What is a Google Penalty and How Long Does it Last?

A Google Penalty is when your website has been penalised by Google for inorganic or unnatural activity such as over optimisation of keywords, spammy back linking activity, thin website content or dodgy SEO practices.

Basically, you website can be ranking one day right up there on page 1 and the next day it’s completely gone. We see it happen all the time and it’s complete hell for all business owners that rely on Google for generating their new business leads. and the worst part is that it’s not their fault. The blame lays with the search engine optimisation or SEO company that got them into this predicament. The poor business owners won’t know what hit them, perhaps even after a few weeks, when they notice a massive drop in business. There is however some hope when it comes to getting out of a Google penalty and most penalties can be reversed if action is taken.

Google Penalties or Manual actions can last for many months

If you Google your business name and it’s suddenly not there then your website has been penalised. Simple as that and all I can say is that I feel your pain. Especially if you had nothing to do with it. So, what do I mean by this? Well, in many cases where a Google penalty has been imposed, this is generally due ( as stated above ), by the work or SEO techniques that you entrusted your SEO agency with. Most people we come across who are under a Google penalty, are basically clueless when it comes to SEO and have put all their trust, faith and hope that their SEO team will do the right thing.

Let me take a step backwards here. Before businesses actually give their work to the SEO company, they do the ring around and unfortunately go with he company that offers the best deal in terms of pricing and ranking guarantees. This is the BIGGEST mistake you can make when it comes to your SEO and is the catalyst for the Google penalty. They sign up thinking they have done the right thing, but because the SEO company is on such thin budgets and margins they basically end up doing nothing. PLUS they generally don’t know what they are doing and have no idea about how Google works. Hence, you suffer a penalty Essentially, and I hate to say this but it’s your FAULT for thinking you could pay next to nothing and rank on Google. Im sorry that I say this but the buck stops with you; the decision maker and boy o boy did you stuff up here!

Google Penalties can take a long time to get out of or have them reversed so it’s really important that you know what is going on and how you are going to get out of this. I am going to give you as much information as I can here but if you are still confused and want to speak to someone I am more than happy to chat with you anytime.

What is a Manual Action? – It is a Human Imposed Penalty

Login to your web master tools account in Google. If you do not know what it is, just Google’ web master tools’ and use your Google gmail logins and that will get you into this. From hit the message button and see if there are any messages from Google. If there is a message saying that ‘ that Google has detected unnatural link building’ or something to that effect then you are the lucky ones. Although, you are unlucky in respect that your website has tanked, the lucky component is that Google has contacted you and you are now ready to address these issues in a positive way. Get cracking on this slowly and make sure that you do NOT do this yourself. If you want to reverse the manual action you need professional advice and help. having a DIY approach to this for the inexperienced, simply wont work and you may make matters worse. Remember, you have woken the Google gods ( the spam team) and they are watching you. The best thing moving forward, is not to piss them off even further. Do it properly or don’t do it at all. You will have to ditch your web URL and start all over again.

Believe it or not a manual action has been imposed by a human. yes! An actual person has physically gone to your website from Google and they have deemed that your site does violate their guidelines when it comes to search. They can tell immediately that your website has have SEO work done to it; either ‘ on page’ or ‘off page’ and it does not comply with their ranking guidelines. So they are going to take your website and put it aside and not show it in the search results until you fix each and every issue. An I mean FIX THEM THOROUGHLY.

If you think that a couple of fixes here and there are going to cut it – then think again – you are going to be in this for the long haul ( and this can take up to a year in some extreme cases) before you are released. So buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life that you will never want to go through again! On the other hand if your penalty is the result of a few back links then getting rid of these quickly will get you out of the penalty box.

