12 reasons why Google penalizes websites
You may have noticed recently that your site has fallen a lot, or has suddenly disappeared from the first pages of search results. You may be wondering why this happened, and how can you fix it and restore your site to its original ranking, or even improve it? Your site’s decline may be due to Google penalties. What is meant by Google penalties? What are the reasons for punishing Google sites? What are its implications for your site? How do you know if your site is penalized?
What is meant by Google penalties?
Google tries to improve the quality of search results by raising the ranking of good sites that provide useful content, and penalizing bad, manipulative, or unsafe sites by lowering their ranking. For this reason, Google is constantly developing and updating its algorithms.
Every time Google releases a new update, the rankings of a group of sites change. Either up or down. The severity of the change varies with the size and depth of the update. For example, the Penguin update released by Google in 2012 penalized a large percentage of websites, as it is estimated that it affected the rankings of 10% of websites. Rather, it permanently deleted many websites, removed them from the search results, and destroyed entire projects.
Google Sanctions Risks
Should you worry about Google penalties? And to what extent can Google sanctions affect your site or business? In fact, Google’s penalties should not be underestimated at all, most of the traffic to websites comes from search engines. So any drop in your site’s ranking will automatically lead to a sharp drop in your site traffic, and that means losing a lot of potential customers.
Google punishing your site is a dangerous indicator, because it shows that Google considers that the content of your site is not worth visiting, so it does not see it worthy of obtaining an advanced ranking in the search results pages. On the other hand, Google rewards sites that respect its rules by improving their ranking, which may be at the expense of your site’s ranking.
You may say that I do not practice black SEO techniques, I do not steal content from other sites, and I make sure to abide by Google’s rules, so I do not have to worry, as Google will not penalize my site. Unfortunately, even if you make sure to abide by Google’s rules, this does not make your site completely safe from Google penalties. There are many factors that Google takes into account in ranking sites, and more than that, these factors are constantly updated by Google. Perhaps the most prominent example that shows that no one is safe from Google’s penalties is that Google has punished itself at least 5 times in the past.
Yes, that’s right, this may seem strange to you, but Google penalized the Google Chrome page because Google’s marketing campaign included buying links. It is one of the behaviors prohibited by Google. Although Google said that this was by mistake and was not intentional, it decided to give the lesson itself, so it punished its Google Chrome browser page.
As another example, Google punished the Google Ads page after it found that the Google Ads page practiced cloaking technology, which is a prohibited technique used by some site owners to improve the ranking of their sites, so that they show search spiders different content than the content that visitors see, which is prohibited by Google .
If Google were to exempt a site from its penalties, it would have exempted itself, so you should never underestimate Google’s penalties and its danger to your site and project. Even a single mistake, even unintentional, may throw your site into the abyss of the Internet, make it unavailable, and keep it away from search results. The question you might be asking now is: How do I know if my site is penalized?
How do you know if your site is penalized?
It is not easy to know if your site is subject to penalties from Google. Sometimes Google will send you an alert if the penalty is manual, and will tell you about the violations you have committed or the rules you have violated. They will often give you time to correct these errors.
But most of the time the penalties are automated via Google algorithms. Such penalties pass silently, and the owner of the site may not notice them until it is too late. The question you may be asking now is: How do I identify a Google penalty for a site? There is no guaranteed method, but there are some indicators that may mean that your site is penalized by Google, the most important of which are:
- Permanently delete your site from the Google index: You will know this if you find that Google no longer displays your site in the search results for all keywords, as if it does not exist. This is a dangerous indicator, and often means that a site is penalized.
- A custom site search returns no results: If your site name is example.com, then you type site:yourdomain.com, and no results will return.
- Your site does not appear when searching for your trademark: If you have a distinctive trademark, your site should appear in the first results when searching for the trademark. Google your brand name, if your site doesn’t show up, it’s probably being penalized.
