about rankings than to actually provide genuine results to user’s searches. And that’s when pretty bad search engine optimization conducts started.
Ever since the beginning business owners wanted as much extra exposure as possible in order to rank on Google’s first page. One of the most primitive ways to try to “cheat” search engines consisted of stuffing websites with keywords and phrases that would make them win traffic. In the digital marketing jargon, this is called “keyword stuffing”. This was basically an attempt to trick Google’s algorithm. And so began a fierce battle between the giant search engine and those trying to get ranks and traffic through cheating.
Google Updates: The Terror of Bad Search Engine Optimization
Google came up with a solution to this essential problem. Every certain period of time they update their algorithm. In time these updates have become a continuing source of speculation (and fear) for many digital marketers. Google updates are kept in secret and usually appear without warning. In essence, these updates reinvent the requirements when it comes to relevant, quality content.
In the latest years, Google has focused its efforts on promoting quality content. A good example of this was Google’s Fred, a series of updates that made many websites to drop their rankings up to 90%. With these updates, Google not only takes grammar and readability in consideration: it also looks for signs of SEO cheats. Some of the most common ones are unnatural links from one site to another or a strange/misleading use of language. Bad website architecture is also another key factor that Google attacks, as it seriously affects positive user’s experience.
The Meaning of a Google Penalty
“Google penalty” is a term in digital marketing jargon to refer to the negative impact of a Google algorithm update on a website. It also applies when such webpage is manually penalized for infringing search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines. Still, this shouldn’t be confused with a simple ranking plummet. That could happen for multiple reasons that can’t be easily explained but don’t necessarily mean you’re infringing a directive from Google.
When a website receives a penalization by Google, it means that your site has very likely been reviewed by Google after being flagged for not meeting its quality guidelines. These penalties can be serious and very tricky to revert. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t resolve them. These penalizations appear in a report on Google Search Console in the form of a penalty checker. You can start a resolution process right over there and request Google to re-index your website. That could be a start to revert the damage the penalization infringed to your site.
The Main Reasons for Google Penalties
A bad search engine optimization, and thus a potential penalty, is rooted in several main activities:
- Bad content: Google penalizes websites with millions of pages with no real added value and low word count. This problem has a very easy fix: just provide fresh, useful, relevant content!
- Duplicated content: you can be penalized by featuring content that is ripped off another source or that can be found elsewhere; even on your own website.
- Keyword stuffing: This is another popular term in SEO and digital marketing jargon. It refers to adding way too many keywords to content in order to make it rank high. This is perceived as unnatural by Google.
- Free hosting: the use of free hosting services can lead to the idea that you don’t run a serious website. You also expose your platform to all sorts of spam advertising. This would mean you’re not offering a safe, quality user experience.
- Virus hosts: hosting malware or spyware viruses is reason enough for Google to bring a website down.
- Bad redirects: this practice consists in redirecting traffic away from specific pages as a way to boost traffic on other pages. Doing this can cause visitors to leave it, as you’d be delivering wrong content; and thus, a possible Google penalization?