Algorithm Penalty vs Manual Penalty: What They Mean for Your SEO

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Given the rapid pace of change in SEO, it’s hardly surprising when sites that were once perfectly optimized for the SEO landscape of the time eventually find themselves lagging behind their rivals in the search stakes.
Sometimes, however, the drop in a site’s ranking may be more dramatic than can be easily accounted for by simple attrition, or corrected by minor tweaks. A sudden and noticeable fall in the rankings may mean that your site has been hit by a more serious search penalty.
Search penalties fall into two main categories: algorithm penalties and manual penalties. The type of penalty will have a significant bearing on the appropriate response.

Algorithm Penalty

An algorithm penalty (sometimes called an algo penalty for short) is the term given to the effect on some sites of changes to search engine algorithms — the instruction sets, if you will, that search engines use when they determine the ranking of your site.
If your site is optimized for a particular set of instructions, and then Google switches to a different set, your site may “look” less impressive to the new algorithm. Elements of SEO that were best practice in the past may come to be actually harmful, conflicting with the new standards that the algorithm uses to determine quality.
Algorithm penalties occur automatically; they are not directed against a particular site and there is no direct human activity involved. You will not be notified by the search engine company that your site has suffered an algorithm penalty. The only real response to an algorithm penalty is to overhaul the SEO for the site, bringing it in line with current search engine technology.

Manual Penalty

By contrast, a manual search penalty is one enacted against your site specifically, typically because some aspect of your SEO is greatly at odds with the standards of the search engine downgrading you.
In most cases, an algorithm will automatically flag your site as potentially including webspam or other low-quality content; however, the actual penalty will not be enacted until your site has been investigation by the relevant department (in practice, this will almost certainly mean someone from Google’s dedicated webspam team). The penalty itself will require a specific action on the part of someone from the search company — hence the term “manual.”
Another difference between an algorithm penalty and a manual penalty is that the owner of the affected site will be informed of the manual penalty.
In the current search engine landscape, this will almost certainly be a message from Google (often received via Google Webmaster Tools) explaining that some of a site’s pages are in conflict with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Common reasons for a manual penalty include the use of paid link posting, participation in link-building or link-farming schemes, and other links deemed artificial or unnatural.
Many webmasters are surprised to receive notification of a manual penalty for artificial linking practices, and this has given rise to perennial rumors that manual penalties are enacted and notices sent out without good reason.
In fact, there are any number of scenarios in which a site could be the recipient of artificial inbound links without the site owner being aware that these existed.
Artificial links could have been bought or created by a previous owner of the site or even just the domain name. Some sites have fallen foul of unscrupulous or incompetent SEO “experts,” hired in good faith by the site owner, who used artificial links to create a temporary boost in traffic.
Artificial links may also have been created by a competitor; this kind of “reverse SEO” is not uncommon, as it offers a quick and easy way to damage a rival’s search ranking. This is called a “negative SEO attack”, and they are very hard to stop.
These are just a few examples.

Recovering From A Manual Penalty

Unfortunately, recovering from a manual penalty can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. It is imperative that as many suspect backlinks are discovered and removed as possible.
If the links can’t be removed, webmasters and site owners have the option of removing the linked page and hosting it at another address, directing the previous address to a 404 page.
Links that can’t be removed can also rendered harmless, from an SEO perspective, using Google’s “disavow link” tool. This allows users to tell Google’s software that an incoming link should be ignored for the purposes of evaluating your site.
Once all the offending backlinks and any other issues have been dealt with, the final step is to approach Google and as to have the site re-evaluated. In most cases, this should be sufficient to remove the manual search penalty.
Now that we’ve talked about the penalties that can occur, let’s talk about what causes them. These are practices to avoid at all cost, and keep you in Google’s favor

6 Wrong Moves That Can Get Your Website Kicked from Google

Everyone in Internet Marketing world is well aware of Google Algorithm updates and what problem it has caused last year and early this year. People are scared of getting their online business boomed!
What can cause this disaster? Here are six of the most common issues that your site may be suffering from, as well as a few ways to protect your website from Google penalty and play safe within the search engine.

Human Error

Firstly, one of the most common causes for removal is entirely innocent, although very embarrassing to a web professional. Human error can lead to the Google spider being denied access to your site through the robots.txt file, or ‘noindex’ tags on individual pages. This will remove your pages from the Google index, and while it’s not technically a ban or penalty, the outcome is the same.
Luckily, this problem is easily remedied. Once the error is spotted and fixed, Google will almost always resume indexing your site without holding any lasting rankings grudge.

Solution: Sign up For Google Webmaster Tools Account

I have witnessed so many website owners I had consulted never bother to know what Google Webmaster Tools is and how it can help them in monitoring their website! In 2020, this is very important…
The Google Webmaster tool always helps you in identifying problematic links and remove the low quality and negative links that might harm your website.  In some cases, Google-bot might have difficulties in crawling your website.
Basically, Google Webmaster Tool will help you in minimizing small errors that might lead to your decrease in rankings within the search Engine!