- Sudden and significant drop in your site’s ranking: Sometimes you may notice a sudden and significant drop in your site’s ranking for many keywords. You may find that your site, for example, has been removed from the first pages of the search results, or that it has declined a lot for no apparent reason.
Reasons to penalize Google sites
There are many reasons why Google penalizes sites, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the reason why your site is penalised. But in general, most of Google’s penalties come from the following reasons:
- Buy links
Links are one of the most important ranking factors that Google adopts to rank sites, and they are also one of the most common reasons Google penalizes sites. The higher the number of good links to your site, the higher the quality of its content, which is why Google raises the ranking of sites that have a lot of backlinks.
Link building is a slow and time consuming process, so some website owners resort to buying links to improve their site ranking. On the Internet, you will find many selling thousands of backlinks, you have to think a thousand times before buying them, because Google prevents and punishes the purchase of links. Also, most of these links are poor and from sites with a low pagerank. So you will likely do more harm to your site than good.
Solution: There are plenty of legitimate ways to build backlinks to your sites, such as creating a blog, posting high-quality, useful content, and guest articles. These techniques usually take longer, but they are legal, and their results last longer.
- Exchange links
Another technique similar to link buying is the exchange of links between sites. For example, a group of website owners exchange backlinks, each posting backlinks to other websites. This technique is prohibited, as it is clearly manipulative, especially if it occurs frequently.
Be aware that Google can easily spot link exchanges. If you notice that all sites that link to your site have backlinks on your site as well, Google algorithms will monitor this and may punish you for that. So avoid this and stay out of trouble.
- Footer links
One of the things that are frequently used are footer links, and most of them are used by companies or website developers.
This may sound like a good idea, you might say I will put the link of my site or my company’s site in the footer of the sites I design so that people know me and get free links. However, the truth is that this may harm your site, and it may be one of the reasons for Google penalizing sites. Because the footer links are supposed to be intended to facilitate navigation only.
The solution: If you are a freelance web designer, or you own a web design company, avoid this habit. You can ask the site owner to add a link to your site to his blog or one of his pages within the framework of suitable and good content that does not raise suspicion and improves the ranking of your site.
- Content theft
Unfortunately, this scourge is widespread in the Arab Internet, as website owners copy content from other websites and publish it on their websites, thinking that this will enrich their websites and improve their ranking. But this backfires. Because Google will not display duplicate content on the results pages, so it chooses the original content, that is, the content published first, and the stolen duplicate content will keep it away from the search results.
The solution: write original and unique content, as one original and good article is better than 10 duplicate articles. Because the chance of your site appearing in search engines will be greater. Therefore, you should avoid repetitive content, and if you do not have the time or the ability to write to write original content, you can hire creative and professional writers to write high-quality content by purchasing writing services from Fiverr platforms, the largest Arab platform for microservices.
- Stuffing keywords
Keyword targeting is an essential part of SEO guidelines. But some website owners exaggerate and stuff their pages with certain keywords. They increase them exaggeratedly and unjustifiably in order to improve the arrangement of their sites.
Here is an example of keyword stuffing:
The importance of maintaining information security
Information security is very important to you, because information security helps prevent malicious attacks, so you should always use a good firewall. There are several types of information security.
Notice how the keyword “sunscreen” is repeated, oddly and annoyingly. The keyword stuffing technique has double harm. On the one hand, it may make your site vulnerable to Google penalties, because Google may consider too many keywords as an indication of deception. Also, too much of it may make the content poor. Even if a visitor enters your site, they will be annoyed by the bad content, and they will immediately realize that your last concern is to provide good content.
The solution: SEO experts recommend calculating what is called keyword density, which is a metric that measures the number of times a particular keyword is repeated in the content. Experts generally recommend that key density should not exceed 1% of the content. For example, if the content consists of 2000 words, it is preferable that the number of repetitions of the keyword not exceed 20 times.
- Camouflage cloaking
Google indexes the contents of the sites by launching small programs called spiders in the network sites in order to index their contents and store them in Google servers. Some website owners try to defraud Google by creating two versions of their sites, a copy for Google spiders, and a copy for site visitors.
