SEO Penalties – What You need to Know

For those thinking getting top ranking was difficult. It gets even better. Search engine optimization is a tool used to optimize your website to get the best search ranking on search engines. The process of optimizing one’s website is a tedious one, where numerable elements have to be considered before finally putting up your feet to relax. That said, there might be two ways in which you might try to achieve those much wanted top search rankings.

In the technical SEO setup, the strategies undertaken to optimize one’s website could be pronounced as White hat and Black Hat strategies. White has always been considered as a color of purity and honest and the same is the case here. White hat strategies are the honest SEO strategies that believe in working according to the rules and thus performing the SEO activities as per the guidelines laid out by Google. On the other hand, Black Hat strategy believes in using unfair means and unsavory techniques to get the top search rankings, which for a brief amount of time could be successful in getting the desired results, but over time prove to be disastrous for the website and in turn the business.

Google too is alive to all such activities which are intended to malign the search results as well as dilute the trust that the users have in the search engine. For all these so called underhanded activities, Google levies moderate to strict penalties, depending on the type of unsavory activity undertaken. It is Important to note here that it’s not just the Black Hat strategies that draw punishment from Google but sometimes even unintended mistakes committed while doing SEO for a website too could invite penalties. Such mistakes, if quickly recognized could bring some retribution to the website as in case Google penalizes the website, then it could be submitted to Google for reconsideration. In case Google acknowledges the revised website, then you might make it to its good books again. Let us talk about the various ways in which one could actually end up getting penalized by Google for a Black Hat (or not) SEO strategy.

Paid Links

One of the most forbidden things on the Google guidelines for SEOs is getting paid links for a website. Google and almost every other search engine uses links to determine the reputation of a website. The quantity and quality of these links ascertains how much the value Google would assign to the website. But more often than not SEOs and Webmasters end up buying and selling links to increase the page rank. This is directly in violation of the Google guidelines as links should be purchased for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. One should always add a “No Follow” attribute (rel=”nofollow”) to the <a> tag. Nofollow tags are used to instruct search engines that certain hyperlinks on a website should not be followed as otherwise these links would end up getting the credit in search engines’ results.

Over Optimization

Yes, for those wondering that such a term too existed, it does. This is one of the debatable topics in many forums relating to SEO penalties though there has been ample proof backing the existence of such a penalty. SEOs sometimes end up stuffing their best keywords in almost every place they can find. Be it Title tags, H1, H2, H3, Meta tags or Alt tags, the specific keyword(s) find mention in almost each one of them as well as many times throughout the page content. This leads the search engine into believing that the website is intending to cheat in the search rankings by over-stuffing its keywords. Such over-zealousness when it comes to doing SEO for a website should be avoided to keep one’s website Google penalty-free.

Link Farming

Link farms are web-pages that serve no other purpose but to host links of almost every website (unrelated) on the internet. Sometimes SEOs who are too keen to have more links to their websites list their website on such Link Farms. These farms do not provide the website with any traffic and rather run the risk of getting the linked website being banned for participating.

Duplicate Content

If a website is largely or wholly a copy of another site, or if certain pages within a website are substantially similar to other pages within the site, then the ranking of the website would definitely suffer. Duplicating content never goes down well with Google as its guidelines clearly specify the need of originality in the content on websites.

Invisible Text

Some of the less smart SEOs try to stuff keywords/text where they don’t belong and some go even further by putting these keywords in a white color on a white background. This makes the text invisible and easily deceives the human eye. But the search engines are quick to track the anomaly and penalize the website for the stupidity.


When it comes to SEO, spam takes an altogether new meaning. In the sense that in SEO, spam are those pages which have no content but are created specially to rank well in the search engines. Normally when someone clicks open one of these pages, no search-relevant content is displayed on these pages. The page might be host to a number of ads meant to generate revenue for the website. Such kind of an activity is severely reprimanded by Google, leading to an instant fall in your search rankings.

All the above and more strategies result in the website being penalized by Google. The penalties may range from a temporary fall in search rankings (unless no corrections are made) to a complete ban of the website (which is a rare event though not improbable). When it comes to penalizing in the form of fall in the search rankings, it may range from a fall of rankings on the first page itself to a fall of as much as -950 search rankings, a figure dreaded by SEOs worldwide.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 at 2:13 PM and is filed under SEO Penalty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “SEO Penalties – What You need to Know”

  • Gaurav says:

    Apart from the website, even keywords get penalized. Have you ever experienced the situation wherein the keywords don’t from a set position for weeks or months. (Example: keyword sticks to #30 position or #50).

  • Harsh says:

    Paid Links,Over Optimization,Link Farming,Duplicate Content,Invisible text are all Black Hat SEO techniques.One should really avoid these methods if you really not want to get penalize by google.Nice Post……

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