Penalties and Black-Hat SEO
If you’re found to be in violation of webmaster guidelines, it is likely that you’ll be given a penalty by the search engines. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, the penalty can last from a few weeks to several months or until the problem is completely fixed. There have been some very public examples of large companies being penalized by Google for violating their guidelines.JC Penney, a very large US retailer was heavily penalized back in February 2011 for buying large amounts of links targeting a range of specific keywords. It was several months before they started to see a recovery and they were forced to spend time trying to take lots of the links down.Another example closely followed a few weeks later when Overstock were penalized for the practice of giving Universities discounts on products in exchange for links. Again, it was several months before they started to see a recovery.A famous example in the UK was the penalty applied to florist Interflora in February 2013 which was severe but only lasted eleven days. Google didn’t directly comment on this but it was widely believed to be link related.Penalties and Black-Hat SEOAll of these examples made headlines because the companies in question were very large and well-known. In reality, Google hands out penalties for this kind of behavior all the time, but most cases don’t receive the headlines that our example companies did.
Google hands out several types of penalties which we will briefly discuss here:Manual PenaltiesIn this case, a member of the web spam team has manually applied a penalty to your website after finding something that was in violation of their guidelines. This can be anything from buying links to sneaky redirects or cloaking. To remove this penalty, you need to file a reconsideration request with Google that includes several things:
What you’ve done to fix the problem that you’ve been penalized for•How you plan to never engage in this kind of practice again•Clear evidence for both of these
Then Google will manually decide whether or not to lift the penalty. They can sometimes come back and tell you that you haven’t done enough and you need to keep working to fix the problem. A common example of this is if you’ve been penalized for low quality link building and you haven’t removed enough of the low quality links yet.In order to see if you’ve been given a manual penalty, you can check the manual penalties section of Google Webmaster Tools.