There are now 2 ways that your website can be Penalised for Unnatural Links the recent Penguin algorithm update plus Manual Actions

Let’s start with the Penguin update as I feel this is the trickiest one and possibly the hardest one to deal with. Basically, the Penguin algorithm update detects unnatural or over zealous link building. This used to be real common in the past where people thought that the best way to rank was to build more and more links. Doesn’t matter where they came from or how many you got, the name of the game was link building to the MAX. Try this now, even to a small extent and the Penguin update will trigger an alert within Google and you are going to see the damage this will do. You are going to get slammed in the rankings BUT the worst part of this is that Google will not tell you about it in your WMT account. You wont know what’s happening or what’s going on. But all you can do is tell from your rankings that have plummeted that you have been hit by Penguin. Again, this is probably the fault of your SEO company but you are to blame cause you decided to go with the dodgy cheap and cheerful option  – Im constantly amazed when I warn people about this and they still don’t believe me. They much prefer to save a few hundred dollars on their SEO and all I say when they ring me up a year later in real trouble; ‘ hate to say I told you so…’

Anyway going back to Penguin the way out of this is to try to delete each and every bad back link then let Google know about your best intentions through their disavow tool. The worst part is that yo have to wait until Google’s next algorithmic update before you can tell if you have been successful. What a hassle and a complete nightmare. I absolutely hate this as it’s purely a waiting game. Meanwhile your business is in dire need of sales and you are not getting them cause your site has tanked. Google has made this process completely automated so there is no way to deal with this via Googles’ request for reconsideration. Hence all you have is 1 disavow tool. Again a real nightmare and unfortunately, you only have yourself to blame as you did choose the wrong SEO company!

The best of the worst is a manual action rather than a Penguin penalty for your unnatural links. At least you can go about removing and pruning as many toxic links as you can and keep on filing requests to be allowed reinclusion. Essentially, you have more control over the situation as you can contact the Google spam team – cause you received the message in your WMT.

Issues with removing toxic back links

Penalties for spammy links are extremely common. In fact, more common than you would have thought. The process to remove the penalty is quite simple; get the links removed and let Google know about this. However, like with anything there is a catch. That is; it can be incredibly difficult to get rid of these links especially if they were done on your behalf by and SEO firm. It’s a horrific process and speaking from experience, having successfully helped businesses in the past get out of a penalty, this takes and enormous amount of time and effort. Image trying to undo 2 or even 3 years of linking work. There could be thousands of these all over the internet, all owned by different people who can be extremely difficult to reach.

Related articleHow to Protect Your Site From Google Penalties

What is the Panda Penalty?

This was a great move by Google in it’s attempt to clean up websites that were basically thin on content. You know those sites that had a couple of paragraphs on each page and really didn’t light up the sky with anything important. Some sites were even built with content that kept on repeating main core keywords in the hope to accelerate rankings. Im sure you have seen these websites with really nasty content that basically told you nothing about what they did or what they offered. Anyway, the Panda update got rid of these websites and replaced them with well worded sites that communicated genuine, legitimate content.

Panda also went about by penalising those sites for plagiarism. Any form of copying was dealt with harshly by the Panda beast. Think you can copy content from a competitor and get away with it…think again.
So there you have the penalties: Penguin, Panda and a manual action. In any case the way to deal with all of these is to become search compliant. You cannot tip toe around this! You must be 100% compliant in the eyes of Google or you are going to get hit by a penalty. There are so many areas regarding compliance that it’s best left to the professionals. This is why I really stress to potential clients that call me up of the dangers lurking out there for any ‘monkey business’ or any non compliant activity. It only takes one foolish move and you are going to get busted.

Related articleIs quality content good for SEO rankings?

Finding The Cause of Your Penalty

It will be impossible to recover from your penalty if you do not know what the root cause is. I can bet almost anything that the cause is from way too much link building by SEO agencies that are absolutely clueless when it comes to link activity. All they have done is build links randomly without and strategy or game plan – hence the penalty. Go back to them and see if they can help you determine the issues that are hindering your SEO campaign. My guess is they will be very unhelpful cause these SEO companies are strictly out for themselves and no one else and this is why you are in this predicament. Move on and this time pay the right and fair price for SEO and let them help you get out of the penalty.

