A few years ago, Google’s penalties were still the order of the day, not only in obscure SEO fields. You’d think that nowadays, all SEOs optimize their websites cleanly and by guidelines. However, webmasters are still not sure what to do or who fall for old cheeses.
Warning: This post may contain traces of irony at one point or another. Maybe he’s just oozing with sarcasm, you don’t know, you rumble.
Google Penalties: There are many ways to go digital
You can understand how Google will punish you for sure; we will explain to you beforehand what types of penalties there are. You know: Don’t do things by halves – if you do wrong, please do it with delicacy. You can recognize a sentence by the fact that the visibility of the website drops rapidly. A look at Google Analytics or another monitoring tool provides quick information, and the Google Search Console offers additional information in the event of a manual penalty.
So Google will no longer show your page in the search results (or at the very bottom), no matter how eagerly you google it. And if you can no longer find your page, this also applies to all other users. Bingo! Goal achieved, you have catapulted yourself into the digital end. Small exception: as a result of an algorithm update, however, there may be substantial, unintended changes in the visibility index downwards. After a few weeks, everything will level off again if it is not a matter of real penalties.
Google differentiates between an algorithmic penalty and a manual penalty. In the case of an algorithmic penalty, as the name suggests, it is to blame for an update in Google’s algorithm that your page was fished out of the net and is now floundering on dry land.
Algorithmic Penalty: Invisible through automatic sanctions – yay!
The algorithm causes Google’s automatically imposed penalties. So Google notices itself that something is wrong. Some of these penalties come under the most fun names. The updates in Google’s “Algo” (as the pro likes to say) are called Phantom, Halloween, Penguin or the very nasty.
Google automatically checks all web pages using specific metrics that act as a filter. If the website does not meet specific properties, Google automatically devalues the website. This means the visibility drops, the page is no longer found, and everything goes down the drain. Or not? We’ll tell you exactly how you can ensure that your page ends up in Google’s basement and never comes out there again.
Manual penalties: When Google takes action in person
Another excellent way to make your website invisible is a manual penalty. A Google employee from the Webspam or Search Quality team takes the trouble to manually check your website if there is a suspicion that you are violating the Webmaster Guidelines.
After all, Google is kind enough to tell you what to do and what not to do so that your site ranks well. So if you consistently violate these guidelines, you can be sure that you will benefit from a manual penalty. You will now find out how you can do this and which old SEO camels you should warm-up for.
1.Duplicate Content: Save time with duplicate content
Double is always better. And it makes everything so much easier, especially with the textual content. Then you save yourself the annoying typing. When the website consists of many subpages, you are texting yourself a wolf if you write everything from scratch! And where are you supposed to get all the ideas from? Copy-paste and change a few words – done. That should work exceptionally well and save time, especially with online shops. The best thing to do is not just copy the text, but directly copy the entire structure of the page; If you are brilliant, ideally copy your texts from other, foreign websites that rank well on the topic. If you think of everything here, you are guaranteed to receive a penalty.
The Google bot will get wind of it if you don’t provide unique content everywhere. If he finds one or the other exact duplication on your domain or the competition website, he will undoubtedly reward you with a penalty.
However, you can also provide duplicate content differently. It can also affect the URLs if the same content can be accessed under several URLs on your website. It is often the case that the redirects are incorrect so that the website can be called up under “www.domain.de” and without “www,” or under “http” and “https.” Different URLs, same page content – duplicate content is available! But this type of internal duplicate content is not only punishable, so you have to make more effort. Even if a website can be reached via several domain names and you do not set up a 301 redirect to the main domain, you are dealing with duplicate content.
So if you want to be sure of a penalty, you should post duplicate content on a large scale so that Google thinks you are cheating on the bot and acting with malicious intent. Then there is a red card.
2.Lousy content: hidden texts, keyword spamming & co
If you can’t think of anything else for the texts on your site, but you still absolutely have to include keywords, the easiest way is to work with hidden texts and keywords. This is also guaranteed to do with the penalty. You add a few keywords at the end of the page, in bullet points or the footer.
