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Shajith Ali
Shajith Ali

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How to avoid Google penalties?

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A penalty on a search engine like Google can reduce or even eliminate traffic to a website. A penalty can be costly and difficult to recover.

With each new algorithm update, Google seems to tighten its standards a little more. It is therefore essential for the sustainability of your natural referencing strategy to avoid the various Google penalties (manual or algorithmic)

Google can penalize your website for one of two reasons: using manipulation methods to increase your site's ranking or providing a poor experience for people visiting your site.

There are two ways to find out if your website has been penalized by Google. The first is through Google Search Console and the second is to view your Google analytics traffic reports and compare your traffic with Google update dates.

When we talk about natural referencing on Google, three main levers are mentioned to positively advance the positioning of a website in the results of the Serp of the number 1 search engine: the technique, the content, the links coming from other sites.

The importance of backlink still remains very important in online SEO work. Getting links is a sign of relevance and notoriety for Google.

Netlinking remains one of the number 1 tips in terms of SEO to advance a site and get ahead of its competitors. However, in the event of abuse, Google can sanction your site and its referencing via manual or automatic penalties .

We will therefore focus on the discipline of stimulating the creation of links to your site and give you some advice.

  • What is netlinking?
  • How to implement a backlink building strategy?
  • What are the risks and how to avoid Google penalties?

What is Netlinking?

A little throwback to Google's past

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To understand the usefulness of Netlinking and its impact in a natural referencing strategy on Google, it is important to know the philosophy of the search engine and its history.

Before the arrival of Google, the major site indexes and search engines ranked sites and web pages solely according to their content, which made them quite easily spammable.

Google has introduced a new concept, no longer only analyzing the content of the page, but also taking into account the links that are made to this page. For Google a link is a positive sign, a vote of confidence from one site to another: your content is interesting and worthy of interest, by linking to you I invite my readers to visit your site, my link is theoretically a sign of quality.

These links according to a multitude of criteria transfer a more or less important "power" of link. In the world of SEO, this force is called: link juice, link juice.

The links that are created by other sites to another have several denominations: incoming links, backlinks...

Netlinking is therefore the discipline of natural referencing which consists in stimulating the creation of links to its site to improve its ranking in the results, also called: link building, external linking, creation of external links…

Why do inbound links?

Stimulating the creation of natural links or creating them artificially is a discipline of SEO also called linking.

Google measures the popularity of a site based on the number and quality of external links that a website receives. Without stimulating the creation of backlinks to your website, you are neglecting a fundamental pillar of natural referencing and limiting the SEO potential of the website.

If you work in a competitive field and the content and technical parts of your SEO are already well optimized, it will allow you to gain additional places to access the first results on Google.

What is a good link?

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A good link is above all a link that will have a positive impact on your online SEO. However, a good link in terms of SEO and performance is not necessarily a link that Google likes.

There are real good links, created spontaneously by other sites to yours, and fake links, created artificially. These aren't allowed because Google considers these types of links to be violations of the Webmaster's Quality Guidelines.

Let's be honest, many links are created artificially . The goal is then to give it a natural look that cannot be detected or questioned too obviously.

A quality link must meet many criteria, here are a few:

  • A quality link must come at best from a site dealing with the same theme .
  • A quality link can come from a general site, but in an article dealing with the same theme .
  • The authority and relevance of the page linking to you matters more than any other factor.
  • The quality of a link is also determined by the authority of the site on the whole domain.
  • The anchor text of the link can be optimized, but it should not be overused. Keyword-rich anchor text should not be overused. Creating many identical anchor text links is considered spam by Google. The importance of having varied anchors and an optimized link profile without abuse is key.
  • The best links come from a reference site in your field (blogging or other) .
  • The position of your link on a page matters : links hidden in footers and sidebars don't have the same strength as links found in the middle of a page's body content.
  • The text around your link also gives clues about the content of your page to Google.
  • The link must have a dofollow attribute . (nofollow links transmit little or no power).

The more your incoming links will be of quality and will meet these criteria , the more your link profile will be of quality and will keep you away from possible penalties.

It is important to set rules of conduct. It is better not to get a low quality link than to be tempted.

What works today may not work tomorrow. Google's algorithms can evolve and the rules change. For a long-term strategy, try to build a "natural", harmonious and varied linking strategy.

How to stimulate the creation of links via Netlinking?

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Make link exchanges

There was a time when all the sites in the same sector all linked together via side-links placed on all their blogger sites. This method is still used, but no longer gives results. Rather than risk a penalty, focus on higher quality links.

You can always exchange links with partners or friends, but avoid reciprocal links.

Purchase of links via specialized platforms

Many platforms have been created in recent years to connect advertisers with site editors, bloggers, press sites , in order to place links on their sites for payment.

A rather effective way to find sites in the same theme as his. Statistics make it possible to evaluate the quality of the sites. The more notoriety a site has, the higher the link price will be.

Buying backlinks is a method that works if the profile of inbound links and netlinking remains natural looking.

Get social media links

Links from social networks do not transmit linkjuice , however they send important signals and allow sharing on a larger scale which can create much more qualitative links.

Linkbaiting: getting links through the quality of your content

This is the only really natural method in the eyes of Google with social shares.

The best way to get quality links is to create content that will get recommendations from your readers.

By implementing a relevant and quality content strategy, by demonstrating your expertise and by bringing different angles of view, by dealing with subjects in depth. Your content will be shared, quoted and will obtain quality links in number, on sometimes extremely qualitative sites. Generating traffic and links by developing a blog with high targeted traffic is a very effective method.

