If you have been in the top rankings of Google and suddenly find your page several slots or pages down in the results, you may not understand why or what has happened to cause this issue. In most cases, this occurrence is caused by a penalty that has been placed on your site by Google for any one of several reasons. Google has now clarified its penalty position and has released a list of all the penalty rankings that can be imposed upon any given site. Luckily for you, most of these penalties can be reversed and we are here to help you understand better what is causing your Google issues.
The Smallest Infraction
The smallest penalty Google dishes out can move your site down six slots from its previous PageRank and typically is assigned based on poor content or excessive use of keywords. With the initial release of Google Panda (Google’s PageRank algorithm system), many sites – including large sites that specialise in SEO and PR-driven content – saw their rankings bumped down six places due to large amounts of less than quality content. The best way to fix this problem is to reduce the unnecessary instances of keyword usage and up your game when it comes to quality. Afterwards, submit a reconsideration request to Google for your site to be re-evaluated.
The Modest Infraction
The next rank of penalty imposed by Google can set any of your websites back by 30 slots, which can easily push a website on the first page of results back to the third or fourth page of results and kill your chances of having a great SEO website. What actions can cause this penalty to be applied? For starters, linking to any site that is already blacklisted by Google as well as any known spam sites.
If you have reciprocal links with other low-quality or down-rated sites, this can also automatically translate into bad ratings for you. There have been several times where well known sites have had to remove “bad links” in order to recover their ratings. This penalty can be applied either automatically through the algorithm or manually by a Google staff member.
The Larger Infraction
Even worse than the two previous penalties is the third one, which can knock your page back up to 60 slots. This penalty typically is assigned for websites that are putting “invisible links” to other pages and sites at the bottom or in the footer of their pages. This used to be a black hat method of boosting your PageRank, but Google has caught on and is punishing those who violate this rule quite severely.
Please make sure that your links are not the same colour as your page’s background, as this can cause you to be down-ranked in a heartbeat. If your site is perceived to have malware on it, that can also cause the penalty to be applied.
The Largest Infraction
A total website killer, the fourth and final infraction is the death knell in virtually any website that relies on search results for its traffic. Typically reserved for sites that are buying or selling links or PageRank, you can expect a 950 point penalty for being associated in this category. This is the final straw before being removed from Google’s search results altogether and has been pursued vigorously by Google as a way to cut down on link farming and site networking, where you may have created multiple sites with little content and linked them all together for the purpose of building PageRank and backlinks.