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Google Penalties: The Newbie-Friendly Guide

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Google Penalties: The Newbie-Friendly Guide

A penalty from Google is every webmaster’s worst nightmare. But even if you get one, all is not lost.

In this post, you will learn the following:

Thankfully, we have never dealt with penalties on Ahrefs’ blog, so I reached out to SEO experts who deal with Google penalties in their professional work:

Let’s rock!

What is a Google penalty?

In simple terms, a penalty is a “punishment” manually imposed on a website by Google’s webspam team.

This generally happens when the website violates Google’s quality guidelines. This penalty results in a dramatic drop in rankings and organic traffic loss. It’s worth mentioning the negative effect of Google’s algorithm updates must not be mistaken for a penalty.

Google does not use the term “penalties” in its documentation. Instead, it calls them manual actions and algorithmic actions.

If your organic rankings and traffic suddenly drop while your website has no downtimes or technical SEO issues, you may be facing one of two things:

  1. Your website was reviewed by a human and got a manual action.
  2. A Google update resulted in an algorithmic action demoting your website.

How do penalties help Google fight spam?

Google’s mission is to present the best results to its users. Its quality guidelines explain what it expects from websites. Any attempt to manipulate its ranking factors or abuse its quality guidelines is called spam.

Every day, Google discovers around 40 billion spammy pages. Here’s how it fights spam.

Google has systems that can detect spam at the “crawling” stage. As a result, a large number of pages considered spammy won’t even make it to Google’s index.

The content included in its index is double-checked for spam. Such low-quality content may be shown in the search results, but its search rankings will be low.

As explained by Google, these AI-aided automated systems provide 99% protection against spam. Manual actions come into play for the remaining 1%.

Google has a vast army of human reviewers who can impose manual actions on websites.

In 2020, they sent 2.9 million messages to site owners in Search Console related to manual webspam actions.

Sidenote.

Manual actions are imposed and lifted by an in-house webspam team in Google. Don’t confuse this team with the quality raters who only help Google with evaluating changes to the algorithms and are not privy to any insights regarding the inner workings of Google Search.

How to identify penalties (both manual and algorithmic)?

Whenever a website gets a manual action, this issue will always be visible under Security and Manual actions in Google Search Console. It looks something like this.

Manual actions page showing the issue detected and some details about it

With such a message, you know the problem and can address it directly.

Manual actions imposed on a website will result in pages being ranked lower or omitted from the search results completely.

But diagnosing the effect of an algorithmic adjustment is much more challenging, as you will get zero notifications from Google.

The best way to identify an algorithmic action is to look at your Google organic traffic and see if you have a drop that coincides with a known or suspected algorithm update.

You can search through webmaster forums or Twitter to see if other webmasters are facing similar issues. Google Search Central Help Community, for example, is an excellent place to start.

With Ahrefs, you can check if other websites in your industry are losing their rankings too.

Let’s use our blog as an example:

Line graph showing organic traffic of Ahrefs' blog dip after core update was implemented

On Dec. 3, 2020, a new core algorithm update was rolled out. Notably, Ahrefs’ blog has the strongest focus on content quality; we have never bought a single backlink. So this update was a slap in the face for us.

You should also note that algorithm updates don’t only demote low-quality or spammy websites; they also promote high-quality sites. So even if there’s nothing “wrong” with your website, you can find other sites outranking you after the next core update.

If you’re ‘hit’ by a core update, you shouldn’t think of it as a penalty. You might not be doing anything wrong at all, it might just be that someone is doing something better.

Gary Illyes

What manual actions can a website get?

There are two types of actions that can be displayed on the “Manual actions” page. These are:

  1. Manual actions that affect the entire site.
  2. Manual actions that only affect a specific URL or section of a site.

Manual actions can be anything from quite broad to quite specific, and very fluid in between. The goal is always to neutralize the issue, and sometimes that’s easy to isolate & do, other times it’s much harder, so we end up taking broader action.

John Mueller

Every “manual action” notification is accompanied by “Reason” and “Effects” information.

