Google Penalties: How To Find And Fix It
Google and Google Penalties are famous, famous for finding ways to penalizing those who do not play by their rules. This is the one reason Google is still banned in China. Not so much for their refusing to pass approved content but the fact that many of China’s websites would be banned for violating the various Algorithms and anti-spam features.
For rest of us, who need a good rating in the rankings and to obtain the most organic traffic possible, must follow Google’s guideline. You can’t do this or that. If you do so, you will be penalized or worse you will be banned entirely from the Search Engine universe by the Google, It can cost traffic and revenue, and finally, we have to live with the censorship that Google puts on our web pages.
Google’s convoluted way of judging a web page’s fitness has 12 triggers. Today, we will touch on 5 major of these cosmic, that will invoke the wrath of Google Algorithm badly and some things you can do to keep away from having your web page downgraded, penalized, and possibly de-listed entirely. Before starting, let me give you an intro about different kinds of Google Penalties;
What is Manual Action Penalty of Google
A Manual Action Penalty is taken against your site if your web pages conflict with the Search Engine’s decision system. Here is the current list of what can get you into Google Penalties;
- Hacked site
- User-generated spam
- Spammy free hosts
- Spammy structured markup
- Unnatural links to your site
- Thin content with little or no added value
- Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects
- Cloaking – First Click Free violation
- Unnatural links from your site
- Pure spam
- Cloaked images
- Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing
Suppose if you get any penalty, you can find those on your Search Console page.
Here is the formula to check that: Search Console > Search Traffic > Manual Actions
Good news is that even if you get penalized you can fix it manually and submit for a review from Google engineers. Read this Google’s guidelines.
We are going to touch 5 of the most common Google Penalties that seem to be the most abused out of the 12. Our list is in the order in which we have dealt with the most. Others might rank them in a different order depending on their preferences.
5 Important Google Penalties and How to Fix It
1) Thin Content
Thin Content is the one which most of us do at one time or another because either we are in a hurry to get a web page up or we don’t have enough “Beef” to flesh the topic out. However, Google’s mindless automation that parses every word on each of your pages and those of web sites you don’t even imagine exist are analyzed and compared, all in the name of “Quality of the Web.” Types of Thin (considered) Contents are;
- Duplicating other’s content
It is nothing but plagiarized content. You are simply copying the content from other site and republishing in your name on your site with or without minor changes. Copying product descriptions from manufacturers are also considered as duplicating or thin content.
- Duplicating your own content
Another way to be dinged is to have multiple pages within the website with the same “Header line” or “Content” with variations in city or state or town names. You might have seen this; “Best XYZ in Dallas”, New York, Chicago..etc Here you are trying to target different geospatial locations but you are going on the wrong way in Google’s eyes. Google feels you need to be a bit more original. Google considers it as a thin content. You can expect penalty at any time.
- Rewriting the Content with Softwares
While Phillip M. Parker can write 200,000 books via computer and sell them on Amazon. Google will dock you if you try the same approach. Numerous packages out there that will take documents and rewrite them and others generate content from keywords. Something human writers do all the time. However, Google has found ways to detect this.
- Content messed with Affiliate Links
Another one Google hates the most is Affiliate Link pages that just point to existing content with no redeeming value. This means you need to add value above what the affiliate’s content is offering. You need to increase the value in some way and not blindly link to it.
How to Fix It
Most of the above are easy to correct.
- If you have copied content from others or used software to rewrite content, just delete it.
- Update your product description with new content and remove unwanted affiliate links.
- Suppose if you have a content which is thin and unable to remove as per your current scenario, just add a “noindex” meta tag (<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>) in the <head> section of those pages. So that google will not crawl that particular page. WordPress users can use Yoast Plugin to do this. Steps are like below;
Open the relevant pages or posts which you want to noindex > Click on Yoast Setting Icon > Select Meta Robots Index as noindex > update it.
And finally, resubmit for a review from Google team. Also, we request you to read our effort 7 tips to avoid content cannibalization.
It is your site and you are responsible for all of its content.
Sometimes our site may get hacked by internet fraudsters. Look at the millions of dollars Sony lost when hackers compromised their website. $100,000,000 dollars in revenue was lost when the entire collection of unpublished Michael Jackson material was absconded with. Not to mention damage to reputations to both stars and management that also resulted in some movies to be canceled and bad blood when private emails were circulated. Hacking can raise hate and discontent in a variety of ways. Since google doesn’t want to danger you and your users, it will tell you to clean it up by putting you in the penalty box.
How to Fix It
It is our website and Shall we stand to lose all our hard work, livelihood, and our brand’s reputation? We must recover from it. Just by following the Google resources we can do it. The steps are like this;
- Quarantine the WebSite
The first step, if you suspect a hacker incident, is to shut down access to your website until you get things sorted out. That means set your site to Offline. Change all passwords (admin, CMS, FTP and any other direct access points to the site) should be your next step to prevent further information like IDs and personal information from getting out. Make sure your host server is protected.
- Use Search Console and Identify the type of hacks
Next step is to identify the type of hacks with the help of Search Console. Go to Search Console > Security Issues. If there is any issue, Google shows message like below;
There are 3 major types of hacking;
1.Spam: – adding a spammy link, page or text on our site.
