Our ‘Ultimate Guide to Google Penalties’ launches today

Few SEO nightmares can compare to the horror of waking up to a sudden drop in rankings — and worse, traffic — and discovering that your site has been penalized by Google.
A variety of factors impact rankings both positively and negatively — schema/rich snippets, links, and mobile user experience — to name just a few. Determining the precise cause of a sudden change can take some investigation, but when a site receives an actual penalty by Google, the webmaster is notified via Google Search Console.
Despite these notifications, Google penalty notices are the subjects of some of the most frequently asked questions at both our “Meet the SEOs” and “Ask the Search Engines” Q&A sessions at our search marketing conferences. What does this penalty mean? How do we respond? What actions do we need to take to get the penalty reversed? To answer those questions and provide a resource for readers to reference on an ongoing basis, we’ve partnered with

Search Engine Land Source

After rare Google confirmation of on-site penalty, Natural News is back in Google’s index

In a rare move, Google confirmed that a publisher named Natural News was penalized and deindexed by the major search engine over Google webmaster guidelines violations. In fact, Google’s John Mueller specifically said the site was using sneaky mobile redirect, and once that is “cleaned up, the site can submit a reconsideration request through Search Console.”
It seems like they did clean it up and submitted a reconsideration request through Search Console, because the site is now back in the Google index. A site command now returns the home page and 440,000 other pages from the site.

It is incredibly rare for Google to confirm when a site is penalized to the press or public. But in this case, the site was claiming it was removed because it was pro-Trump. They started a White House petition against Google, and they are still encouraging people to sign the petition even after they have been restored to Google’s index.
The site said

Search Engine Land Source

Link free or die

Why are we so afraid of links?
Back in the old days of SEO, we loved any link if it was free, even if it was from a spammy scraper site or the lowest-quality directory you’ve ever seen. If we did nothing to get that link, it was a great link. People assumed that all links were beneficial — and that even “bad” links were completely harmless, with no potential to cause damage.
Then we started to get scared… and we nofollowed links. We performed loads of link analysis and reached out to sites that we thought were spammy and asked to have our links removed. Oh, and let’s not forget that time period where we were terrified of exact-match anchors and then built 50 links that all said “Click here.”
I’m surely leaving out other critical changes, but the bottom line is that links freak most of us out, whether we’re building them or they’re being built for our site.
Let’s break down five of the

Search Engine Land Source

Google studying ways to deal with offensive search suggestions & results

As Google has come under fire for search suggestions like “are women evil” or actual results questioning whether The Holocaust happened, those who oversee its search engine aren’t ignoring the issue. They’re just taking time to figure out the best and most comprehensive response.
This week, I met with several engineers and executives involved with Google’s search results, including Ben Gomes, vice president of core search. There’s no question that Google has heard the concerns. There’s no question those within Google itself are disturbed by what’s being raised. But the desire is to find solutions that are generally defensible, rooted in policy and which can be implemented through algorithms, as much as possible.
In a statement Google gave me after our meeting, it said:

The goal of search is to provide the most relevant and useful results for our users. Clearly, we don’t always get it right, but we continually work to improve our algorithms. This is a really challenging problem, and something we’re

Search Engine Land Source

How to avoid an outbound link penalty from Google

Most of us are aware of link penalties that occur if you have low-quality or spam links pointing to your site. But did you know you can also be penalized by Google for how you link to other websites from your site? Yup, you sure can. It’s called an “unnatural outbound links” penalty, and similar to the inbound link penalty, it can be applied partially or sitewide.
Recently, we conducted an audit for a new client, and we flagged the spammy linking that was being done in a particular section of their site. The content manager was unknowingly allowing guest bloggers to submit content to be published with links pointing back to their sites. This content contained a high volume of links and overoptimized anchor text.
Our recommendations to remove these links were ignored and not seen as high-priority, despite our efforts to convey the severity of this issue.
Then Google released the Penguin 4 real-time update. Soon after, our client’s site was flagged for a

Search Engine Land Source

Google updates Penguin, says now runs in real-time within the core search algorithm

After a nearly two year wait, Google’s Penguin algorithm has finally been updated again. It’s the fourth major release, making this Penguin 4.0. It’s also the last release of this type, as Google now says Penguin is a real-time signal processed within its core search algorithm.
Penguin goes real-time
Penguin is a filter designed to capture sites that are spamming Google’s search results in ways that Google’s regular spamming systems might not detect. Introduced in 2012, it has operated on a periodic basis.
In other words, the Penguin filter would run and catch sites deemed spammy. Those sites would remain penalized even if they improved and changed until the next time the filter ran, which could take months.
The last Penguin update, Penguin 3.0, happened on October 17, 2014. Any sites hit by it have waited nearly two years for the chance to be free.
Those long delays are now to be a thing of the past, according to Google. With this latest release, Penguin

Search Engine Land Source

Google warns it will crack down on “intrusive interstitials” in January

Google has announced that it will begin cracking down on “intrusive interstitials” on January 10, 2017, because this type of ad “can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”
Google will be potentially penalizing — i.e., lowering the rankings — of these web pages. Google said “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
Google explained which types of interstitials are going to be problematic, including:

Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Here is a diagram from Google to

Search Engine Land Source

Updated: Google penalizes mobile sites using sneaky redirects

In October 2015, Google warned webmasters not to trick mobile users by redirecting them to an unsuspecting web site. Well, today, Google announced on Google+ and Twitter that they have been “taking action on sites that sneakily redirect mobile users to spammy domains.” Google issued a correction with Search Engine Land that they did not issue any new manual actions recently, that this post on Twitter was just to remind webmasters not to use sneaky redirects.
Google wrote, “As mentioned in Webspam Report 2015, spam reports from users are an important part of our spam-fighting efforts. They often help us surface issues that frustrate users – like the trend of websites redirecting mobile users to other, often spammy domains.” Google added, “to combat this trend, we have been taking action on sites that sneakily redirect users in this way.”
Sneaky redirects are never a good thing and Google has penalized web sites for directing the user to a

Search Engine Land Source

Google sent 4 million messages about search spam last year, saw 33% increase in clean-up requests

Google announced today the latest in their efforts to clean up the search results through webspam techniques. Google explained that in 2015 they saw a 180-percent increase in websites being hacked compared to 2014 and also saw “an increase in the number of sites with thin, low-quality content.”
To combat that, Google released their hacked spam algorithm in October 2015, which resulted in removing “the vast majority” of those issues. They also sent out more than 4.3 million messages to webmasters to notify them of manual actions on their sites; that is a ton of manual notices. With that, they saw a 33-percent increase in the number of sites that went through the reconsideration process. So it is clearly important to make sure to verify your website in the Google Search Console so that you can be alerted of any issues Google finds on your site.
Google also said that users submitted more than 400,000 spam reports. Google acted

Search Engine Land Source

Google Takes Action On 65% Of User Generated Spam Reports

At SMX West, Juan Felipe Rincon from Google in the “Google Manual Actions” panel said that of the 35,000 user generated spam reports submitted to Google monthly, 65% of them Google takes action on.
Google has a lot of ways of finding spam, of that, 35,000 of them are submitted by users. Juan Felipe Rincon gave that figure minutes ago in the panel. He added that of those 35,000 submissions, 65% of those are spam and thus action is taken on a manual basis on those reports.
Juan Felipe Rincon added that they do prioritize spam reports based on how significant they can be on their users, Google searchers. He also added that some users are good at spam reporting and they may prioritize when they look at those spam reports, when they know it is submitted by users who submit good spam reports.
The post Google Takes Action On 65% Of User Generated Spam Reports appeared first on

Search Engine Land Source