A Google penalty at the wrong time can destroy you.
I’m not a very big conspiracy theorist or anything like that, but I will say that Google probably knows everything.
And I’m not just talking about the search engine, but the people. The people who see the data.
They see the world a little bit differently.
Being able to see the things that happen behind the scenes of the internet is a heavy responsibility that I think Google handles spectacularly.
They are always searching.
In this article you’re going to read about 4 blogs that were hit by Google’s biggest penalty.
Let’s start with the blog that rules them all.
In 2005 just as blogging was taking form, WordPress was found to be hosting around 168,000 articles about high-cost advertising keywords like asbestos, mesothelioma, insurance, debt consolidation, diabetes, and mortgages, written by a third-party.
Google penalized WordPress until the problem was resolved by an unknown source 2 days later..
That period of time was when WordPress had just released 2 brand new updates to their platform (Strayhorn and Duke).
Today’s industry standards like a theme system, rich editing, image uploading and faster posting were just a few of the things they were introducing to their community.
When Google found out what was going on, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg claimed to have just gone on vacation to Italy and was slow responding.
WordPress was engaging in a very complex form of backlinking.
A form that allowed them to appear to be extremely relevant for a variety of high-cost keywords and drive up their advertising revenue.
Washington Post also got caught up with another linking scandal when they were found out to be selling links to businesses.
It would be very easy to throw off the natural balance of the internet if the biggest websites in the world could sell links to their site.
Thanks to an incredibly high PageRank score smaller websites could gain authority on Google simply by having links to their sites on Washington Post.
The lower PageRank scores made them seem much less valuable to buy from — Google’s way to help “devalue” the link selling market.
Overstock lost it’s Google ranking for 2 months after they were caught offering discounts to schools in exchange for links back to the Overstock website.
That’s a big no-no.
If a link is paid for in any way, it’s advertising, and shouldn’t be used to try to improve PageRank. Links that are great for PageRank are those that are editorially given.
Create valuable content, raise awareness of that content so people know it exists, and let them link to it because they want to. – Source
Oddly enough, this is a situation where a competitor of Overstock.com found out what they were doing and reported them to Google.
During their investigation they uncovered that Overstock had created a program in which they provided discounts to products in exchange for links (with specific anchor text to specific URLs) from .edu sites.
For 2-months much of entire site was removed from the first page of results at Google.
“Google has made clear they believe these links should not factor into their search algorithm,” said Patrick Byrne, Overstock’s chief executive, in a statement. “We understand Google’s position and have made the appropriate changes to remain within Google’s guidelines.”
There are very obvious technologies and techniques that have been created for the sole purpose of gaming search engines into seeing one thing, while displaying something completely different to the user.
A form of this is called “cloaking”, and it led to one of the earliest penalties against a major brand, when BMW was hit for it.
BMW was using a technique where when a search engine’s automated “crawlers” came by it would trick it into thinking the page is pointing in the correct direction, but when a visitor came by, they were shown a different page.
Imagine if Google allowed people to lead their users to a website that is not directly related to the search terms.
The internet would turn into the wild, wild west.
Avoiding Google Penalties
Almost any major penalty that Google hands out is due to linking in a way meant to scheme the system.
You should be happy to know that it’s not your content that concerns Google, but it’s how you go about making your website relevant that they’re concerned about.
A good rule is to never pay for any type of linking strategy.
On the surface, the scheme may look impossible to detect, but remember Google sees the world differently.
It’s very easy for Google to spot a connection and investigate whether it’s relevant or not.
If a connection is deemed irrevelant and the connection uncovers that you purposely created it to game the system your blogs PageRank will take a hit.
Let your content be your guide.
Create valuable content that solves problems, expresses emotion or voices an opinion and people will link to you naturally. Image credits
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