What a Google Penalty is and what you can do about it

Google penalty

Have you ever been rejected when applying for credit of some type? Maybe after haggling over the price of a new car and the value of your trade in, the dealer’s finance department said it couldn’t get loan approval based on your credit history. So under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) you likely got a copy of your credit report to find out any negative information on it. And the FRCA gave you the right to request that reporting agencies remove incorrect information (e.g., it wasn’t you that defaulted on a mortgage for a Costa Rican vacation home but somebody with a social security number one digit different than yours).
At the end of the day, you were able to “fix” your credit by following a process under the FCRA. A hassle yes, but at least a straightforward, step-by-step process to remedy the situation.
You would think that if your website suddenly disappeared from Google Search results that there would be a similar process to find out why and fix it, correct? Let’s say your Los Angeles pool supply business doesn’t appear at all in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) for the search, “Where can I buy a pool filter in Los Angeles?” How difficult could it be to figure out what’s going on and get your business back on to SERPs? Guess again as you’ve entered the not-so-straight-forward land of the Google Penalty.
Before getting into an overview of what a Google Penalty is and what to do to get out from under one, it helps to understand the core of Google’s Search business. Think about why Google has become a verb as well as a noun. Its because their business is providing users with the most accurate, up to date and relevant search results when they “Google” something. And as a consequence of having THE search engine, it can charge businesses accordingly for advertising for access to all of those searching eyeballs.
So for our Los Angeles pool filter search example, Google wants the most relevant search results to show up at the top of the SERP (i.e., in the top 3 results). What Google doesn’t want as top results are a business selling pool tables, or a brick and mortar only operation in Denver or a manufacturer koi pond filters. The types of search results that would have their user thinking, “That’s not what I’m looking for.”
As a result, Google’s algorithms strive to return the most relevant search results. Those algorithms are also calibrated to filter out any websites that attempt to “game the system” and show up higher on SERPs than they actually merit. Google’s algorithms give weight to web pages that are linked to from others since that conveys the former has some level of authority on a subject. An example is the Wikipedia page about Jimi Hendrix linking to his bio page on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s website.
That algorithmic factor also gave rise to businesses that attempted to take advantage of Google’s algorithms by selling links from their site to other websites. These “link farms” had no other purpose than to show that the purchasing website had links directed towards it. Google of course frowned upon this “black hat tactic” since it risked inaccurate search results. So Google tweaked its algorithms to recognize and flag websites that received such link farm links and “de-index” offending websites from its search engine results.
It should be noted here that Google is very protective of information about its algorithms and penalties. Remember that it is a competitive business (e.g., Bing and Yahoo) with trade secrets to protect. Additionally, it doesn’t want to provide information that assists those seeking to game the system. That said, it does selectively reveal such information and provide guidelines so as to shape the conduct of websites and webmasters in a positive manner (i.e., “white hat tactics”). So unlike the FRCA where the rules of the road are clear, there is a certain amount of reading of the tea leaves by the search engine optimization (SEO) community when it comes to Google penalties.
A “Google Penalty ” doesn’t necessarily take the form of “you’re a bad website, go stand in the corner.” It can also result from a tweaking of Google’s algorithms to filter out potential search results from practices that aren’t trustworthy. For example, when a website engages in “keyword stuffing”: overloading a webpage with a keyword just so that the page will show up high on SERPs for search queries that include the keyword. Picture our hypothetical Denver pool supply business including a page titled “Los Angeles Pool Filters” that contains basically gibberish text that repeats the phrase over and over again.
Then there is what’s generally referred to as a “manual” Google Penalty. That’s where a website is de-indexed from Google’s search engine as a result of going astray of Google’s guidelines (e.g., trying to game the system). The previously mentioned link farms caused many a small business to disappear from Google SERPs after it implemented what the SEO community deemed the “Penguin” update in 2012. And many of those businesses didn’t even know they did anything wrong, but had merely engaged SEO vendors for improved SERP rankings. Problem was that some vendors tried to do that via black hat tactics such as buying links.
At least with a manual penalty you can find out from Google whether your website is under a penalty. And there is a process, albeit a complicated and labor-intensive one, where a business can request removal of the penalty. But when it comes to Google’s algorithms filtering out your website pages due to their being deemed as untrustworthy, there isn’t a per se removal process. Remedying the situation may require an overhaul of your website to implement SEO best practices that comport with Google search guidelines.
LAD Solutions has a team of web design experts that can assist you with SEO best practices as well as Google Penalty Removal. To learn more about to learn more about our search engine optimization services or Google Penalty removal services please call (888) 523-2926, or click the button below to submit your request, and one of our representatives will be in touch with you shortly!


DATE: Feb 25, 2015
AUTHOR: Ali Pourvasei
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