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15 things that Google will penalise you for – Part 1

Have you seen a recent drop in your website’s traffic levels? Perhaps you’ve received a notification of unnatural SEO practices in your Google Webmaster Tools account?

Unfortunately, SEO penalties can happen to any website, at any time. Whilst it is possible to repair the damage incurred by these negative effects, it’s ultimately much more effective to take a proactive stance on penalty prevention by avoiding the following known penalty causes.

How your website's visibilty on Google can be affected by penalties


1. Cheap spam bought links

We’ve all seen those “10,000 links for $10” offers but don’t be tempted. The influx of new, low value links pointing at your website will trigger an SEO penalty! Purchasing links for the sole purpose of passing PageRank violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

(Buying links for advertising purposes is fine, but be sure they’re denoted as sponsor links and use “nofollow” attributes appropriately.)

2. Link exchanges

Partnering with other websites to exchange links with each other leaves a very noticeable footprint to the search engines who often penalise link exchanges deemed to be obvious manipulation attempts in the SERPs (search engine ranking pages).

3. Hiding links in CSS, Javascript or other file types

Search engine robots are becoming more advanced every day when it comes to the types of files they’re able to crawl and understand. As a result, hiding links in supplementary site files (particularly those that provide CSS and Javascript info to a site) isn’t a good way to increase links anymore.

4. Blog network links

Many of the web’s most popular blog networks were recently devalued by Google, though there are plenty of others still operating. Avoid these at all costs, as they’ll likely be the subject of future Google penalty actions.

5. Blog site-wide/footer links

Links that appear in blog sidebars and footers (so that they appear on all pages of the blog) represent typical areas of manipulation to the search engines. Focus your efforts on acquiring more valuable links from relevant blog content instead.

6. Links to and from ‘bad’ sites

Because the search engines use inbound links to determine relevancy, building links from illicit websites (e.g. adult, gambling etc.) paints your own website in a negative light. Avoid these links at all costs!

7. Broken internal links

Take time to ensure that your site is free of broken internal links. Too many un-crawlable pages represents a poor user experience to the search engines, who will then devalue your site in the ranking pages.

8. On-site over-optimisation

Using SEO to promote your website is fine – until you reach the point where every page on your site makes use of every single SEO technique known to mankind! Keep your on-page SEO natural and use it to improve the user experience (not just your SERPs rankings) to prevent over-optimisation penalties.

…more in Part 2. If you have any questions about the how to avoid being penalised please get in touch.