Google Penalties Ultimate Violations, Manual Penalty And Recovery Guide

Kotton Grammer Google Penalties Guide, Knowing What To Do When You Encounter A Google Penalty Is Essential. Knowing How To Avoid ToS Violations, A Penalty Or A Manual Action Is Mission Critical For You!

This ultimate Google penalties guide is essential for all website owners.

Seriously. Unless you know all the potential violations, algorithmic triggers and causes for manual actions and penalties, you are flying blind without any means of navigation. And crashing into Google manual penalties is the last thing you want.

A single violation can trigger a penalty that causes your site to disappear from SERPs.

Entirely. And potentially for a very long time.

What Is A Google Penalty?

Google penalties are website killers.

What is a Google penalty? It is what comes from a violation of the Google search console guidelines. And they can hit for a variety of reasons. Commonly, a lot of people think of them as, Google SEO penalties. Though that is usually people doing poor SEO who think of them that way.

There is no such thing as Google SEO penalties.

The search console guidelines are for the benefit of users. So if you are a SEO violating those guidelines, especially by using link schemes, notably paid links, or irrelevant keywords. Then you are going to get hit.

Hard.

Hence this ultimate guide to Google penalties from Kotton Grammer Media.

Google Penalties Guide Kotton Grammer Media Is Going To Walk You Clear Of The Minefield

So take time. Read through and digest. Get to know the dangerous waters. So you can ensure your website never even gets close. It is amazing how much more you can get from a website when you know how to steer it safely to success.

Hit a penalty and your site becomes the Titanic having had that fateful iceberg hit. Doomed.

Armed with some simple knowledge. And seriously, Google penalties do boil down to a few simple things. Granted those things can be present in numerous ways on a site. But once you know them. You can ensure you never do any of them.

As a result all your business building efforts. Everything you do, to nurture your website. All that becomes far more valuable. And creates so much evergreen action and fruit for your site that it is verging on the miraculous!

So breathe easy and let Kotton Grammer Media walk you into the clear.

The Ultimate Google Penalties Guide Everything You Need To Know

Everything within this utterly comprehensive, ultimate Google penalties guide has been included for solid reasons. The background and understanding around Google’s various algorithm updates is very important. Whilst not directly penalties they serve to precipitate those penalties.

Plus naturally, the sections regarding the exact types of Google’s specific penalties will aid you in ensuring you stay in safe waters. And keep your site visible in search results.

The Ultimate Guide To Google Penalties From Kotton Grammer Media

  1. What Is A Google Penalty?
  2. Google Algorithm Updates What They Do And How To Stay Safe
  3. Google Penalties The Things That Can Land You In Hot Water And How To Recover
  4. Google Penalties Know The Guidelines And Steer Clear Of Violations
  5. Search Engines Under Optimization The Flip Side Of Insufficient Guideline Understanding
  6. The Google Penalties Guide SEO Services And Google SEO Penalties A Final Word
  7. Google Penalties Guide Kotton Grammer Media Can Help Penalized Sites To Rank Again

Google Algorithm Updates What They Do And How To Stay Safe

Google’s algorithm changes on a very regular basis.

They push out over 500 updates per year. Some small. Some that are seriously game changing for a vast number of people and sites.

Two of the biggest ones in terms of historical impact are Panda and Penguin.

Both of which saw a very large number of SEOs and affiliate marketers in tears. For days.

Panda and penguin brought fundamental shifts in the algorithm which has continued to evolve with their ethos in mind. The initial hit from those two algorithmic updates, saw the first page of Google radically change across a large number of search terms.

They hit sites with thin content, and unnatural links.

Two things which are core to the Google Webmaster guidelines. As well as the terms of service laid out by Google. Yet whilst everyone was aware that paid links, and spam content were bad. And an infringement of the Webmaster guidelines. Those affected by these various updates, and their proliferation on through time with various evolutions. Still cried foul of Google.

GOOGLE PENALTIES CORE NOTE: Ensure you use only high quality content and never pay for links.

The whole reason for this section on the numerous major algorithmic updates is so you understand Google’s seriousness. The seriousness with which it regards it’s terms of service and guidelines.

User experience is key to Google’s intent for how it’s search engine works.

And every algorithm update is focus on improving user experience.

Everything about the Webmaster guidelines is focused on giving the best user experience possible. So you absolutely have to focus on doing that. Do anything else, and at some point, an algorithm update will catch you out.

And then everything you invested in your site and SEO is in serious jeopardy.

Everything with the Google algorithm updates is about honing in on finding the best user experience. And weeding out sites and businesses, that are attempting to manipulate search results. So it is best never to do such things.

So now, get some understanding on what Google has been doing up until now.

Ultimate Google Guide: Algorithm Updates The Major Ones That Shape How Their Search Engine Works

Chrome HTTPS Warnings — Started October 17, 2017.

This update is was the soft version of what was then set for July of 2017, at which point non-https sites will have blanket warnings. Google is taking a tough stance on non-secure websites.

“Fred” (Unconfirmed) — Went live March 8, 2017.

Fred as many dubbed it, was an update regarding unnatural links. That is Google honing in on backlink profiles which were unnatural. Basically the principle target here was SEO agencies and consultants manipulating search results through paid links and anchor text. Stuff which seriously infringes Google’s ToS and guidelines. It served as a solid warning not to indulge in buying links.

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty — Went live January 10, 2017.

Focusing very heavily on the on site user experience. The Intrusive Interstitial Penalty was developed to punish aggressive interstitials and pop-ups. Things which basically damage the mobile user experience. If you have ever had a pop-up when trying to read a web page on your mobile you know how annoying they can be. At times they can be almost impossible to close. As such being a poor user experience. Hence being targetted.

Penguin 4.0, Phase 2 — Went live October 6, 2016.

This second phase of Penguin 4.0 brought in a reversal of all previous Penguin penalties. Following the phase 1 update and the switch to Penguin working in real time, the manual actions and penalties that were handled outside of the real time algorithm became obsolete. Though whilst the previous penalties were reversed, unless the violations had been remedied the real time version of the algorithm would hold the negative effect in place until the action had been remedied.

Penguin 4.0, Phase 1 — Went live September 27, 2016.

This brought a mark of what many believed justice to the table from Google. A shift being taken that effectively reduced the value of what have been termed bad links, rather than actually penalizing websites for having those bad links. Part of this came due to the amount of negative SEO that had risen to become a route for various companies. By making the poor quality links irrelevant, a large amount of the negative effect was mitigated. Thus “innocent” websites were not penalized for the malicious actions of others. Also, and very importantly, this become an element of the real-time Google algorithm.

“Possum” — Went live September 1, 2016.

The Possom update revolved around local rankings, notably in the three pack for maps and local search. Again the key target being the elimination of spam from search results. Thus enabling users to find quality results that would fulfil user intent and provide a quality user experience for those searching for local services on Google.

RankBrain — Began October 26, 2015.

This was one of the single largest, and biggest moves for Google long term. The initiation of Google’s use of AI with Rank Brain has enabled them to create far more wide reaching effects than through manual changes to their algorithm. As of 2018 Rank Brain has become one of the top 3 ranking factors. Whilst other algorithmic updates have directly targeted infringements and violations of Webmaster guidelines and Google’s ToS. Rank Brain brought about the ability of Google to attack web spam from a new direction. That of user experience and user intent. Hence the reason those two things have become critical components of SEO now.

The Quality Update — Went live May 3, 2015.

This update was also known as “Phantom 2” by many. The focus of this being on quality signals as Google stated. As such there was nothing specific given in regard to the metrics measured through the Quality Update. Unlike with others such as Penguin, Panda, Fred, Hummingbird etc. It is however yet more evidence of Google’s stance on quality results in the form of their perception of quality user experience according to their guidelines.

Mobile Update AKA “Mobilegeddon” — Initiated April 22, 2015.

It was at this point that Google first began to give serious indication that mobile needed to be treated differently to desktop search by webmasters. This is something that in 2018 Google pushed out to an even stronger point by the removal of the desktop index. With mobile devices having become the predominant method for search this was a relatively natural evolution. Yet still one that many businesses and site owners resisted and failed to understand the importance of. As a result many businesses suffered losses in rankings, the perception being that a penalty was in place. In many ways it was a penalty of sorts. Yet not a direct one. The absence of a mobile friendly version of the site being a signal of poor quality, thus other sites that better fulfilled the quality experience came to rank higher.

