The ultimate goal of Google is to provide the best user experience to the Internet user. Google ensures the same by updating its algorithm frequently. Furthermore, it has formulated guidelines to help webmasters, business owners, and SEO agencies. If you follow these guidelines, Google will reward you a higher search engine ranking. And if you violate these guidelines, Google will penalize your website.
As a business owner, you should know when Google penalizes a website. Only when you know the reasons for the penalty you can take safety measures to keep your online presence secure. Therefore, in this blog post, we are listing the top 20 reasons why Google will penalize your website. Let us begin.
1. Duplicate content
Here is the most obvious reason – duplicate content. A couple of seconds is all Google takes to find whether your content is original or duplicate. Google penalizes the website that uses duplicate content. So, make sure you take no shortcut. If your content is created by a third party content writer, check the originality of the content using plagiarism checker tools. Copyscape is one such amazing tool to detect duplicate content. If you have no idea how original is the content on your website, we suggest you act now and find out.
2. Hidden content
The ultimate goal of an SEO expert is to impress both the audience and search engines. This can be done by developing high-quality fresh content. However, some website owners use hidden content to manipulate the search engine ranking, which is a blackhat SEO tactic.
Hidden content is the content present on the website which is visible to search engines but not human visitors. As a result, it gives the webmaster an opportunity to load the content with keywords. Google penalizes such activity severely. So, avoid hidden content and embrace white hat SEO tactics.
3. Low site speed
Just imagine that you are a potential customer. You want to buy a product from a website. So, you open your laptop and go to a business website. You find the website is taking too much time to load. You can imagine how frustrating it can be.
Slow website speed goes against Google’s core goal of providing an optimum user experience. Moreover, slow site speed increases the bounce rate. People expect your site to be fast. Well, that is a natural behavior of everyone on the Internet, If you do not know what is your site speed you can check via Google’s PageSpeed Insights. If you find your site speed low, go for site speed optimization.
4. Rapid link building
Link building is one of the major ranking signals we have. It is not a good idea to build too many links in a short period of time. Usually, google finds such activities suspicious. However, if you gain more links in a short time through natural link building activities such as viral marketing, you have nothing to worry.
Link building takes time. Search engines like Google know this fact very well. So, do not be in a hurry. Focus on quality, not on quantity. If you are not a digital marketer, we suggest you contact an SEO company. SEO agencies these days are providing exclusive link building service packages.
5. Comment spam
You can find an automated spam detection system in most of the commenting system. However, these are not leak proof. So, one should not rely on them completely. Always read your comments. It is beneficial in two ways. One, it is a best practice in online reputation management. Two, it helps you fight spam commenting.
Take out some time to moderate spam comments. If you have no time, it is good to switch comments off entirely. Yes, no comment is better than spam comment. However, SEO experts usually do not recommend to turn off the commenting option because they exhibit user interaction.
6. Spam reporting
Google is providing an online form for spam site reporting. If one sees a spam website that is ranking after the latest penguin update, he or she can report the website. Obviously, if you have a spam site, people are going to report it. As a result, your business site can be penalized.
Just like fake reviews, some people do fake spam reporting. If you are following Google webmaster guidelines, you have nothing to worry about. In the end, it is you who is going to win the game.
7. Too many outbound links
Generally, the outbound links present on your website will not influence your search engine ranking. However, if you have a large number of outbound links, then that will make Google suspicious. That is because numerous outbound links are seen as unnatural.
This usually happens when you are selling links. So, avoid such activities and keep your visibility safe. Whenever you add an outbound link, make sure they add value to your visitors. Also, make sure, the outbound links are relevant to the content on your website.
8. Unfriendly mobile site
Well, you might already know that Google receives more traffic from mobiles than from desktops. That is the reason why Google has made mobile friendliness as a ranking factor. So, to have an advantage over your competitors you must have a responsive site.
Having an unfriendly mobile site will definitely hurt your search engine ranking. Check whether your site is mobile friendly using this tool. Make sure you read the content on the tool and follow all the web design best practices.
9. Few outbound links
We have already discussed how a large number of outbound links can become a reason for a drop in search engine ranking. To avoid this issue, you may think of having only a few outbound links. Surprisingly, few outbound links can also be a reason for Google penalty.
Wondering why so? Ok, the answer is pretty simple. Google thinks sharing very less number of outbound links is unnatural. In other words, it can be an attempt to attract traffic unnaturally. So, what is the solution for this? Maintain a healthy number of outbound links.
10. Keyword stuffing
What is keyword stuffing? It a practice of loading a web page with keywords to improve search engine ranking of a website. Google considers this activity as a black hat SEO technique. So, avoid keyword stuffing completely.