Today, the list of manual actions includes the following:

  • Site abused with third-party spam
  • User-generated spam
  • Spammy free host
  • Structured data issue
  • Unnatural links to your site
  • Unnatural links from your site
  • Thin content with little or no added value
  • Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects
  • Pure spam
  • Cloaked images
  • Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing
  • AMP content mismatch
  • Sneaky mobile redirects
  • News and Discover policy violations

Whenever Google rolls out a new spam update, it’s basically targeting the same issues.

The core updates address the relevance and quality of content.

Also, you should note that manual actions can cover different Google products. But if you somehow get a manual action related to Google Discover, your regular rankings should not be affected.

News and Discover are entirely separate products.

News includes newsy-content, not just news publishers.

Discover includes content from across the web, not just news content.

Manual actions can happen for either; if issued, they only involve the particular product issued for.

Danny Sullivan

You can read more about the Manual Actions report in this Search Console Help article.

What causes most penalties today?

Unfortunately, there’s no data on the share of different penalties from Google, so I searched through recent threads on different webmaster forums and Twitter.

The most common manual actions that webmasters care to resolve these days are related to the attempts to manipulate Google’s search results. This may be a coincidence, but these penalties are even next to each other on the list of manual actions. These are:

  • Unnatural links to your site.
  • Unnatural links from your site.
  • Thin content with little or no added value.

I would say that almost all Google penalties now are given because the site owner was trying too hard to manipulate Google. Five or six years ago I did see a lot of penalties that came as a result of good, honest business owners hiring poor SEO companies who built unnatural links. But, now, most of that type of link is just ignored by Penguin. As such, if you get a link penalty, you usually know that you deserved it.

Marie Haynes

So stop doing shady stuff, folks! 🙂

How to analyze your backlink profile to fix and prevent link-related penalties

Links are still one of the most important ranking factors, so “unnatural links” are the reason behind a large number of penalties these days.

Now, let’s be honest. If you see this notification in Search Console, you most likely participated in a link scheme and know what you’re hit for.

But if you purchased a website or are working on someone else’s website, you’ll need to do a comprehensive link audit. Here are a few quick things that you can work on.

Check your anchor texts

You must pay attention to the dominance of irrelevant or over-optimized anchor texts that come from poor-quality websites.

The first step you should take is to plug your website into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer (or another backlink checker you like) and navigate to the Anchors report. We’ve recently enhanced ours with various helpful filters. Now it’s even easier to diagnose issues related to anchor texts.

With a natural backlink profile, most links are URL-anchored or brand-anchored. But if a site has been heavily involved in manipulative link building, you’ll usually see a lot of keyword-stuffed anchors from multiple referring domains:

Anchors report results showing lots of keyword-stuffed anchors

If the Anchors report looks something like this, that’s a bad sign.

As for “Unnatural links from your site,” you should look at the anchor texts of the outgoing links. Ahrefs’ Site Explorer has a special report for that.

List showing anchor texts of outgoing links

Check your referring domains

The Referring domains report in Site Explorer can help you identify websites explicitly built for selling links. The main attribute of such websites is the large number of sites they link to (related to the size of a website).

Besides, these websites usually get little to no traffic from Google, although they may have a pretty high Domain Rating score.

This is why we added “Dofollow linked domains” and “Traffic” columns straight into the Referring domains report.

Referring domains report results

For example, here at Ahrefs’ blog, we’ve never been greedy for external links. If a page or resource deserves a reference, we will link to it.

Our blog has approximately 2K pages indexed in Google.

Google SERP of Ahrefs' blog. Shows 1,990 pages indexed in Google

And Ahrefs’ Linked Domains report will show you that we link to around 1.5K websites.

Link Domains report results

So the ratio is close to 1:1. I’m not saying it’s a standard for every industry, but I hope you get the idea. A website with 500 pages linking to 5K different websites should raise flags.

You should note that a low DR and poor organic traffic do not always indicate a website’s low quality. It could be that the website is new and could grow into a strong one over time.