Penguin 3.0 — Went Live October 17, 2014.

This evolution of Penguin was said to be data only, as such effectively nothing new in terms of effects. Just a more efficient way of this supplemental part of the algorithm working. Google is constantly honing the way it works. The more efficient the better. Every step taking them closer and closer to the ideal user experience they wish to generate.

Panda 4.1 — Went live September 23, 2014.

As with previous Panda updates this was focusing on low quality content. By improving the detection of low quality content, effectively a breach of Google’s Webmaster guidelines, they are able to clean more spam from the results. Thus enabling better quality through, and enhancing the overall user experience. This update gave Panda a new set of signals to check for to make that easy to achieve.

HTTPS/SSL Update — Initiated August 6, 2014.

At this time Google made public the fact that preference that secure sites would be gaining preference in search results. Initially this was via a small additional set of points that contributed towards the site’s ranking. It was very much a signal from Google as to what was coming, even if most people didn’t believe so at the time. This move was very much the forewarning to site owners that websites in the future would have to have SSL certificates and operate on https if they wished to be visible in SERPs.

Pigeon — Went Live July 24, 2014.

The Pidgeon update was stated by Google to bring the local and core algorithms closer together. Prior to this point that had worked very separately, which had led to challenges for Google. With this update signals regarding location became handled differently. Something which led to dramatic results for search on a local level. A key reason for this being that much of SEO is done on a local level because local businesses wish to be more visible. As such local SEO had been very much on the rise, and Google needed to rein in sites breaching it’s guidelines and Terms of Service.

Payday Loan 3.0 — Went Live June 12, 2014.

The 3.0 evolution of the Payday Loan algorithmic component expanded its coverage. Specifically enabling it to target spammy queries on a wider basis. As well as enabling it to target spammy sites directly in better ways too.

Page Layout #3 — Went Live February 6, 2014.

This update of a previous algorithmic update made in January of 2012, handled user experience in a different way to the majority of algorithmic components. Whilst many may believe page layout to be a non-factor it very much is. In this case targeting sites with “too many ads above the fold” which Google states to be creating a poor user experience. The thought on Google’s part being that the content is there only to lure people in to clicking on ads, especially as the ads are served before the content. Something which via this element of the algorithm leads to direct penalties hitting websites.

Hummingbird — Went Live August 20, 2013.

Hummingbird was a massive rewrite of Google’s core algorithm. With a variety of searches and sites being affected as a result of the changes made. Doing a rewrite and replacement on this scale is a major undertaking. Especially when you have a live system that the majority of the world uses. As such a very serious indication of the seriousness with which Google takes search results, and their goal of removing spammy sites and web spam from the internet. All in order to generate the user experience they wish people to have.

Venice — Went Live February 27, 2012.

Venice enabled Google to more aggressively integrate local search data, and thus serve local organic search results in a far more effective way than before. This is a notable pattern with Google. Starting to test things softly, checking effects before going at them far more aggressively.

Caffeine (Full Rollout) — Went Live June 1, 2010.

Caffeine was an algorithmic update which resulted in Google’s search algorithm gaining a big boost to how fast it operated. Along with this the manner in which it crawls and indexes content, became tighter too. Something which led to a far fresher index, around 50% fresher according to Google. This also led to various SEO consultants talking about how Google loves site freshness, and how ranking boosts can be gained by refreshing content.

Jagger — Went Live October 1, 2005.

Jagger was in reality a series of updates brought together. The chief objectives of these algorithmic updates were targeting link farms, reciprocal links, paid links and assorted other links. Which all fall under the classification of low-quality links. Linking and link building have long been targets of Google. Almost as soon as users started to gain understanding in terms of it’s commercial value to businesses, people began doing search engine optimization for their sites. Which back at that time, and still through till now, has led to most SEO work being in regard to building links. As such Google has always been keen to clear that behavior out in terms of its effects.

These are just some of the highlights of the changes Google has brought about with it’s algorithm.

There are far more, both small changes and major updates. Notably Penguin and Panda have been through various evolutions and enhancements. There are well over 500 updates made by Google to the way it defines search results, every year.

To go into everything would defeat the purpose. This has been about helping you to understand how Google, and thus your site and its SEO, is in perpetual evolution.

It is always improving itself, and for a single core reason.

To generate the best possible user experience through the elimination of web spam.

The take away for site owners being.

What ever you are doing for your website in regard to SEO, ensure it is ethical and within the Google search console guidelines and ToS.

If you are operating in a so called “grey area” you can bet that in time, that area will become black. As such Google will adapt and create a way of dropping an automated penalty on you. And your website will be gone from the Google search results. You absolutely have to focus on working within the guidelines, and Google’s terms of service. Anything else is supremely risky.

When doing SEO work, work to keep your website safe. Earn sustainable rankings.

Never do anything that might get your website penalized at some point.

Google Algorithmic Components The Three Most Impactful Updates In Search History

There is a core group of Google’s various algorithmic components which led to common issues. That is, updates which commonly catch site owners. As such these are the main updates to be aware of, and what you should keep in mind with your site and your efforts with SEO.

These three updates, all spaced out, dealt with different things in different ways. With the exception of one which is set to make all others pale in comparison of the effects it has. Make no mistake. Google has shown a very clear trend about where things are going, and how it deals with violations and infringements of it’s ToS and guidelines.

Though in fairness, it has also adapted to enable speedier recovery for a large number of things too.

Google Panda Update 2011 The First Serious Blood Is Drawn

Panda rocked the SEO world. Tears were shed and incomes wiped out over night. Literally.

The introduction of Panda in 2011 was a total shock to the world of search engine optimization. Things that SEO consultants and agencies had thought acceptable practice, were turned on their heads. The various content farms and thin content put up just to get rankings ended up costing people their sites. Google also cracked down hard on high ad-to-content ratio sites at this time. As well as hitting a number of other website quality issues.

People had realistically been aware that SEO things were at the very least grey, in terms of what they were doing. But thought that because Google had done nothing, their sites were OK. They thought that the golden age of posting up anything to produce site links would go on forever. Basically they had themselves to blame. The guidelines and terms of service had been there to read for years. They had just chosen to ignore them.

A fatal mistake. With many sites being penalized.

Google Penguin Update 2012 A Very Bitey Little Bird

Having had a little time for people to recover from Panda, Google then rolled out Penguin. Again the effects on sites and SEO were much the same. Lots of Penalized sites. Tears. Shock. Anger. And so much more.

Penguin was rolled out specifically to target various spam factors, including keyword stuffing. The anger from site owners about this update was insane. Again, the writing had been on the wall. It had all been there in the Google ToS and webmaster guidelines. Very specifically, even including examples of what was unacceptable and what would be considered violations.

Violations Commonly Dealt With By Penguin:

  • Automatically Generated Content
  • Irrelevant Keywords (AKA Keyword Stuffing)
  • User-Generated Spam

To this day the impact of the initial Penguin update is still being felt. With a good number of SEOs and copywriters being overly sensitive as to what keyword stuffing actually is. So in many ways you could say that Google achieved a great effect with Penguin. Many had thought Panda was a one off, never to happen again. Penguin set the scene that Google meant business, and was set to enforce its guidelines. With severe penalties for webmasters and site owners ignoring them.

In the modern age of computing, with ultra comprehensive algorithms and the ability to express almost anything mathematically. Google had come to the point where it could pick off offenders at will with great ease. The field of play had been changed forever.

Google RankBrain Update 2015 A Largely Overlooked Signal Of The Things To Come

RankBrain, even though is was heralded by Google as bringing big changes to search engine methodology and working, was hugely ignored by most in the SEO community. Still to this day it is being ignored by most. Yet on a daily basis people are feeling changes with search, SEO and rankings. And seem unsure as to how to deal with them. Even though the causes and remedial action are staring them in the face.

In many ways, following the dramatic impact of earlier algorithmic changes and updates to Google’s search functionality, RankBrain could be regarded as a massive stealth update.

The big changes never occurred at rollout.

Why?