Unfortunately, for many people who are reading this blog, the horse has bolted so to speak. They are here cause they probably Googled ‘ google penalty’ or something similar as they have already been penalised or have noticed that there is an issue with their rankings. This blog is intended to help these businesses BUT it probably won’t help those people that are about to embark on an SEO campaign. These people will probably make the same mistakes that are very common when choosing a SEO supplier. That is, all based on cost and crappy guarantees. These business owners WILL unfortunately have to go through the process of copping a penalty before they find out about this blog. I want to add here that a hell of a lot of people don’t  even realise that there is such a thing as a Google penalty. Realistically, why should they? It’s not their business to know about these things and this is where so many issues begin. Being naive and uninformed is a real issue and I personally do not see it improving. Cheap SEO options that promise immediate rankings are just far too tempting to refuse. Oh, well it’s a matter of live and learn for most people.

Negative SEO can Affect your Online Rankings

People get jealous of your success online. Simple as that. Google has no way of determining the reason why you are getting links. All they are concerned about is the nature of these links. Cue, negative SEO. Malicious intent by competition to destroy your rankings through harmful back linking is now common practice and a factor that could trigger Google to impose manual actions or penalties. Anyone who knows a little bit about SEO can start a campaign of destruction against a competitor. I have witnessed companies rankings severely hampered due to this kind of attacks. This leaves you vulnerable and open to all sorts of aggression from rivals. The best prevention is being alert and on the look out for this type of increase or spikes in link activity.  Keep an eye on your analytics as this will have all the data you need to gauge what’s happening. Be vigilant and always checking your web master tools account or analytics for unknown, foreign, or unaccountable links. Make a list of these and then use your disavow tool  ( through Google) to let them know that these URL’s are not to be considered as part of your profile.

WARNING: you have to do this before Google imposes their penalty on your site for these links. Quick action will result in you keeping your rankings. It’s a pain I know, but you have to be always on the look out for ruthless people trying to harm your business. It’s plain bad luck if this happens to you if you are trying to do the right thing in regards to SEO. But this is the internet landscape and Im afraid in some cases it’s not very pretty.

Be Up to Speed of all Changes

Let’s be honest here, all businesses rely on Google to a certain extent, some more than others. This is why businesses need to remain current and up to speed with the latest changes implemented by Google. If, as a business owner you are too busy or simply are uninterested in this sort of thing THEN YOU MUST BE WORKING WITH AN SEO AGENCY that can do this on your behalf.

They will know whats going on and can make minor tweak or adjustments to your website and your linking profile to ensure that you do not lag behind. You don’t want to be put at a disadvantage by not remaining current. Remember, your competitors might be doing what’s right online and this over time will harm your position. What might be working today might not be enough to achieve superior rankings in the future. And, it is always a lot hard to play catch up with your competition. A point to note here; Google is always wanting to deliver the best search results for their customers, so your website better be the best it can be in terms of user engagement, content, graphics, conversion rate optimisation. Once all these factors are working in harmony, your website will rank highly – and this needs a professional SEO company that has web experience.

I know this is hard to find but all I can say is give us a call here at SEO Sydney Experts on 02 9360 8514 and we will be able to help you not only get out of any penalties and restore your rankings.

6 Tips for Getting Your Google Manual Penalty Overturned

Having a Google penalty is essentially the death of your website unless you take steps to get this penalty over turned. If you don’t attempt or try this then you might as well delete your website as staying in the penalty will mean that your site will never even rank. Getting the penalty overturned is the best thing you can do for your website BUT make no mistake, getting out of this penalty is no easy feat. Google want to teach you a lesson to make sure you never violate their guidelines again and once penalised I can make a bet you are never ever going to want to be put in that situation again. It’s an absolute nightmare and is going to put a hell of a lot of stress on you and your business.

googlepenaltyoverturnLink penalty or Google penalty recovery does take time, effort and a lot of patience, and a commitment to be seriously devoted to getting out of this penalty. Why? Because you are going to have to invest heavily in your time to get out of this penalty by doing many tasks and following is a list that will help you address this penalty and eventually get it over turned. Remember there are absolutely NO SHORT CUTS to redemption – it is unfortunately the long haul.

A few companies over the last couple of months have approached us to help them get out of this penalty and all I can say is that there is GOOD NEWS – we have been successful and we have been able to get the penalty revoked. I’m not saying it was easy BUT I am saying it is very possible and it can be done.