But when a linking website has low DR, ugly design and UI, low-quality content, and no organic traffic, there’s no way a link from it will be considered natural.

Google seems to have a well-maintained list of websites that sell links. And it may be using link-selling emails to expand that list. Check out this article from Barry Schwartz for more information.

To get a good sense of how serious the link problem is for your site, you can access Marie Haynes’ Disavow Blacklist Bulk Upload tool. Then export the list of your referring domains from Ahrefs and see how many of them are on Marie’s blacklist.

You should also estimate the linking pages visually.

Websites created for the sake of linking out are easily noticeable most of the time. Content on their pages won’t make much sense, and images will be a total mess.

Recommended reading: How to Deal With Unnatural Links & Google Manual Actions

To lift a manual action from your website, you must take actions to rectify the problems specified in the GSC Manual Actions message(s) and select “Request Review” for the particular issue.

Unnatural links to your site” is the only penalty that has its roots outside your website.

To rehabilitate, you must get rid of those links.

To do that, you need to clean up your link profile as much as possible. Simply disavowing these links may not suffice.

Here’s what Google’s document says:

You should make a good-faith effort to remove backlinks before using the disavow tool. It can also be helpful to document the effort involved in removing those links. Simply disavowing all backlinks without attempting to remove them might lead to rejection of your request.

If you have control over the link, remove it.

Then you should send link removal requests to webmasters. But most likely, this is going to be tough. It will often take you more than one attempt, as you’ll need to look for different contacts before finding the right person.

And even if you reach them, some simply won’t care. And sometimes, they’ll even ask you to pay to remove links.

If you fail to remove a link to your website, disavow the linking page or domain. But do explain why you did so in your reconsideration request.

Make sure to document every step you take and every message you send to fix the issues. This log will make your reconsideration request more convincing.

If the penalty results from thin content, provide evidence of your improvements. Show what content you took down and what you added.

Request a review only when you have fixed the issues on all affected pages, as the manual action can’t be lifted partially.

It is essential to demonstrate your effort to address all the issues on your website, as well as any results, when you send a reconsideration request. Remember that your website will be reconsidered by humans, not machine algorithms.

There is no limit on the number of times you can apply for reconsideration.

Algorithmic actions do not imply reconsideration requests. All you can do is fix the issues that may be demoting your website and wait for Google as it recrawls and reindexes your site. Only after that will you figure out whether your site is still compromised.

If you fail to lift your penalties on the first try, repeat the above process by being more thorough this time. If you’re lost, find an SEO professional who can assess the damage and find the solution.

Frequently asked questions about Google penalties

Is there a penalty for duplicate content?

25%–30% of the web is duplicate content.

Google demystified the “duplicate content penalty” back in 2008. Still, people keep asking this question.

The short answer to this question is “no.” There’s no penalty for duplicate content.

If you scrape or steal content from other websites, Google will simply rank the original.

As for the duplicate pages on your website, Google will try to determine the primary URL as the canonical version. Use the rel=canonical labeling to help Google choose the most appropriate page.

Recommended reading: Duplicate Content: Why It Happens and How to Fix It

Can a website get a penalty for bad or outdated design?

Sometimes minimal, old, simplified, or even ugly pages rank well, sometimes that also changes over time (it feels like you’d be leaving open room for competition by being suboptimal).

John Mueller

Can a spam report from my competitor result in a penalty for my website?

Before 2020, Google’s documentation indicated that spam reports could be used to take manual actions against websites.

Today, these reports are used only to improve their spam detection algorithms. According to Google:

While Google does not use these reports to take direct action against violations, these reports still play a significant role in helping us understand how to improve our spam detection systems that protect our search results.

Should I disavow any low-quality links to prevent a manual action?

If you haven’t been building links, you probably have next to nothing to worry about.

Random links collected over the years aren’t necessarily harmful, we’ve seen them for a long time too and can ignore all of those weird pieces of web-graffiti from long ago. Disavow links that were really paid for (or otherwise actively unnaturally placed), don’t fret the cruft.

John Mueller

How long does it take to get a response to the reconsideration request?