Because RankBrain was very much in a learning phase. It still is. Though in the time that has passed since 2015, it has had a huge amount of time to gather data, learn the intricacies of human behavior. And importantly, learn about the user intent behind various searches.

All of which has led to gradual shifts in the search results. The kind that site owners and many SEO experts find very difficult to pick up on, or indeed analyze.

Something which has caused problems for a huge number of SEOs. Basically because on the quiet, and over an extended period of time, the way search results are calculated has changed. Massively. Yet in a very difficult to pin-point manner.

So many SEO agencies and consultants have focused on doing more of what they think works. Soaking up resources, and leading them into the territory of violations and penalties.

Google Has Evolved In How It Deals With Each And Every Violation

Each and every violation and infringement can be dealt with, almost automatically now. While certain things are as yet to be baked into the Google algorithm, and require manual action before penalties are issued, much can be dealt with dealt with automatically.

It has demonstrated the seriousness with which it takes violations. And many site owners have felt the wrath and then either had to start again, or just give up.

Now that you understand this well, it is time to learn how to ideally avoid the various violations and penalties that await site owners, and SEO professionals, who stray from the carefully laid out path.

Guide To Google Penalties The Sneaky Things That Can Land You In Hot Water And How To Recover

What follows is the ultimate guide google users need to read.

This section of the ultimate guide to Google penalties from Kotton Grammer Media, will walk you steadily through the mass of things you have to be careful of. Note that Google and search engines are evolving all the time.

Also note that the rules can be changed. At any moment.

Ultimate Guide To Google Penalties, Search Console Guidelines And Recovering Penalized Sites

Sneaky Redirects Where Are Your Visitors Actually Ending Up?

Redirects are done for a wide variety of reasons. Many of them are totally ethical and with good reason. An example is when you change the url structure of your site, flattening out or shortening urls can be good, it is user friendly.

Sneaky redirects are when you have one result displayed in search results for a site. But when the user clicks on that result, they are taken to a different page.

An example of this would be if a search user clicked on a result regarding how to make wooden tables. The title was all about it, the url showed the page to be about it, and the description matched too. Hence the click. Yet after the click, the search user was redirected and dropped on a page selling tables, nothing about making them. Different url, different content, different title.

It could also be that the search user lands somewhere completely different. A totally different domain than the indicated one, which has nothing to do with the actual search performed.

That is what Google classifies as a sneaky redirect.

There is zero ethical reason for having such things in place.

The motivation is purely one of getting someone on a page from which the hope is that they will buy something. The fact is that sneaky redirects like this break the user experience, as such creating a negative impression of the site, which in turn effectively breaks rapport and the users desire to do anything on-site, let alone buy anything.

It also has the effect of reducing user confidence in search engine results. Hence the Google guidelines related to these things.

Sneaky Redirects How To Recover From Penalties Resulting From This Type Of Violation

Recovery from violation of the sneaky redirect category of penalty is relatively easy.

The start naturally is to stop the redirect. Ensuring that a search user lands on the page, and the content they expected to, is what you should be doing with all your site content. If the content is slightly different from what the search user wanted, so be it. But if they expect something about making tables or building links. Then ensure that is what they get.

If they choose to click back and find something else.

Then focus on improving your content. And your website as a whole.

Likewise if you wish to gain traffic which is channelled into a sales funnel, use content which gently inspires the user to progress through your funnel, without being forced. In doing so you will achieve far better results. It will increase your conversions, and potentially result in longer term ROI from users too.

An example would be to give the user the page they requested first. Then through carefully constructed content and calls to action, have them make the natural choice to buy something rather than make it themselves. Lead your users into having a revelation, on your website.

A simple but effective marketing strategy.

An SEO example would be teaching site visitors how to build links. Explaining the challenges and issues, which can incur penalties of their own, and then creating a call to action that has them make a decision to pay for SEO services instead. Naturally maneuvering those users on to a path, which they then follow of their own accord.

Once the redirect is removed, and your content is refreshed to give a quality user experience, Google must be contacted for the penalty to be reassessed and ideally removed.

Sneaky redirects incur a manual penalty, as such have to be re-evaluated by a Google employee. This process of reconsideration can take months, depending on various factors.

The best thing is to ensure you never employ tactics that would yield such a violation.

Cloaking Are Your Visitors Seeing The Same Thing As The Search Engines?

Cloaking is the practice is serving different sets of content depending on the nature of the page interaction.

In short this basically means serving one set of content to search engines. And another to search users.

Commonly this could be keyword rich content being served to the search engines in order to gain rankings, and thus traffic from search. Yet when real users click through they are served a totally different set of content. That content could be images, video, text or a variety of combinations.

Basically it is similar in nature to the practice of sneaky redirects.

Though rather than sending users off to a different page or site, you are keeping them on the same page as the search engines expect them to visit. But they are seeing something totally different to what the search engine expects them to be viewing.

Another variation that yields a cloaking violation is if your site requires users to subscribe, register or log in, in order to actually read the full content of the page.

That is, the search engine can see the full page, but the visitor only gets to see something like the first paragraph of the page. Then they are prompted to register, or take out a subscription, in order to actually read the full article.

In this case, as with the other types mentioned, search users are coming through expecting something useful. As indicated by the search result, both in terms of position and description. Yet they are being given something of little value, and a demand for something that was previously unmentioned.

In short, ethically there is zero justification for doing this.

Cloaking Penalties Can Arise Due To Image Usage And Placement

Images can cause a cloaking violation in a number of different ways. Some examples are:

  • When one image is obscured by another image; i.e. one on top of another.
  • When the image visible to the search user is different to the one served to the search engine.
  • When the user is redirected away from the image they expected or wished to see.

With the first point you just have to be careful when arranging your images on site.

With the other two points the change is coming with a point of intent. As such is malicious and that is essentially what Google is wishing to stop. Every single one of the guidelines is there to create the best possible user experience. Follow them and Google will reward you. Provided you have quality content that is well liked.

If your website is relying on spam techniques to succeed, you are asking for trouble.

Clean it up!

Cloaking Penalties That Can Arise Without You Thinking Anything Bad Has Happened

There are times when you can pick up a cloaking penalty without really doing anything wrong. At least, in your mind you haven’t.

Cloaking Penalties Arising As A Result Of Technologies Like Flash And JavaScript

Issues can arise from the use of Flash, JavaScript and images to name but a few things on site.

Search engines, Google included, have great difficulty reading and understanding technologies such as Flash and JavaScript. Unless markers are placed to actually indicate what is going on. Without the markers Google and other search engines effectively fail to detect what is actually happening on page. They can see some code, but are unable to interpret properly what that code is doing.

So placing proper markup around such content can be a big help for both search engines, which then understand your content properly. Plus of course yourself as the site owner, the presence of additional media could well bring a ranking boost when Google understands what is actually there.

Cloaking Penalties Arising As A Result Of Hacking

Hacking can also bring cloaking penalties without you knowing what has happened.

Hackers often target sites to inject content in, links especially, which they then hide via cloaking. As a site owner this can be exceptionally difficult to detect. Because to all intents and purposes the site appears to be unchanged. Yet below the surface there are other, invisible things, going on.

As such you can end up with a penalty hammering your site out of search. And it is the first you know about it. The recovery is relatively simple, just time consuming.

Cloaking How To Recover From Penalties Resulting From This Type Of Violation

Because of the variety of things that can cause a cloaking violation there are a number of possible solutions.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Cloaking Violation Due To Hacking

For this you will need to do likely one of two things initially.

The first being to rebuild your site from a recent clean backup. Though again, you may have to go back a way to find a clean backup without the hack present. Having found a previous clean version of your site, you need to run a restore from backup. Effectively wiping the hacked site clean. Though you may well be losing recent content in doing so.

The second way, for those without backups, is to completely rebuild the website from scratch.

This second option is naturally very time consuming. As such making regular backups is highly recommended. It can save you time in the future if your site does get hacked.

A further point having recovered your site is to install security software that can block hackers. As such helping you to minimize the chance of having to deal with a hacked site again. Management of security is important if you wish to prevent being hacked again!

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Cloaking Violation Due To JavaScript Or Flash Technology

In relation to Flash technology, you are best moving to HTML5 coding straight off.