2.Malware: – A harmful software which installed on our computer not only can damage our computer but also hack our site.
3.phishing: – A software which is installed by the hacker to collect our users’ data.
- Identify the Vulnerability
It is nothing but identifying the hackers’ access point or how the hacker had accessed our site? Find out and close those access points before fixing it. These access points will be anything such as weak password, out-dated CMS, plugins or software, virus-infected personal laptop/desktop…etc
- Clean It Up
It is the final stage. After removing all the hacked stuff, you must fix it. Also, read this APWG’s resource if your hacker has collected or accessed your users’ data.
3) Cloaked/Sneaky Redirects will result in Google Penalties
Before starting, let me explain what is the meaning of the above terms;
- Cloaking: – You are showing something either in the form of text or image to the Googlebot and showing different to your users.
- Sneaky Redirects: – Pages which are already indexed by Google, redirecting to a completely different content. China web page links are notorious for doing this and you end up on sites you have no idea of what the content is unless you read “Hanzi” or have translation turned on.
The above misconduct will cause Manual Action Penalty.
How to Fix It
- Check Clockings
From Manual Action report, take the root address of the affected pages and check with this Google tool called Fetch as Google.
After that, compare with Google’s render to see that how it is appearing in our browser. If there is any change, fix it with the help of your developer. ‘Rendering’ should perform for all the versions of your web pages including mobile.
- Check Redirects
Here your task is to check all your Redirects by using tools such as Screaming Frog, SearchMasters…etc. Manually check all the redirect’s destination. If you found something unusual (users do not suppose to go), please redirect to a relevant page or completely remove those redirects.
Other things you must check; Plugins (anti-hotlinking) which use for protecting your images may cause for Manual Actions. Also, certain tricky ads will spoil your reputation in Google’s eye.
4) Spam created by your visitors
User-Generated spam is next on the Google’s Penalties row. Here you are not a spammer, but your users are. Many websites are interactive and Blog pages often permit a person to write in or upload content to a site in response to a particular topic. Unfortunately, some also use it to preempt your site and divert things off-topic in an attempt to press their agenda. This can be as simple as creating fictional usernames that are adverts for various products, services, and even real estate. You might not catch it, as you are often too busy to read all the comments posted to your site. But, Google is like Argus and will be checking each one in order to slap you with a penalty.
How to Fix It
Check the profiles of user accounts that have no pictures, names that look auto-generated, and check IDs that post off topic comments. You can also check for Advertising that has nothing to do with the topic, garbage characters, and as mention previously IDs that can double as products of adverts. Generally, these spams will appear on;
- Blog Comments
- Forum Page
- Guest Book page
- Other users related areas
Also, Investing in anti-spam software is a good investment. Again, use Google to find the one suitable for your site. We are impartial and don’t offer up a recommendation for which one to use. We feel the choice is up to the individual site owner. But still, Akismet is the best WordPress webmasters. Besides the above, you could hire a moderator to vet comments and posts prior to letting them appear, setting links to “NoFollow”, and of course enlist your user community to help you curb spam as well.
5) Google penalties for Unnatural Links
Links, links, and more links! Most of the web pages have more links than a sausage factory. There are 2 kinds of links.
- unnatural links from the site: – You are giving artificial or unnatural outbound links on your pages or posts.
- unnatural links to your site: – Pointing unnatural or artificial links to your site. Unnatural Backlinks
Both will create problems. Unfortunately, no one can help you when Darth Penguin raises his ugly head and enacts a manual penalty on you. Google penalties can be assessed on you for some of the following;
- Paid links
- Links acquired from link exchanges
- Guest posts that link to Spam
- Automatically generated links
- Forum comment links to take you to spam site
- Backlinks Irrelevant
- Links from low-quality directory or bookmarked sites
I prefer to read our effort on 7 easy ways to earn organic backlinks through your content.
How to Fix It
Unnatural Links from the Site
Take the list of your outbound links by using certain tools called Ahrefs or Majestic. Download it from the report and manually check all the links which are against to webmaster guideline. Once you find, either Remove it or set it as “nofollow”.
Unnatural links to your site
There are multiple tools to check your backlinks. You can select anyone out of it or else go to Search Console > Search Traffic > Links to Your Site and download the list. Here also check one by one manually and if you find anything unusual, send an email to the concerned webmaster to remove the backlinks. If he does not respond, as the last chance, use Google’s Disavow Tool to tag it. If you do so, it will not pass PageRank. And finally, resubmit for a review to Google engineers.
Google is the most used Search Engine in use worldwide. The Chinese wish to compete with their Baidu. Outside of mainland China Google rules the roost. Today you’ve learned a bit about their Google penalties and what you can do about preventing them from knocking out of the rankings. We’ve given our take on what to do to keep in good graces with the Google Search Engine and how to correct many of the problems yourself.
When it’s all said and done, it all devolves on you to keep your site from crossing the line that invokes the wrath of Google. However, if you build your site for people in the first place you will find Google is very forgiving. It takes action only when you try to cut corners and influence things unnaturally will you discover that Google will shut you down.
Play nice and Google will reward you. Cheat and you will not be allowed to play at all. Waiting for your comments and suggestions.