Focus on quality content creation and content optimization. Make sure you have a healthy keyword density. Also, ensure the keywords match the content surrounding it. Adding keywords in the irrelevant content can cause a bigger problem than keyword stuffing.
If you are not sure whether you have done keywords stuffing or not, use online keyword stuffing checker tools to find out.
11. Too many advertisements
Displaying advertisements on a website is one method to earn money. Well, there is nothing wrong in it. As a website owner, you should set your limits, and should not cross it. Earning money should be your second or third goal. Your primary goal should be of providing value to your visitors, readers, or customers.
Too many advertisements spoil the user experience. As a result, Google tends to penalize your website. Therefore, avoid too many advertisements. Place the ads at appropriate places. Make sure the add do not harm the content readability.
12. Broken links
Broken link, also known as a dead link, is a link on a web page that no longer works. There are many causes of broken links. Here we are mentioning some.
● Misspelling in the link
● The target web page does not exist
● The webmaster has changed the target web page
Broken links can attract the Google penalty. The search engine giant expects you to keep your content up to date. When your visitors click on the broken, an error will be displayed. They will not get the content they are looking for.
13. Bad history
You may have purchased a domain that has a bad history. You might be thinking of building a new website. However, a bad reputation can still harm your visibility. This is one of those problems that is almost impossible to fix. Yes, the only option you have is get rid of bad domain reputation by buying another domain. After all, a new domain can fix the problem without incurring must cost.
Do you already own a domain? Want to know the history of your domain? Here are the top 5 tools to check the domain history.
● Domain tools
● Wayback machine
● Norton safe web
14. Excessive reciprocal links
A reciprocal link is a mutual agreement between two webmasters to provide a hyperlink from one’s website to other’s website. Google expects you to build inbound links naturally. Did you know? Reciprocal linking was a good off-page SEO strategy. However, many digital marketers started to overuse it. As a result, this type of link building is seen as a black hat SEO tactic.
If you want to use reciprocal links then you have to keep two things in mind. One, both the website must be relevant. Two, do not overdo it.
15. An absence of meta description
So what is meta description? It is an HTML attribute that provides a brief summary of your web page. A meta description typically has a character limit of 160 characters. A search engine normally displays the meta description in search results. This will give a brief idea about what your website does. In addition to that, the click-through rate largely depends on the meta description. Therefore, it plays an important role in SEO. Hence, missing the meta description can lead the Google penalty.
16. Manual Actions
Manual actions are the ones that are applied by a human rather than Google algorithms. Here is how you can check whether your site is suffering the manual penalty.
Step 1: Login to webmaster tools
Step 2: Click on search traffic
Step 3: Next click on manual action
If your site is not suffering from any manual penalty, you will see “no manual webspam action found.” On the other hand, if your site is suffering from a manual penalty, then you will find the details of the penalty. Read the reasons for the penalty carefully. It is always a good option to go for a Google penalty recovery service.
17. Google algorithm updates
Did you know? Google rolls out nearly 500 algorithm updates a year. This is done to make the algorithms smarter so that it can return highly valuable search results. Most of the small updates do not affect the search engine ranking of a website. However, every year we notice some updates that influence the entire SEO industry. Some of these changes are penguin update, mobile-friendly update, SSL security update, etc.
Whenever a new major update is released, your search engine ranking tends to go low. Take mobile-friendly update for example. Google now ranks mobile-friendly websites better than those who are not. So, it is always best to keep track of Google updates and act early.
18. An absence of XML sitemap
The XML sitemap is nothing but a file, where you can list your web pages to tell search engines like Google about the organization of your site content. Google bots read this file to crawl your website in a much better way. So, from an SEO point of view, the sitemap is one of the most basic elements of your site.
A missing site map can prevent Google from crawling all your website content. SEO experts consider it as one of the worst practices. If your sitemap is missing, then use online sitemap generator tools to create one, or contact an SEO agency.
19. Links from other language sites
This one looks unfair, correct? As a website owner, there is a pretty good chance to obtain a link from a client living in another country. So what is wrong in getting a link from a site that uses other languages. Well, you are correct from your point of view. However, Google also has some solid reason to penalize websites that get links from other language sites.
Google knows the behavior of Internet users very well. Internet users are more likely to prefer one language while browsing the Internet. So linking sites of other languages spoils the user experience. Moreover, the people who follow the link may not understand the language in the first place.
20. Over optimization
Yes, there is a thing called over optimization. With time, more and more people are realising the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). Consequently, they are focusing on website optimization too much. As the result, they are over optimizing their website.
Believe it or not, over optimization can lead to Google penalty. Google considers too much optimization unnatural. It thinks an unnatural attempt is made to influence the search engine ranking. So, it is always good to go slow. Craft your digital marketing strategy taking content as the core. Digital marketing takes time, so it is good to have patience.