For a start Flash is usually unlicensed on mobile devices. As such mobile users, who account for around 66% of searches on average, will be unable to view it anyway. HTML5 is far more effective for a number of reasons. For a start it is multi-platform so regardless of device it can be viewed properly. As long the site is responsive.

Secondly HTML5 is easy for search engines to understand, thus dealing with the cloaking issue.

For JavaScript the crux of the solution is to use a ‘noscript’ tag, and ensuring that the content within it is also accessible to users viewing without JavaScript being enabled. Multiple security programs raise flags with JavaScript now, largely due to vulnerabilities it has regarding hackers. As such avoiding JavaScript where possible is likely in your best interest anyway.

Recovery From Cloaking Due To Hidden Content Requiring A Subscription, Log In or Registration

In short, you have to ensure the full page is viewable.

Granted this can mess up your strategy for gaining subscribers. However the effect of a Google penalty for a cloaking violation, is going to mess up your ability to gain subscribers in a much bigger way.

There are multiple ways of drawing site users in to registering or purchasing subscriptions. Without needing to withhold content from them. Talking to a top end digital marketing agency or consultant, on how to achieve your business goals, while remaining within the webmaster guidelines laid out by Google is your best bet.

So ensure the web-pages that are in violation of Google’s guidelines are updated to properly display their content. And enact a Google friendly way of generating the subscribers you wish to gain.

Quality internet marketing is your friend.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Cloaking Violation Due To Images

This is very easy.

Firstly if you know you are redirecting people, or intentionally serving different images.

Stop!

Sort the issue out, and ensure that the right images are viewable when people wish to see them.

If you have an issue with masking, i.e. one image on top of another, then move the images around so that they are both visible. Or decide on which one is most important and delete the other.

Like I said, very easy to deal with.

Hidden Text And Links Ensuring What Is On Page Is Properly Visible To All

In numerous ways, the hidden text and links violation is similar to that of cloaking.

And again this comes down to issues around manipulation of search results, and providing a quality user experience. If you are hiding things from visitors, then by extension the hidden content is there purely to manipulate search results. There are occasional exceptions to this, one being the use of Schema markup.

The key is understanding what Google is assessing here. The following are a few examples:

  • The use of white space which has white text within it.
  • Placing text behind an image so that it is not visible.
  • Positioning text outside of the viewable area, something usually done via CSS.
  • Using a font size of zero for text elements.
  • Using small single characters like hyphens or periods to hid links.

Basically if Google thinks you are masking things from users. Things which it believes are there to manipulate search results. You are heading for a penalty, fast.

Very little of this can be done by accident.

So if you do have a warning, or notice a penalty regarding hidden text and links, you should know exactly what you have done wrong.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Hidden Text And Links Violation

Very simple, yet time consuming.

As mentioned above, you likely know exactly what you have done here. So go into your site and correct it. Make sure that everything is visible. To everyone. Both search users and search engines alike.

Go through all your text, images, links. Everything.

Check once you have made changes, and ensure that if a search engine can find or read it, that search visitors can too.

Once that has been done you will have to submit a request for reconsideration.

Once Google has received your request, it will queue a manual review. Basically because the penalty is to do with the visibility to users, a live person has to perform a manual check.

This obviously takes more time.

Google manual penalties are a drain on your time and resources. So knowing the guidelines properly, and staying within them is your best course of action. Stay on the path and restrain yourself if at any time you feel like straying from it.

If following the manual review Google is still unhappy, the penalty will obviously remain in place. And you will have to go through your site again. Google is unlikely to give you any further information on what is wrong.

So you have to ensure that you are seriously thorough in your checks, and remedial action.

Be diligent, make sure that everything is properly visible. And avoid Google penalties in the first place.

Violations Regarding Pages With Malicious Behavior

Violations regarding malicious behavior span a multitude of unpleasantries.

This can come in two forms, intentional and unintentional.

If you are knowingly disseminating things such as malware, spyware, trojans, viruses or excessive ads, then you should expect to have problems. These things are one of the things Google wishes to totally eliminate from its user experience.

The unintentional side of this comes from things like having a hacked site.

Whilst some hackers only wish to inject content to gain links. Others wish to push out various viruses, trojans, spyware and malware. One of the common reasons for this is so that they can take control of users computers to initiate and power up DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. Things which have become unpleasantly common for various companies that attract wide public displeasure.

Realistically, for honest site owners, this is again coming back to protecting your site.

Ensuring you have software in place to block hackers from getting into your site. And also issuing you with alerts when unauthorized entry is attempted. As such either blocking the problem in the first place. Or at the very least alerting you to the possibility that you may have a hacked site, and enabling you to deal with it quickly.

This is also part of the drive by Google to get site owners switched over to HTTPS and web wide usage of SSL certificates in order to protect user experience and create a safer web experience.

If you have been penalized then there are various recovery points, all depending on the nature of the cause of the malicious behavior violation. The commonality is that you will need to submit a reconsideration request to Google. Reconsideration which as previously mentioned can take months to get. So clean the site up and keep it clean.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Malicious Behavior Violation Due To Hacking

This can take two forms, depending on whether not not you are distributing downloadable software.

Recovery Process When You Are Not Distributing Software

For this your best case is having a recent clean backup from which you can restore your site.

Again this can be frustrating as potentially you may lose content from post backup.

The next option is going through everything server side. Literally digging in via your cpanel and going through every entry looking for injected pages and files. As well as files which have been altered. Unless you are a real tech head when it comes to servers you could easily miss something.

Even if you are a serious tech head this approach can become very laborious.

The worst case comes from having to totally rebuild your site from scratch. Wiping all files from the directory. Then either uploading all the HTML files and CSS sheets again. Or reinstalling your CMS, be it WordPress or whatever, and then redoing your website from the ground up. Reloading all content. Redoing the styling. Every single attribute. The lot. Plus you will then also have to request a manual review of your site from Google, which extends the process out further. The resolution is far from immediate.

Dealing with a hacked site is far from the way you wish to spend your time.

It massively destroys your productivity.

Get your site properly protected and minimize the chances of it ever happening.

Recovery Process When You Are Distributing Software

If you are distributing software then you have a big task on your hands. When a Malware or unwanted software warning comes up you have to go through and sanitize all files associated with your downloads, and realistically the rest of your site to just to be sure.

There is a strong recommendation from Google that runs with this for installing anti-virus and security software on your site.

Partly to protect it, though mostly the desire from Google is to protect search users.

There are two very specific points within the recovery process detailed by Google. One labelled ‘Protect User Data’ the other labelled ‘Do Not Harm’ both of which indicate the desire of Google to make the search experience a quality one for all its users.

They are getting stricter and stricter in this regard.

Hence the various algorithmic updates to get rid of spammy behavior.

So if you do have an amazing piece of software that you wish to distribute to help people achieve more of what they want. Ensure your site is safe. Ensure all files are safe. That they only behave in a way that the user expects them to, and that if they are unhappy with them, they can return their system to a state they are happy with. With minimal fuss.

Naturally, get your security sorted out properly.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: Install HTTPS and software to monitor and protect against hacking, malware and other malicious code.

The use of cloud solutions can in certain instances be helpful too.

Placing another layer between your site and hackers.

Having sanitized all your files, including your actual website. Plus having addressed all security issues. And having put in place measures to ensure a quality user experience, you will then need to request a manual review from Google.

Provided they are happy the penalty will be lifted and you will be back in business again.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Malicious Behavior Violation Due To Excessive Ads

If you have scripts running that serve a high volume of ads, details can be found in Google’s search console quality guidelines, then reduce the number of ads to within policy limits.

Spammy Hosts A Note On Ads And Malicious Behavior

As a note on excessive ads, there are a lot of free hosts who will place ads on their users sites.

Google takes a very dim view of this, and it does regard it as malicious behavior. To the point where they have actually threatened action against entire hosting services.

So if you are using a low quality, often free, hosting service that places adds on your site, you could well end up dealing with a penalty indirectly. If there are ads on your site which are outside of your control, you either need to get your host to remove them.

Or, move to a reputable host that will never place ads on your site.

The later is likely your best option. Partly because lots of spam sites use free hosting, and you will be graded by association and potentially black listed as a result.