These keyword collections are particularly pleasant if, for example, you want to rank as a service provider for different cities. Then you can wildly list the city names plus the respective service. Suppose you clap “Digitalagentur Münster Digitalagentur Dortmund Digitalagentur NRW Digitalagentur Osnabrück,” and so on on the page. In that case, the Google-Bot will find these keyword combinations and directly devalue the page, punishment guaranteed. Perfect! If you create a separate subpage for each city, Google won’t complain.
There are a few particularly attractive tricks for hidden texts: white text on a white background, font size zero or text behind an image. The keyword-heavy texts are invisible to the visitors’ eye but recognizable to the search engines – a dream! This also works with hidden links: Link an inconspicuous symbol such as a hyphen or a period. The user does not notice this, but Google does, the page is devalued, and you walk purposefully towards the penalty.
3.Purchased Links: Fast, Cheap, and Banned
Buy links, of course! You can hardly get backlinks any faster – and the penalty. Or link exchange programs, which are also quick and easy. Organic link building usually takes forever, especially at the beginning after the launch of a page you should give a little start-up help, right? After all, a link is a recommendation for a page.
If you pop many links into your link profile, the Google bot will run amok and punish your website. This way, your page will not get a big off-page boost! On the contrary, the website falls behind in the SERPs on its own or does not appear at all. Welcome to the world of punishment!
Google is so smart and can distinguish between good and bad backlinks. So it does not apply Link links, and the more of it, the better. If you keep that in mind, you are sure to enjoy a penalty. If you want to be incredibly thorough: You can buy links abroad really cheaply, so it pays off to hit the nail on the head and fill the website’s link profile bulky to annoy the Google bot.
4.Same anchor texts for links: “Click here.”
The same link texts are also a nice thing to risk a penalty on Google. Even if you suspect that after all, it is only about one word (or sometimes two) – that can hardly be important for an entire website text, right? Puff cake. It not only depends on where the link leads to, but the link text is also of great importance for the ranking. It is rated higher than an unlinked keyword.
You can secure yourself a penalty; it is most practical if you name all anchor texts as “read on” or “click here.” You save time and nerves very cleverly and do not have to come up with a speaking link text for every further link. It is tedious enough to include a sufficient number of keywords in the text; you can then leave the link texts just five.
If your fingers are itching and have to be a meaningful link text, at least do yourself a favour and use the same anchor text for all external content links. Then all the spam bells ring on Google. The search engine can certainly not sufficiently evaluate the linked HTML page content, and the penalty is within reach.
As the icing on the cake, you can mess up the user experience if you use the same or meaningless link texts everywhere. The troubled website visitor is guaranteed to find their way around much more difficult. If the anchor text is “here” or “read on” everywhere, you can be sure that not only the Google bot will pull its hair out, but also the user – and will leave your website faster than you can look. Declining visitor numbers also contribute to the fact that your website ranks poorly – yay!
5.Optimize only for the desktop – no mobile-first
In Europe, around 38 percent of all websites were accessed from a smartphone last year, not from the desktop. So it is obvious to optimize the website for mobile devices and not just for the good old computer at home.
The winged expression here is “mobile first.” With the Mobile-First Index, the Google bot evaluates search results based on its information on the mobile version of a website. If this mobile version is completely missing, the bot is offended and penalizes your desktop version. Google relativized the statement when the index was introduced and claimed that not all websites would be converted to the new method immediately. But if you want to be sure of catching a penalty now or at least in the future, don’t hesitate to keep optimizing your website for desktop only.
Can’t keep your feet still and insist on a mobile version? Even then, we can provide you with tips on how you can always do as poorly as possible and, above all, annoy the user, who – as already mentioned – can also contribute to the ranking with a lot or little traffic. You create the mobile version first; then, it costs absolutely no additional effort to transfer this version to the desktop without any adjustment. Your visitors will surely be annoyed by meaningless burger icons, annoying pop-up menus and top-right navigation (instead of left, as you would expect on the desktop). All dissatisfied, goal achieved!