There’s no exact answer to this question. Obviously, it depends on the severity of the issue and the current load on the webspam team.

Here’s what Google says:

Most reconsideration reviews can take several days or weeks, although in some cases, such as link-related reconsideration requests, it may take longer than usual to review your request.

In rare cases, it can take months.

In the past 18 months, I’ve experienced anywhere between 3 weeks and in one extreme case 5 months.

I believe that Google processes reconsideration requests in batches versus a conveyor belt method, and depending on the severity of the penalty/offence and its potential impact on user welfare (of lifting the penalty), they are treated with different levels (and batched differently) of importance. Which given how Google weights resources in favour of the user majority, this makes sense.

Dan Taylor

Can negative SEO attacks lead to manual actions?

It’s highly unlikely the spam links built as a negative SEO attack by your competitors will demote your site. Google says it’s smart enough to ignore those links.

But if you’re worried, simply disavow them.

In my opinion, it is rare that negative SEO attempts will lead to a manual action. If a site does get a manual action after a wave of negative SEO links are pointed at them, it almost always turns out that the site had also been involved in a lot of their own link building as well.

Marie Haynes

So if you do some black-hat SEO, negative SEO from your black-hat competition may bring unnecessary attention to your website. Isn’t that another signal to quit black hat?

Can a penalty expire?

To my surprise, manual actions do expire. Algorithm actions don’t, and they’re only getting better.

Will my website performance on search become normal once the manual action is lifted?

The general answer is “yes.” Google does not hold a grudge against websites with lifted manual actions.

Site being ‘tainted’ after a manual action is a SEO myth. You request a RR and if successful, you’re off the hook.

Gary Illyes

John Mueller even recorded a dedicated video on this topic.

But things may be a bit more complicated than that.

Over the years I’ve worked with a number of websites that have had manual actions, link penalties, and once lifted the website has been able to rebuild and progress. When lifting a link penalty, there is oftentimes a misconception that ‘performance will return to normal,’ but people forget that they will have had some benefit from the backlinks originally, impacting performance — otherwise why would Google see them as manipulations if they didn’t work?

Dan Taylor

A website gets a manual action usually because the techniques it was using were actually working. Even after the manual action is lifted, the site gets back to the point from before these black hat/grey hat techniques were implemented and actually started to work.

Olga Zarzeczna

I did some research and came across John’s AMA session on Reddit, where he took the time to answer tons of interesting questions:

There’s no ‘reset button’ for a domain, we don’t even have that internally, so a manual review wouldn’t change anything there. If there’s a lot of bad history associated with that, you either have to live with it, clean it up as much as possible, or move to a different domain. I realize that can be a hassle, but it’s the same with any kind of business, cleaning up a bad name/reputation can be a lot of work, and it’s hard to say ahead of time if it’ll be worth it in the end.

John Mueller

Final thoughts

As you saw from this post, websites mostly suffer from Google’s penalties because of low-quality content and shady SEO techniques.

If you want to make your website bulletproof, make sure it meets Google’s quality guidelines, follows the E‑A-T principles, and has a natural link profile.

Apart from that, monitor your site for hacking and remove hacked content as soon as possible to prevent user-generated spam on your site.

Have more thoughts to share? Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.




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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

In its nearly 20 years of existence, Reddit has built a robust, dynamic, and highly engaged community.

It has cemented itself as not only one of the key influencers for the internet culture we have come to know today, but also as one of the top 10 social media sites in the world, with more than 500,000 monthly visitors across more than 100,000 active communities.

Despite its size and influence, marketers have long avoided, overlooked, and failed to establish a presence on what is arguably one of the most influential social media sites today.

To be fair, Reddit has always been known as one of the hardest communities to have marketing success with, requiring months (if not years) of dedicated commitment to actually being a part of the community and engaging with your audience through meaningful, genuine, and honest interactions.

To many, that is just too much risk and too much work, but let’s be honest – most amazing things take risk and hard work. And for all of you who put in that work to be successful on Reddit, you already see the payoff it brings.

