One of the biggest fears of web marketers, bloggers, and SEO agencies is having their sites banned by Google.
Fortunately, if you stick to white-hat SEO techniques and avoid spammy practices, the chances of you being hit by a Google penalty will be greatly reduced. In this article, we’ll discuss some ways you can avoid a Google ban.
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Types of Google Penalties
Before we get into how to avoid Google penalties, it’s important to clarify that there are two ways of being penalized by Google.
One way is being hit by a manual penalty. If Google’s algorithms detect that you are engaging in black hat SEO techniques, your site may be reviewed and penalized manually by one of Google’s staff.
In that case, you will get notified about it in your Webmaster Tools. You can then request the penalty to be reviewed and removed if it was a mistake.
Another way of being penalized is simply being demoted in the rankings by Google’s algorithms. This happened to many sites during big algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin.
Unfortunately, it is harder to figure out if you were hit by such a penalty other than by seeing a drop in rankings and traffic.
You will also be a bit more in the dark about how to get your rankings restored, but the following tips can help you out.
1. Avoid Black Hat Link Building Campaigns
One of the most common causes of a Google ban is using spammy link building techniques.
Never buy links, as it is against Google’s policies. You should also avoid taking part in link exchanges, where two sites link to each other.
Here are some other spammy link building techniques that can raise a red flag at Google:
- Getting a lot of links from low-quality sites (such as sites that are link farms or have a low PA and DA)
- Getting links from sites that have unrelated content
- Getting a lot of links from article submission sites such as Ezine Articles or directories
- Posting a lot of comments with backlinks to your site
- Getting a lot of backlinks with the same anchor text
There are ways to get valuable links, such as by writing guest posts, but make sure that you are getting links from high-quality sites. Quality is more important than quantity here.
2. Don’t Post Low-Quality Content
You should be posting high-quality blog posts that are informative, contain keywords in a natural way, target long-tail keywords, include images and other media (such as infographics), and help people out.
Low quality or thin content can hurt your site. Here are some examples of bad content:
- Copied or duplicate content (can also be generic content that simply repeats what other sites are already saying)
- Spun content
- Content that is stuffed with keywords or written for search engines as opposed to humans
- Large blocks of texts without white space or images
- Very short blog posts that lack depth
3. Make Sure You Have Good Hosting
Having the right hosting can have a big effect on your SEO results. If your site is experiencing downtime often and people can’t reach your site, it may be demoted by Google.
The same goes for if your SSL certificates aren’t working or valid and your visitors are getting HTTPS warnings when trying to access your site.
4. Secure Your Site
If your site gets hacked, there’s a good chance it will disappear from the SERPs. Even if it doesn’t disappear right away, users may get a warning that your site may be hacked, and that will be enough to deter most people from clicking on it.
Make sure you have a good security plugin or firewall installed and that you constantly monitor your site for malware and viruses.
5. Beware of Negative SEO
Even if you aren’t engaging in bad SEO practices, your competitors may try to make it seem as if you are.
Some people try to hire black-hat negative SEO agencies to build bad links to your site on a mass scale to try to hurt your SEO.
Use Webmaster Tools or an SEO tracker to constantly monitor your backlinks. If you see that you are getting a lot of bad links, you can disavow them in Webmaster Tools.
If you do get hit with a manual penalty due to negative SEO, you can submit a request to Google to review the penalty and restore your site.
6. Don’t Use Cloaking or Redirects
A practice that is definitely bad for SEO and which goes against Google’s policies is using cloaking or redirects.
Cloaking is when you manipulate the code to make two versions of your site or content – one for Google and one for human visitors.
This is a spammy tactic that is intended to hide content from Google and attempt to have the site ranked under certain keywords that may be unrelated to the content.
Redirects is when your site or page redirects to another site.
7. Be Careful With Outbound Links
It’s not just inbound backlinks that you have to use cautiously. You should also be careful when linking to other sites.
Links to high-quality sites that have content that is related to your own can actually help your site.
However, having too many outbound links to low-quality sites can indicate to Google that your content is of low quality as well.
In addition, if you post too many promotional outbound links, such as links to ecommerce products or affiliate links, Google may consider your site as a “bridge site” that does not have any value of its own.
Wrapping It Up
A Google ban can harm your business by cutting off your source of organic traffic.
Fortunately, if you keep to white-hat SEO techniques, you can usually avoid getting banned.