Like all search engines, Google wants their search results to reflect the wants and needs of their users. They want their algorithm to organically reward the best websites with a place on top of the search ranking. When we say organically, it means websites with relevant and engaging content which are linked by other authoritative websites.
To achieve this objective, Google have provided a comprehensive webmaster guideline which itemised all the dos and don’ts very clearly.
However, some businesses, webmasters and SEO practitioners circumvent the guidelines in an attempt to manipulate the search results to improve their rankings. Once Google catches them in the action, a penalty will swiftly follow.
Banning is reserved for the most egregious offenders. Image courtesy of Pixabay
Types of Google penalties
• Temporary Rank Change
This penalty is meant to ‘scare’ websites that have committed, thus far, minor offences. The infractionsmay include sudden growth of low-quality backlinks, or new batches of articles which are duplicates or stuffed with keywords. Temporary penalties are typically handed out manually, and as such, they usually include notifications with suggestions on how to resolve the issue. Webmasters who promptly act on the recommendations are normally released from the dog house very quickly.
• Rank Demotion
The bulk of Google penalties are rank demotions. Search rankings can swiftly drop from the near the top to pages five or six. Rank demotion penalties are handed out automatically by the algorithm, which can detect large-scale changes and relationships between different websites and account holders. While mistakes can happen, automatic rank demotions are usually a sign of systematic problems.
This is a statistically rare punishment. A ban means Google no longer trusts the website and/or the webmaster. It can also mean the site actively encourages illegal activities, promote bigotry and violence, or harass members of the public.
As such, Google may, at its own discretion, may blacklist the website (which might even impact future owners of the website) and deactivate the webmaster’s Google account. The most popular recent example of this was the removal of celebrity photo leaks from search results.