Use a quality host and keep your site safe.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Malicious Behavior Violation Due To Self Included Malicious Files

Pure and simple, you know where the malicious files and code are if you put those things on your website. Go in and remove them. Clean up your site and turn it into something which has gives a positive user experience.

Reconsideration Request A Commonality For Malicious Behavior Penalties

All malicious behavior violations require you to submit a reconsideration request to Google post rectification.

While they state that the process can take two to three days, you may have to wait longer. Whilst getting your site up and running is your top priority, Google is dealing with various site owners in the same boat as you.

A level of patience is required.

Hence the reason that knowing the guidelines and following them, especially in regard to site security, is of such great importance.

Avoid putting yourself in the position of distributing malicious code, be it malware, trojans, viruses or whatever. There are many options for making a great living without being subversive. Put your time into something you can build sustainably and you will enjoy far more long lasting results.

Having your site properly secured, changing passwords, using SSL encryption, employing in-depth security measures including cloud services, as well as onsite security measures are all critical to your website gaining success online now.

Do what you have to to ensure you create a sustainable quality user experience.

It is to your benefit.

Automatically Generated Content The Use Of Spammy Content For Ranking

This is perhaps the most easily detected and blatant violation of the quality guidelines in Google’s search console.

This type of behavior is what led to the Google penguin update coming into being.

And with Penguin now working in real-time, if you do use automatically generated content you can expect to see an instant set of drops as far as the ranking of your various pages, and site overall are concerned.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From An Automatically Generated Content Violation

The plus side is that penguin now works in real-time.

As such you can enjoy almost instant recovery, if your website is penalized because of this.

What you will need to do is remove any and all automatically generated content. This is content which that Google regards as thin and presenting little to no value to search users.

While some may argue that spinners and content creation software has come on leaps and bounds, it has very little value to the people reading it. If you are expecting Google to rank you well then follow their guidelines and ToS and present users with good quality content. Writing, images and video which add value to their lives and yield the experience they are in search of.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: Never use a SEO tool and automatically generated content. Create value with unique content.

Your goal is to fulfil user intent.

With RankBrain stepping into the mix of ranking factors this point has become critical.

Links are becoming less valuable for ranking websites. Whereas content, user intent and user experience are becoming essential for website success in SERPs.

While you could cut corners and reap rewards in the early 2000’s, accept that those days are gone. The image that you can achieve success on a shoestring is out of date. You have to work with quality now.

As much as anything there is an insane amount of competition online now.

With that most people are honing their search engine optimization to varying degrees. Some to very very high degrees of quality.

If you wish to outclass your competition in search, you have to produce higher quality than everyone else.

So hang up the SEO software which was creating pages and content for you automatically. And delete each tool you used to use. They are only going to cause you problems. Be that right now, or in the future.

Irrelevant Keywords AKA Keyword Stuffing And Unnatural Use Of Words

While the Google term is irrelevant keywords, the commonly known term is keyword stuffing.

That is the practice of loading in particular keywords or search terms, in order to increase the relevance in search results of a page. This is something that a lot of people have become exceptionally sensitive about following the introduction of the penguin algorithmic element.

Many people becoming sensitive to the point of serious over-sensitivity.

For many the acceptable ratio is around 1% of content being the stated keywords. Though this in itself can be challenging to calculate. With a lot of people becoming so cautious that the language almost becomes unnatural due to the lack of relevant terms.

Which in turn harms the search relevance.

At which point they then turn to link schemes to increase power and relevance.

But doing so in a manner which is a serious violation of Google’s ToS and guidelines.

People sacrifice one easy to optimize method of SEO. The foundation of SEO in fact. In favor of doing something which they know very well that Google is clamping down on, hard. Plus, if you do slightly over optimize your on-page SEO, and get penalized. You can just adjust it back. Reducing keyword densities and working to ensure natural language is used.

Google is very kind, in that they actually give very specific examples of what is considered the use of irrelevant keywords. Or their excessive use. Read through the example within the Search Console Guidelines and it becomes very understandable.

The core example of what will trigger a violation, and thereby result in a Google penalty being:

We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at custom.cigar.humidors@example.com.

Google actually cites three different ways that are considered as irrelevant keywords. Those being:

  • Repeating the same words and phrases in a manner that sounds unnatural.
  • Having blocks of text that list towns, cities, states and other areas for ranking purposes.
  • Having lists of telephone number that give little value to the search user.

These are just three examples of what Google views as irrelevant keywords.

The main thing they have in common, is that they lack value to the searcher. All of which comes back to quality. Hence the reason these are within the quality guidelines in Search Console.

Site quality is a massive thing for Google.

Make sure your site has it by the bucket load.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From An Irrelevant Keywords Violation

This, as with the automated content violation, is relatively easy to deal with.

Look through your site and workout where the examples given exist. Look at how you can structure your content differently. That is, how you can structure it to actually yield value to search users and site visitors.

Work out how, and then actually make your site of better quality and value.

That is how simple it is to actually recover from this.

You can still have lists of cities and phone numbers. You just have to ensure that those lists are actually creating value, and contributing positive value to the quality of your site. Then of course by extension, the quality of the user experience.

As Google says:

Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

Focus on quality and you will be on track for a solid win.

Scraped Content Produces A Far From Quality Experience And Is Seriously Spammy

It is hard for many to believe that scraped content is still being used. But some site owners do still use it, thinking it will help them. Thinking that Google will be unable to tell.

The fact is that such content is very easy to find.

It is the reason that various content checking services exist. And if they can scour the web in seconds to find duplicates. You can bet that Google will find out faster.

And yes, even if you change words with synonyms, or use a spinner they will know.

And they will still mark you in violation.

It is possible to rank for duplicate content. However unless your site is as well respected as Forbes, you are unlikely to achieve anything for it. Also if all of your content is duplicate, then you are adding zero value and Google knows this. Hence the problem faced by you if you are scraping content.

The only time Google sees value in you actually using someone else’s content, is when you are adding comments and additional content, such as interpretations and extrapolations from the original. Effectively explaining things in another way, more deeply, or adding an alternate view to them.

Even if you are doing this you should still be giving attribution.

If you are taking someone else’s content, and attempting to pass it off as your own, you will be found out.

Google can see that. It will automatically give priority to the prior published piece too. With attempts to claim something that is not yours being met with consequences. From Google for sure. And also potentially from site owners whose copyright you are infringing.

Scraped content is only going to cause you problems.

This is about more than just written content too. If you are just creating pages of images or videos, with nothing unique that adds value, you will still be found in violation of the scraped content guideline.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: You have to consider the origin, quality and value of all of your content.

It can cause your entire site to be penalized, when Google detects this violation within your site.

Undermining the entire value of having the website. Without visibility in organic search results you are unlikely to get much traffic. So just get quality content, and hone your SEO within the search console guidelines to get the traffic and results that you wish for.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Scraped Content Violation

Again with Penguin being included within the real time Google algorithm, this is in most cases relatively easy for penalized sites to recover from.

Generally you should only need to clean out the scraped content. Or, add additional unique content to it in a manner that adds value and enhances the quality for users. And give attribution.

Then it becomes a matter of getting Google to re-crawl your site.

This is fairly easy, and can be done via your Google search console account once you are logged in.

Once Google has crawled your site again, and re-evaluated the content that resulted in the violation. You should see a change occur. If you still have issues, it may be that you need to do more than you thought.

Either adding in further additional content, or totally changing the content on the page. Until Google is happy that the content being served, is of good quality and yields an experience that is of value to the website user.

In certain cases it may be that you have to submit a reconsideration request to Google. But that is only likely to be necessary in cases of major infringements on a site wide basis.

If you are using someone else’s content, ensure you are adding additional value rather than just reproducing the same thing again.

User Generated Spam Penalties Resulting From Malicious Users

Whilst this is something that other people are doing, it is something you are still responsible for.

Google hates spam. Almost everything within the quality guidelines is there to bring about the end of spam appearing in Google’s search results. Regardless of how that spam is generated, Google wishes it to be gone from the internet.

