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Was Your Site Hit With A Search Engine Penalty?

By Expert Author: Jamie Judson

If search engine referral traffic penalties are showing up in your website analytics account, there is a way to source and perform remedial action on restoration of your domain to first page, top-level rankings. The launch of Google Penguin, the code name for the Google algorithm update in 2012, resulted in a series of changes leading to penalties on over-optimized sites in search engine rankings. Penguin’s impact on Google search results now affects about 3.1% of search queries. Here are five steps to correcting search engine Penguin penalties on a website and other issues leading to a negative page ranking:

The 5 Steps to Correcting Search Engine Penalties on a Website

Step 1. Google Webmaster Tools Check
The first step is to examine if an automatic or manual penalty has tagged a website. Google notates its penalty activity in the Google Webmaster Tools message center.

Step 2. SEO News Reporting Updates
If there has been a change in search result criteria coding in a search engine algorithm, a website may lose its rank without the application of penalties. SEO news reporting alerts generally provide notice of major changes made to search engine algorithms impacting advertiser rankings.

Step 3. Penalty Impact
To determine the extent of penalty impact, review indexing, link building campaign history, age of website, and the actual traffic rating report. If a site is not indexed on Google it usually means that the site has been removed from their analytics reporting.

Removal is the most severe penalty that can be levied. Check the domain by entering ‘site:http://www.yoursite.com’ on the Google search engine bar. If there is no result to the address search, it is likely that Google has removed the domain from their index.

Link building campaigns meant to optimize a website can also cause a detriment to rankings. Review the formula used to link blogs, SEO advertising, and other marketing collateral. Creating a number series to support a website with external collateral is one of the best methods of establishing a system of backlinks that is easily recalled for archival or removal purposes, without picking up negative Penguin penalties in the process.

Back links published by competitors may also impact a site without the owner’s knowledge. Exact copy replication of website homepage content in marketing collateral can also cause penalties.

SEO professionals acknowledge it is important to watch out for Google’s sandbox filter as well. If a website is under six months in age, it may be classified among the SERPs. The result will be placement at the end page of the search.

The best measure is to review how traffic rankings have changed. While there is some differentiation between site-wide penalties and a total ban, the outcome is often the same. A status report is the best place to initiate in-depth analysis of the problem.

Step 4. Search Engine Terms of Service
Review the Terms of Service (TOS) to the major search engines for information on the structure to backlinks. The mapping of backlinks, not solely the addresses and the keyword content supported by the links, may be causing penalties.

Promotional practice guidelines provide answers to questions about TOS related infractions. Other factors related to site integrity, electronic transaction gateways, and factual errors may be leading to a reduction in search engine rank.

Step 5. Corrective Action
Once the penalty related issues have been pinpointed it is time to take corrective action. While it may be as simple as adding rich-content quality to a site or eliminating detrimental backlinks, search engine optimization is a delicate balance that must also take into consideration search engine algorithm technical changes and less expected impacts such as best practices.

Many SEO specialists are finding that a simple switch to natural language content will adequately transform a domain’s rankings. Avoid penalties, and induce higher search engine page ranking results with continuous monitoring of website search analytics.

Search Optics Inc. is a leader in digital marketing solutions for the automotive industry. Search Optics’ car dealer SEO services include custom websites, search engine optimization, paid search and mobile solutions that generate leads which result in sales opportunities. Search Optics specializes in car dealer marketing and automotive SEO services.

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