Aggressive Link Building

All online marketers know you need links to rank a site, and these rarely arrive purely naturally. But if you push your link building activities too hard and too far, the tactic can backfire spectacularly.
If your links are easily identified as unnatural, you’ll wind up in trouble sooner or later. Paid links are especially toxic, but hidden links, link schemes, excessive blog comments and so on are also highly dangerous.
Seek out any dubious links that you have control over and remove them, and disavow the rest using the tool Google provides.

Solution: STAY AWAY From Spammy Links

No matter how many times I warned my clients from using services from Fiverr for link building still they would never listen and still get their ass busted and come back to me and asking for a solution.
Come on guys, think for yourself practically, is it possible to create even a 100 quality link within Fiverr… If it’s possible I don’t mind shutting down all my websites and SEO services and let the Fiverr Gigs do the job.
Fiverr gigs promises hundreds and thousands of wiki links, blog comment and etc but they are software generated and that is what we call “negative” link building which will destroy your website.
If you people out there, still don’t want to listen go on buy Fiverr Gigs for $5 and get your website penalized!

High Quality Links

You need to understand the fundamentals of link building. It is not about how many links you’re building but the quality of the links you’re building. Sometimes, one high value link is worth thousands of low quality spammy links.
I always used to analyze websites and blogs which are ranking high for their desired keywords. Most of the websites and blogs have reputable links from authority sites of their related niche which helps them to stay on top.
I understand most of the newbies out there are misguided and spending their money on Fiverr services and other individual services that spams thousands of wiki links, forum links, blog commenting and other so called “gray-hat SEO” methods.

Anchor Density

Google Penguin update focuses more on anchor density of your keywords used within your blog or website. You need to be aware of this matter and the safest way is to keep your anchor density around 12% to 15% for every new link being built. However, I’ve witnessed websites having an anchor density of their main keyword up to 50% without any damage to their website.
There are high possibilities, after the Google Algorithm change that is going to be released soon, the site might get badly hurt! So if you notice your anchor density is getting higher quickly change them and reduce the percentage through Semantically Related Keywords.

Why Are Link Ratios Important?

I always never bothered about link ratios until one of my close friend, suggested to keep an eye on the Link ratios as it will definitely make changes on SERP’s as the Google Algorithm is being updated frequently.
What aspects you need to see when it comes to Link ratio:

  • Link type : Text vs Mentions vs Images
  • Link Location: Paragraph vs Link List vs In Content vs Sidebar vs Header
  • Domain Niche/Theme :  Business vs Technology vs Reference vs News vs Portals
  • Site Type: General vs Blog vs CMS vs Social Network vs Link Directory

For an example if Social Network has more links built compared to Link directory and other web 2.0 properties, you should balance it with the other options available by creating alternate links!

Spammy Or Duplicate Content

Content that’s ‘scraped’ from other sites or otherwise auto-generated by computer risks a permanent ban for your site. The days of fooling search engines with high volumes of low-quality, easy content are over. If your content isn’t aimed squarely at your human visitors, get rid of it.
On a similar theme, duplicate content is where the same page or parts of a page can be found many times on the web. This duplication is a waste of Google’s spidering resources and offers nothing to their users. If your site contains lots of duplicate content, don’t be surprised if your rankings are trashed.
However, there’s a side issue to this. Duplicate content can also be the innocent result of a badly configured server. So even if you’re sure your content is entirely original and unique, don’t rule this issue out without checking.

Cloaking or IP Delivery

Cloaking is the deceptive practice of showing one page to a human visitor and a different, highly optimized page to the search engine spider. There are valid uses for serving dynamic content using IP delivery, such as tailoring content to geographical location. But if you’re doing it purely to game higher search rankings, you’re playing with fire.

Poor Quality Hosting

Lastly, playing the cheapskate over hosting costs risks harming your site irreparably. Cheap hosting is often slow and unreliable, which sends all sorts of poor quality signals to Google.
Even worse, cheap hosting often attracts websites for products or services from the less reputable corners of the web. If your site shares a server with these undesirable elements, you can suffer from guilt by association.
Unless you’re running a huge site with millions of daily visitors, there’s probably no pressing need to invest in your own server. But there’s also no need to cut costs on hosting when excellent packages can be found at very low prices.

Wrapping Up

Aggressive online marketers know when they’ve been pushing the envelope, and most accept the risks of playing hardball. But Google’s algorithm constantly shifts and evolves, and innocent businesses can get caught in the crossfire. There’s also the low but real risk you could be a victim of negative SEO tactics by an unethical competitor.
If your rankings are suffering and you’ve ruled out any of these causes, it may be time to arrange an audit from an SEO professional experienced in resolving penalties and bans.

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