Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are designed to help the search engine find, index, and rank your website. Violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines can negatively impact your standing in search results, and may even lead to your page’s removal from the search results. The manual is broken up into design and content guidelines, technical guidelines, and quality guidelines.
Ignoring quality guidelines may result in penalty removal for misleading or manipulative behavior. Google urges webmasters to create pages that are designed primarily for the user and not for search engines. Copying another page’s content just to improve your own search ranking is not useful to your user. Google advises against use of automatically generated content, which uses programs to create paragraphs of random text that contain keywords but do not make sense; link schemes; cloaking; sneaky redirects involving sending a user to a different URL than they requested to deceive a search engine; and hidden text or links. These are only a few violations recognized by Google.
Unnatural links are another common violation that may or may not be made intentionally. These are artificial links intended to manipulate a page’s search ranking. They can include purchased links or links created by scrapers and spammers with the purpose of linking your site to another. The more likely scenario if you have been warned but are not sure why is that your anchor text is the problem.
Anchor text is that clickable text in a hyperlink that often shows up in underlined blue font. When following SEO best practices, anchor text must be relevant to the page you are linking to since search engines use the text as one way to determine the topic of a web page. Although “Click Here” is the most commonly used anchor text on the internet, it is not appropriate to use. Good anchor text either is an exact match as the targeted keywords of the page or a variation. Too many exact matches are considered unnatural and will be considered suspicious. Other signals to Google that there is unnatural anchor text is a lack of naked URLS (pages without links), excessive anchor text on a page, or an abundance of targeted one-way anchor text back links that are on another site and bring a user back to yours. Penalties are given when anchor text manipulation hinders a user’s experience.
Removing Unnatural Link Penalties
If Google takes manual action and delists a site from the search results for suspicious behavior, such as unnatural links, a warning is sent to the site and a certain amount of time is given to alter or remove the problem. Being tagged for unnatural links will significantly decrease a business’s search ranking.
SEO technicians address these problems by first collecting back link data, which can be done by date using Google’s Webmaster Tools. Google recommends both the www. and the non www. version of the domain be added to the webmaster tool to obtain as much data as possible. It is also important to track all of your work in a Google Spreadsheet so that documentation is ready and waiting when submitting a reconsideration request. The most difficult part is spotting low-quality links, since an untrained eye may believe good links to be spammy when they are indeed not. Action may need to be taken to get your links removed from other sites by webmasters. The final step is to submit a reconsideration request to Google stating how you fixed the problem and apologizing for the transgression. Most reconsideration requests only take a few days to review, though some can take a few weeks. The Moz Blog’s Ultimate Guide to Good Penalty Removal will help you understand how to fix penalties for unnatural links in detail.