If you follow these golden tips, you’ll have a much better chance of recovering from this Google penalty.

1. Remove All Links and I mean ALL LINKS!

Why did I make this number 1? Cause it’s the most important and most time consuming task. If you are under a manual penalty for over optimisation of links or unnatural link building, then Google is going to want to see that you have made an attempt to delete all of these links. If you have been using a SEO company that has got you into this situation then you need to make sure they are able to delete all the links they have created – this is going to be a big ask. If they are based in Australia this will make the task a lot easier than if your SEO was carried out by an off shore firm. I really want to emphasis the point here that ALL LINKS must be removed. I’m serious when I say this – you cannot leave 1 link up there. You can go into your web master tools to check the amount of in bound links you have to monitor the progress of this job – but if there is even 1 unnatural link remaining Google may not release you from this penalty. If you can’t delete the link see if a ‘no follow’ attribute can be placed on the link. In any case this is a big uphill slog so be prepared – DO NOT under any circumstances contact Google until you are confident that you have done as much as you can to address these inorganic links.


2. Be Overly Attentive in this Delinking Process.

The bigger the effort you make in trimming and culling these links, the more chances you will have in getting your website off the hook. This may take months in some extreme cases – in fact I have recovered websites under a manual action that have had well over 100 000 links – it took a few months but it was done. The effort you put in will be rewarded – this I promise. Make sure you keep a detailed list of all the links you have culled so you can file this later when you finally get in touch with Google.

WARNING!! – there are scam companies out there promising that they can get you out of a penalty in 2-3 days – this is a scam and you need to stay well clear of these people – they will only get you into more trouble!!


3. Some Links are Actually Good.

When I say be thorough about the trimming of links I need to put a clause here saying that some links you might have attained over the years are in fact good and should no be touched. These are the natural links you have probably acquired over time and are OK in the eyes of Google. These could be from credible associations or partners or suppliers that you may be in touch with. In any case these should remain as part of your back linking profile. These natural links have some authority and will help you recover your rankings once the penalty has been lifted. I have seen companies request links be removed from really awesome high page rank websites which is a big mistake. So be careful ( and I know this may be hard) when killing off all those links.

4. Don’t Be Aggressive with your SEO Company

Yes these guys got you into this situation and yes you are really angry and looking for a fight, but you have to be level headed at this stage. There is no point flying of the handle and burning all bridges. You are going to need them to help you get out of the penalty. They are going to have to help you get these links removed. And the bad news is they are probably going to charge you for this! Don’t loose your cool – stay on top of your emotions as you will need a lot of perseverance, composure and fortitude before this battle is won. Remember, be nice especially if you have to speak to website owners in the hope that they will remove links. These guys are probably bombarded with requests all the time so a nice polite email will go a long way. If when speaking to webmasters about getting links removed you get the cold shoulder and an abusive reply, don’t worry – all you need to do is make a note of the URL, and you can submit it with your request for reconsideration later on – all is not lost!

But, if you have lost all confidence in them (and I probably don’t blame you), then get in touch with us here at SEO SYDNEY EXPERTS and we will help you get out of this manual penalty – in a very Google compliant manner. Call 02 9360 8514

5. Only Contact Google When Ready

There is no point contacting Google daily or even weekly until you are 100% sure that you have done everything in your power to eliminate these harmful links. Once satisfied that these links are completely gone; and you may want to use other software tools just to be on the safe side. Then and only then can you submit a request for reinclusion – this is done through your web master tools account and has to be handled and written in a very professional manner. A clear detailed list of links you have had success in removing along with links that you were unable to remove should be sent through to then in a spread sheet.

6. Front Up, Be Honest and make a Firm Promise that you understand the Penalty and are Sorry

The Google web spam team who are responsible for initiating this penalty and who have the power to release you want to see 3 points addressed – they have made mention of this so IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THIS.

