Guide to Quickly Diagnosing and Fixing Google Penalties
Google, and every other search engine in existence, is attempting to become smarter by the day and keep updating their algorithms constantly. Consequently, it is not uncommon for websites to run afoul of the updates and be penalized in such a way that it drives the website down in the search results rankings. Many webmasters could also be completely unaware of the penalties being imposed and hence take no steps to correct them and therefore continue to suffer. A Kissmetrics report observes that reconsideration requests are being submitted only by a paltry 5% of the websites that have been penalized to enable ranking recovery.
Since all website owners are completely dependent on search engines to drive traffic, they have to stay updated on the changes the search engines are constantly making. Apart from being inescapable common sense, taking prompt action can give websites that respond faster, a competitive edge over others. There are quite a few tools that are available to alert webmasters of any transgressions so that they can ensure that their SEO stays effective and ahead. Here are some steps that can help keep you ahead.
Make Yourself Familiar with the Rolled-Out Updates
While Google has constantly been updating its search algorithms, the first that created real waves was Panda in 2011. The update was released mainly to crack down on websites that had excessive advertising, poor content and design. The update was rolled out in a number of stages and remains effective even to this day. Venice, the update that was released in 2012, significantly increased the number of local results in the results page for queries that were not specific.
In 2012, the Penguin update was also released to counter spammy sites with black hat techniques like keyword stuffing, link building, cloaking, etc. The same year saw the release of Pirate that trained its guns on sites that repeatedly violated content copyrights, and hit hard the sites that were too lazy to host original content. In 2014, security concerns lead Google to release the Security Update that pushed down websites that offered poor security of financial and personal data. 2015 saw the release of Mobilegeddon that gave preference to sites that were more responsive and navigable on multiple devices, including mobiles.
Investigate and Establish If There Is a Ranking Concern
It is impossible to tackle any issue, unless you know what’s wrong in the first place so correct diagnosis of a perceived problem is the key. Search engine optimization training ensures that you can identify which update is penalizing you so that you can take appropriate action. The best way is to employ a tool that will indicate the penalty to investigate previous site incidents, and whether they still continue, making it necessary for you to recover. The appropriately-titled Website Penalty Indicator is an effective tool for this exercise.
FE International is another tool that can reveal the incidence of Google penalties arising out of major algorithmic changes that have significantly affected your site’s performance. It is recommended that you undertake a complete audit of the site with a tool like SEMrush that will not only tell you if you have been penalized but also the change in your SREPs. It will also do content analysis and check all the backlinks.
Recovering from the Imposed Penalties
While, the best thing is to avoid penalties by not breaking SEO rules and monitoring updates, during the course of the website’s life, it is likely that it will end up being penalized due to a variety of reasons such as lack of relevant SEO knowledge, a deliberate violation of fundamental SEO principles, employment of black-hat SEO techniques, etc. However, if you discover that you have been penalized, the course of action for recovery will depend on the nature of the violation. Notifications through Google Webmaster Tools are sent to the webmaster if the website is awarded a manual penalty. Since the communication explains the reasons, webmasters can understand the issues and work around them for a recovery. The situation is far more complex if the penalties are due to algorithmic changes. It is important to establish a relationship between the site’s losses and the changes by Google, and when anything specific can be established, all information regarding the update should be found for issue resolution.
Conduct SEO Audits
The best strategy is not to attract penalties to start off with, and the best way is to conduct periodic SEO audits to ensure that you are not transgressing any update rules. Some of the things that should be done are to manually remove spammy or unnatural links, make sure that there is enough diversity in the anchor text, all duplicate content is removed, create quality content with keywords, and keep the UX under constant watch.