As one of the most highly-regarded web designers in Lancaster, Urban Attic is often approached by clients who’ve been hit by Google penalties. For those of you who’ve ever been in this unfortunate situation, you’ll know how soul-destroying it can be to see the page rankings you’ve worked so hard for plummet like a stone. There are many reasons why Google and other popular search engines can take a sudden dislike to your website.

The main two are:

  1. The search engine believes your site provides a poor experience to your visitors;
  2. You’ve been manipulating your rankings using underhand methods.

Today, we’re taking at look at how bad links can affect your website’s performance and reputation, and how our team of web designers in Lancaster can help you undo the damage or prevent you from falling into the bad link trap before it’s too late.

Google applies website penalties in two different ways – manual and algorithmic. Manual penalties are usually imposed when one of Google’s employees has evaluated your site and determined that it breaches Google’s guidelines. Algorithmic penalties occur following the rollout of Google’s algorithm updates, such as Penguin and Panda, when the search engine algorithm discovers a section, page or site-wide breach of its guidelines, and automatically places a penalty against it.

Knowing whether your site has been hit by penalties can be hard to determine at first, particularly as the link or links that triggered them could have been added to your website several months or even years ago. However, one sure-fire way of finding out is if your search engine ranking for more than one keyword suddenly falls by 10 to 100 positions.

Links can be determined as ‘bad’ by search engines in many different ways. Some of the main ones include:

  • Low-quality sources – your site is being linked to by too many spam or low-quality websites;
  • Paid-for links – Google believes that you’ve paid other people to link to your site, been paid by other sites to link to them, or used link-building services;
  • On-page “black hat” tactics – you’ve disabled the back button so that visitors are unable to leave your site; you’ve hidden text on a page in order to add more keywords; you’ve added a redirect to a URL which forces visitors who click a link through the search engine to land on a different page.
  • Keyword Density – once upon a time, stuffing your pages full of keywords could enhance your site’s search engine rankings. Nowadays, this practice is a huge no-no. If Google thinks your content is over-stuffed with keywords, it can and will penalise you. Try to keep to a density of 2% or less and balance them out to ensure that your content reads naturally.

Assessing your website’s links might not be as painful a process as you think when you make use of Webmaster Tools. However, using an SEO specialist like Urban Attic is often the easier and more effective option. As the go-to web designers in Lancaster, we’ve helped clients from all over the UK ensure their websites are compliant with Google’s constantly evolving algorithm updates. Plus, our team of top copywriters can even create first-class content for your site using the very latest SEO techniques, helping you attract and retain visitors and keep Google on your side at the same time.