Here are some ideas for content that encourages sharing:

  • In-depth articles on a topic.
  • An original and different look at a subject.
  • An infographic.
  • An internal study.

PBNs: personal blog network

A PBN (Private Blog Network or Private Blogging Network) is a network of sites that is created specifically to generate links to a main site that needs links.

PBN sites are built to have the same theme as the target site or parts of the site. Having your own site network to carry out the operations allows you to have control over the links.

You can add, delete, modify the anchors of the links at will, depending on the events and are not dependent on third parties as is the case when buying links via platforms.

Do press relations

By talking about your projects with blogs, information sites, radio stations, TV channels, you generate excitement around your services, products, brands . When journalists talk about you, links will be made to your site and this will potentially generate a large amount of natural and effective links, in important media, which will influence the overall ranking of your site.

How to check which links point to your site?

Verification and listing of incoming links is possible with the Google Search Console tool.

To obtain more precise results and know the quality of the backlinks, more complete SEO tools are offered by software publishers in SAAS mode: Majestic SEO, Ahrefs, semrush…
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https://en.semrush.com

Monitoring the evolution of your netlinking allows you to:

  • Follow the evolution of your linking policy.
  • Identify the content that is the most linker.
  • Check that links have not been deleted and are in dofollow (and not nofollow)
  • Identify harmful links or attempts at negative seo.
  • Have a global vision on the profile of your links.

How does Google penalize abusive sites and inbound links?

Abuses and the creation of fake links

Faced with the importance of external links in Google's ranking, the race for backlinks has become a major issue for SEOs. Multiplying inbound links is therefore the main objective of Seo White and Black Hat techniques , with positive results, but not respecting for some very largely the rules given by Google and manipulating its results.

Twenty years after its creation, the Google search engine has evolved considerably. The taking into account of the links is no longer done in such a basic way as in its beginnings and many algorithms and penalty systems have appeared to penalize sites that do not respect the rules defined by the engine or attempt to manipulate its results.

Google wants to offer the highest quality content to its visitors and not content that seems to be over-optimized.

What is a Google Penalty?
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There are a multitude of Google algorithms aimed at combating spam and poor quality content (example of the Google Panda penalty which penalizes poor quality content). In this article we will focus on the penalties related to links pointing to your site.

Link penalties are the result of a link profile not meeting Google's webmaster quality guidelines:

  • Massive and unnatural linking.
  • Poor quality links.
  • Irrelevant links.
  • repetitive links
  • Buying and selling artificial links.
  • Link exchanges.
  • Excessive links in article comments.
  • Denunciations from competitors.

Algorithmic penalties

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Algorithmic penalties are applied automatically by Google's Penguin algorithm , without any human intervention or review. The Google Penguin penalty algorithm works in real time and scans the link profiles of sites to detect unnatural links based on different criteria.

Algorithmic penalties are difficult to identify . because unlike a manual penalty, you will not receive an email alert about this. The only way to know is to keep track of your traffic. If you notice a sudden drop in your traffic, it may be due to an algorithmic penalty.

Manual penalties

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Example of manual penalty message in Webmaster Tools interface

Manual penalty actions are carried out directly by humans from the Google Quality Team (the Quality Raters). These types of penalties can be triggered by a number of things, including reporting spam by a competitor, being in a competitive niche that Google is actively monitoring. There is no intervention of automatic algorithms.

When a manual penalty hits your site, you'll receive an alert in your Webmasters Dashboard .

What are the consequences of a penalty for my website?

From the complete blacklisting of your site by Google, to the downgrading of certain pages or the entire site , the consequences can be dramatic. Companies went out of business following the passage of the Penguin algorithm in 2012.

Relying 100% on Google SEO is risky business, even if you don't use aggressive SEO methods. Google's algorithms change more than 600 times a year and the competition evolves . No results are guaranteed and it can change quickly overnight.

Be vigilant and diversify your traffic sources with SEA for example!

How to get out of a penalty?

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Google Analytics view of a penalty output

You will need to clean up your link profile.

If your site has been hit with a link penalty, it means that your link profile contains too many bad links and you need to remove or disavow them in order to get them back.

Contact the sites where the bad artificial links are present, disavow the others, replace the optimized anchors on the sites whose link is worth keeping.

Once this link cleaning is done:

  • If you received a manual penalty Google message, you can submit a reconsideration request to the search engine through Google Webmaster Tools.
  • If it is an algorithmic penalty, wait until it is updated to hope to see the rankings go up.

The negative SEO

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Malicious competitors may attempt to have your site penalized for passing you by. By generating a multitude of poor quality links to your site, they will try to get you penalized by Google, which will identify this generation of bad links as a spam attempt.

These negative SEO methods are used on competitive queries. You must therefore monitor the links that are made to your site with appropriate tools in order to identify this type of attack.

In the world of SEO as elsewhere, denunciation and low blow are legion. The chivalrous spirit is not always required, remain vigilant.

Build your link profile with best practices and your vulnerability to receiving a penalty will decrease. Set a rule of thumb and stick to it. Do not fall into the temptation of the quantitative in the face of the qualitative.

Whether you like it or not, you can acquire bad links that will put you at risk of a penalty . Monitor your link profile with a tool like Majestic or ahrefs which currently seems to have the largest database of backlinks.

If you want professional help and advice to develop your visibility work on Google, contact us.

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