If your website used to show up in the top search engine results but then suddenly disappeared from view, or if you have had a significant drop in traffic to your site, you might have been hit by a Google penalty. Penalties like this can have a massive and devastating effect on a website’s effectiveness, leading to a significant loss in conversions, sales and engagement.
WebPageOne Solutions can help you to identify the problem, and provide a solution to resolve the issue with a view to getting the Google penalty removed.
Identifying and solving the problem can be tricky but, in our experience, it can be done. In the course of our work, we have helped many website owners to regain – and even improve on – their former search engine positioning.
It takes work, and a bit of time, but Google can be persuaded to make the changes that you need to get yourself back to that top spot.
How the problem started
There is a lot of dangerous SEO advice on the web. Much of it is outdated but, unfortunately, many website owners – and even some less reputable SEO agencies – still follow it to the letter. It tends to involve spammy link-building practices such as blog comment spam, automated, mass submissions to article directories, and bulk contributions to web forums.
And, for a while, it worked.
Search engines detected a link to a website and considered it to be a kind of recommendation for that site. They figured that, if someone’s linking to you, they must think you provide value. As a result, they improved those sites’ position in the search engine results.
Over time, however, these practices were identified and Google released a range of new algorithms to decide how reliable backlinks were. It became clear that not all backlinks were equal, and Google took action to downgrade the importance of websites whose predominant backlink profile was made up of article directories, blog comments and forums.
In fact, it got even more sophisticated than that.
Google began to focus on the context of a website to see whether its backlinks were on sites that were relevant. A backlink from a high-authority site on a similar topic to yours would (and still does) count for a lot. A backlink from an irrelevant blog full of poor-quality content would be identified as potential spam and started to be penalised.
The problem wasn’t just about backlinks. Google also became determined to identify the quality of the content on a website. Sites with high-quality content got a boost, those with low-quality junk were penalised.
Many webmasters had a lot of work to do.
The Google Panda Algorithm
Google Panda is the name of the algorithm that measured and judged website quality.
In a bid to reduce the number of spammy, poor-quality websites that showed up in its search results, Google has introduced – and regularly updated – this algorithm as it grows increasingly adept at finding and eliminating websites it disapproves of.
Sites that are at risk from Google Panda are those that include:
- Duplicate content
- Thin content
- Low-quality content, such as auto-spun articles
- A poor user experience
- Too many ads, especially ‘above the fold’.
Google has not been shy about how it implements this algorithm. Even major sites like eBay and Ask.com have been affected in previous updates, so don’t kid yourself into thinking that you can get away with bad practices without attracting a penalty at some point.
The risk is too high.
Even if you have not yet been punished by the Panda algorithm changes, nobody is immune. So, if you suspect that your site is not the best it can be, the time to make changes is now, before the worst happens. This is the only way to prevent potential disaster for your website and your business.
The Google Penguin Algorithm
Google’s Penguin algorithm focused on the patterns of backlinks pointing to a website. It looked for clues that backlinks weren’t so much earned (i.e. somebody linking to your blog because they found it and genuinely enjoyed it) as they were unnatural (i.e. 25,000 links from comments on blog posts on topics ranging from home baking to garment manufacturing and car maintenance).
The Penguin algorithm has been an attempt to find those webmasters who have tried to artificially inflate the success of their website through these deceptive methods and to replace them in the search listings with sites whose backlinks follow a far more natural pattern.
Some of the signals that Google uses to judge a site’s backlinks include:
- The relevance of the sites with links: a link from a tech support forum to a computer tech blog could be legitimate. A link from a tech support forum to a website about knitting patterns could be less relevant.
- Varied anchor text: the clickable words that make up the link on a website are called the anchor text and, for a long time, SEO practitioners focused on this a lot. It was thought that anchor text that was relevant to the target website (e.g. the words ‘cheese making instructions’ linking to a cheese-making website) was really helpful for that site’s chances of ranking for those keywords. Google recognised that, even though the words ‘cheese making instructions’ would occur naturally in some backlinks, many would, instead, simply say ‘click here’ or ‘visit this website’ or ‘how to make cheese’. So, one of the factors it considers, through its Penguin algorithm, is how natural the overall anchor text distribution looks.
- The quality of the sites with links: through Panda and other signals, Google has been improving how effectively it can judge the quality of a website. This means that it can detect that a link from a site like Mashable or The Guardian is worth more than a link from a thin directory site with minimal original content.
- Readability: Some studies have determined that the readability of a website has an impact on how Google categorises the sites it links to. This means that if a site linking to you is poorly written, it can have a negative impact on your search engine position.
Like with Google Panda, if you have so far escaped penalties but you are unsure about what your website’s link profile looks like, now is the time to take action. It is better to avoid disappearing into search-engine obscurity than to try and recover when it happens.
How to recover from Panda and Penguin Algorithmic Penalties
If the worst has happened and there is suddenly no trace of your website in the Google search results, don’t panic. Recovery isn’t always quick or easy, but it is certainly possible.
Especially if you have a professional on your side, a specialist who is taking action that has been proven again and again to be effective.
We understand this process, and have undertaken it many times, we can help you if you are in this position.
Some good news: if your website has been penalised in an algorithm update then, if you take steps to rectify the problem, it can regain its position when the algorithm is next updated.
Each algorithm update can re-assess and re-classify your site: the investment in improving your chances will have paid off.
Recovering from Google Panda
The key to Google Panda recovery is insisting on high-quality content and a great user experience on your website. Getting rid of thin, poor-value content and replacing it with fresh, new, authoritative content will make the world of difference, not just in terms of Panda, but to improve your website for your site visitors and potential customers, too.
Recovering from Google Penguin
Recovery from Google Penguin is a little more difficult because it involves changes to sites other than your own.
Successful recovery will involve:
- Identifying which websites’ backlinks are the problem
- Contacting those websites individually and asking them to remove all links to your website
- Using Google’s ‘Disavow’ tool to remove the significance of links that are not manually removed. This has to be done with extreme care so that you don’t risk disavowing useful backlinks to your site.
- Asking Google to re-assess your website by submitting a Reconsideration Request.
That can be an overwhelming and time-consuming process but, thanks to my skills and experience in this area, I understand what needs to be done and how, precisely, to do it.
Rather than undertaking this task yourself, outsourcing it to a professional will take the pressure off you and leave you confident that your website is in safe hands.
Google is getting more and more sophisticated in its ability to determine the quality of a website and its backlinks, so Penguin and Panda penalty recovery must also be sophisticated and specialised. At WebPageOne, we can use our expertise and our in-depth knowledge of the search engines and their algorithms to improve your website’s visibility on the web, with the potential for increased site traffic, higher conversions and more sales.
If you would like to know more about how we work, or enquire about our Google Penalty Removal Services, please get in touch and we would be happy to talk to you about what we can offer you.