Google “Penalties”, Manual and Algorithmic

Google has instituted some significant algorithm changes of late that have led to a great deal of confusion amongst our clients, and so I wanted to briefly describe the timing and general outline of the Google Algorithm changes, without getting into too much detail or technical discussion.

Google Algorithm Filters and Updates

  • Panda, introduced Feb. 2011 to fight sites with copied, insufficient or poor quality content
  • Top Heavy, launched in Jan. 2012 to prevent with excessive ads from ranking well
  • Penguin, introduced in April 2012 to better combat web spam, which is usually in the form of links designed to “fool” the search engines into thinking a site is popular instead of creating avenues for web users to find the information offered on the site.
  • Pirate, launched in Aug. 2012 to penalize sites with excessive copyright issues
  • EMD, introduced in Sept. 2012 to prevent “exact match domain” sites with poor content from ranking well because keywords and geo determinators match a search query.

Sites caught by these Google Algorithm “filters” will feel like they’ve been penalize. But filing a Google reconsideration request won’t help. The only appeal is to make the necessary changes to comply with the new rules and wait for the next Google algorithm filter to see if placement improves.

To be clear, Google calls the negative ranking of sites “Actions” instead of penalties.

There are two types of actions, Manual and Algorithmic.

Manual Actions

Manual actions result from a review by a Google Employee that has resulted in a penalty against it. The review can be triggered by a spam report or just a regular Google policy.

Removing manual penalties usually requires filing a Google reconsideration request along with showing a good faith effort to correct the problem in question. If your site should have a manual action, it will be reported to you through Google Webmaster Central, if you’ve verified your site there. File a Google reconsideration request.

Algorithmic Actions

With an algorithmic action, Google’s assessed what feels like penalty against a site through an automated means. This is not really a change from how this has always been done by Google. If your site complies with the Google algorithm, you are a good result and will rise in the rankings. If not, your site will drop in Google rankings.

Bottom Line: At Zenergy Works, we have not had any of our clients that we have built sites for and SEO’d from scratch suffer from any significant “actions” or penalties. Some would say that we are not pushing the envelope enough, but it has always been our goal, and it should be yours as webmaster, to market your site for the greatest long term advantage. This involves building real content that is unique to your site and useful to site visitors and creating links to it that would be used by actual people to find your site and its valuable content.

Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, a Santa Rosa, California, SEO, Website Design and Development, and Online Marketing Firm.

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