As a result, webmasters and website owners are being held responsible for users behavior when those users are generating content published on site. Examples being:

  • Spammy Accounts On Free Hosts – Think sites and services like Tumblr and WordPress.
  • Spammy Posts On Forum Threads – Something that used to be a major tactic for SEOs.
  • Spammy Guest Posts – These guest posts are ones created purely for SEO and getting links.
  • Comment Spam On Blogs – Basically users placing a comment just to get a link.

The good news is that if your site is in good standing with Google, such action is unlikely to cause you a site wide issue.

If you allow it to go out of control though, that could well lead you down the path of having a serious issue. Getting penalized.

At first you are likely to receive a warning from Google in regard to the violation. This first point is Google being friendly. They are giving you the benefit of the doubt, and an opportunity to clean up your site. Penalty free. And take it back to a level of quality where you provide a good user experience.

Google understands that while site owners can be working in good faith. There are certain users who behave in a malicious way.

That is what they are wishing to sort out here.

When the webmaster guidelines on quality in this respect are violated beyond a certain point. A manual action becomes triggered at Google. At that point you have a serious issue, and your site is removed from their search engine results.

Generally that will nullify the entire objective of your website.

Your entire objective with your site is to induce people to taking a certain set of actions. Be those actions commercial or non-commercial, depending on the nature of your organization. For most people this will be along the lines of buying something, making a donation or interacting with an advertisement.

The presence of spam will reduce the likelihood of users doing so.

So preventing such user generated spam in the first place is in your best interests.

Penalty Prevention Ways To Prevent Comment Spam

Getting out in front of things before they become a problem is seriously worth doing.

It is a lot easier to keep a website running when you manage things effectively. When things spiral out of control and you have to take corrective action, clean things up and then ask Google to look again and see if they are happy. That is a lot of work.

Comparatively, by doing things like setting comments to requiring moderation. Checking user profiles before they go live, or just weeding out potential spam profiles daily or weekly depending on the number of visitors and the traffic volume you get, is very worthwhile.

Comment spam is a major issue, largely because it tends to be automated.

A lot of people doing low quality SEO will use comment spam for churn and burn websites. Giving them a quick blast before they disappear. But Google has placed code within its algorithm to actually mitigate such tactics from working.

The issue being that those doing low quality SEO have little idea as to how much things have changed.

As such many keep spamming.

The good news is that you can do some very simple things to discourage comment spam.

For this, setting all comments to requiring manual review, or moderation, prior to publishing is a good first step. In doing so it means that most spam will never see the light of day. You can just hit the spam button before any such comments go live on your site.

You can reduce your user generated spam clean up workload further though.

By setting all links in comments to ‘nofollow’ you will also discourage comment spam. Most spammers have zero interest in a ‘nofollow’ link, as they get zero power from it. As such it does help to minimize the amount of work you need to do checking and approving comments in the future.

When spammers get zero value from a link they have zero desire to create that link.

They have a tendency to set their software to only seek out ‘dofollow’ comment links. On blogs and sites which have unmoderated comments. Start to moderate comments, and make all comment links ‘nofollow’, and you should slip under the radar of most automation.

Thus helping you to prevent comment spam before it becomes an issue.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A User Generated Spam Violation

At the basic level of a user generated spam violation, recovery is fairly simple.

You will need to go through your site, and clean out any spam comments, junk profiles and other content such as spammy guest posts on your site. Basically when you go through everything, if something looks like it could be spammy, then get rid of it.

Your objective is to ensure the best possible quality is perceived with your website.

That done, you should return to good standing and business is back to usual.

If you fail to keep track of things, and user generated levels of spam on site spiral beyond a certain level you have a much bigger job on your hands.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Manual Action Due To User Generated Spam

A manual action is a very serious problem for a site owner.

A manual action means that Google has actually put code in place which prevents your site from being displayed within its search results. So regardless of how far users dig down through a search, your site will never appear.

Not until Google has completed a manual review, and is happy you are within guidelines again.

So, if you get hit by a manual action, you have a lot of work to do.

For user generated spam this goes beyond just removing all spammy content. You will realistically need to demonstrate to Google that such violations will be highly unlikely in future. And that the quality of your site is being taken to a higher level, and protected too.

The first point of action is as above for the instances prior to the point of receiving a manual action. Clean out everything that could be considered to be spam.

Clean out profiles, comments, posts, everything with a hint of spam to it.

From there it is then about tightening up your site security and monitoring. So that you can minimize the opportunity of spam from site users in the future.

Using software to monitor user activity, especially when new accounts are being created is another good step. Having flags set for certain commercial words, or words not related to your site, will be of benefit. They will help you catch spam profiles from being created, or raise them to your attention prior to going live.

Another option here is also to set profile links to ‘nofollow’ too.

This could again discourage users from generating spam profiles as a method of gaining links.

You could even go a step further and prevent users from even having links in their profiles. Something that will be seriously discouraging to a great many spammers looking for cheap SEO value that could be gained from your site.

Alternatively, making all profiles require a payment. Most SEO spam will be seriously stopped by such action.

In addition to this, decide whether or not you wish to have comments on your site. Removing comments will cut out future instances of comment spam completely. But it also reduces signals of user interaction.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: Remove comments from your site or set comment links to ‘nofollow’ to stop user-generated spam.

At the very least put the comment spam prevention measures discussed above, into action.

Reconsideration Request Submission And Lifting The Manual Action

Once you have cleaned up your website. And placed measures to actually reduce the chance of user generated spam in the future, you need to submit a reconsideration request to Google.

Provided you have done enough, they will be satisfied that you are back within the webmaster guidelines. And the manual action will be lifted.

You want to be sure before you do this though.

It can take a long time for a reconsideration request to actually work its way through the system. And if the reviewer is less than totally happy that you have done what needed doing, the manual penalty will remain in place.

Meaning that you will need to go through the process again.

Looking even closer at what could potentially be user generated spam, and as such causing the penalty to remain in place.

Do a really deep cleanse in the first place. A serious forensic cleaning.

Do the job so well that Google could only have one option open, lifting the manual action.

Linking And Link Schemes The Pet Hate Of Google

Whilst linking was the core focus of website valuation when Google first began. Links have seriously slipped in value over the years. Links are still valuable, however their value in terms of the overall effect is very much diminished.

There is a strong reason for this.

Google hates link schemes. Because it knows they are all about manipulation of organic search results.

Link schemes are the reason many in SEO think “Google SEO penalties” and seek to blame others for what they have done themselves.

Paid Links Both Bought And Sold

When people start buying links it skews the system. The Google search algorithm was developed with honest linking and fairly earned links in mind. Hence the reason that for so long links were so valuable. You have to do something special in order for blogger or site owner to wish to link to you, from their site or blog.

People then realised they could make money from links and started selling them. Thus undermining the whole system and ethos on which Google had developed the algorithm they use.

Hence the reason for updates such as Panda.

Buying paid links, along with the other behavior that you will read about below has led to the devaluing of links. On an algorithmic level that is. Links for the sake of links, just done to get ranking effects are of little value now. Google has seen to that.

Links from high authority sites, are still valuable. Though generally if you wish to get one of those, you have to be doing something special.

Most SEOs have a single minded focus on links when it comes to ranking. Getting links wherever they can. Building PBNs (private blog networks) which they then often sell links on too.

Or they buy links on other people’s PBNs. A violation which Google can pick up on very easily now. And will lead to a fairly rapid link schemes penalty. Avoid PBNs like the plague, there are far better techniques and strategies for getting links.

If you really are focused on link building, then check the SEO strategy guide on how to gain links safely.

Scope of the link schemes violation goes beyond just paid links though.

Link Exchanges And Reciprocal Links

Link exchanges became a method for free links which site owners could use to power their sites. With collectives of bloggers and site owners creating massive reciprocal linking schemes to boost themselves. Something that now gets picked up very quickly and will send your site tumbling out of the Google search results, very fast.

There is a level to which Google still finds link exchanges OK.

It is a very minimal level though. One that has to have obvious business value, that is businesses recommending each other for complimentary services. Rather than just linking for the sake of gaining links.

Links As A Result Of Large Scale Article And Post Automation

Another tactic which many SEOs used in the past was the automatic dissemination of posts and articles across various article posting services. There were a number of reasons Google clamped down on these, the chief reason being their spammy nature.

The content for one, tended to be automatically generated content.

