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How to Avoid Google Penalties: Twitter Chat #12

Elena Terenteva
How to Avoid Google Penalties: Twitter Chat #12

Hello, dear SEMrush blog readers!

We have a huge post for you today. I'll tell you more: 194 contributors left 1458 Tweets during last Twitter Chat! It really was a fiery discussion.

Please enjoy this recap of SEMrush Twitter Chat #12 with our great guest expert Adam Dince, Director of Earned Media at Deluxe.

Don't miss our presentation, which features a penalty recovery toolkit, and a digest of in-depth articles about Google penalties and the recovery process.

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When it comes to SEO, you definitely have to follow very precise rules and techniques to make it to the top. Of course there are a lot of hidden pitfalls on the way to success, but working to overcome them only makes us more professional. But beware of the easy route. You can be penalized for violating basic principles of SEO. This can happen "anytime you try to beat the system, 'manipulate' the Google bot or practice obvious black hat techniques!”- Jenny Foster ‏@LocalSEOJenny.

Let’s take a closer look at these kinds of violations.

And the list continues…

And it still continues...

Well, you’d better take a look at this check list — “50 Reasons Your Website Deserves to Be Penalized By Google,” which is recommended by one of our participants – Niraj Bariya ‏@NirajBariya

But let’s get back to basics; some of these mistakes could be avoided if someone wasn't trying to cheat the system.

If you're a cheater, your website will suffer sooner or later — either from manual or algorithmic penalties. Google “initiates more than 400,000 manual actions every month” Ed Leake ‏@EdLeake; and Google has quite a long history of updates. So there’s no chance of survival if your website is facing these problems:

  • Bad quality. This can be about content, links or other optimization practices. Sergio Redondo ‏@sergio_redondo
  • Spammy links, spammy content, spammy spam spam. Luke Jordan ‏@LJordanOnline
  • Cutting corners. You’ll suffer if you’re “trying to get by for cheap.” rjonesx @rjonesx

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 18.57.45So, what should be the first step on the way to total recovery if your website is penalized?

If your website has suffered a manual penalty, it will be really easy to know — you’ll receive a message from Google. If this happens, all you have to do is “see what Google recommends that you do and follow their instructions” Adam Dince ‏@AdamDince. After you make the suggested changes, you will need to resubmit your site to Google.

Well, this sounds really easy. But talking about “fixing mistakes” is much easier than actually doing it. Anyway, first of all you need to submit a total site audit.

Spammy backlink profiles are a very common reason for penalties, manual or algorithmic. So if you think you were penalized because of your backlinks, first, promise yourself you won’t do business with bad websites, and second, follow these easy steps: “link audit, link removal, and disavow” Luke Jordan ‏@LJordanOnline.

After you manage your backlinks, it’s time to think about your content. Look for duplicate content and thin content. What you need to do is to create “lots and lots of great-quality, unique, audience-focused content (published on- and off-site)” Dan Smith ‏@itsdansmith. And of course think about good distribution.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 18.57.54 Manual or algorithmic penalites? How can you avoid both? Which one is the hardest to recover from? Let’s see!

Well, it seems that if you get one, you’ll get the other. We talked about it already — if you do something wrong, it will be noticed!

But which one is worse? Adam Dincesaid that “the most challenging penalties are algorithmic, as they're the hardest to diagnose. “Google will notify you of manual penalties and provide instructions for fixing them. You won’t be notified for algorithmic penalties.”This seems very problematic — it takes more time to recover from algorithmic penalties.

And Adam confirmed it’s the harsh truth: “Yes! I worked with a site that took a year to fully recover after its bad links were fixed.” Another very frustrating thing about algorithmic updates is that you never know what to expect.

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And now we come to the big question — How can you recover your website if it is slapped with a penalty? As usual, we had a lot of questions and a lot of answers. Check out these recommended tools. And as a huge bonus, we’ve collected all the links to the useful articles that our participants have mentioned.

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Of course, our conversation wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of the best practices that can help you avoid penalties from Google. All crime leads to punishment. So try to stay within the legal limits of SEO.

When managing your content strategy, think about forging good relationships with good websites. Google will judge you for the companies you “hang out” with. “Create content for site users, not for Google. Your rankings will improve.” Jill Hollosi ‏@Jill_hollosi

What about backlinks? Once again — instead of thinking about how to trick Google, “[a better] question to ask when considering whether to ask for a link is, Would this link be valuable to a person?" Adam Dince ‏@AdamDince

If you are not doing SEO yourself, be sure that your agency or specialist understands your needs and your strategy. Don’t try to be cheap. SEO requires hard work; so if you were promised amazing results in a short period of time or with a small budget, you’d better think again. “Trust is about quality, and quality is about things well done” Sergio Redondo ‏@sergio_redondo

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 19.23.43 Now let’s hear some stories from specialists who have been fighting in the SEO trenches for years.

It seems that Penguin has a huge impact on a lot of websites, and that its penalties are the worst.

Pigeon also hit a lot of websites pretty hard.

But don’t think of algorithms as purely evil. If you do everything right, you will be rewarded. And we’ve got some stories of winning as well. So it’s all up to you, your choices and how hard you’re wiling work!

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Speaking of good choices, here is some advice that will help you to stay on top and protect your website from negative SEO.

Remember that it’s easier to prevent failure than it is to fix it; so be careful and always consider the possible consequences of your actions.

Speaking of monitoring — it’s not just about mentions. “New links and social buzz about your brand, your product, or your service is really important too.” Sergio Redondo ‏@sergio_redondo

For backlink monitoring - “regularly check @semrush for any unusual URLs that may appear in [your] organic dashboard.”Adam Dince ‏@AdamDince

Keywords also might require your attention.

And of course don’t rely on cheap specialists or only on tools, thinking that they can do everything for you. Yes, SEO is not rocket science, but it can’t be completely automated, otherwise we would have done it a long time ago.

Hope you'll join us on next Twitter Chat! Same time, same place, same hashtag! This Wednesday at 11 a.m. (EST)! Don't forget to use the #semrushchat hashtag!

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Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush. Elena has eight years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/Content manager for IT and finance companies.
Bookworm, poker player, good swimmer.
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Link diversify is the right technique to avoid link penalties. Also use keywords properly in your content. Use LSI rather than exact match.
Elena Terenteva
Michael Smith
Thank you for your tips, Michael! Join us next time!