Search engines are constantly creating new and updated algorithms that are aimed at creating a better user experience for anyone using the service. To create a better experience search engines try to reward and penalize sites based on multiple metrics associated with the site. The reward is rankings and organic search traffic. I don’t need to go into detail on why the both are these are important. Now if a site does not meet the requirements set forth by the search engines a site can see a drastic change in traffic.
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Your Website Have an SEO Penalty
How do I know if my site has been penalized?
The first thing to do is check your analytics. This is a quick and simple way to see trends with your organic search visitation. Look specifically at organic traffic, for more accurate data look at a particular search engine. To begin look at search traffic over the last two years, to see how your traffic has fluctuated. Ideally, you would like to see the line graph moving in an upward trend. Now based on your service, or products you may notice there’s certain drops in traffic at certain times of the year. You’ll need to look past these to get an accurate reading.
The image above shows a dramatic drop in organic traffic to a site that stays consistent year round. The site offers a geographically specific service and focuses on local searches for a majority of its traffic. Near the end of July Google released a Pigeon update that was aimed at local SEO.
Can I reverse the penalties?
Yes, but it’s not as simple as asking for forgiveness. A full review of your link profile should be conducted to see if there are poor links pointing to your site. Moz also offers a spam analysis tool that is helpful when beginning your link audit. However, Moz does only pull a percentage of links, which means it will be most helpful to review links from Webmaster tools. You will want to review each link and determine if it’s detrimental to your site. There’s a number of factors to consider when reviewing these back links.
Once you have a list of links for removal, contact webmasters and ask for the link to be removed. This is also a time consuming process, but the first step to cleaning up your penalties. You’ll find not all sites will respond, this is where you will need to create a disavow list and submit to Google. Sites like Get Back on Google offer services that will handle both the audit, webmaster contacting and disavow list submission for a site.
Other factors to consider
In most cases spammy back links are the cause of a penalized site. However, it is important that basic SEO factors are considered when fixing a site. Make sure all content on the site is original and unique. Copying content from another site can be dangerous. Also, before a site can considered ‘worthy’ by search engines it’s very important to have all fixes on the site complete. This means no missing title tags, no broken links, no 404 pages, etc. Run a complete site audit to determine these problems.
Now just removing poor back links won’t put you on the front page for your favorite terms. The next step is to begin building new, high-quality, relevant back links to the site. When doing this remember to focus on sites that have high linking metrics, updated often, and related to your industry. Make sure to not dig yourself back into a hole where you are reviewing links again in a few months. If you’re not sure how to build quality links, ask for help, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. 😀