White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
Google has a specific list of guidelines they want every webmaster to follow, this list is called “Google Search Essentials“
When you hear the term “white hat seo” that means the SEO strategy follows the rules Google has in place, if you try and game the system for better placements that is called “black hat SEO”.
White hat SEO is the only way to ensure you’re not jeopardizing your website’s organic traffic and rankings.
Google Algorithm Continues To Evolve
The quality of your content is more important than ever. It is no secret that Google has gone through many changes in the last several years, most notably they launched Panda and Penguin algorithm changes that started in 2011. Panda was first released by Google in February 2011 to help filter the search results of spammy content tactics such as keyword stuffing. The end result was Google significantly dropped the rankings of what they determined “low-quality sites” or sites with “thin content” and replaced them with websites that were full of higher quality content and websites that did not do a large amount of advertising.
How To Check If Your Site Is Low Quality
A good way to check your current SEO is too make sure the quality of your content is up to snuff. A great way too check your quality of content is through copyscape. This tool will review your website to make sure that the content is not duplicated from another website, if you currently have duplicate content you are asking to get your website penalized by the search engines.
Link Building Sophistication
Google also launched a second major algorithm change in April 2012 called Penguin. Penguin has since been updated numerous times in the next several years. This particular algorithm update focused on spammy linking tactics that were designed to manipulate the search engines.
Before this update organic search results success often times came down to the quantity of links your website had. In general the more links you had the better your rankings would be, it was pretty black and white and the quality and relevancy of the links really didn’t matter all that much.
Technically, Google did not want these links to help websites but for many, many years they definitely still had a positive effect on SEO campaigns worldwide. Internet marketers who were equipped with that knowledge would buy thousands of links for dirt cheap from countries like India, China, Singapore, etc. for dirt cheap. Website’s were getting page 1 rankings on all of the search engines but the quality of the websites at the top of the search results were very poor quality, people searching for ford mustangs might have been led to a website about commercial loans, just because people were able to manipulate the search engines. Thus, the Penguin algorithm update.
What to Do if Your Website Was Impacted
Has your website lost its rankings?
Has your website’s traffic dwindled?
If you are answering yes to these questions than there is a good chance your website was in fact using some black hat tactics to get rankings pre-penguin and now are suffering the consequences.
Don’t wait to fix this, it’s a competitive landscape and a volatile economy. Start asking your agency what specific things they are going to do to fix this.
What to ask our SEO agency when you suspect an SEO penalty
- Ask for a list of all changes made to the website in the 30 days, quarter, 6 months and 12 months.
- What URLs have been “optimized”?
- Which URLs have had new inbound links?
- What is our site speed?
- Do we pass Core Web Vitals?
- Did we make any changes to the robots.txt?
- Did we make changes to the XML sitemap?
- Ask your SEO agency to review meta robot tags like noindex, nofollow.
- Ask when the last link disavow was implemented
Free SEO Resources:
- How do you tell what algorithm really hurt you the most? Use your Google Webmaster tools to cross reference with this list of algorithm changes.
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines
If you are unhappy with your current rankings I will provide you a free website audit of your backlink profile, contact me.
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