How to Avoid Google Penalties and Maintain Website Rankings

By Caitlyn Buchanan, 23.08.2019

Since the Google search engine first launched in 1998, their mission has been to deliver the most relevant search results to its users. Web developers and businesses have continually worked to understand the search algorithms to improve and maintain website rankings. In the fight for rankings, Google introduced penalties to hinder websites that implement tactics that trick the search algorithm, damaging SEO ranking of those sites. However, Google penalties can be received even when developers and businesses try to do everything right. This article will explore how to maintain website rankings and avoid Google penalties, as well as what to do if a site is penalised.

What are Google Search Algorithms?

When Google first launched its search algorithms were more simple, the goal was to find the most relevant websites related to the search terms. When web developers learned the search algorithm was looking for key search terms they began stuffing websites with stock phrases they believed users were searching for. This ‘keyword stuffing’ tricked Google’s search algorithm and prevented the most relevant search results from appearing. So began the battle for rankings and Google’s mission to maintain a credible search engine.

Google periodically releases algorithm updates so that it can continue to deliver high-quality search results and maintain its reputation as a credible search engine. Now Google is placing more emphasis on the quality of writing, good grammar and sentence length. The search algorithms updates are kept secret and appear suddenly as they tweak the requirements for relevant, high-quality content.

What are Google Penalties?

Google looks for signs that a website is using SEO tricks such as unnatural use of language or unnatural backlinks (incoming hyperlinks from another web page to your website.) A Google penalty is what happens when a site or page is negatively impacted by an algorithm update or is manually penalised for an infringement on the search engine’s guidelines. This will result in a drop in website rankings and search visibility for a business.

What should I do if my website receives a Google Penalty?

Stay calm, do not start frantically rewriting your web content. A drop-in traffic may not be the result of a Google Penalty and changing the content may only make it worse. It is important to investigate and understand what the issues are before taking action. The penalty may have been caused by an update to Google’s search algorithm or the site may have been manually penalised by a Google employee who flagged it for not meeting the site quality guidelines.

Google penalties can be serious, but you will have an opportunity to resolve the issue. Visit your Google Search Console account, if your site has been penalised a report should appear there. By carefully analysing the report you may be able to resolve the issues yourself or you may need to hire an SEO expert to fix the issues. Once the issue has been addressed and a fix implemented you can request that Google re-index your site and hopefully reverse any damage that was done.

What factors negatively affect my SEO ranking?

The following items should be addressed to avoid Google penalties and maintain website rankings

  • Keyword Stuffing: If you add too many keywords onto your pages to increase your rankings this will backfire. Google can tell this is an unnatural use of language. Mentioning your keyword a few times is normal, using variations is also considered normal use of language for example: ‘Company set-up’ ‘Setting up a Company’
  • Minimal Content: Google will penalise sites when their pages have low word count or don’t offer enough information. Fix: More in-depth information should be added, as a general rule page should be updated to contain a minimum of 250 words. Any auto-generated content should be removed.
  • Duplicate content: If a website features content that is copied from other web sources or it can result in a penalty. Ensure web text is relevant, current and unique.
  • Free Web hosts: Utilizing a free hosting service will expose a site to spam that you cannot control. Always use a trusted hosting service to ensure your site has the best security.
  • Infected Site: If your site is host to malware or spyware viruses it could be infecting your visitor’s computers/phones/tablet. If you suspect viruses please seek professional assistance immediately.
  • Bad Redirects: If a site redirects traffic away from certain pages to boost traffic on pages it could result in a Google penalty. Redirects that result in irrelevant content will result in visitors leaving the site quickly.

It is important to note that a Google penalty or algorithm updates may not be the reason for a site’s drop in the search results. Competitors may be improving their content or perhaps have benefited from Google’s updates, where you haven’t. If you believe your site has been penalised or that the competition is surpassing you in the search rankings be sure to seek the advice of an SEO expert. Euro company formations have a proven track record of effective web design and SEO services contact us today and learn how to gain the completive advantage.

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