It’s a widely accepted concept in this day and age that a high Google ranking is an essential part of an online strategy. Whether you use the web for e-commerce or brand building, falling outside of the first three or four pages of search results for your products or services makes success difficult.
In days gone by, it was a relatively simple task to “cheat” your way up the Google rankings. An exact match domain name and the repeated use of keywords in poorly constructed articles was enough to get on to page one of results. In order to provide a better experience for web users, however, Google refined its search engine algorithms. Updates called Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird were brought in, which saw websites being indexed and ranked on a far more dynamic, intelligent basis. Sites which reflect content that is original and relevant to searches now get rewarded with a higher ranking, whereas sites that use the ‘old tricks’ are penalised and have either a far lower ranking or are simply excluded from search engine results all together.
In broad terms, the Google change is highly beneficial, both for browsers looking for services and companies who offer a genuine, professional web experience. However, a number of sites and businesses have found themselves unfairly penalised. You might think that these were small companies who used ‘tricks’ to try and get higher search engine results, but in fact some of the biggest known names in the business world were adversely affected. BMW, the Washington Post newspaper, JC Penney and even the BBC were all found to fall foul of Google’s new criteria.
If you find that your website has been penalised by Google, the most important thing to do is not panic. A Google penalty is not a death sentence for your site. If you have a legitimate, genuine site, then there are measures you can take to remove the penalties in place and gain the higher ranking you deserve. Here are a few things to bear in mind:
Don’t blame your web or SEO company
It is the case that even now, a few months after the Google algorithm changes, many SEO and content specialists are not 100% sure what the exact criteria is for a site to be penalised. This is not to say they don’t know what they are doing – just that Google has made it tough for everyone to know and understand what they consider to be a good, strong and relevant website. If you trust your content and web services provider, give them time to get your site back on track.
Don’t just carry on
If your site is penalised, then simply carrying on as you were is not going to work. When you find yourself in a hole, the best advice is always to stop digging. See this as the perfect opportunity to freshen up your site. It may be a good idea to change the text on all pages, ensuring that it is all original and unique content. New content should not just be keyword-stuffed text, but well-written content with a natural flow. Also, make sure that a sitemap is in place and submitted.
Should your SEO or web company turn around and say this is not a necessary change, it’s time to change your service provider!
Work on removing bad links
One thing we know for certain about the Google changes is that “bad” and “unnatural” links to your site are penalised. Paid-for links which appear on sites that have no natural link to the content of your own webpage carry harsh penalties in terms of Google rankings. It is essential that these bad backlinks are removed. You need to contact the webmaster of the site where the bad backlinks appear and request they be removed.
We can check which links Google detects for your site, and can determine if they are good or bad links. We can also help you remove the bad links to your site.
Don’t pay to have links removed
Some less scrupulous people have worked out that Google penalises for bad backlinks, and are trying to profit from it. We have seen several cases of people deliberately creating bad backlinks and offering to remove them for around US$5 or US$10 a time. Under no circumstances should you pay this.
Google are aware of this cottage industry which has sprung up, and offer help with the disavow tool. As long as you keep a track of all the mails you forwarded to webmasters, as well as any responses, Google will assist. If an effort has been made to remove the bad backlinks but they have not been taken away, the Google disavow tool ensures that they are removed from their indexing and that you are not penalised for them.
Focus on building a better site
The whole purpose of Google’s changes is to create a better web experience for all. Although the penalties are affecting innocent companies and can be a challenge to deal with, the intention is to ensure that genuine, professional companies are easier to find and supported by web search engines. See these changes as a means of proving you are such a company, and use it to make sure your web presence is both effective for you and appreciated by your clients.
We pride ourselves on creating a better web experience. Our team of web designers create unique, involved and dynamic sites which reflect the requirement needed by each individual business. We also have a team of in-house researchers and writers. They ensure all content which appears on your site is original, unique and relevant to your business.