4 Google Penalties You Need To Watch Out For

SEO

Do you think your site has received any Google penalties? If your rankings have dropped, it’s quite possible.

Seeing your site lose its hard-earned rankings can be distressing. Considering 53% of organic search clicks go to the first listed result, a drop in rankings conclusively leads to less traffic and sales for online businesses.

Professional sportsmen receive penalties for poor sportsmanship. The same principle applies to SEO: If you try to take short-cuts on your way to the first page, Google can tell. Unethical SEO practices often get detected by algorithms personified by cute, fluffy animals. Such practices result in Google penalties, and the search engine giant knows to hit where it hurts most: Your rankings.

First thing’s first: The animals listed here are not Google penalties themselves – they are algorithms. They are sets of code that detect improper SEO practices and enact the penalties. Here, we’ll show you the most recognisable algorithms and the penalties they enforce.

 

1. Panda

Back in 2011, Google unleashed Panda. This algorithm comes first, due to its sheer size and scope of issues it addresses. Upon release, Panda affected 12% of search results online at the time. So what does it assess? Above all, content quality.

Take a moment to examine your site’s content. If your pages have high ad-to-content ratios, duplicate content from other sites, or are weak with few resources and no substance – you better watch out for Panda!

 

2. Penguin

If you’re using tactics that Google deems manipulative, enjoy being subjected to Penguin’s wrath. This algorithmic beast works in real-time to judge the legitimacy and trustworthiness of your site’s links.

Due to increased competition, marketers have been attempting to build links and ranks through unnatural means. Two main link-related culprits causing Penguin’s scrutiny include over-optimisation of links, as well as linking to sites with Google penalties.

Another practice Penguin monitors is keyword stuffing. This is when on-page content is populated with large amounts of keywords to manipulate search results. Forcing keyword repetition disturbs the flow of your site content, so don’t compromise quality in hopes of SEO gains!

 

3. Possum

With the rise of local search, businesses were in prime position to target audiences based on location. Possum is an algorithm that filters search results according to geographical relevance. Sounds friendlier, right? Not if you’re sharing a building with a company that steals the Google My Business listing for your address.

64% of local results were affected by Possum’s introduction in 2016. The algorithm was launched to diversify local results, which is great for searchers. However, businesses were faced with stiff competition from geographical target ranges being substantially widened. While it’s a bit of a stretch to call Possum a penalty, per se, it can certainly act like one.

 

4. Hummingbird

Hummingbird was a massive update. This algorithm has a holistic focus that affected the way Google works on a fundamental level. Its scope was so vast, it affected an overwhelming 90% of search queries.

Hummingbird is all about being able to determine the intent behind a search. Before, Google looked at keywords as separate entities from word to word. After Hummingbird was introduced back in 2013, it examined the context of a search. Hummingbird looks at phrases, not just words.

If you lost rankings in 2013 that you couldn’t get back, it’s probably Hummingbird. If you were hit, then you need to revisit your strategy. A good starting point is to answer questions your target market might have about your services within your onsite content.

Google made this immense change to is core functionality due to the saturation of smartphone usage worldwide. More and more people are searching with voice functionality, so search engines must decipher human speech patterns. To keep up, your site needs to answer questions that a real-life human would pose verbally.

Google updates its algorithms hundreds of times per year. While most of the big ones that enforce distinct penalties on offending websites get a name, most changes go unnamed. The August 2018 core update, for example, left a lot of particular types of businesses in the dust. To get the breakdown of the casualties, take a look at our blog on Google’s Latest Algorithm Change: What You Need To Know

 

** Feature image courtesy of Google