A Deep Dive into Google Penalties

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Google has been a primary research tool on the internet since 1998. This search engine sets the industry standards for how websites are ranked, promoted, or ignored online.

Successful lead generation requires one key component: staying on Google’s good side. One Google penalty could derail your entire digital marketing plan and any traffic you’ve developed as a result.

Detroit Internet Marketing uses ethical SEO strategies and proven website repair techniques to maximize our clients’ search engine rankings. Let’s explore what Google penalties are, why websites are penalized, and how to resolve Google warnings to resume ranking.  

What Is a Google Penalty?

A Google penalty is a disciplinary action for violating Google Search Essentials. These core elements make a site eligible for search engine results pages (SERPs). If a site or webpage is considered spam, misleading, or deceptive in nature, Google will issue a penalty.

Google posts information about these penalties in the Google Search Console. Webmasters can see which specific penalty the site has received, how widespread the penalty is, and what actions they can take to resolve matters.

What Happens When a Website Receives a Google Penalty?

There are several potential outcomes from Google penalties. In most cases, Google will remove or demote select pages from search results until the violation is resolved. Google may remove the entire website from search results if there are widespread issues or the penalties are not addressed in a timely manner. Do not ignore Google penalties!

“Affects Some Pages” vs. “Affects All Pages”

Google specifies which type of penalty they have issued within the Search Console. The notification includes a description of the penalty and “Affects all pages” or “Affects some pages” notation. This indicates how severe the penalization is. Obviously, an “all pages” warning has a much larger impact than a “some pages warning,” but neither should be ignored.

“Fix This Problem Now”

Google offers clear, concise instructions on how to resolve penalties. Some resolutions are quick and easy. Others require site-wide investigations. Either way, you’ll know what steps to take next.

Types of Google Penalties

Here is an overview of some common categories of Google penalties:

  • Thin Content: The page lacks value, depth, or adequate information to fulfill search intent.
  • Spam: Pages on the site are plagiarized, deceptive, malicious, or “generated gibberish.” This is one of the worst penalties you can receive and typically requires a complete overhaul of the site.
  • False News: Published news content is either not factual or intentionally misleading. Google has cracked down on this more in recent years.
  • Content Mismatch from Mobile to Desktop: Website content should be mostly similar between mobile and desktop displays. It can be slightly different but should contain the same general information. A substantial mismatch may spark a Google penalty.
  • Redirections and Content Cloaking: Landing pages created for the sole purpose of directing to another page on the site.
  • User-Generated Spam: A site with limited security protocols to protect against spammers.   
  • Hacked and Compromised Websites: A site lacks proper website security to prevent hacking.
  • Unnatural Outbound Links: The outbound links on webpages and/or blog posts do not match the hyperlinked word or fit the context of the content. Outbound links can improve page ranking, but only if they naturally fit the content.
  • Deceptive Structured Data Coding: “Structured data” is a code used to help search engines pick up specific information on a page to create a “rich snippet.” Sites that use deceptive structured data coding to obtain higher rankings will lose their rich snippet display and potentially their ranking for that webpage.
  • Off-Page Penalties: Issues from another site that links to your website. Off-page issues are mostly out of your control, but Google will issue a penalty if it suspects suspicious actions. A good example of this would be paying for interlinking services on sites that do not match your audience, industry, or brand.

There are additional Google penalty categories, but most will not impact your business website. For example, free hosting sites may receive a penalty if most of the sites they host are considered spam. The key takeaway is that your content should be unique to your site, and each page should have substance.

How to Fix a Website after Receiving a Google Penalty

Google outlines repair steps in the Search Console. How you interpret those instructions is imperative. Most warnings will require some modification of the site’s content, either on specific pages or on the entire website. Other warnings may require additional security protocols or linking revisions.

In the next part of this discussion, we’ll review proven Website Repair Techniques for Google Penalties. If you need help now or would like a professional website evaluation, contact Detroit Internet Marketing at (248) 234-4830. We provide world-class SEO, compelling website design, and effective website repair services, all in alignment with Google’scontent standards.