seo-smarts-ways-to-keep-your-website-out-of-googles-algorithm-penalty-boxOne of the big fears of any website owner these days is the prospect of receiving a Google penalty. But there is a lot of misunderstanding about what these actually are—and how your site can be affected.

The worst that usually happens when you receive a penalty is that you see a drop in your rankings, and you can often recover from this if you resolve the issue causing the problems.

A far more serious penalty could see your site removed from the search results entirely, which would be the nightmare scenario. However, you would have to deliberately try to cheat the system to do this, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this.

But if you are worried about Google penalties and you want to make sure you don’t get one, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Publish Valuable Content

One of the best ways to avoid the risk of receiving a penalty from Google is to make a habit of creating and publishing high-quality, valuable content on a regular basis.

This is one of the golden rules of SEO, and a practice that Google active encourages. Indeed, if you hire a good SEO firm like POET Media to help improve your rankings, this is one of the first things that they will recommend.

Bad-quality content and duplicate content will not help you to generate the links that you need to create a natural link portfolio. You will therefore be limited to building your own links, and this is where problems can arise.

Google Panda, the huge algorithm update in 2011, tackled the issue of low-quality content. A lot of content was created purely to rank highly, generate clicks, and make money from ads, and Google had enough of this, hence the update.

There is no place for low-quality content now, so focus on producing valuable and informative content that your visitors will love.

Always Link from Relevant Websites

Linking from non-relevant sites is one of the best things that you can do for your SEO.

While generating links from your content is the best option, you may still want to build links yourself. But if you build links from non-relevant sites, this can harm your rankings, so always choose your sites with care.

Don’t Try and Cheat with Link Farms

Link farms are schemes that are designed to boost your rankings by tricking the algorithms. They involve exchanging links with other unrelated sites to try and get some SEO benefit, but Google knows all about these, and they don’t work.

The Penguin update was introduced by Google to tackle link spam, which includes lots of links coming from dubious websites and link farms.

In addition, you should avoid buying links and getting involved in link exchanges. In fact, any unnatural linking is going to increase your chance of getting slapped by a penalty.

It’s also a good idea to monitor your link profile regularly. If you see any links that could cause problems, you can disown these. You can also look for signs of negative SEO practices.

Don’t Use Hidden Text on Your Website

This is an old trick where you write lots of keywords in the same page as the background color of the website. The idea is that this will help your rankings while your visitors will not see a huge mess of keywords.

This practice, also known as “cloaking”, is no longer effective—and it could very well lead to a penalty.

Don’t Abuse Guest Posting

Guest posting is a great way to build your brand and build links, but it should not be abused. Make sure you are posting on relevant blogs rather than posting spam articles on sites that have no relation to your own.

Mix Up Your Anchor Text

When you build links, make sure you mix up your anchor text. Don’t use the same keyword phrase each time because this will look unnatural and could see you getting in trouble.

Follow the Rules and Avoid Penalties

These are some of the most important areas to consider if you want to avoid getting any type of Google penalty.

All Google asks is that you play by the rules, and that usually means creating high-quality content on a regular basis, and promoting it properly. By trying to cheat the system to improve your search ranking, you are playing a dangerous game that could lead to disaster if you get caught.

So focus on the proven ways to improve your ranking, and enjoy the benefits.


Grace Bryan is a SEO and marketing/website consultant who wears many hats throughout the working day but loves the variety of her online work. Look out for her insights around the web.