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Resolving Google Penalties: The Complete List & How to Recover

Posted by Avasoft Team | Posted in Site Traffic | Posted on 19-09-2017


Google is well-known for changing its rules and the way that it ranks sites, which leads to de-ranking sites and making it more difficult to achieve top rankings in the search engines.

If you’ve ever heard of Penguin or Panda updates those were algorithm changes made by Google, but even if your website loses its rank because of those updates that isn’t technically a penalty.

Google issues penalties to individual websites for things like spam, link cloaking and low quality or suspicious links. These are issues that you need to be aware of and that you need to try and avoid.

If you do get hit with one of these penalties, it’s important to be able to recognize the problem and for you to know how to fix it once you do. Below is an overview of common Google penalties and how to fix the issue on your website.

A First Click Free Violation

Google has a strict policy that requires website owners to show visitors the first page of their site for free. When you make your site content available to Google, but restrict it to visitors this is known as the First Click Free violation and will get your site a penalty that hurts search engine results. The penalty will likely affect SEO efforts over your entire site in a slight way, and that specific page in an intense way, like being delisted entirely.

Fixing the Issue

To resolve this issue you need to make sure that Google and visitors see the same exact content when visiting your website. Make sure you don’t lock up pages coming from the Google search engine with subscriptions or other fee-based access requirements. Instead present the subscription on that page and use the web traffic to help try and convince more people to subscribe to you, while offering something of value to everyone that visits that one page of your site.

Cloaking or Suspicious Redirects

Cloaking is a tactic that Google really looks down on, and it means that you are showing different content to Google than you are the visitor. Cloaking is a problem because Google sees it as suspicious. You should be able to make your content viewable by Google if you want to be ranked organically. Some websites also make the mistake of redirecting visitors to other areas of the internet without making the redirect properly so Google does not have access to it. This is another suspicious activity that could get your website flagged and penalized.

Fixing the Issue

If you’re flagged for cloaking or suspicious redirects you can fix the issue with a bit of work.

  • First use Google Search Console and use the Crawl Feature and Fetch as Google to get a look at your site through Google’s eyes. This is how you’ll find the problem.
  • Once you see how Google is seeing your site differently, you can take action to make the information the same for the search engine.
  • Carefully get rid of redirects that send users to an unexpected or unrelated location online, and try to avoid conditional redirects that aren’t accepted by Google.
  • Once you make all these changes you can send in a reconsideration request and Google will look your site over again and hopefully lift the penalty.

Cloaked Images

Images can be cloaked as well and cloaked images are pictures that are blocked by other pictures, pictures that show up instead of the ones that should be showing, or redirects that send users away from the expected photo.

Fixing the Issue

To fix this issue just make sure that you always show the same image to people. Look at your images and remove redirects around them and make sure the site behaves normally. Once you do that resubmit a reconsideration request to get rid of that pesky penalty.

Hidden Text

Hidden text is an issue for Google because the company wants to know what users are actually seeing when they visit. Google looks for text that is hidden through styling tools like CSS. Text that is hidden using the invisible tag, or text that’s colored the same color as the page will be flagged by Google and likely result in a penalty as well.

The Fix

The fix is simple. Make sure all your text is visible to human visitors plainly. Color text for visibility, and avoid hiding text through other methods like special CSS tags.

Spam Penalties

Serious span violations are only given to websites that utilize web scraping, gibberish text and cloaking in order to offer low quality text and content to visitors.

Fixing the Issue

To fix this problem, remove the spam content and add text and images with helpful information that’s unique to your website.

Free Hosting Penalties

Many companies offer free hosting, but in exchange for that hosting they spam your website and put up advertising to try and profit from your visitors. Often free hosting will result in penalties from Google as well.

Fixing the Problem

Ditch the free host to fix the problem. Hosting is cheap and you can pick up a reliable web hosting service affordably and get your site functioning without the spam.

Thin Content

Google looks for web pages with little content and not much to offer visitors and marks them as shallow pages. These pages might have scraped content, very few words, spun content, or very low quality content.

Fixing the Problem

The only way to fix this issue is to add good quality and rich content to your website. Make sure you have several hundred unique words on the page that offer something valuable to visitors.

Unnatural Links

One of the most common penalties that webmasters get hit with are for unnatural links to or from their sites. Webmasters that buy links to their sites are in violation of Google’s terms, and so are webmasters that sell links out to other websites.

Fixing the Problem

To solve the problem, change any suspicious links or remove the links entirely.

There’s really no way to beat out Google so it’s better just to follow the rules and avoid getting penalties the best that you can.

Avasoft Solutions offers web design, search engine optimization, social media optimization, and pay per click advertising. Contact us today!

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