  1. Be honest and explain how you got the Google penalty – if you have to point a finger at someone do so. Remember if it is an external SEO party then Google should know about their behaviour and dodgy performance.
  2. Explain in detail how to have attempted to fix al the issues – be really detailed here and tell Google the effort you have gone to in order to delete these links.
  3. You may like to add a paragraph where you explain to Google how sorry you are and that you are aware of why you received this penalty and assure them that this will never ever happen again. Be very contrite and to the point – we can only assume that this will get read by another person and if you have shown contrition, shown that you are remorseful and shown that you have culled all the links, then there is no reason why you should not have your penalty overturned.

On occasions, penalties do get overturned and Google will let you know that there is still work to be done. Whilst they will not detail this, they will let you know that there are still far too many inorganic links and that these need to be attended too. This is where the hard work really begins and the late nights spent speaking to webmasters, perhaps in different time zones, that hold the key to deleting these links. Don’t be surprised if they ask you for a few dollars in advance to get rid of them – in my opinion its worth every cent. What ever you do, if you have to pay say $10 or even $20 to kill the link, then do it! Being frugal at this stage is simply a waste of time as this ‘spammy’ link MUST be deleted.

If you have just found out that you are facing a manual link penalty or you are a little bit suspicious that there is a penalty lurking in the background or you have looked at your link profile and are worried that is appears unnatural and all this is having an affect on your then speak with a team of professionals who have seen all this before and know exactly what to do to get you out of this very tricky situation.

SEO for Lawyers Sydney Melbourne Brisbane: Why You Need a Professional SEO Team

professionalseoteamIf you are a lawyer or have a law practice in any capital city in Australia; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth you are going to need the help of a professional SEO agency if you are going to get any new business or attract any new clients. Why? Cause like most  people searching for a product of service, if your law firm or legal practice is not on page 1 of Google for an area of law they are looking for then the chances of you attracting that client will be very slim.

SEO can and will help you get those new clients that will help grow your business and the BEST MARKETING move you can make for your business is to find the right SEO agency. So, if you want to drive enormous amount of traffic to your website and get heaps of those juicy new clients then you better start a search engine optimisation campaign going ASAP – call us now here at SEO SYDNEY EXPERTS on 1800 916 191 and start getting new clients today.

SO What Should Law Firms Focus on in regards to their SEO?

1) Essentially they should start by focusing on their local area. For example if you have a law practice in Sydney, then you should be looking to rank for a local search keyword like; ‘law firms Sydney’ or ‘ legal practices Sydney’. Because marketing in the legal environment is so competitive it is going to be a huge challenge and almost impossible to rank for the main keywords like ‘law firm’ so it’s a lot easier and a lot quicker to commence a SEO campaign and look to rank within your local area. Id Sydney is too large and you want to be even more focused, then why not look at suburban locations like, ranking for lawyers Parramatta, Lawyers Newcastle or even Lawyers Toorak.

If you go for these suburban locations, especially if you have a new website the chances of getting higher rankings sooner are much better. One has to be very realistic when it comes to SEO, even for businesses in the legal profession as Google does not discriminate or favour any particular industry. The rule of thumb is that no matter what niche you are in, you have to be extremely realistic about time frames when it comes to ranking your website.  When it comes to SEO and a strategy, you have to thing very long term. Start off thinking locally, then once you have established some authority within your URL, you can then start expanding. Again, this is for the long haul so be prepared to stick it out.

2) A great SEO strategy for lawyers is to look at their areas of practice and devote one website page for each of them. The content of this page should be no less than 750-1000 words and be very focused on all the positive reasons why your law firm is the best in this area. Google absolutely loves fresh, new content that is targeted to a specific area. If you follow this rule then this page will rank very high. Let me give you an example. If your law firm specialises in divorce law, then you should have a page with your site totally dedicated to this. Alternatively, if your niche is in commercial law or contract law then you need a specific page completely focusing on these areas. Once these have all been written up it will make the job of the SEO company so much easier.

