Part I of our summer series defined what a Google penalty is and spoke about ways to eliminate them. Part II referenced the two types of penalties on the Manual Actions page known as Site-wide and Partial matches. Today’s article will help you prepare and become proactive in your planning to avoid Google penalties altogether.
Google Penalties and Their Names
Penalties have been characterized all the way from a slap on the wrist to what can seem like the chopping off of your hand. This can mean a temporary rank hit all the way to expulsion from the search engine’s index. The animal names are cute but the penalties are not. The search engine algorithms can severely punish sites that appear to break the rules.
Google Panda Penalty
The Panda update rolled out in February 2011 and was full grown by early 2016. This update was created specifically to deal with top search results that consisted of poor quality content. If Panda believes your website is producing low-quality content with little or no value-add to specific topics, product pages or if your content is just non-original text, you will be penalized.
The obvious best way to avoid this penalty is to write original, quality content that satisfies search intent. If you have already been hit with a Panda penalty you can earn your way back up to the top of the search results by rewriting your content, removing duplicate pages and blocking them from the search engines and also ensuring that your content is high-quality for your site, visitors and anyone linking to your pages.
Google Penguin Penalty
The Penguin update rolled out in April of 2012 to combat web spam by detecting link spam. After several very painfully slow rollouts, a final update came about in September of 2016. When a website’s backlink profile consists of too many foo-foo links, Google will see that as a deliberate way of trying to manipulate search ranking – and you will be penalized.
Now Penguin runs in real time as part of Google’s core ranking algorithm. Google actually defines the new Penguin algorithm as no longer giving penalties but Penguin now just devalues corrupt incoming links so they cannot affect the site’s rankings. Just remember, your link profile is still your responsibility. Having terrible backlinks is a trigger for low-trust.
How to Avoid Manual Action Penalties
Manual actions can result from anything that directly violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. They often relate to thin content, unnatural links, pure web spam (see Payday Loan Penalty), or other noncompliance issues.
If your site gets a manual penalty, you should resolve the issue causing it immediately or you only delay the resolution by Google. Once you clean up your site, submit a reconsideration request. Google will re-examine your site and, if all is good, lift the penalty.