The Road to Recovery: Penalty Revoked and Still Under Performing
April 15, 2014 - Google Algorithm
Penalty revoked and still under performing, why?
Have you recently come out of penalty and still haven’t seen your web traffic and rankings increase like you thought they would? The recovery process is not an instantaneous snap of your fingers- and boom! you’re fixed. It doesn’t work like that and there may be other factors involved that you haven’t taken into consideration. Solving this puzzle requires taking a look at the reasons you were in penalty in the first place. It is often hard for Webmasters to comprehend the fact that maybe their old spam-laden ways aren’t serving them anymore. Quite often, it’s difficult to see the problematic areas ourselves. I highly recommend having a second set of eyes scan your site.
Among inspection of your immediate findings, including foundation and on-page elements; links are going to be your golden ticket. Gaining honest, relevant links back to your website are your best bet for bringing those highly-coveted numbers back up. Like anything else, start from the bottom up and this time play by the rules!
Take a look at your on page elements. Are you presenting a clean, genuinely optimized website? Quality content is essentially the glue that holds everything together and without it, your site will fall apart at the seams.
Content quality – Rewrite anything that doesn’t provide real value to the readers. Double proofread your content to make sure it is flawless. Structure your content so it’s legible and matches web writing style. Using lists, headings, and short paragraphs are a good start and 80% of all the work. Check for duplicate content at copyscape.com (every page individually). Get rid of all your duplicate, low-quality content that is no longer serving your users. Everything must serve a purpose and give a certain level of value to the readers.
Source code – Source code is a critical piece of SEO and even the most minor code issues can end up wreaking havoc for your website. Having a professional fine tune your source code is one of the best things you can do for optimization. This includes but is not limited to getting rid of code errors, meta usage, optimizing your files’ loading speed (use GTmetrix), writing proper redirects, and implementing tracking codes (Analytics, Adwords, etc.).
Title tags, alt tags – It is not uncommon for small slip-ups to occur with your tags and one of the more common mistakes is to have multiple title tags. Again, this is another easy fix and let this serve as a reminder to always check all the little details if you are scratching your head as to why you are underperforming. Use Google Webmaster Tools to check for duplicate titles and Metas on your website.
Internal link structure – Checking your internal link structure is also important. If your link structure is not properly set-up, then Google doesn’t understand exactly what your page is about, and good luck getting high rankings. Internal link structure tells Google the order of importance for your web pages. Make sure you are keeping track of your internal links and don’t underestimate them. A high value internal link is great and many websites don’t emphasize this enough.
Proper site map – The site map is the heart of your website, it guides Google and walks them through your website. If you left out a step or if your guide is misleading in anyway it will negate all of your hard work.
Remove unnecessary site wide links (on site) – Footers or Blog rolls, which are site-wide links that connect back to all your pages are unnecessary and Google can penalize you for this. While they may seem like a good idea in theory, any misleading site-wide links can get you in serious trouble and it’s just not worth the risk. Be genuine and respect the users. If it’s necessary, include it. If it’s not necessary, remove it.
Dynamic URL’s – If your website generates dynamic URL (e.g product search, session id, temporary pages, etc.), it’s important that you make sure these elements are not being indexed.
Fix broken pages – It’s always a good idea to double check that all your pages are up and running properly, as broken pages can be damaging.
Use Schema – Google loves Schema! It is your direct communication channel with the search engine especially for eCommerce websites; use Schema for all your products. For local businesses, use the location Schema, which will help you establish a better NAP (name, address, phone) signature on the web.
Connect to your social profiles – Always include your social icons and allow users to connect with you. There are so many missed opportunities for website owners to engage with visitors and encourage content sharing. It’s an easy way to gain traffic and get people talking about your business, but also a good signal that your business is live and genuine for visitors and search engines.
Proper Robots.txt file – Don’t waste precious space on user login or printable version pages instead of your highly optimized and beneficial content. These are unnecessary and sometimes even duplicate pages that you want to make sure are rel no follow/index.
Link to authority (e.g BBB) – Linking to authority or highly regarded websites gives you a trust factor that is visible to Google. Linking to other websites that are industry related like the BBB or other authoritative sites is great. Research, make a list, and list your website on those places.
If you do some investigative work and take a magnifying glass to all the detailed aspects of your website, you are more than likely going to find the missing pieces that you need to get back on track. Nothing is an instant fix, but many of the topics listed above are fairly quick fixes and it’s worth your time to check it out. It may be a good idea to have a third party take a look because too often we become immune to our own content and miss simple mistakes that would be obvious right away for someone else.