Google is just one example of a search engine that has become smarter over time. Search Engines are always updating ranking algorithms giving search users the best quality content and more accurate information.
In order to get your website to rank highly on Search Engines, taking advantage of the algorithms is key. If websites owners have been found by Google to be manipulating the rules, they issue penalties which usually results in a drop in rankings, or even being excluded from Google’s index altogether.
How to tell if you have been penalised by Google…
There are two types of penalty; automatic and manual.
In the event of receiving manual penalties, you’ll usually be notified that you’ve done something wrong that needs attention.
Conversely, should Google change their algorithm, you may not always know you’ve been targeted with a penalty.
Some indications that you have received a penalty are;
Your site isn’t ranking highly, not even for your brand name as a search term.
rnIf you, without making any changes, have dropped from page one to pages two or three.
rnIf you site is no longer on the cached search results.
rnRunning a site search (eg: site:yourwebsite.com) returns no results.
rnYou notice a significant drop in organic traffic in your analytics tool.
rnIf you have not set up Google Webmaster Tools or Analytics, we recommend that you do. These free tools from Google are a must-have.
To deal with a search engine penalty, it is important to figure out what caused it – bad links, over-optimisation, etc. Here are some tips for how to fix it…
Buying or selling links’
Money doesn’t have to exchange hands to be considered a paid back link as it can also mean offering goods in return for a link back. If you send free products and don’t specifically ask for a link back, it can still be considered a bad link back.
There are many websites that accept article submissions meaning webmasters take advantage getting backlinks by writing articles and finding a way to create their own linkback. Given that these links were usually of a very low quality mean this can also be a major reason for Google penalisation!
Too many link exchanges
This old technique is where one company would receive a backlink from another related website if they also returned the backlink. This is now a reason for penalty.
Automatic linkback programs
Black hat SEOs use tools that are capable of creating automated back links – the most common; article spinner. This created very poor quality linking content and is a very easy target for penalisation!
Directories were once an important point of contact for link backs, and were considered the ‘little-black-book’ for websites. As Google became more advanced, the need for category structured online directories disappeared meaning these site were used for link building only.
Site-wide backlinks are to be avoided! Simple as that. This is even more important if the links are on websites that are in no way related to the link destination.