Regardless of the reasons, marketers who continue to overlook Reddit’s potential are missing out on an extremely influential community with ideal targeted demographics, where authenticity and genuine connections lead to valuable information, positive branding, and marketing success.

Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at Reddit!

Reddit Stats You Cannot Ignore

Reddit users are dedicated to their use of the platform, with a reported 82 million (16.4%) of its 500 million users visiting the site daily, sharing over 1 billion posts, with over 16 billion comments across 100,000+ active communities, making it easily one of the top visited and most active sites in the United States today.

The user base is so loyal that they spend, on average, 20 minutes on the platform each day (and over 45 minutes a day for long-time users of more than 7 years) and, in many cases, are inactive on other social platforms.

This makes Reddit one of the only places to actually get in front of this massive audience, with 32% being inactive on Facebook, 37% on Instagram, 41% on TikTok, and 53% on X.

When it comes to demographics, a 2019 survey concluded that the overall Reddit audience was majority male (59%), ranged in age (36% aged 18-29; 25% aged 30-49), and well educated (42% college degree; 31% some college) making them an ideal audience many businesses looking for success.

They also helped Reddit improve revenues by 21% to $804 million in 2023, with a global addressable market for advertising estimated at $1.4 trillion by 2027.

Thought by many to be mostly a North American audience, Reddit claims more than 50% of its traffic comes from international users, a rather impressive climb from its earlier years.

It is important to remember, though, that Reddit is a platform that allows communities to grow and thrive, so those demographics change from subreddit to subreddit.

If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, surveys have found that 75% of users find Reddit a trustworthy source for making purchasing decisions.

For years now, it has been included heavily and prominently in Google search results, which have become even more visible due to reports following their inclusion in SGE results and with Google’s recent $60 million a year deal with Reddit to have real-time access to Reddit content and to use its content to train Google’s future AI models.

Speaking of Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results, let’s take a closer look at why that deal is so important, especially to search marketers.

Reddit In Google Search, SGE, And Google’s Reddit Deal

For years, Reddit results have been prominently displayed in Google’s search results – so much so that users have even started adding the term “reddit” to the end of their search queries.

So often, you will see Google suggest search lines with the term “reddit” prefilled at the end.

Screenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

Even without selecting the query that includes “reddit,” you will notice Reddit’s prominent placement in two places: discussions and forums, and Reddit sitelinks, which are both just below the ads and the first organic result.

Reddit resultsScreenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

This was amplified by Google’s recent Helpful Content Update (HCU), which allowed platforms like Reddit and other forums to show up more frequently in search results,

Reddit’s ability to be helpful in satisfying a user’s search for information is so successful – in combination with reported shortages in new content for AI models from all major platforms – it is not surprising Google struck a deal with Reddit to show its content faster in search results and to use the content in training future AI models.

Since news of the deal between Reddit and Google was reported, there has been a lot of additional focus on Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results.

Experts throughout the search industry report an increase in not only the total visibility of Reddit going up within search but also the speed at which a Reddit post is indexed and shown to users.

Google responded to concerns about Reddit showing up more in search results, saying that “some of the SEO folks who tend to be vocal on this platform (X) really dislike seeing more forum content in our search results. But actual searchers seem to like it. They proactively seek it out. It makes sense for us to be showing it to keep the search results relevant and satisfying for everyone.”

Google responded to concerns of Reddit showing up more in search resultsScreenshot by author from X (Twitter), May 2024

Although disputed by Google, Roger Montii wrote about one report of Reddit content being indexed within five minutes.

ChatGPT to Surface Reddit Content

Adding to the deal Reddit made with Google, it was recently reported that OpenAI has partnered with Reddit to surface their content in ChatGPT, adding to the clear value that both OpenAI and Google see in Reddit’s content today and in the future.

Of course, this has sparked a lot of interest in companies of all sizes. They want to figure out how their brands can participate and succeed on Reddit in hopes of increasing their visibility in Google’s search results, SGE, and ChatGPT and building their brand’s visibility amongst one of the most influential audiences on the internet today.

