How to Protect Your website from Google Penalties

Since Google’s landmark announcement of exacting penalties on websites that fail to accommodate its search ranking guidelines, website owners have undertaken measures to stay within the search giant’s good side. But not many are aware of how exactly Google penalizes a website.

King Penguin in various poses isolated on white

Google may punish you for either of these two violations: manipulative or poor user experience. Manipulative methods are further categorized into two: off-site, which concerns the technical set up or your website and onsite, the irresponsible use of back-links. Of course, poor user experience refers to non-mobile responsiveness and the quality of your content.

Google will penalize you under one or two ways:

A manual penalty occurs when a Google reviewer assesses your website to be in breach of its provisions.

An algorithmic penalty occurs when your website may have tripped one of Google’s algorithmic safeguards. An algorithmic penalty may either be Panda or Penguin. Panda refers to site usability and content quality. Penguin penalties are applied versus over-optimization.

When your website is penalized, it could be the entire site or select pages. The consequence is your website could be removed from Google’s search index or knocked down 10-100 positions in the competition for keywords.

In the battle for Internet supremacy, getting penalized for search engine infractions is the last thing you want for your online business.

So how do you protect your website against Google penalties?

Conduct a monthly audit on your website links

Do you know how many of your website’s links are good quality and how many are poor quality? Do you know the other websites that are linking to you?

The Internet is home to close to a billion websites. Most of these are actively pursuing other websites to link to in order to increase exposure and enhance their online presence. But you will never be clear on their motives. Some may be spam-artists while the rest are low quality sites. Some may not even be related to the purpose of your website.

When you have done an audit, e-mail the undesirable links and request for the link to be removed. With the bad backlinks you can’t remove, create a disavow report and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools.

Manage guest posting

Guest posting is one of the most effective strategies for building your reputation and expanding your market reach. However, there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing.

In order to avoid Penguin penalties from Google, try to present a more natural looking link profile. If your website has too many guest posting links in proportion to your link profile, your website will be flagged down by Google. And Google can easily track down guest posting links!

So while guest posting remains an effective SEO strategy, use it judiciously and apply other techniques as well.

Focus on relevant link sources

Former member of Google’s WebSpam team, Andre Weyher said in an interview that “relevance is the new PR.”

Google refers to this as LDR or “Link Domain Relevancy”.

For example, you are in the business of retailing health supplements. It is natural for your website to link to other websites that are in the health supplement industry or have references to the type of products you sell. But evidently, your website may have links to some unrelated sites or general information sites like directories. As a rule of thumb, make sure 30% of your links are related to your industry or niche. These links do not have to 100% related. What is more important is their relevance to your website’s purpose.

Focus on creating great content

Lost amidst the technical machinations webmasters do to avoid getting penalized by Google is the need for great content.

Since the announcement was made by Google last April, the search giant had been very clear about the value of content. It has to be fresh, original and relevant. People search the Internet for information. Even if you do all the technical tweaks to improve your website’s search rankings, in the end it will be all about patronage.

What will the Internet searcher do once your content has been found? If content is not relevant and engaging, all the keywords in the world will not lead to further exploration of your website and if Google assesses a high bounce rate, your website will be penalized down the search rankings.

If you’ve created great content, build on it. The ideal length for a blog is 1,600 words. Generally, the longer the blog the better; just make sure it is worth reading.

Build your brand

Entrepreneurs commit the sin of not building their brand before start-up launch. Your brand represents who you are; it establishes the message you want to convey to your market. Sadly, not too many entrepreneurs understand the website is part of your brand-building strategy.

Brand building your website is not expensive. It only requires creativity and common sense. Some simple strategies include:

  • Present a professional-looking website. Don’t abuse WordPress and hire a professional website designer to build your website. An experienced website designer has the expertise to know how to present your website in an aesthetically pleasing manner without compromising its functionality.
  • Include important information. It’s simply inexcusable for website owners to forget contact information. It’s not enough that you have a website. You must have other contact channels. Always include your e-mail address, snail mail address, social media accounts or a 1-800 number for toll free calling.
  • Be active on social media. Google is aware of the power and influence of social media. It may use the size of your Facebook and Twitter followers to determine whether you are a brand or not.

Protecting your website against Google penalties is not a difficult task. You will just need to be mindful of how to manage your website. As your online business address, you always have to make sure it has complied to regulations just like a brick and mortar establishment business would do with its municipality.

And more importantly, keep your website dynamic. Simple day-to-day strategies such as purposeful blogging and social media marketing will go a long way in keeping your website active and within the guidelines of Google.

About the Author, Felix Tarcomnicu

Felix Tarcomnicu recently published a comprehensive guide about identifying bad backlinks and how to disavow them. You can connect with him on Twitter.