Penalty by Google – and now ?
Google Penalties are measures taken by Google to combat spam. The aim of the Google Penalties is to punish website operators who violate the quality guidelines for webmasters. Google wants to ensure that its own search index can always offer users the best possible search results and that spam results are suppressed. Manipulation attempts such as excessive link buying or content theft on the part of website operators functioned smoothly until about five years ago. Nowadays, however, it is usually only a matter of time before the Google algorithm (usually for updates) recognizes these manipulation attempts or a Google punishment in the form of a “blue letter” flutters into the house.
What types of Google penalties are there and where are the differences?
The impact of such a Google penalty varies. A distinction is made between penalties of two different origins (manual/algorithmic). Furthermore, it is not always the whole domain that is affected by a penalty, but there are five different levels on which your website could be affected. In the case of manual penalties, the period of the penalty can vary depending on the extent and weighting of the violation of the quality guidelines.
Kind of punishment:
- Algorithmic punishment: this punishment is assigned automatically by Google algorithms. (e.g. Panda Update, Penguin Update)
- Manual punishment: Google employees from the Search Quality or Webspam team check manually if websites are suspected of violating the webmaster guidelines.
Possible reasons for manual intervention:
- User Generated Spam
- Hidden texts and/or keyword spamming
- Pure Spam
- Thin content of little or no value [for the user].
- Unnatural Backlinks
- Unnatural external links from your website
- Unnatural Backlinks – Cross-Page Effect
Levels of penalties
- Keyword level: The ranking of individual keywords is affected, other keywords remain unaffected.
- URL or directory level: The ranking of individual URLs or entire directories is affected, others remain unaffected.
- Hostname level (subdomain): The ranking of an entire subdomain is affected.
- Domain-wide (cross-page): The ranking of your entire domain is affected.
- Delisting: All pages of your domain will be removed from the Google Index.
Manual Google Penalty – What is this Exactly
In addition to the algorithm adjustments, the “Search Quality Team” in Dublin, Ireland is also responsible for the quality of the Google Index. The team manually checks websites according to specially prepared rating sheets, because the Google algorithm is getting better and better, but does not unfailingly judge the quality and relevance of all websites.
Google algorithm updates – The executive branch of the search engine giant
Through algorithm updates such as the Panda Update and lastly the Penguin Update, Google is now able to effectively detect violations of quality guidelines. The affected websites are automatically penalized with ranking losses by the algorithm. In addition to the two best-known updates Panda and Penguin, there are other updates such as the Caffeine Update. Depending on the topic, it is often the case that domains with more up-to-date content are preferred and pages with outdated content lose ranking.
Google is always anxious to optimize its own index. Therefore it is not surprising that the search engine giant uses many different updates every year.
For example, the following updates were rolled out during the last year:
Google Core Update: Januar 2016
Mobile Update 2: Mai 2016
Phantom IV Update: Juni 2016
Penguin Update 4.0: Oktober 2016
The Google Panda Update
The so-called “panda” is a permanent update of the Google ranking algorithm. It acts as a filter which is applied to the entire Google Index at regular intervals. Its task is to identify websites with spamming content and to significantly reduce their ranking. The panda is therefore responsible for the content quality of the websites. This can be ensured for example by unique and high-quality texts, pictures and videos.
Panda assessment bases for the quality of websites?
- Less unique content
- Few/untrustworthy backlinks
- low dwell time of the users
- high content duplication rate
- high bounce rate of the users
- a high proportion of so-called “boilerplate” content (e.g. identical texts or links on each page)
- too much publicity
- Page content and page title do not match the search query
- unnatural occurrence of a word on a page
The Google Penguin Update – Now Even Faster and More Dynamic
The Google Penguin is a quality update that is mainly responsible for fighting Linkspam. It evaluates the backlink profile of websites. If the Google Penguin encounters a website with a high proportion of inferior links, it downgrades the website concerned. Mostly affected are links from blogrolls, forum spam, link networks.
The penguin reacts remarkably sensitively to too many link texts (= anchor texts) with “moneykeywords” (i.e. search terms to which one would like to rank). E.g. “designer handbags”, “cheap used cars”).
Google Penguin Update 4.0 – What changes now?
With the introduction of Penguin 4.0 in autumn 2016, Google has already played out seven updates of the Penguin series. With Penguin 4.0, it has now become an official part of Google’s core algorithm. Previously, the update was rolled out at regular intervals, this is now changing with the so-called “Realtime Penguin”. Now the reevaluation of the website already takes place after each renewed crawling and indexing of a website. As it has been the case with the Panda for a long time, the Penguin 4.0 now also evaluates in real time!
Which metrics exactly influence the ranking is, as always, not known. This is probably also the case in the real-time version of the update. Furthermore, according to Google, the data is now evaluated in more detail, and only certain areas, such as individual URLs, can be affected, and not always the entire domain.
Was there a Google penalty for my domain?
The cute little animals, other updates or the Search Quality Team can cost you as a website operator all rankings if they violate the current guidelines. The valuable, “free” traffic from the organic search often collapses to a minimum or even completely. This makes it all the more important to protect your own website from punishment and to prevent, not even violate, the quality guidelines.
If you have received a Google penalty it is important to recognize it quickly and act!
Recognize a Google penalty:
A first clue as to whether your page could be affected by a Google update is shown – with reservations – by a tool from Sistrix. With reservations, because other factors often play a role in the ranking and only a qualified search engine analyst can give a valid assessment. With Sistrix you can control the visibility of your website and recognize penalties if necessary.
If your visibility shows a similar course as the example below, a punishment is obvious.
But beware: The tool only takes visibility into account, but not possible changes of e.g. on- or off-page factors.
This means that a rapid loss of ranking could have other reasons than punishment!
Preventing punishment – What can I do?
Google is constantly changing its policies, but the direction is clear:
- Create an easily accessible site for the Google Crawler.
- Create a natural link profile.
- Ensure clean indexing and prevent uncontrolled growth.
- Build a brand build.
- Use only Google’s desired methods and techniques.
If you stick to these points, it is very likely that your ranking will not be affected by Google’s anti-spam measures. The correct implementation of the above preventive measures even gives you the chance to benefit from Google’s updates, and your efforts could be rewarded with a ranking increase!
Punishment by Google – Which steps are to be considered now?
As soon as you receive a mail from the Google Search Quality Team (by the way: the prerequisite for the manual punishment information is that the website is authenticated in the Google Search Console!), or experience worrying rankings drops, you should act quickly!
- Distance yourself per disavow file from all bad links.
- Make sure that the content of your site is unique and worth reading.
- Document all your actions carefully.
Afterwards you should inform the Google Search Team about the changes in case of a manual penalty (tip: wait here until the changes have actually been indexed by Google).
Do you have questions about Google’s penalties or has your website already received a penalty? Then it is best to contact us. We will be happy to advise you including an initial free assessment. Do you have any questions about Google’s penalties or has your website already received a penalty?
We will be happy to advise you and give you an initial assessment free of charge. Simply give us a call or send us an e-mail.
We will give you an initial assessment of your best chances on the market free of charge and without obligation.