You run a business that has a website, and derive a lot of your income from that website. You depend on customers finding that website in order for them to choose you over your competition, and you understand that rankings on Google for keyphrases that describe what you sell or do is how they are finding you. You have invested in search engine optimization services from a company that has achieved high rankings for a phrase that describes them, and you assumed they must know what they are doing because they were in the first few results when you did your research on who to hire. They have been working on the optimization of your website for some time now, and your rankings are good. Suddenly and without warning, your rankings for the keyphrases that you needed completely disappear, and you see the traffic to your website drop dramatically. You are no longer making any money through your website and you panic and contact the seo company to find out what is wrong and what happened. They tell you about “algorithm changes” and temporary drops, as well as other excuses that will buy them time. Welcome to the world of the Google penalty.
A Google penalty is an action taken on Google’s part to push your website down in the rankings for a certain phrase or group of related phrases, or to completely remove your site from the rankings for that phrase. Penalties range in magnitude from completely devastating to mild. Some penalties are levied by the system itself, and are automated, while others are manual actions taken by a real person in Google’s offices. All penalties are based on one premise, that your website has engaged in actions that have violated their terms of service. You have been punished as a result of those actions, and now you must take steps to prove to Google that you deserve to be ranked in a good position.
The main Google penalties are for ‘over optimization” and for bad links. An over optimization penalty is essentially an automated response that Google utilizes to punish websites that have obviously engaged in the direct targeting of a phrase, and the obvious seo techniques that give it a low quality. For example, if you want to rank for a certain phrase and you engage in stuffing keywords into the text, tags, url, alt images and other placements on the site, you have utilized a technique that has specifically told Google “here is what I want to rank for.” Google does not like websites that use tricks in order to get rankings, they prefer websites that have the highest quality of original information on a subject. Therefor if you show them that you would like to rank for something and then do not support that desire with great quality content on the subject, you will find yourself penalized for over optimization if they catch you. An over optimization penalty is able to be overcome through a restructuring of the content on the website and a new philosophy on how to release future content, leaning towards quality being the reason for the addition. Simply put, prove to Google that you are the best by being a leader in your field.
Violating the linking policies of Google will get more serious penalties, and are harder to recover from. If Google has identified that a lot of the links coming into your website are poor quality, as in they are not coming from quality websites, are obviously keyword targeting in the clickable link itself, have no wrapping text on the subject, come in from blog farms or link dumps, or worst of all are coming in from websites offering “paid links” then you will lose your rankings and have a difficult time recovering them. It might be the fault of the seo company that was working on your site, but Google does not care about that, and is not interested in you contacting them to apologize and blame the company for leading you astray. Simply admitting to Google that you hired an seo company in the first place shows them your intentions, and they are not going to believe you have reformed simply because you say you have. You will need to prove yourself over time, and that timeframe is undefined. You might work over the next year to recover and still not have good positions, or they could come back quickly.
Panicking and removing all the bad links that were created is one of the worst things you can do. You are literally admitting to Google that you were cheating, and expecting them to suddenly trust you again just because you stopped cheating. The best strategy if your old seo company created a ton of bad links is to move forward with a better strategy and slowly clean out that old link profile, replacing it gradually with a better one. This is going to take time.
Recovering from Google penalties is not impossible, and a good seo will understand what needs to be done in order to recover. It is going to be painful because you are not starting from a blank slate, you are starting from a penalized position. Everything is going to be harder, and there is going to be more work necessary than in a normal case. However, recovery is not impossible, and your website can be saved over time.
Big Bulldog SEO has been assisting penalized websites recover for multiple years, and has proven recovery plans worked out that will provide results. Contact us today if you have been penalized and we will analyze your situation at no cost.