The Different Types of Google Penalties
Last modified: 2018/08/21 | Approximate reading time 6 mins
In order to make sure that certain website referencing rules are respected, and to measure content quality, Google has created certain tools. To help guarantee that the best sites earn the best positions, the famous web giant has set up two types of penalties: automatic penalties and manual penalties.
The following article explains how each of these penalties works, as well as the best ways to avoid being subject to them.
Automatic and manual penalties: for better control of your content and referencing
Automatic Google Penalties
First of all, it is important to point out that Google penalties make it possible to crack down on two specific issues: misleading SEO techniques and low-quality content.
Google wants to establish a quality score for websites, in order to reward the best ones and to position them favourably on the search engine. It also keeps an eye out for the misleading practices of website creators.
What is Google Penguin? This is actually a code name for a filter set up by Google to counter what it considers to be the abuse of Search Engine Optimization techniques. In a previous article about organic referencing, we discussed the practices that a website could work on to improve its referencing.
The use of backlinks is one of these practices which has a positive effect on the website's referencing. Through the implementation of several tactics, some sites have found ways to be advantaged in their SEO by using a large number of incoming links, despite the fact that these links come from poor-quality sites.
This clearly goes against the objective that Google was pursuing by including the number of backlinks in their algorithms, which was meant to attest the quality of the content related to the fact that it is recommended by other sites of equal or superior reputation. To avoid this practice, Google has decided to act by applying a penalty, through Google Penguin, against backlinking coming from low-quality websites.
Google Penguin also works against the presence of backlinks that have no direct link with the theme of the page on which they land. These links quickly become suspect, as they have no correlation with the content to which they seem to be referring.
Lastly, let us point out that Google also penalizes links that have little correlation between them. Links that come from disparate sources, as well as those that are filled with keywords where the degree of competition is very high, will also afford you a penalty.
Check out "7 ways to get good backlinks" for more information about this subject.
On what other aspects does Google Penguin act?
The second objective of its ongoing quest against bad SEO practices is the purchase or sale of links. Google prefers links that are created naturally towards your site. When talking about the "natural" creation of links, we are referring to the fact that the link is created due to the quality of your content and not through buying or selling.
How can Google know that the link has been bought?
Google will judge that if there are too many links, these have probably been created through a program or an automated service and will , therefore,consider that these are so-called "artificial" links.
Also, be aware that Google does not like content that is filled with keywords. According to Google, placing keywords only for their reference value is perceived as a way to cheat. Their presence tends to mislead the search engine when it is trying to provide the user with websites that are related to the object of their search, and doing so by identifying the keywords inserted in the content.
How to avoid being penalized by Google Penguin
To avoid being penalized by Google Penguin due to low-quality links from weak websites, a search is needed on your part to identify all the sites that have la ink to your site. Several tools can be used for this task, such as Majestic SEO or Google Search Console, although for optimal results, this last one should ideally be used in conjunction with a paid search tool.
Once the links have been spotted, you can simply contact the website's administrator and ask them to remove the incoming link coming towards your site. If you are unable to join them, you can use the link disavowal tool made by Google.
With regards to the presence of keywords in your content, you must always make sure that they are relevant to the subject. Avoid placing too many keywords which have little to do with the subject.
Google Panda : to Avoid Bad Content
For its part, Google Panda aims to penalize sites whose content is of low quality. By low-quality content, it identifies anything that relates to content which appears to be reworked or reformulated, also known as "content spinning". Content farms, or sites that publish a large amount of content that is qualitatively lower in value are also in Google's sights. Not only is the relevance of the content pointed out, but their heavy advertising burden is just as important.
How to avoid being penalized by Google Panda
To avoid being penalized by Google Panda, you must pay attention to the quality of your content. Create content that is original and authentic, update it when necessary and see to it that the advertising content is not predominant when compared with the informative content. Also, avoid content duplication.
Manual Google Penalties
These penalties are designated as manual penalties because they are completed by Google employees. There is no need to try to know whether manual penalties have been applied to your site, as Google Search Console will let you know directly through its interface.
It is possible to affirm that the offenses in question substantially overlap with those targeted by Google Penguin and Google Panda. Therefore, it all comes down to doing a second check against the so-called dishonest practices of website creators.
Among those that were not previously-mentioned, we must address misleading URL practices. These aim to present content that is different than the one shown on search engines. On another note, placing links towards your site on discussion forums (spamming) is also prohibited. Finally, it should not be forgotten that the purchase of a domain name which is highly-ranked on Google will not attract you any favours from the search engine, which will even subject you to penalties.
The consequences of these penalties
The first penalty is that the website loses their ranking, which means that one page or several pages of the website will lose their position on certain keywords. Secondly, it is possible to undergo a de-indexation. The latter aims to penalize duplicate content by making it disappear. Finally, the most serious penalty that can be applied is the inclusion of your site on Google's blacklist, making your site completely invisible to the search engine.
Looking for more information about Google Penalties? Check out How to recover from a Google Penalty
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