Surviving a Website Penalty
In Part 1 I explained why manual penalties from Google can be so catastrophic to a business’ White Hat SEO, where to look for the official notification, and the difference between a partial and site-wide manual penalty. Now you’re ready to learn about the different types of penalties issued.
Different Types of Manual Penalties from Google
Most business owners/Webmasters are familiar with websites receiving manual penalties from Google for unnatural links or spam. However, there are many different types of penalties that can be applied to a website. Knowing the circumstances and patterns Google is looking for — the signals for a manual review — can help understand why a penalty was issued in the first place. It may also prevent future manual action if you notice sketchy tactics used on your website. Awareness is the first step, then you can work diligently to correct the problem.
1. Unnatural Link Profile
When was the last time you checked your back-link profile? While some links may be outside your control, Google may still penalize you. Regardless if the entire site is penalized or it’s targeted action resulting from links pointing to your website, the circumstances behind the penalty determines if your entire site is affected (versus a specific page or section). Here’s are the types of manual penalties from Google related to an unnatural link profile:
- Unnatural links to your site – impacts links – This penalty is issued when Google has detected a pattern of unnatural, artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing to your website and deems it necessary to dis-value the impact of incoming links. While some links may be out of your control, the action taken is not on the entire website, but rather the unnatural links themselves pointing to your site.
- Unnatural links to your site – This penalty is also issued when Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing to your site. The difference is that Google believes the majority of these links are in your control. For instance you may have purchased the links or participated in link schemes in order to manipulate rankings. As a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, a manual spam action is applied directly to your site.
- Unnatural links from your site – This penalty is initiated once Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing from your website to others. As a result, Google will apply a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. This may include both site-wide or partial matches.
2. Spam Related
Here’s are the types of manual penalties from Google that are specifically related to spam.
- Pure spam – If your website is using aggressive spam techniques and/or other repeated tactics which are clearlyin violation of the quality guidelines set forth by Google, you can expect for this penaltyto be applied. Among other circumstances Google considers as spam:
- auto-generated content
- cloaking and/or using sneaky redirects
- scraping content from other websites
All of the above are a flagrant violation of webmaster guidelines. As a result a manual spam action will be applied to an entire site if not to each affected section.
- User-generated spam – In some instances spam found on a website wasn’t necessarily generated by the website owner, but rather users of a site. When Google has detected user-generated spam on a site, a manual spam action will be applied to the affected portions of the website. This type of user-generated spam is often found within forum pages and user profiles.
- Spammy freehosts – There are times when Google detects patterns related to spam coming directly from a free hosting service provider. If a significant fraction of the pages are found to be spammy and in violation of Google’s Webmaster policies, manual action may be taken on the hosting service as a whole.
- Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects – Cloaking provides search users with different results than they were anticipating. It is the practice of using sneaky redirects or presenting different content to human users than search engines. This is a direct violation of Google Webmaster guidelines. As a result, manual penalties from Google may be implemented on both your entire site and/or the affected portions.
3. Worthless Content, Hidden Text & Keyword Stuffing
There are several types of manual penalties from Google related to content, hidden text and stuffed keywords:
- Thin content with little or no added value – When Google detects low-quality pages (such as thin affiliate pages, cookie-cutter sites, doorway pages, automatically generated content, or copied content) on your website, this penalty is applied. As a result, Google applies a manual spam action to the specific sections of your site.
- Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing – If Google finds any of your pages to contain hidden text or keyword stuffing, a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site will be applied. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under sitewide matches. Other manual penalties from Google could affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.
4. Hacked Site
Google can detect pages within a website that appear to have been hacked by a third-party. When a hacker uploads files or modifies existing files to appear as spam within the search results, the malicious content is often hidden through a shady practice known as cloaking. To protect users, your website pages may be labeled as compromised. The manual action may also include a penalty as to not rank as highly in the search results. Were there any surprises as to the numerous manual penalties from Google? Are you using anything other than White Hat SEO for your website?