A case study proves frequent SEO audits are needed for a large website not to be penalized

Search Engine Watch has posted an interesting case study recently. It is an in-depth analysis of a large website being punished by Google’s Panda algorithm update. The site lost about 30 percent of Google organic traffic, which can be shown here:

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SEW’s post is a great read, so we strongly recommend you to read it. From WebDNA’s point of view the most important are the blog’s recommendations on how to avoid similar situations in the future. The main hint is to “continually audit the website”. We fully agree with this conclusion:

Initial audits can be extremely powerful, but once they are completed, they can’t help you analyze future releases. To combat this situation, I recommend scheduling audits throughout the year. That includes a mixture of crawl audits, manual analysis, and auditing webmaster tools reporting.

Continually auditing the site can help nip problems in the bud versus uncovering them after the damage has been done.

We couldn’t  have agreed more. Having similar experience myself, that is why I have decided to create a tool that is able to run a quick audit, that points to potential ban and penalty threats. The goal for WebDNA.io is to learn to understand the search engine’s algorithms and provide you with specific advice.

Feel free to join our beta testers here. Organizations that participate in it gain an opportunity to win a special feature of our app dedicated to their needs.

Why has my website been banned or penalized by Google? 20 steps to recover

If your site has been banned by Google, here are some possible reasons. Make sure you double check if any of these activities are stopped immediately.

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source: sch.hu / mzacha

  1. If you were buying outside links. Google wants you to buy AdWords to get more traffic, not third party services that distort organic search results. It’s not official, but it’s likely, that the search giant is
  2. Participate in any link exchange programs. Although incoming links have always been the core of Google search, and are supposed to certify your site’s quality, nowadays they are often a burden, since it’s you, who are responsible for their quality.
  3. Have too many bilateral links exchanges. Which may be considered as a result manipulation.
  4. Common 404 Errors. If a large part of your pages don’t respond, not only your site is clearly confusing for the users, but you may also raise on Google’s potential spammers list.
  5. Overusing keywords on your pages is a spammy thing to do.
  6. Still haven’t removed good old fashioned outgoing links from the footer of your pages.
  7. Malfunctioning or outdated XML sitemap on Google Webmasters Tools.
  8. Are cloaking some links. Even by mistake.
  9. Link from your site to pages that don’t respond.
  10. You have build your incoming link base too quickly. Of course they may be all good quality organic links that are the result of natural buzz about your site, but remember: Google’s algorithms may be wrong. And when they are, it’s your thought.
  11. Have too many neatly anchored key phrases in your outgoing and incoming links.
  12. Duplicating content, even if it’s useful, i.e. when having different language versions of your site. Each copy, should be marked with Google’s “alternate hreflang“.
  13. Some of the pages of your site are not responding or loading very slowly.
  14. Your content is of very low quality or generated automatically. This is likely, if you’re buying texts in bulk at low price. If algorithms can prepare content, Google ones can identify such content.
  15. Check the comments on your site. There may be some spam with links attached.
  16. You have prepared too many dedicated landing pages filled with keywords. Once again, what used to be a perfect solution for top seeds in search results is now treated as spam.
  17. There are too many ads on your website. Google decides that it’s no longer useful. Which may be true.
  18. Toxic incoming links sent by competition. It may happen that somebody will point to your site from a page containing malware. By Google standards – you are responsible.
  19. Your site is lacking external incoming links. Too much is bad, but too little is no better. Since it’s impossible that all the information on your site is original, not pointing to the source is considered not fair, and banned.
  20. Bad site’s history. If your address had been used before, it may cause additional trouble.

These aren’t the only possible reasons. Google is a huge corporation now, and its algorithms have long history of fighting spam and interacting among each other. Recently even Google’s Matt Cutts stated that:

whether you call something a penalty, or ranking change…any of those things can be really hard to draw a fine distinction between those different points.

We hope one of these 20 steps will help you recover from a Google ban or penalty.