Many site owners do not realize that their sites keep losing search visibility and as a consequence, traffic and revenue generated by site users. There might be plenty of reasons for sudden traffic drops and one of them is a penalty from the almighty Google. Knowing some of the Google rules is helpful not only for fixing the existing issues on the site but also for avoiding SEO scams and future penalties. It’s time to find out what site activities make Google upset.
Unnatural Links To And From Your Site
Google does not trust links that are unnaturally placed, unrelated or coming from a site that was hacked or penalized. In other words, if you have a site selling shoes but getting 150 links from a site that talks about gambling habits, you are in trouble. Make sure you steer clear from companies that sell links and offer easy and fast backlinking services. This is a red flag and the consequences might be very unpleasant. This penalty affects both sides. Sites selling links get penalized as well.
Content is still the king in Google’s eyes. That means that content on your site needs to be relevant, fresh, unique and add value to your visitors. Examples of low-quality content are doorway pages (created solely for directing users to different pages and spamming search engines), automatically generated or scraped content, low-quality guest blogging, thin affiliate pages.
Keywords are the blood of SEO. However, over optimization and keyword stuffing will result in a penalty. You can use a keyword several times on a page (2 – 4 times is a general practice) as long as it fits in your context and is relevant to the page.
Every site owner who is concerned about their site perormance is very unlikely to come up with any of the spam strategies. However, there are lot of scammers offering doubtful services or spamming websites just for the sake of hurting those. Google defines types of spam that will lead to a manual penalty. On their blog you can learn more about spammy structured data, pure spam, user-generated spam, sneeky redirects and spammy freehosts.
Google cares about users’ safety. If your site or some of the pages have been hacked by a third party, according to Google, your site “may be labeled as compromised or may not rank as highly in our search results”. This is also a red flag for you since you might not have realized that your users’ information was stolen.
Ads / Top Heavy Layout
Don’t make your users get lost in ads and desperately search for content on your site. Google will punish sites that frustrate the user by placing too many ads before content. Google claimed on their blog that ” if you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience…Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.”
We have already mentioned spam as a penalty factor but it’s worth mentioning it again – Google does not like spam. So whether you are spam-commenting on unrelated forums, websites and submitting a link to your shoe site on a computer gaming forum or you have some company doing that for you, your site is in trouble.
These are some of the reasons why your site might have experienced a sudden drop in traffic, lost good ranking positions or disappeared from google search at all. Even if you are not a developer or SEO expert, do not neglect your site’s performance. For example, Google Search Console Tool (former Webmaster Tools) contains plenty of information about your site including warnings about manual penalties. Make sure you consult with an SEO expert who will help you clean some SEO mess and improve your site’s rankings.
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