Looking for SEO penalty? Here are 15 practices leading to it.


Last Updated on April 8, 2016

The SEO is rapidly advancing in the past few years and so are the techniques used for practicing it. However there are some tactics that are proven to be subject of penalty, if you want to keep your website/s “dry” and running, take a look at the lines below.

1. Tons of cheap (low quality) spammy links

In the rush for fast link building many SEOs forgot the old saying that “quantity often is the opposite of quality”. There are numerous people and companies that can offer you services providing tons of links to your website and it all comes at the cost of few dollars. If you are using or thinking to use cheap links for your site link building then you should stop right now! This practice is assurance of Google penalty.

2. Paid links passing PageRank

Another wrong belief in the SEO world is that you can purchase links to gain additional PageRank and get away with it. This tactic directly violates the guidelines of Google and other search engines and will result a penalty. However, if you pay for such services you have to be sure that those links are typified as sponsor links and use the “nofollow” attribute, this way you leave clear sign that it is not attempt for PageRank manipulation.

3. Good old link exchange

One of the oldest tricks in the book – exchange links with other websites. Sadly, doing so, you leave clear mark to the search engines, which can lead to penalty due to conspicuous efforts for SERP manipulation.

4. Low anchor text variety

Having in mind that search engines are on a constant look for patterns when it comes to link building, you should be aware that using low variety of anchor texts will lead to penalty. If you want to build solid and unique link profile of your website, be sure that you or the person responsible for the link building use variable anchor texts. Repeating only few anchor texts will slowly but surely “win” you a penalty for your website.

5. Excessive link building

This great moment when you think – “Okay, so few hundred links from this automated submitter won’t do any harm”. But in reality, this is one of the most obvious signs that you are trying to manipulate the SERPs. Remember that quality doesn`t always come with quantity, try to focus on juicy links that may (and usually) require more of your time but the result is credible link.

6. Links coming from foreign language sites

When we talk about links – the relevancy matters! If your website receives a large amount of inbound foreign language links, this may cause penalty. Try to limit those links and leave only the ones that are beneficial for your website visitors.

7. Links coming from blog networks

Before a year or so, this was one of the most successful tactics (and still counts to certain level) when it comes to link building. However, as tempting it is to use blog networks, lately Google started to devaluate popular blog networks, not only that but their usage is likely to result penalty upon detection.

8. Links coming from bad neighborhood sites

It is one of the “golden rules” of SEO – do not engage with links that come from bad neighborhood sites! Search engines use the inbound links to determine the relevance of a website, so if you have links from websites with pornographic, gambling or any other forbidden content – remove them and avoid the same in future. (Of course the only exception in this case is if your website is orientated in those niches)

9. “Uncrawlable” content

What do we understand by “uncrawlable” content? It the cases when your website got too much pages that the search bots can’t craw (broken internal links) or just experiencing long downtime – in both cases your domain is likely to be marked as not serving well to its visitors. Search engines tend to devaluate the ranking positions of such websites as they are classified as poorly managed.

10. Over-optimization (On-Page)

The line between optimization and over-optimization is often a narrow one. In the celerity to achieve fast results, some SEOs apply tons of On-Page optimization methods just for a single page and thus turning it to something that is only SERP ranking orientated. This is when the over-optimization penalties come to take place. Don’t forget that the On-Page SEO optimization targets not only the SERPs but your site visitors as well. The right mix of both will lead to improved user experience and natural looking On-Page SEO.

11. Usage of “Unique” and “Quality” content

All SEOs should know this – using duplicate, scrapped and/or low quality content is quite risky and if you want rank well you will definitely have to use your own unique and quality content. Usually there is great possibility that your website could be marked as spam (due to the lack of original content on it). In cases where you use the content of someone else, make sure it is good and that you give credit to the original author. Having website with unique and qualitative content immediately eliminates the possibility of penalty in this case.

12. Meta tags keyword stuffing

 It is one of the oldest tricks on the SEO table. While it is good to include some of the targeted keyword in the meta tags – stuffing hundreds of them clearly indicates that you are using forbidden SEO technique and will probably result penalty.

13. The usage of cloaked pages

If you have any pages on your website that are not accessible to the search engines because of cloaking techniques, you can be almost certain that upon detection of those pages your website will be penalized.

14. The usage of doorway pages and hidden content

Both practices are well-known but worth mentioning as they are still and will be subject of penalty by search engines. The least we can say here – it’s unethical to use those kinds of manipulations but sadly there are SEOs still trying to benefit from this.

15. Obvious promotion and usage of forbidden (black hat) techniques

The last place is for the most obvious way to receive a penalty from the search engines – namely promotion and usage of Black Hat techniques on your website. I dare to say that every reputable SEO Specialist tried at least once some of the black hat techniques and it is normal thing as SEO nowadays is a highly competitive niche and specialists tend to use every exploit they find for the sake of being one step ahead of the competition. However, all black hat techniques still violate the guidelines of the search engines and every trace of their usage or promotion is a subject to penalty.

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