Which as you know is a guideline violation in itself. On top of this, the articles and blog posts were only being circulated in order to get links, mostly with keyword rich anchor text, very unnatural, that SEOs used to manipulate search rankings.

As such, much of it was duplicate content, which was generally very thin. And as a result, of little value to search users. Spam. Zero question about it. Just spam to manipulate rankings.

In Google’s favor though, this enabled them to very easily build an algorithmic update. All based on the unnatural link profiles created as a result of such services. Whilst some learned and compensated, once Google had a grasp on what was going on, it became very easy for them to keep tweaking and adjusting the definition of what an unnatural link profile looked like.

With RankBrain coming into the frame, and able to analyze internet user behavior in a faster and deeper way. That ability to discern what is unnatural has gone even further.

While article spinners, and SEO software that automatically rewrites content have developed in a massive way. Their articles are still relatively easy to detect. And with automatically generated content being a violation of Search Console Guidelines, their use by anyone has become a point of insanity.

Use Of SEO Tool Software That Automatically Generates Links

Whilst large scale article marketing services are very obvious, basically someone is running a business which circulates content out to a large number of sites. A further option used by those doing black hat SEO is the use of automated programs for link building.

A SEO link building tool, a piece of software, revolves around the automated creation of profiles, blogs, web pages and social media posts. Again, the tool user feeds in a piece, or various pieces of content, usually from an article spinner. States the urls they wish the links to go to. Along with the anchor text.

Then sets up a profile, or set of profiles, that they wish the software tool to work to.

They then hit a button and the link building software goes out onto the web, building fake profiles, blogs and web pages. Just so that the user can get more links.

Seriously spammy.

There is zero value to such methods for search users.

Hence the reason that Google cracks down hard on such behavior.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: Stop using SEO software for link building, focus on content and outreach instead!

So if you have been using automated programs and SEO link building software. Stop. Hit the delete button and never even contemplate using that software again. If you value your business, your website, and wish to build for the long term. Then stopping such software permanently is the right thing to do.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Link Schemes Violation

A violation of the Google guideline on link schemes is one of your worst nightmares.

Yes, links are less valuable in SEO than they used to be. Yes, that is due to people engaging in link schemes.

However, natural links, that is links that have been gained honestly through people appreciating your content. Well those are a different matter entirely. Natural links will do your site a lot of good. They are after all, still a quality signal to Google and one of the factors within the ranking algorithm.

The reason that this type of violation is one of your worst nightmares is this.

You need to disavow links.

Depending on how many links you have created, that could be a lot of links to disavow.

The issue with then having large volumes of links, is filtering out the quality links. The ones which are providing value, and creating an image of quality for your site in the eyes of Google. If you have created a large number of links then likely you will have to also disavow quality links within the process.

Basically because Google will not tell you which of your links are the issue.

If they discover that one of the sites linking to you is in violation of their search console guidelines, because it has been found to be participating in link schemes. Then you will likely be picking up the penalty by association.

If you have hundreds or thousands of links, how will you know which are the bad ones?

Thus you pretty much have to disavow every link you have.

This is one of the reasons it is best to earn each link. Get links naturally. By doing so you are likely to only gain quality ones. And should never need to disavow them.

Start using spammy SEO link building software, joining link exchanges, getting paid links or other such behavior. And you will struggle to work out which links are costing you your rankings and site health. You may have to disavow everything, just so you can get the one link that was the problem.

Once you have been through the disavow process, you then need to wait for Google to crawl through all the disavowed links. The good news here is that Penguin is now real time, so the issue of waiting for a refresh has ceased. The downside is that you have a big stack of links, that is a lot of crawling. And if others were involved in link schemes and linking to you, then it will take a while for Google to arrive at their links too.

All of which takes time. And your site will be banished from search, until Google is happy that each created link has ceased to have effect.

It is better to never put yourself in that position.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: Paid links and software generated links sink websites fast. Focus on ethical link acquisition.

So build your site carefully. Earn each link naturally. And focus on providing value to users.

Doorway Pages Do Your Web Pages Have Real Value Or Just Funnel Visitors?

Doorway pages are created purely for ranking purposes.

Usually for specific locations in local search. Often state, city and town pages can fall under the classification of doorway pages.

Essentially they are just there to rank for the local area. Then once the user clicks through, they are funnelled off to the real destination. Where the order is taken, appointment is set or any number of actual business relevant actions take place.

Doorway pages have little value to the user, they are created purely for the search engine optimization value that they have.

As such making them a poor user experience in the eyes of Google.

Hence the guideline regarding them and the penalty for their use.

Doorway Pages The Multitude Of Things That Fall Within Their Definition

The scope of what doorway pages are is incredibly broad. Ergo you need to think very carefully about your site and SEO strategy when it comes to your content. You could very easily find yourself inadvertently in violation of the search console guidelines, and on the receiving end of an unpleasant penalty for something you thought was OK.

Google actually lists three examples within their quality guidelines. The scope is wider though.

Think about the following very carefully in relation to your, and your client’s, websites.

  • Using multiple domain names or pages to target specific regions or cities, which then all funnel users into a single page.
  • Pages which have been created to funnel visitors into the portion of a site which is relevant or usable.
  • Pages which are substantially similar in content or nature, which are closer to search results than they are to the well defined hierarchy of a browseable website.

Reading through you will notice this is relatively loose.

Penalties for doorway pages come from manual reviews by Google. So if you have content similar in nature to the list then either pray you get someone forgiving when they look at your site. Or better still, sort out your content so that each and every page on your website has some real value to it.

The best course naturally is to ensure that each page has real value. And provides a quality user experience.

By brushing up your content on such pages you will likely gain rankings too.

Google now has content as one of its top three factors when it comes to ranking. So by creating substantial pages, with real value and solid on-page SEO. You will be doing yourself a massive favor, and likely picking up extra ranks and search queries as a result.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Doorway Pages Violation

This could be exceptionally time consuming.

Depending on the size of your site you will either have a lot of work to do, or a huge amount of work to do.

That is unless you just start taking down pages, and decide to not use them.

Though that will potentially affect your ability to rank in various locations. And get the customers you wished to from those places. Something which will obviously have an effect on your business. And needs to be evaluated and addressed accordingly.

So what is the best course of action?

Well, as should be incredibly obvious by now, Google wishes to ensure a quality user experience for all search users.

So that is what you should be creating.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: Creating amazing value with all your website content is a great way to avoid being penalized.

You can still have various state, city and town pages. Just ensure that each of those pages actually has real value to the search users landing on them. Google wishes its users to be happy, and get the information they are seeking. With ease and without messing around.

So if you have got thin content on your site, which is there just to rank for certain locations and terms, update it.

Redo the pages and ensure they are packed with quality value which will help people.

You can also change how your site interaction works too. So rather than funneling people off, you put the interaction there, on the page they are coming to from search. Stop the page from being a doorway, and necessitating that the user goes somewhere else for the value they seek.

Give them direct on-page access to what they want.

Still more action will be needed. More time.

Reconsideration Request Submission And Lifting The Manual Action

The penalty for doorway pages is a manual one. There is no way for the search engine algorithm, currently, to understand that a page is a doorway. It requires a live person to check.

As such a reconsideration request has to be submitted to Google.

Once they have received it, they will place it in a queue. Then one of their employees will go through the process of checking whether they believe the site is still in violation or not.

Hence the reason you want to ensure that every page is providing value.

And that users can take action intuitive to being on the page they have arrived on.

Affiliate Programs Ensuring You Add Value If You Are An Affiliate

This has been saved till last for good reason.

Affiliates have been on the receiving end of a large number of penalties over the years.

Many of the violations which have led to penalties from Google have been down to the actual affiliate program’s guidelines. But not all of them. There are a number of issues that face affiliates. That said not everyone is the same.

For the site owners and bloggers that put in the effort, great rewards and long standing rankings can be enjoyed.

For those who are lazy, big problems i.e. penalties can ensue.

Affiliate Programs And Violations Due To Thin Content

One of the major issues with affiliates is the tendency to just copy and paste content. Then put the page live and expect results. That is expect quality results from content which is the same as everyone else’s content.

A cross issue that comes in here is the belief that lots of SEOs have. That they can rank anything with enough links.