**Quick warning: Reddit requires genuine, long-term engagement and a strategy for success. So, I would definitely advise individuals and businesses to avoid trying to game, spam, or blindly jump into marketing on Reddit and take the time to really understand the platform, its audience, and your place of value within its communities.

Let’s look at how some major brands have been successful on Reddit in the past.

noosa Yoghurt

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit was a great example of tapping into niche audiences to create engaging, user-driven content.

To capitalize on Reddit’s community of vocal yogurt enthusiasts, noosa launched a Flavor Poll that invited Redditors to upvote their favorite noosa flavors in the comments. This created a sense of community and interactivity around what could have been a standard poll.

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After tallying the upvotes, noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results using a sleek custom infographic, highlighting the community’s favorites while also giving the brand important insight into consumer preferences.

Noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • 49% increase in brand recall among Reddit users who were exposed to the campaign.
  • 30% increase in brand favorability.
  • 39% increase in purchase intent (15X the typical lift observed in the food vertical).
  • 50+ billion monthly views.

Sony Pictures Germany

To drum up excitement around the release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” in Germany, Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign that combined organic and promoted content to engage the platform’s robust fan communities.

The brand created a Reddit account under the protagonist’s name, u/MilesMorales, and used it to share exclusive content directly within Spiderman-related subreddits.

It also organized an AMA with the German voice actor Miles Morales to create a more personal connection with fans and promoted video posts featuring the movie trailer to amplify the excitement.

Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • Sony Pictures Germany achieved a click-through rate (CTR) that was 344% higher than that of its standard paid media.
  • 831 upvotes.
  • 618,000 impressions.
  • The film remained No. 1 on the German movie charts for three consecutive weeks.

It is important to note that promoting your content and your brand on Reddit is definitely not the only value Reddit can bring you and your business.

Reddit is an amazing place to get honest feedback.

Whether you are trying to figure out what your target audience wants from your brand, test out a new feature or concept before investing and launching it openly, or even just to have continued open communication with your customers to support them and keep them connected to your brand, Reddit can help you succeed in an amazing way.

Transamerica Helping Reddit Make Dollars Make Sense

Transamerica’s campaign on Reddit is a great example of a company identifying an opportunity to connect with its target audience on the subreddit /r/finance.

This allows the company to better understand its customers’ needs and focus on content creation and future marketing plans.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

Aligning itself with its audience by demonstrating awareness of the topics around personal finance happening in the subreddit, as well as acknowledging the Redditors working at the company, it asked what topics it could create “specifically for the reddit community” around the topic of finance.

It stayed involved and engaged throughout the campaign, responding to threads and maintaining a lighthearted and sometimes humorous tone.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After getting all the feedback it needed, it created content around the more popular requests, going as far as branding and designing them similar to Reddit.

IRA vs 401K venn diagramScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

It even took the time to individually comment a link to the published content on its site, bringing attention back to the overall campaign and the content it created.

This campaign was 10 years ago, and it is still referenced as a core example of engaging on Reddit as a brand in a respectful, thoughtful, and meaningful way.

Why You Should Be On Reddit Wrapup

TL;DR: If your brand has something meaningful to say and is interested in truly connecting with your audience, then yes, you should be on Reddit.

These successful brand campaign examples showcase Reddit’s power when used correctly. With research to understand the specific communities you want to reach, Reddit can have exceptional performance compared to other channels.

The stakes are high to get it right because Reddit communities can be highly negative toward self-serving promotion. But if you put in the effort and solve people’s needs and problems, Reddit has the potential to be a high-performance channel.

Edit: Updated daily active users figure based on Reddit’s Q1 Earnings Report

More resources:


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No Algorithmic Actions For Site Reputation Abuse Yet

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Looking up at an angle at the Google sign on the Head Office for Canada

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has confirmed that the search engine hasn’t launched algorithmic actions targeting site reputation abuse.

This clarification addresses speculation within the SEO community that recent traffic drops are related to Google’s previously announced policy update.

