You may not be familiar with Matt Cutts, a Google employee and basically the best source of getting direct information about Google’s internal workings. Well, now is a great time to change that! Matt recently released a video that goes into detail about how Google penalizes websites and the process of getting your site back in Google’s good graces.
Basically, there are 2 types of penalties Google will use against your site if they get enough complaints about it or its search spiders determine your website is spammy/engaging in black hat SEO: manual penalties and algorithmic penalties.
Manual penalties result when Google receives complaints about your site from users. For example, if you are using keywords that are in no way related to your business in an attempt to drive traffic to your website, people may get rightly upset and lodge a complaint with Google about your inappropriate behavior. Hence, manual penalties will result.
Algorithmic penalties, on the other hand, occur when Google’s spiders crawl your website and find out that you are keyword stuffing, hiding text, and other unethical and sneaky law firm SEO practices.
Since the reports for manual penalties help Google adjust their algorithm, if you are doing something you shouldn’t, Google will likely find out and penalize your website.
The good news is that you can redeem your website as the penalties aren’t permanent (unless you refuse to change what Google is penalizing you for). For manual penalties, Google will either give your site a “time out” or a penalty that expires at a specific time based on the severity of what they are penalizing you for. It’s sort of like being put in the penalty box during a hockey game. You can also submit a reconsideration request for a manual penalty which may or may not result in a shorter penalty time.
Algorithmic penalties, on the other hand, will last as long as the offensive material is on your website, so the faster you can get it removed, the closer you will be to regaining your website’s status in Google’s organic search results.
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