3) One really important area that a lot of lawyers ignore is the way their actual website looks. Is it converting browsers into actual customers or are people coming to your site and leaving it without making an inquiry. There is not point going to the trouble of ranking your website if it is not geared up for conversion. make sure you take a good look at your website, see when it was last updated and take positive steps in making it more user friendly and perhaps more sales focused. Give clients a good reason to call you and make sure that once they find your website they are be reluctant to leave it. There are so many ugly, out dated, template style lawyers websites out there that all you need to do is put a bit of effort into the design phase and you will see a massive improvement in inquiries.

So What Are The Next Steps in Finding the right SEO company to handle your Law Firms Internet Marketing and SEO Campaign?

This is so much harder than it looks as finding the right SEO agency is like finding a needle in a haystack. I’m not exaggerating here when I say this, cause there are so many dodgy SEO operators out there pretending to be something they are not. They come across as legitimate, caring operators and have fine tuned their sales pitch to such an extent that even the most seasoned lawyers fall victim to these scams.

So I though I would list 4 ways to find the best SEO companies that if followed will ensure your survival online.

1) Never and I will repeat this, NEVER EVER sign any types of SEO contracts. The aim of the game is to get your to commit your law firm to a 6 or even 12 month contract where you have to pay each and every month, no matter the kind of ranking results they are delivering. They sigh you up, lock you into a very binding contract and do the bare minimum. This is a MASSIVE problem and I can’t begin to tell you the amount of lawyers I speak to who are really angry with themselves for signing up to these scammy contracts. Generally, the are half way through the term and they have seen; no results, no customer service and are basically angry that they have to wait out their contract before they can go else where. SEO contracts are for suckers and I really hope that reading this will help you not make this very grave mistake.

2) Watch out for SEO agencies that promise miracles on very tight budgets. I know that businesses, (even law firms) want the best value that their money can buy, BUT when it comes to SEO, unfortunately this is one area where you have to be prepared to pay. Why? Cause ranking websites in competitive areas, especially in the legal field is going to take a lot of work. Cutting corners, doing things on slim monthly budgets are a recipe for disaster and I am sorry to say this, that most SEO agencies operate in this fashion. Again why? because they are so desperate for your business that they are going to quote you absolutely ridiculous cheap SEO prices and promise unrealistic quick short term rankings. So many and I mean So MANY people fall for these lies and fraudulent claims that all I can say is that if you are reading this, I hope that you take note of the gravity of believing these scams. GOOGLE will pick up on dodgy SEO ‘black hat’ techniques and they is no way you will ver be able to rank your website. This is a certainty!

3) Don’t ever fall for the ‘no rank no pay’ or ‘money back guarantees’ Again, these are scams and I urge all lawyers reading this to be very aware of these types of marketing ploys used to get your business. I don’t want to go to far into the reasoning behind this, except to say that you will never get your money back and they will never be able to rank you. These guys use these candy coated, pie in the sky lies to lull you into thinking that you have nothing to loose, but the reality is far worse. The tactics they will use will be incredibly non Google compliant and you will suffer a online penalty. DON”T BELIEVE ME…..THEN TRY THEM OUT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS….I will still be here to help resurrect your website once they have finished with you. All you need to do is Google ‘SEO Sydney’ and you will see the way these guys are advertising for this…..it’s a real scam so be on the look out for this!

4) Make sure that your prospective SEO firm knows what they are talking about. Go in have a chat with them, go and visit their office and see them at work. Avoid doing everything over the phone or email and make sure that they are locally based. If you get the feeling that they are just out for the sales and are hiding the real facts about SEO and not telling you about realistic timings then give them a miss. Go with a firm that is being totally honest and transparent about what it will take to rank your website. If they seem to be overly ‘salesy’ over the phone and wanting your to sign up to a contract then be really cautious…

IF YOU ARE STILL IN DOUBT AND UNSURE ABOUT WHERE TO GO OR WHAT TO DO to kick start your SEO campaign then please give us a call here at SEO SYDNEY EXPERTS…ask for me, Steven and I will explain the ins and outs regarding SEO and be completely open, honest and ‘non geek’ speak when I tell you the best and most Google compliant ways that we can rank your website. CALL 02 9360 8514. It’s totally free and if you are a lawyer you will appreciate my no nonsense approach to business and internet marketing.