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What is a Google penalty? 

In theory, they are like a penalty in football, rugby, ice hockey, or any other sport. Google penalties are designed to punish websites when they do something wrong. A Google penalty is not always something you may notice has occurred. However, it always punishes your website, its performance in search results, and every other determining ranking factor.

What does it mean if you receive a Google Penalty? 

Effectively it means that your site is no longer listed on search results, as well as your ranking dropping and even your targeted keywords essentially being no use at all. When you incur a penalty, it means that your website can not be discovered by your target demographic, which ultimately makes you invisible to them. And when you are invisible to your audience and they cannot find your website, the detrimental result is a drop in your traffic and ultimately, your revenue. You may be unaware you have a penalty, and it may have even incurred via legitimate and well-intended means. Sadly, if you do have a sanction, then you will struggle to get rid of it.

If you incur a Google penalty, then you would be best to visit a marketing expert. This will help you to professionally manage the impact and to be able to transition through it. With the immense and immediate effects of a penalty on your website and search results, it is imperative to contact a professional agency.

Why do sites get Google Penalties?

Google’s priority is to provide the most relevant, trustworthy, and user-friendly search results possible. So as a result, from Google’s point of view any website that tries to manipulate its service, falsely generate inaccurate results or generally harming their product, they have to punish those actions. If Google were to return inaccurate, unhelpful, and poor results, their consumer trust levels would dwindle also.

A Google Penalty is handed out due to the highly intelligent, constantly evolving algorithm that Google utilises to crawl and inspect websites. On the other-hand some actions can result in an instant penalty, handed out by a Google employee. These types of penalties are not advertised and you may be unaware of the effects these can cause, such as: down- ranking overtime or being removed from the Google index. A variety of methods of punishment exist to stop people from exploiting the system and cheating Google.

What actions result in a Google Penalty? 

The list of penalty triggers is extensive, and it would be impossible to cover every single determining factor. However, it can be summed up relatively easily.

“Penalties are triggered by any action a website takes to fool a search engine or harm the user experience in some way.”

Here are six examples of triggers that you should avoid in order to ensure your site is not committing any breaches and remains penalty-free:

  1. Spyware, adware, or viruses (a malicious piece of computer code designed to spread from device to device)
  2. Hidden links or text (links or text that are not visible to the user.)
  3. Cloaking (returning altered web pages to search engines that are crawling them i.e. you see a different page to what the search engine is shown) 
  4. Deceptive redirects (search engines are shown one type of content. However, the user is redirected to something significantly different)
  5. Pages loaded with irrelevant keywords/ keyword stuffing (stuffing your page with keywords that have no link to the content/overuse of specific terms to attempt to rank higher in terms of SEO and effectively trying to cheat the system.)
  6. A substantial amount of duplicate content (duplicated content across your website will not only confuse website viewers, but also search engines will downrank repeated content.)

How can I recover from a Google Penalty?

Removing a Google Penalty is not always an easy task. It is essential to understand and differentiate between the types of penalties: Manual and Algorithmic.

A Google employee will hand out manual penalties. You will most likely incur a manual penalty when your website is in breach of Google’s Terms of Service. This may be as a result of Virus Infection, Cloaking, Buying Links, or Poor Redirects. Upon receipt of a manual penalty, you will have to appeal to Google to reindex your website. However, this is only possible once the identified errors are remedied. An algorithmic penalty happens automatically without the intervention of Google. These often occur when there is an algorithm change designed to rank websites of value higher than those with weaker content or poor relevance. For example, algorithm penalties like Panda or Hummingbird (to name two of the many Algorithm family and penalty names.) may impact websites with weak or duplicate content, keyboarding issues (stuffing/irrelevant keywords), slow loading times, or a lack of incoming vs. outgoing links. With this kind of penalty, you will remain indexed and ranked. However, your search results ranking will be much lower.

Need help? If you’re not sure what you’re doing or where to start, Internet Creation’s Google penalty recovery services may be the best choice for you. Our professional team can identify and alleviate the pressure and ultimately reverse your penalty, allowing you to focus on running your business.

Down ranking does not always mean a penalty! 

Just because your site loses ranking/position in search engine results does not automatically mean you’ve received a Google penalty. Your competition is growing each day, and the way Google ranks websites is constantly changing. When you think you may have a Google penalty, in actuality, you may just require improved search engine optimisation methods implemented by professionals such as the team of marketeers at Internet Creation.

If you suspect that a penalty has impacted your site, Internet Creation will audit your website to see if this is indeed the case. If you do, we’ll take immediate steps to get your site back in the good graces of the Google powerhouse. If you do not have a manual or algorithmic penalty, we can review your site for all the steps that you can take to improve your SEO and ranking.

For further information on what is SEO and (why) does it matter? Then check out our following blog: 

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Internet Creation Ltd. specialises in Web Design & Development, Graphics Design and Digital Marketing (SEO & PPC). For more information on how we can help your business, email [email protected].