What Is An SEO Penalty, and How Can You Avoid Them?

verne-ho-webLet’s Get to the Bottom of Mysterious SEO Downturns.

Have you ever experienced a decline in your SEO performance, and are unsure why? According to the folks at Search Engine Journal, there is only one official penalty as far as Google is concerned – and it’s called a “manual action.” This means that a real-live person from the Google review team looked at your website and blocked your visibility in the search engine result pages (SERPs) for violating the Webmaster Quality Guidelines in some manner.

It is important to distinguish that a penalty is not the result of a general update to Google’s search algorithm, which will likely affect many sites. Penalties, rather, are specific to a given site. The impact of Google’s manually applied penalties on sites tends to differ from site to site depending on the severity of the violation, as well as which Webmaster Guideline has been violated. In the best of worlds, a penalty will cause a small downturn in the rankings on a certain query term – in more extreme cases, however, penalties can lead to full site removal from the search results. You’ll know if you were the subject of a manual action – Google will inform you via Google Search Console. The good news is, a manual action does not need to be damning in the long term. You can request to have your site reconsidered once you’ve addressed the issue.

Keeping close tabs on best practices and guidelines is one way to protect yourself from a manual action. Frequent SEO audits of your site as well as revisiting technical SEO requirements for healthy site performance are additional ways to stay on track. Looking to take your SEO strategy to the next level? Make ASTRALCOM your partner – we can help you merge your SEO goals with multi-channel content marketing.

Richard Bergér is the VP of E-Business for ASTRALCOM, an integrated media services company located near Los Angeles, California. Richard draws on his military and psychology backgrounds to create pervasive content strategies, motivating conversion tactics and targeted audience acquisition for clients. Connect with Richard via his LinkedIn profile.

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