Building a solid online presence can be challenging, especially if you’ve just started your first website. Many online businesses, small or large, rely on search engines traffic and Google penalties are the biggest threat to them. A sudden loss of visits would be frustrating and most of the time catastrophic.
Unfortunately, many webmasters are ignoring this threat and don’t do penalty prevention. As a result, when Google updates their algorithm, they often end up being penalized. The impact of losing traffic can be huge, and no one can afford to receive a penalty.
In this post, I will show you how to prevent any Google penalty and how to keep your website safe.
What are the most common Google penalties
The most popular Google penalties are Penguin and Panda. When the Penguin algorithm was first released in 2012, hundreds of thousands of sites have been penalized and experienced traffic loss. Some businesses barely survived but, unfortunately, numerous went bankrupt.
Google Penguin targets websites with an unnatural backlinks profile while Panda is more focused on content issues. Aside from Google algorithmic penalties, there also are manual penalties.
A manual Google penalty happens when a googler reviews your website and considers that it’s violating the Google Webmaster guidelines. In this case, Google will penalize your website, and your rankings will decrease. Extreme scenarios can include deindexation from Google search results.
Manual penalties are visible in your Google Webmaster Tools account, while Penguin and Panda are not. To identify a Penguin or Panda penalty, you have to correlate the period of traffic loss with the time Google has updated their algorithm.
Why you should consider preventing Google penalties
The biggest problem is that business owners don’t understand that they can be the next victim. Just because you think that you’ve done nothing wrong, it doesn’t mean that’s the truth, and it doesn’t mean you will be safe from penalties. Most of those facing a penalty, claim that their website is fine, and they shouldn’t be penalized. That’s often false.
These are the main reasons why you should do Google penalty prevention:
- Your organic traffic is valuable, and you can’t afford to lose valuable visitors.
- There is no guarantee you will recover from a Google penalty. It’s best to prevent than fix something.
- Recovering from any Google penalty takes time. It can be a matter of months or sometimes years. Do you think you can your website for one year?
- Someone can do negative SEO on your website, and be penalized without you even knowing.
Analyze your backlinks
Low-quality backlinks drive most Google penalties. To be safe and prevent manual and Penguin penalties, you have to be familiar with all your website’s backlinks.
Use Monitor Backlinks to sort your links by their value and importance. The tool helps you know when a new website links to you or if any of your previous backlinks is removed.
To analyze the quality of a backlink, you have to look at how valuable and relevant is the website that’s linking to you. It’s important to have a good ratio between quality backlinks and bad backlinks.
When you identify bad backlinks, it’s best to try to remove them. Bad backlinks removal is a key element in preventing Google penalties. With the backlinks you can’t remove, you can create a disavow report and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools.
To prevent most Google penalties, always keep an eye on the backlinks you have and those you are earning. If you outsourced SEO to a company or freelancer, make sure you are up to date with the techniques and strategies he is using to build backlinks, and verify each link.
Good backlinks can help you gain more traffic while bad backlinks are a signal of a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Prior to first Google Penguin update, to rank high for a specific keyword, you had to have a lot of backlinks using your main keyword as anchor text. Back then, backlinks couldn’t hurt your rankings and SEO. They either helped you or not. Things have changed a lot since then, and unnatural backlinks can now send a signal to Google that you are doing something wrong and eventually you might get a penalty.
Make sure your backlinks are natural and nothing on your site screams “I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR BETTER SEO RANKINGS”.
Check the Reports page from Monitor Backlinks and always pay close attention to your anchor text distribution. The most used anchor texts should be your brand or website name. Anything different can have negative consequences.
Also on the reports page you can analyze the TLD and Hosting IP distribution of your backlinks. It should help you evaluate how relevant your backlinks are.
If you think your website might suffer from a Penguin update, check the case study I recently published, where I showed how I recovered a website from a Google Penguin penalty.
Avoid low-quality and duplicate content
Duplicate content can trigger Google Panda to penalize your website. Do your best to avoid having large paragraphs of duplicate content. Also, make sure your meta titles and descriptions are unique.
Google gives more credit to websites with high-quality content and devalues those that have short, useless articles. Make your content be the best in your niche, and you’ll soon dominate the SERPS.
Before Panda was first released, lots of website owners were publishing very short articles, usually only 500 words long. These type of articles can’t thrive in a competitive online world where every topic has been covered multiple times. Nowadays, long and very detailed content is what ranks best.
If you suspect that you received a Panda penalty, read about my Panda recovery case study.
Be up to date with SEO and Google algorithm updates
SEO is changing very often. Link building best practices have also changed a lot in the last years. What used to work a few years ago, has no impact now. A good example would be directories. They used to be a very popular link building method among SEOs five years ago, but now they’ve lost their value considerably.
If you are serious about preventing Google penalties, you have to be up to date with the latest Google algorithm updates. Follow Google Webmaster Tools on Youtube and follow the industry leaders to know when Google releases or changes their guidelines.