Sullivan Says No Update Rolled Out

Lily Ray, an SEO professional, shared a screenshot on Twitter showing a significant drop in traffic for the website Groupon starting on May 6.

Ray suggested this was evidence that Google had begun rolling out algorithmic penalties for sites violating the company’s site reputation abuse policy.

However, Sullivan quickly stepped in, stating:

“We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse. I well imagine when we do, we’ll be very clear about that. Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons.”

Sullivan added that when the actions are rolled out, they will only impact specific content, not entire websites.

This is an important distinction, as it suggests that even if a site has some pages manually penalized, the rest of the domain can rank normally.

Background On Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy

Earlier this year, Google announced a new policy to combat what it calls “site reputation abuse.”

This refers to situations where third-party content is published on authoritative domains with little oversight or involvement from the host site.

Examples include sponsored posts, advertorials, and partner content that is loosely related to or unrelated to a site’s primary purpose.

Under the new policy, Google is taking manual action against offending pages and plans to incorporate algorithmic detection.

What This Means For Publishers & SEOs

While Google hasn’t launched any algorithmic updates related to site reputation abuse, the manual actions have publishers on high alert.

Those who rely heavily on sponsored content or partner posts to drive traffic should audit their sites and remove any potential policy violations.

Sullivan’s confirmation that algorithmic changes haven’t occurred may provide temporary relief.

Additionally, his statements also serve as a reminder that significant ranking fluctuations can happen at any time due to various factors, not just specific policy rollouts.


FAQ

Will Google’s future algorithmic actions impact entire websites or specific content?

When Google eventually rolls out algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse, these actions will target specific content rather than the entire website.

This means that if certain pages are found to be in violation, only those pages will be affected, allowing other parts of the site to continue ranking normally.

What should publishers and SEOs do in light of Google’s site reputation abuse policy?

Publishers and SEO professionals should audit their sites to identify and remove any content that may violate Google’s site reputation abuse policy.

This includes sponsored posts and partner content that doesn’t align with the site’s primary purpose. Taking these steps can mitigate the risk of manual penalties from Google.

What is the context of the recent traffic drops seen in the SEO community?

Google claims the recent drops for coupon sites aren’t linked to any algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse. Traffic fluctuations can occur for various reasons and aren’t always linked to a specific algorithm update.


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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

WP Rocket, the WordPress page speed performance plugin, just announced the release of a new version that will help publishers optimize for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), an important Core Web Vitals metric.

Large Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP is a page speed metric that’s designed to show how fast it takes for a user to perceive that the page is loaded and read to be interacted with. This metric measures the time it takes for the main content elements has fully loaded. This gives an idea of how usable a webpage is. The faster the LCP the better the user experience will be.

WP Rocket 3.16

WP Rocket is a caching plugin that helps a site perform faster. The way page caching generally works is that the website will store frequently accessed webpages and resources so that when someone visits the page the website doesn’t have to fetch the data from the database, which takes time, but instead will serve the webpage from the cache. This is super important when a website has a lot of site visitors because that can use a lot of server resources to fetch and build the same website over and over for every visitor.

The lastest version of WP Rocket (3.16) now contains Automatic LCP optimization, which means that it will optimize the on-page elements from the main content so that they are served first thereby raising the LCP scores and providing a better user experience.

Because it’s automatic there’s really nothing to fiddle around with or fine tune.

According to WP Rocket:

  • Automatic LCP Optimization: Optimizes the Largest Contentful Paint, a critical metric for website speed, automatically enhancing overall PageSpeed scores.
  • Smart Management of Above-the-Fold Images: Automatically detects and prioritizes critical above-the-fold images, loading them immediately to improve user experience and performance metrics.

All new functionalities operate seamlessly in the background, requiring no direct intervention from the user. Upon installing or upgrading to WP Rocket 3.16, these optimizations are automatically enabled, though customization options remain accessible for those who prefer manual control.”

Read the official announcement:

WP Rocket 3.16: Improving LCP and PageSpeed Score Automatically

Featured Image by Shutterstock/ICONMAN66

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