Search engine optimization or say SEO, a term which is no strange to anyone today. As a blogger, webmasters we have been making use of search engine optimization and related activities to get our sites in the top rankings. While some of us do manage to make it to the top, there still lies a segment of people who seem to be clueless about the same. SEO success is not a overnite thing. It is a continuous ongoing task where results may take a week and in some cases, months to show up eventually. Definitely, it is not dead yet as what I have been reading on some sites. But yes, it is becoming ineffective these days. The traditional SEO practices are not paying as expected and with things like Google Panda, things have gone from bad to worse…exceptions do prevail though. There have been cases in recent times where people have complained about the dual natures of search engines especially Google which has been on radar for its obnoxious behaviour amongst search engines. Numerous sites have been penalized by Google for no reason, clearly could be made out from how some people felt when their sites were dropped in the search engine rankings.

Penalization by Google is nothing new. This generally happens for the rule breakers or say for those who have been neck deep into black hat SEO practices. But sadly, nowadays even genuine sites are being penalized for the reasons unknown. The same case happened with Marc Pinter Krainer, founder of OneNewsPage.com. His site used to rank on top in the Google search engine and so the traffic was just excellent. But then all of a sudden, one day he woke up to see the internet traffic on his site turning to almost zilch. Krainer was clueless till he researched and found out the real reasons for this insane drop. The drop has happened due to Google Penalty. For anyone like Krainer, it is still hard to digest this simple fact – Why on earth Google would penalize a site like onenewspage.com for any wrongdoing which has never ever been committed. Was it simply because Google had seen it as a competitor to its own news site? If not then what must have been the reason for such behavior ?

Well, Krainer is not the only one. It has happened to many. Google penalizes sites for varied reasons. Sandbox Effect, as it is also termed so happens mostly when a website doesn’t conform to its standards in terms of quality, content or is found using subversive optimisation techniques. Subversive techniques can be seen with things like link building which can be used as a “vote” for ranking web documents and can often be a subject of manipulation. Link Spam is a perfect example to illustrate the same. Link Spam is driven by search engine optimisers who manipulate Google’s page ranking by creating lots of inbound links to a new site from other web sites that they own. And those who do it are bound to suffer with Penalties. Penalties can be nominal to most harsh type. It can be either manual or algorithmic where changes in the search algorithm causes a website to move down. A typical -30 penality from Google can push your site down by 30 places where as -60 penalty will lower it by 60 places and in some extreme cases, your site may even disappear from search rankings if higher penalties are applied. A thing to know here is that it all happens if you are using ineffective SEO techniques like cloaking, hidden texts, link spams. While in some cases penalties expire in a very short period, in some it may extend for a longer period of time.

Now as to get rid of such penalties and to make your site better searchable, below is a list of things that any blogger or webmaster must take care of -

  • Use text browsers like Lynch to check how search engine spiders see your site. This will help you to look for the loopholes in your site and correct them.
  • Allow search bots to crawl your sites without session IDs.
  • Any change in your site must be informed to Google by your web server prior to the last crawl.
  • Site performance must be monitored and load times should be optimized.
  • Make your page better by writing quality content which is clear and accurate.
  • Optimize your site for keywords which are being searched by users in the search engines.
  • Keep images to minimum and instead use text to display important name, contents or links.
Well, I find these tips very basic and easy to follow. Any blogger, webmaster must be able to work on it comfortably. But again, you must know that Google updates its search algorithms every year with more than 300 changes and so nothing is guaranteed still. Site rankings may fluctuate and more vigorously owing to the recent updates done in the google search algorithm which has impacted 35% of searches on the Internet. Google has started putting more emphasis on timely rather than stale results and so you can make out the impact it is likely to have on search rankings. It is not what it used to be few years back. Finally the time has come when search engines need to be more explanatory with their behavior. Penalizing is fine but the reasons must be stated to the concerned person so that those things can be worked out eventually for better performance. This has become more significant with the fact that people tend to trust natural search results more than paid results. Hopefully, Google is paying attention to the same.

This is more clear from the statement made by Eric Schmidt in September 2011 -

We’ve recently introduced even more transparency efforts including announcing changes to our algorithm, providing more notice when a website is demoted due to spam violations and giving advertisers new information about ads that break our rules. We built search for our users, not websites. No matter what we do there would be some websites unhappy with where they rank..!

Eric Schmidt is the current Executive Chairman at Google.