In today’s world of search engine rankings, SEO plays a crucial role in directing organic traffic to your websites. Ranking on the first page of Google search results vs. the second page can mean millions in lost revenue. If you were to Google something like Spectrum internet plans, only the highest ranking results are likely to get attention. Getting organic traffic is all about relevancy and rankings. This is what makes SEO so important, especially in today’s digital landscape.

Understanding And Avoiding Common SEO Penalties

To be a competent SEO professional, one needs to understand common areas in which Google penalizes webpages. When Google imposes an SEO penalty, the rank of the penalized webpage drops. This reduces the visibility of your website on Google search results which means fewer visitors that can be potential customers. A list of the most common SEO penalties follows below:

1. Spam
2. Cloaking
3. Value

Let’s take a more detailed look at each penalty and how to bounce back from it.

Spam

Spam is one of the most annoying aspects of the internet. Search engines like Google tend to treat it exactly like that. Spam usually implies irrelevant, inappropriate or repetitive messages sent to a bulk of internet recipients. Google penalizes spam in many forms, but the heaviest penalties are usually incurred by pure spam. This type of spam is a spam technique often used by aggressive organizations. This includes the use of a number of things including:

  • Scraping content
  • Cloaking
  • Poor automated comments
  • Poor automated messages

The easiest solution to bouncing back from a spam penalty is to find the source and remove it. You need to make sure your organization is on the right side of the line between outreach and outright spam. One effective way to do this is to invest in the right communication system. All aspects of your automated mass communication should be through a system that supports anti-spam functions.

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Cloaking

The Cloaking is another area that commonly incurs penalties from Google. Cloaking is essentially a practice that shows a different webpage version to search engines than the one to visitors. Many different types of content on a website or webpage can potentially be cloaked. This includes photos, text, etc. As a website owner, it is very possible that you accidentally cloaked some portions of your website. But Google does not take this into account. As a rule, cloaking is heavily frowned upon as a serious offense and can even get you banned. Google states any website which shows XYZ information to Google but does not show the same to its visitors is penalized.

Despite the consequences to cloaking, it can luckily be fixed. Begin by identifying the cloaked portions of your website. There are many free SEO cloaking checker tools available on the internet that can be used for this purpose. After you have successfully identified the cloaked portions, you can compare the cloaked portions to your website content. Any discrepancy or variation should be scrutinized and corrected. It is usually considered a good practice to remove shady-looking links or redirects.

Value

One way websites can really improve their SEO rankings is to add value to the content they are offering. Ideally, every website has its own specific narrative or story that conveys specific messages to its customers. This narrative lets visitors understand what the website is offering and why they should stay on it. The important thing is, does this narrative or story contain a value? Simply put, if your website has valuable content, your ranking will rise. Content that adds no value is likely to lower your ranking and visibility. Google has an interesting way to identify if the content adds value. It makes use of a mix of automated web-crawlers as well as human resources to do its due diligence on content. Both the human element as well as software work together to determine if your website is valuable or not. So even if a website somehow manages to dodge the web-crawlers, the human will most likely catch on.

In the real world, many things about a website are usually out of the owner’s control. People visiting your page, spending time on it, etc are all outside your direct control. But one thing you do control is the quality of the content on your website. This puts you in a position to make sure that the content you are providing on your website holds value. There are several ways to make sure that you are adding valuable content.

Some of these methods include:

• Providing content that is relevant to your industry. A website for comforters and blankets shouldn’t be posting content about food. The more relevant your content is, the more valuable it is and the better your ranking and traffic.

• Do a site audit and remove links from your website that are unnatural or irrelevant. These types of links are one of the leading causes of SEO penalties from Google. Make sure they are removed from your website.

• Your content should be informative, substantial and above all original. Plagiarism is one of the worst things you can do to your website. Insubstantial or plagiarized content will severely impact your ranking.

The importance of SEO has grown considerably as digital marketing has progressed over recent years. SEO is a very significant part of your marketing efforts, but obviously, it can be complicated. For people who are beginners to SEO, it is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Even the Spectrum double play landing page probably got penalized once or twice over the years. Many multi-million dollar companies have received SEO penalties on their website. The real mistake is when you, as an SEO professional, fail to learn from the penalty and rectify it. Being able to identify and correct issues that earn you penalties are more important than the penalties themselves. SEO is an on-going practice. One good practice you can follow is to periodically check up on your website and optimize it from an SEO perspective. Avoid making the same mistakes more than once and you should end up with sustainable rankings.

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