With over 63,000 searches per second, it’s no wonder why people want to be on the first page of a Google search. You may get free visitors to your eCommerce store, which could turn into acquiring new customers.
All of your SEO efforts could crumble when Google penalizes you! But why does Google do that, and how can you avoid it?
What Is Google Penalty
First, let’s understand what Google Penalties are and why they use them. You could get penalized in two ways:
- Through Algorithmic Penalties: While Google has a lot of employees, it’s not enough to search through all websites worldwide. Google has used algorithms to detect websites with black-hat SEO tactics or poor user experience.
- Through Manual Penalties: This is a penalty given by a Google employee. It happens when the algorithm hasn’t found anything faulty on your website, but Google still suspects you, making it rarer.
While you now might know what a penalty is, you might still wonder why Google does that.
It’s for a simple reason—to maintain a great experience. The reason why Google is the biggest search engine is because of experience! But when anyone can manipulate the algorithm, it could make the search results worse.
When Will Google Issue Penalties
While there are countless reasons why websites get penalized, there are a couple of common ones. Here are six of them:
- Purchasing Links: Getting links to your website helps you rank higher in the search results. However, that doesn’t mean you should buy links. That’s because only low-quality sites link back to you, which could lead to a penalty.
- Keywords Stuffing: This happens when you put too many keywords into a webpage. Instead of doing that, make sure you add keywords naturally. If you don’t, you will have a more challenging time ranking as Google penalizes you.
- Bad Content: Google wants people to get great results when they search. They will check your content as well. If they find it’s plagiarized or people bounce off of it quickly, Google deems it of lousy quality and penalizes you for it. Thus, if you’re doing content marketing, make sure you’re offering valuable content.
- Slow Load Times: It’s not enough to just have good content. You must ensure your online store is fast so your visitors will have a great experience. You can use SEO audit tools to analyze your performance.
- Broken Links: These links either don’t lead to anything or get you to the 404 page. Since broken links don’t lead to anything useful, Google doesn’t deem it a good experience and may lead you to a penalty.
- Not Mobile-Friendly: Over half of the searches are done by mobile nowadays. If you still have a website that isn’t mobile-friendly, Google may penalize you for having a bad experience. Make sure you’ve got a mobile-optimized website.
However, violating the rules listed above doesn't mean Google will penalize you immediately. Google has a complex algorithm; You need to do the best you can to avoid triggering the alarm.
How to Avoid Google Penalties
Now that you understand the most common Google penalties, you might be wondering how you could avoid them and any other penalties. While there is no guarantee you won’t get penalized, there are two best practices you should implement:
First, never use black hat SEO strategies. These strategies might help you get more traffic in the short term, but will make you suffer in the long term. Whenever you hear an SEO strategy that promises quick results, don’t use it. SEO is a long-term game. Anything quick tends to be too good to be true. Don't fall for it.
Secondly, I highly recommend you create a Google Search Console account. It’s a platform that gives you advice on where you should improve your store. For example, it tells you when some buttons might be hard to press on mobile and if there are any broken links. While it might not be as well known, having this account is necessary.
Google penalizes people by lowering their search rankings for those who use black-hat SEO tactics or give a bad experience. With the two best practices and knowledge of the most common penalties, you now know how to avoid penalties and get to the front page.
(Contributed by Andreas Ojala & Hermes Fang)