6.Over-optimization: Lots of old SEO camels in one place
Strictly speaking, over-optimizing a website in Google’s eyes is a combination of the already presented measures and which will penalize you. However, Google has created its type of penalty for precisely this combination: the Over Optimization Penalty. Anyone who carries out excessive SEO measures gets one on the lid.
The measures that you will undoubtedly ride into an Over Optimization Penalty include, above all, keyword stuffing, hidden links and large-scale link exchange. But you can also reliably get into a mess with the internal page structure if, for example, you use the H1 several times on a page because you think: a lot helps a lot.
In general, we can advise you: If you continuously attach more importance to SEO than to the user, you can be sure that Google will resent you. If you only think about algorithms and technology and neglect the user, you had evil cards in 2020. SEO with blinders doesn’t make anyone happy except for those who want to end up in search engines.
7.Away from the window: bridging sides and misleading redirects
To round off our how-not-to tips, we have a treat for you: the so-called bridge pages or doorway pages. With such a page, you, as the website owner, can direct traffic to your actual content page. For the Google-Bot, however, a bridge side is not a delicacy; on the contrary: With an elegant bridge side, you can get the ticket for a penalty by Google. If you want to disappear from the index, you should stick to a doorway page.
If you now place a page in front of your actual website and cram it with SEO measures according to all the rules of the art – that is, tons of keywords and links so that the bot can find the page – then you are sure to ruin your ranking. Google downgrades these pages’ quality, which has good reasons because the page offers no added value for users. She’s just a sneaky sham, and the Google bot feels fooled.
If you prefer to avoid a penalty, it is best to rely on a landing page. This is more contemporary and offers unique added value, tailored precisely to the target group. Also, the landing page is linked on the main page, and the user is not forwarded unnoticed.
Misleading redirects: off to the labyrinth
Let’s move on to the next topic: Misleading redirects. First of all: redirects are not bad per se; they can come along without harmful intent. For a relaunch or merging of pages, redirects are appropriate.
But to stay on the dark side of power (because that’s where you want to go, right?), For example, you can show the search engine a different version of the website then the user. This will be redirected to another page that is very different from the main page. The user is disappointed because he seems content that he was not looking for thinks it is stupid and moves on offended. Or users on the desktop are shown an entirely different version than users with mobile devices. The latter, for example, get to a spam domain and get annoyed. These examples show you how you can get a penalty from Google. Google is just as sensitive to such deceptions as the tormented users and zack; your website is out of the window.
How does your website get out there again?
You don’t like it in your dark penalty cave? Too bad. So you want to know how to get back on Google’s pitch. We explained the difference between manual and algorithmic penalties to you at the beginning. If you are penalized manually, you must submit a Reconsideration Request. This means you will do your homework well and fix any problems you have left with before. If your website is clean from an SEO standpoint, take the case to a Google rep. The latter then decides whether the penalty will be cancelled or not. Such a reconsideration request is usually processed quickly; three months are already considered long.
If, on the other hand, you got yourself an algorithmic penalty, the Google algorithm has already recognized that you have been making mischief. Therefore the procedure is: tidy up, clean up, wait and drink tea until Google visits and re-evaluates your page, or a data refresh takes place. The following applies here: The visibility does not return out of the blue, but slowly and gradually.
Conclusion: cheating is not worth it
So you see, cheating, tricking, cheating and kidding is not worth it. Google notices almost everything, and so does users. Gone are the years when these measures paid off, and you would have got off scot-free. The Google bots can increasingly empathize with users and not only hunt down keyword scraps, code and technical finesse. If you use your common sense right from the start and optimize your site for the users, you won’t be so worried that your site is thrown out of the index.
The measures seem like yesterday’s news, but there are still enough webmasters out there trying their luck with unfair means. And even if you can casually dismiss it and say: “Oh, I already know everything, nobody does that anymore …” – you had a bit of fun reading, didn’t you?