Something which leads them to participate in link schemes, thus triggering further violations.

When a site is made up of the same content found in other places, much as with scraped content and potentially automatically generated content. As various affiliate sites are often cookie cutter sites. Google sees little value in them. Thus regards them as having thin content.

They add zero value, have nothing unique or special to offer the search user, that cannot be found elsewhere. As such Google puts in a penalty and the site is removed from search results to stop it clogging things up for sites that offer value.

You absolutely have to be adding value if you wish to be found in search results.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From An Affiliate Programs Penalty Gained For Thin Content

Whilst time consuming, this is relatively easy to do.

All that is required is to actually produce some rich content, which actually adds value for users.

Add in honest reviews of whatever products you are actually recommending. Create other informationally and helpful pieces regarding them too. Creating guides, FAQs, and other pieces of your own creation that can actually create value.

Do something unique.

You can still use content which has to be kept the same, such as product descriptions if necessary. Just ensure that you are adding in a good proportion of your own unique material, around them, too.

Add additional pages to your site with further value too.

Think about what your users, and visitors from search, would actually wish to see. What content would provide value to them. And what would cause them to to feel that they had had a quality user experience, on your site.

What can you do to differentiate your site from the masses?

Once you have in place updated, unique, rich content which adds value, you will need to request a manual review from Google. Again, this can take time.

Creating the content takes time. But if you follow this ultimate guide to google penalties. And build right in the first place. Then you never need to be concerned about your site being penalized, and thus banished from the search results.

Penalties That Can Result From Other Behavior

Whilst the above list forms the massive bulk of guideline violations. There are other things which can trigger penalties. Do note that while the search console guidelines are hard and fast, Google works within elements of them and its terms of service to find other violation types and behavior.

One of the emerging penalty types, which seemingly falls outside the scope illustrated above, is a set of infringements resulting from the use of Schema markup.

Penalties Coming As A Result Of Spammy Schema Markup

Schema markup was intended to make things easier for search engine bots.

It was intended to set out very clear lines which site owners could code into their sites. Markup which would then give hard and fast understanding to search engine crawlers as to what the content was about. Along with a set of other details about it.

When you start digging into the Schema.org site you will discover how much of a rabbit hole there is.

There are a mass of combinations and options.

And bringing it all together takes skill.

Check the structured data testing tool in Google, which gives instant feedback about Schema markup. And you will discover how easily you can break the code and end up with something unintelligible.

To actually end up with useful Schema markup takes a reasonable amount of work. Plus ensuring it is properly relevant is a challenge too. It is very easy to set up Schema for a page, thinking you have done a good job.

Then see the page you have been working on disappear from SERPs.

Google knows that a lot of SEO agencies and consultants use Schema to enhance the technical side of search engine optimization. Done properly it does have a pleasant effect on rankings.

However, Google does view certain types of code inclusions on pages as spam.

You have to be exceptionally careful when setting things up. Ensuring that the code you are placing is 100% relevant to the page it is on. One of the things that commonly gets site owners and bloggers into a penalty situation is the fact that they reference data from reviews in Google.

If you are adding reviews to your Schema, then those reviews have to be unique to your site.

Copying and pasting reviews from elsewhere, or just referring to them, can lead to a penalty. Google is effectively treating that as scraped content. Hence the penalty that can come.

The guidelines laid out by Google have quite a lot of scope.

So when you are setting up content, code and everything else on your site, you have to think very carefully as to if any of it could cause an accidental violation.

Often people people pick up penalties without realizing what they have done.

At other times, as with a lot of SEO experts, they know they have pushed boundaries, especially where links and link schemes are concerned.

So be careful with your Schema markup.

Recovery Of A Penalized Site From A Penalty Due To Schema Markup Setup

The easiest thing to do is to just remove the Schema markup element from your site.

Within a short period your rankings will adjust as the penalty comes as a result of the real time algorithm.

Once you have removed the code, go back to it and work through it again. Think carefully as to what could be within it that Google would be unhappy about.

One of the things Google is very sensitive is how your content, website and organization are actually marked up. If there is a feeling that your code is misleading in in terms of the content or what you are doing, a penalty is going to ensue.

Five Things To Consider With Your Schema Markup If You Get A Penalty
  • Has the code been properly generated?
  • Is the content properly marked up within the code?
  • Is the website properly specified and marked up within the code?
  • Are you referring to reviews on other websites or domains?
  • Is there anything within the code that could be deemed as scraped?

Once you have been through it, and rewritten it to a point you feel is right. Test it. You will know soon enough. If needed you can always go through the process again.

Or better still, get an SEO expert who can write Schema markup to do it for you.

Google Penalties Know The Guidelines And Steer Clear Of Violations And Penalties

The best course of action is always to steer clear of penalties from Google.

To do so you have to know the guidelines in depth.

A lot of people either have little or no knowledge of them. Both of which points can land you in hot water with Google. It is very easy to pick up a violation, and thus a penalty, without realizing what has happened.

Unless you have a solid understanding of what Google is checking for.

Report Spam, Paid Links, Malware And Other Violations To Google

Google has also requested, for users to report all incidents of spam, paid links and malware. You can check inside the search console quality guidelines if you wish to verify this. The desire being that by getting search users involved, the internet becomes a cleaner and safer place for all.

Search Engines Under Optimization The Flip Side Of Insufficient Guideline Understanding

There are a lot of issues that can come from insufficient knowledge too.

Search engine under optimization is a big thing. Something which usually comes from people thinking they know how tight guidelines are, when in fact they are interpreting them differently to what is the reality.

Google Would Prefer You Under Optimize As It Makes Money Through Paid Ads

Google keeps the guidelines loose for various reasons. For one it gives them scope to work effectively. With the ability to adjust and evolve with things online as the environment changes.

Most notably Google would prefer that people never used agencies and consultants who provide search engine optimization services.

Chiefly because the principle income Google gets is from paid advertising.

And if you are ranked number 1 then why would you pay for advertising? In fact, if you are paying for SEO, why would you pay for advertising?

The Google Penalties Guide SEO Services And Google SEO Penalties A Final Word

If you are doing search engine optimization yourself, and have limited experience. You could well get limited results, or stray into penalty territory without realizing it.

Even if you are engaging an SEO agency or a SEO consultant, you could still get limited results or penalties.

Google Search Console Guidelines Knowing Them Is Critical For SEO Success

To get the best online growth. To really power your site up through search engine listings and results. You have to have a strong knowledge and understanding of the Google search console guidelines, and the Terms of Service Google works to.

By extension this means any SEO expert you engage, has to know them exceptionally well too.

There are many of the guidelines that people understand, that are relatively black and white.

There are many which are misunderstood though.

A principle example of this is the irrelevant keywords guideline. Which many people look at as keyword stuffing. Yet the situation is far more intricate and nuanced than most realize. There is far more going on than those people understand within their content.

Often more of the keywords they wish for, can be worked in naturally.

They just need professional SEO copywriters to do so for them.

Granted there are also times when content is crammed to heavily. But even those can be reworked.

Ensuring website content is properly set up, and clashes with content being accidentally hidden are issues for your web developer to take care of. As it is they should have such things well in hand, and be ensuring your website renders properly and effectively on all devices. Thus avoiding penalty problems.

Google Penalties Guide Top Tip: If you have picked up a penalty and have no idea why. Get professional help.

A good SEO consultant or agency will be able to set you on the right path.

You must make sure you work with the best.

Google Penalties Guide Kotton Grammer Media Can Help Penalized Sites To Rank Again

High quality SEO agencies and internet marketing companies will do more than just improve your rankings. They will work within the guidelines set by Google for webmasters, and ensure every attribute of your site, and part of your SEO strategy conforms to them.

Kotton Grammer Media is widely placed as the top SEO agency across the US.

We have a reputation for doing amazing work. And helping our clients achieve long term sustainable rankings. Our skill is so strong that we can help webmasters and site owners to recover penalized sites. And get your website back to good standing with Google and in search.

So, if having thoroughly read through this ultimate Google penalties guide, you feel the task of recovering your penalized site is too much. Get in contact with us now. And see what Kotton Grammer Media can do for your internet business. Remember, reconsideration and recovery takes time, so getting the management of your internet marketing and SEO done right first is best!

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