The launch of Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithm update has made Google the search-engine law enforcement and in turn, has changed the overall focus of website development and maintenance, and social media marketing (or SMM). Penguin was designed to decrease the search engine rankings of websites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Panda was designed to decrease the search engine rankings of low-quality websites. Thanks to Penguin and Panda, websites with a high search engine ranking possess valuable content, is intuitive, is user-friendly, and is original. Websites that do not abide to Penguin and Panda guidelines can potentially face one or all four penalties: layout penalty, content penalty, link penalty, or over-optimization penalty. Websites struck with these penalties will suffer a drop in their search engine ranking and overall authority in the particular search term. The more penalties a website has, the lower its search engine ranking will be. These penalties were implemented to ensure fairness within search engine rankings and to ensure organic search results for search engine users.
We highly recommend that all website owners sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics because these are essential tools that will help you prevent and resolve SEO penalties.
In order for your website to achieve higher search engine rankings, search engines must be able to find your content and more importantly, feel confident in the overall quality of your content. Search engines are particularly interested in the overall quality of the top portion of your website, so make sure that the top portion of your site gives a good first impression. In addition, keep a modest amount of advertisements on your website and avoid putting any on the top portion. Too many advertisements on your website will result in a penalty.
Ensure that your entire website is user-friendly and intuitive as having these two qualities in your website will prevent your site from being penalized.
The quality of content within your website is a determining factor to your site’s search engine ranking. Poorly written, low-quality content will be penalized by Panda and well written, high-quality content will be rewarded. Any amount of low-quality content within your website could incur a penalty. The best method to avoiding the content penalty is to ensure that your ENTIRE website contains trustworthy and valuable content that is expertly written, is void of spelling or grammar mistakes, and is an original work.
Find out how Panda has assessed your website and if Panda has penalized your website by accessing your Google Webmaster Tools account.
If you have been hit with the content penalty, perform a content audit on your website. Make sure that all content has the qualities mentioned earlier; anything that doesn’t must be removed.
The link penalty is the hardest to resolve among the four penalties. Websites charged with the link penalty have likely committed manipulative link building – links that exhibit certain manipulative characteristic, such as their anchor text distribution. Penguin will either individually penalize each link or penalize the website as a whole.
Access your Google Webmaster Tool account to see if Google has sent you any messages regarding unnatural links or check the “manual actions” section to see if there are any manual actions listed.
If you have a link penalty, you’ll have to audit all inbound links to your website and find the links that are considered spammy or manipulative by Google. You may need professional help with this audit and we, at Go Social, offer professional link audit services.
Once you’ve identified the malicious links, find the contact information of each webmaster and email them, requesting that the link be removed. If there are links you aren’t able to remove, you can use Google’s disavow tool and disavow those links.
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. When applying on-page SEO practices, webmasters may take it to an extreme. An example of this would be the excessive repetition of a particular phrase within a single blog post. If you have a post that uses the phrase “Staten Island gym” fifty times in one post, you may want to delete that post or you will incur a penalty.
Over-optimization penalty can easily be avoided by optimizing the website to benefit the user. If you optimize to improve your ranking without improving user experience, that would be considered over optimization.
The best ways to avoid suffering this penalty is make the site more crawlable and easier to navigate, speed up the loading time on pages, and make content easier to read.