Google does not compromise on quality.

They want their end-users to see unique and quality content first, which is why they regularly update their algorithm to ensure that users land on websites with the most outstanding content.

Google Search

Image – Pixabay

That being said, Google does not let defaulters go scout free either. Websites that are flagged by Google are usually dealt with a penalty.

You have got to be very vigilant with Google because what you previously got away with may put you in trouble the next time.

Google’s penalties may be automatic or manual. With the manual ones you will be informed, so you may be able to escape any consequences if you fix the mishap on time.

However, an automatic penalty takes even the most experienced SEOs by surprise.

There are a couple of ways to find out if your site has been penalized.

  1. Your site will not rank well for your brand name anymore – That’s probably the most obvious take that you have been flagged by Google. It is likely that your website will not rank for other keywords, but it should at least rank for your brand name.
  2. Previously high ranking pages drop – You have likely been penalized by Google when you notice that pages that you were previously ranked on page one for drops to pages 2 or 3.

You may also note – 

  • Website being removed from Google cached search results 
  • PageRank of your site drops significantly

Let’s take a look at some practices that annoy Google bigtime and take websites to a point where they are likely to get penalized.

1. Link buying

Some may argue with you that you are not doing anything wrong when you buy links, but that’s not the case.

Link buying is an attempt to rig the system and Google frowns against any sort of manipulation.

While it’s not every link you buy that Google will penalize you for your bad links may eventually catch up with you. 

2. Duplicate content

Duplicate content comes in two ways. The first one has to do with plagiarized content, while the other occurs when you have multiple pages of the same URL. 

Plagiarism happens more often than not, but can simply be avoided with tools like Copyscape. If you get a poor score for your content, then you must rewrite certain parts of it or the entire thing otherwise it will result in a penalty. 

Plagiarism

Image source: Backlinko

3. Too many H1 tags

You are encouraged to use an H1 tag within your content to define certain parts of it so that Google and your users can find it easy to read. 

However, if you overuse the H1 tag within your content, Google may interpret it as an attempt to rig the system thereby giving you a strike. People do it often these days.

Remember, good content takes a lot. Don’t use shortcuts that may eventually take you off the search completely.  If you’re a business, try and make the most of your content marketing. Creating good content and optimizing it the right way will help. 

  1. Internal 404s

Error 404 pages will be shown whenever there is an error page in place of content. 

Google expects you to weed out such pages, so having them within your website means that you are not doing enough to make sure the content that your users are looking for is available. 

5. Links from other sites with different languages

Google currently penalizes sites that link keywords to other web pages of different languages. 

Now, this may seem unfair, but think about it:

Your visitors are on your site because they understand the language you have used for your content and it will be unfair to them when they click on a link to a resources page only to see that it is written in a different language. 

6. Keyword stuffed contents

Without keywords, you won’t rank on Google. 

In fact, you need to meet a specific threshold for your keyword density to be considered okay. 

However, you must keep in mind that Google Interprets a content with a very high keyword density as a poorly written content and there’s a penalty for it. 

7. Footer links

Avoid Footer Links Spam

Image source: Tasty Placement

Footer links are meant to be used as a sort of breadcrumb or links to contact pages, sitemaps, etc, but some web designers try to place unnatural juice links there because the homepage usually has the highest domain authority. 

8. Hidden links

Google demands your links to be conspicuous to others. 

Any link within your content that is not obvious to your users and visitors is considered suspicious and so draws a penalty. 

9. Scrapped content

Scrapped content and plagiarism are two different things, but sometimes it is hard for Google to tell the difference. 

Google penalizes websites that pull content from other sites to make theirs bulky, even though the writer has good intentions. 

It’s better to replace all your duplicate with original content. 

10. Anchor text overuse

Anchor texts misuse

Image source: North Star Inbound

Some time ago, SEOs realized that adding juicy links to a specific keyword will boost its chances of ranking on Google. These keywords are called anchor texts. 

However, after Google released the Penguin update in 2008, the overuse of anchor texts will result in a penalty. 

Rather than forcing your links on unnatural keywords, link them to phrases in real English. Be careful with your SEO.

11. Affiliate links everywhere

Google allows affiliate sites to rank, but they are particular about the number of affiliate links that you can promote. 

They penalize sites that use too many affiliate links within the content and even though marketers tend to their links with redirects, Google still finds them out. 

12. Slow speed

After building your site and creating quality content, it is often frustrating when you notice that the site takes time to load

Now, imagine a user finding it difficult to load up content on the site. It’s often the most famous reason for high bounce rate and Google penalizes sites with high bounce rate. 

website slow speed

Image source: Blue Corona

13. Comment spam

Delete Spam Comments

Image source: Web Analytics World

If you manage your WordPress content yourself, you will see that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of spam comments. 

Now, there are a couple of tools that are dedicated to automatically detect these spam messages and block them, but some still find their way through. 

Google hates it when spam messages buildup, so do not depend so much on the plugins. 

Find time to manually moderate your comments or switch off your commenting option entirely. 

Final words 

In most cases, Google penalties can be fixed especially when you spot them out quickly and make efforts to correct them. 

That being said, you may find it easier to create a new site from scratch than fight a penalty or else contact reliable SEO experts who can fix your site penalties. 

Tulip Turner – 

Tulip is a Content and Inbound Marketing expert at Snewscms. Over the years, she has helped dozens of businesses in defining their content strategy. She believes that creativity doesn’t inspire customers anymore. A true story when recited well, is enough to build a connect.

Twitter – @snewscmss

Facebook – @snewscmss