The version dedicated to Google spiders fully respects Google’s rules, so it has a higher chance of getting a good ranking. However, the version directed to site visitors is different, and often includes some things that Google warns of, such as too many ads, or too many pop-up windows.
Avoid this. This is one of the prohibited technologies that Google punishes for it. We saw earlier how Google penalized its own Google Ads page for using this technique.
- Slow website
The loading speed of website pages is one of the ranking factors that Google adopts to rank websites in search results. If your site is slow, it will be an inconvenience for visitors. And one of the basic rules of SEO is: what annoys visitors, annoys Google. Therefore, Google may delay the ranking of your site if you notice a clear slowdown in loading the contents of your site’s pages.
Solution: Monitor your site’s indicators constantly, check that the site’s speed is acceptable. The best way to do this is to test a site on PageSpeed Insights. It is a tool from Google to measure the speed of websites. This tool will give you a set of important recommendations to speed up your site and improve its performance.
If you notice that your site is slow, you should speed it up as much as possible. There are many reasons why websites are slow. It could be that the website script is not optimized, or if your website uses a lot of material, such as scripts, images, and videos. Or if it’s on a slow host.
Check all of these things, and don’t forget to install a cache add-on and use CDN links to reduce website page loading time. If you do not know how to solve the problem of a slow site, you can purchase a technical support service and seek the assistance of an expert in the field of web development to check your site, search for defects, and solve the problem for you from its roots.
- Not responding to mobile screens
Responsiveness to various screens has become a necessity, especially small mobile screens. If your site is not responsive, it will not display well on mobile screens, and this will negatively affect the experience of mobile users. Therefore, Google delays the ranking of non-responsive sites in mobile search results.
Solution: Make your site mobile responsive, if your current site is not responsive, modify or change it immediately. You can check how mobile-friendly your site is with Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool. It is a tool that tests your website for mobile responsiveness.
- Links to suspicious websites
Never link to suspicious sites or provide bad content, such as malware, pornography, etc. Disassociate yourself from such sites and do not put links to them, because by doing so you endanger the safety of your visitors, lead them to bad sites, and put your site in the crosshairs of Google penalties.
- WEBSITE ERRORS
Nobody likes mistakes, neither users nor search engines. Errors make the content of your site unavailable to visitors and search engines, and lead to disruption of the services provided by your site. You must fix your site’s errors as soon as possible to avoid Google penalties.
- Lack of a site map
A sitemap is a file that organizes your site and provides information about the data, pages, and videos your site contains. A sitemap makes it easier for Google and other search engines to crawl your site and archive its content more effectively. The sitemap file directs Google’s spiders to the pages it deems more important to give them priority in archiving.
In the event that your site lacks a site map, it will be difficult for Google spiders to crawl and archive your site, and it is also one of the reasons for Google penalizing sites, and it may lead to not archiving part of your site, and therefore it will not appear in the search results. Solution: Check that your sitemap is set up and keep it updated to reflect the structure and contents of the site.
- Spam comments
If you own a website, you must have faced the problem of spam comments. These comments do not necessarily contain offensive expressions, but are mostly positive comments. However, it is filled with links to external sites. Some website owners use this technique to get thousands of free links from other websites. They program bots to crawl websites and add lots of comments to articles and website pages. Google hates such behavior and punishes the perpetrators, because it is very disturbing and detrimental to the user experience. So it should be avoided.
There are many reasons why Google penalizes sites, and it is not possible to mention them all, but there is one thing that connects them all, which is that they annoy visitors, or try to deceive them or the search engines. Avoid such behaviors to stay out of the hammer of Google penalties.
Constantly monitor the ranking of your site and your PageRank, and if you notice a sudden drop in its ranking or suspect that your site is penalized by Google, try to fix the defect quickly, or use technical technical support services provided by experts, to verify this and solve the problem of Google punishment as soon as possible .