How to Avoid a Google Penalty [Infographic]
Google is the gatekeeper of SEO for your website. When Google updates its algorithm, like they did recently with their mobile-friendly update, you adapt to the new rules or risk the consequences of lower rankings or worse, your site being penalized.
The Quick Sprout infographic below serves as a valuable guide on how to avoid a Google penalty and keep the rankings that you've worked hard to achieve.
How to Avoid a Google Penalty
If you're doing SEO on your site, make sure to follow these guidelines so you don't receive an unwelcome, site-crippling penalty from Google.
Here are some common penalties to avoid:
Link Farms. A link farm exists solely to increase PageRank by requiring the exchange of links between themselves and entirely unrelated websites.
Hidden Text. These are keywords, written very small and in the same colour as the web page so Google will index it, but not be seen by the site visitor. These are also referred to as "hidden links", "cloaking", and "sneaky redirects".
Automated Programs. The use of unauthorized computerized and automated programs for page and site submissions and for checking search rankings. It slows down Google, which in turn provides poor user experience.
Unrelated Keywords. The heavy use of keywords that are not in the context of the web page. It's a clear signal of ranking manipulation.
Duplicate Content. Google algorithm attempts to avoid indexing identical pages and duplicate sites by indexing only one.
While guest posting is still an effective and scalable way to build authoritative links, make sure to use it sparingly or you may get penalized. Having too many links from one source and unbalancing your link profile will catch Google's attention. There's also a risk that eventually they will start devaluing links coming from guest posts if too many people are doing it.
When you do guest posts, make sure to add contextual links. A contextual link has 5-10 times more ranking power than the author bio link.
Focus on Relevance
According to the former member of Google's Webspam team: "Relevancy is the new PR". In Google's eyes, PageRank's authority is decreasing. The relevance of the linking domain is increasing. Sites without relevant links are 50% more likely to get penalized by Penguin than those with relevant backlinks, based on the analysis of Microsite Masters.
Diversify Anchor Text
Just like with Penguin, sooner or later Google will use anchor text as a factor in the future. The key to success is replicating a real natural link profile. You want your profile to be about your brand. This furthers the importance of being relevant and real online.
Build Brand Signals
Brands tend to rank better and they're more likely to get penalties removed. Some quick ways you can build brand signals include having a well designed website, adding a physical address and a 1-800 number to your site, and investing in social media. The size of your following is a way to determine whether or not you're a brand.
The most important brand signal is branded searches. When people actually search for the name of your brand in Google, it means you have "branding".
Build Real Social Signals
Google may penalize sites that are linked to social media accounts with fake followers. If your Twitter account has 10,000 followers, 3 tweets and zero engagement, then it's no stretch that you have fake followers. Focus on building your list of followers organically. Followers that are interested in your brand will be much more likely to share your content to their social circle.
Here are two reasons why trust is important:
Reason #1: Trust matters when it comes to ranking.
Rank = Relevancy + Authority + Trust
Reason #2: Trust helps you avoid Google updates.
You can improve your site's trust by getting links from:
- sites that have lots of .edu and .gov links
- .edu and .gov sites
- sites with brand power
Not sure if your site is penalized? Here are a list of symptoms to help you determine your standing with Google.
- Demoted PageRank or loss of all PageRank entirely.
- Slight drop in rankings in SERP for the important targeted keywords.
- Google greys out a site's PageRank, that site is marked off as a major problem.
- Big drop in rankings in SERP for the important targeted keywords.
- Completely de-indexed from Google search engine.
Penalties are no fun and they're completely avoidable. Now you know what not to do and have some tips for creating a successful SEO strategy.