If you own a website, and care about SEO, you care about how your pages rank in the Google search engine. Even small dips in your rankings can mean big losses for your business, or your brand awareness. That is why it is so important to be able to identify when Google is docking you for errors in your website or SEO strategy and to know what steps to take to fix those errors. Following is a brief overview of what steps to take if you suspect you are suffering from Google penalties.
1. Determine the Cause of the Penalty
There are two kinds of Google penalties: Manual penalties and algorithmic penalties. Each type of penalty is generated by particular errors on your website. You can identify manual penalties, and their causes, by notations in your Google Webmaster Tools account. These notations will usually tell you the cause of the penalty: For instance, parts of your website may have been identified as spam, or have been hacked.
Algorithmic penalties occur when Google updates the algorithms it uses to determine where on the search page your website ranks. Every time Google changes these algorithms, you risk falling in your rankings because the algorithm introduces new standards that your website fails to meet. You can identify these types of penalties by correlating your rankings drop with the introduction of a new algorithm update. There are numerous causes for this type of penalty, from excessive links to having too many keywords in your text. In fact, there are more than 50 potential trouble spots you will need to explore when trying to recover from an algorithmic penalty.
2. Eliminate Trouble Areas on Your Website
Recovering from a manual penalty is generally less complicated than recovering from an algorithmic penalty, because the notations in Google Webmaster Tools helps you to narrow things down. At the same time, it will require some work. For instance, you not only have to repair the trouble spot (removing spam, removing troublesome links, etc.), but you also have to submit a reconsideration request to Google. These requests require persistence: Do not be discouraged if your first few are declined before the penalty is removed and you see your page rankings go back up.
Dealing with an algorithmic penalty may require more sleuthing. You will need to determine the potential problem spots, and then put in the time to repair them. Here are a few helpful tips for narrowing the field down: The Panda algorithm flags your content for problems with usability, while the Penguin algorithm initiates penalties for inappropriate inbound links. If you know which algorithm is causing the problem, you have a narrower field of potential problems to explore.
3. Establish New SEO Methods Going Forward
In order to avoid repeating the mistakes that got you penalized in the first place, you will probably need to change some of your SEO strategies in the future. For instance, if a page got flagged as spam, you may need to change how you create your content. If you were flagged for trouble with inbound links, you may need to rework how you create those links. Once you have the new strategies in place, you will be less likely to encounter penalties that will harm your rankings and cost you time and frustration trying to fix.