October 8, 2014 Garyeoghan

What Is A Google Penalty?

If you run any type of site the phrase ‘We’ve been hit with a penalty’ is enough to make anyone break out in a cold sweat. Google penalties aren’t the be all and end all for all sites (in some rare cases they can be), so figuring out just what you did wrong and how to fix the problem can be a handful. What you need to do is fix the leak by knowing where the mains are. It could be as simple as turning a tap and telling Google ‘Look, we fixed it and cleaned the place up.We cool?’. It could be as drastic as needing the whole house refitted and praying no one notices just how badly your site messed up.

So what is the definition of a Google Penalty? No better way to find out then seeing what Google has to say:

google penalty definition

Seems simple to fix right? Well, that definition above is a snapshot is what you get when you search for the definition. This is what the first page actually looks like:

google penalty 1st page

Yes, those in the know will know that anyone wondering what a Google Penalty is will more than likely have just been hit by one themselves (that’s a bit of a tongue twister to say). We’ve taken on a lot of clients in the past who have come asking for help after being hit with such a penalty.

What problems did they have? Well a lot in common actually, including:

  • Very spammy back links
  • Spammy content
  • Poor level on site or guest blogging
  • A high volume of unusual links
  • Bought links

Now these are just the main offenders when it comes to getting a penalty. The best metaphor for describing what happens is this: Your website is a page that gets crumpled up and thrown in the bin. Someone who really tries their hardest can go sifting through the bin to find you, but the chances are you’re not getting out of there any time soon because no searcher will ever delve that deep in a murky mess.

What does a penalty do to your site? It will see the site’s rank drop dramatically, which in turn will lower the percentage of organic traffic you get which in turn will hurt the number of customers you have. This doesn’t just happen to small sites. Big companies like Expedia and BBC have been hit with penalties in the past and seen a massive drop in traffic.

So how do you change this metaphor, pull that page out of the bin and iron out all the creases? With a lot of hard work of course. Working through a penalty removal involves everything from checking the health of every single link pointing to a site, trying to create disassociation with bad links, cleaning up the site’s profile in different areas, ensuring everything on site is sound, and making sure the site reaches all of Google’s quality guidelines without being over-optimised (yes, there is such a thing as a website being too good).

If you’re unsure about Google penalties or think your site might have been hit and need help, get in touch using the box below this post or tweeting us @BoydDigital

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