Surviving as a top ranking site on any search engine is a risky balancing act. It’s an incredibly competitive landscape that requires you to constantly adapt.
If you can’t keep up with the search engine’s continuous tweaks and updates to their guidelines then you’ll quickly find yourself and your site in hot water.
Those who have failed to update their sites in order to meet the currently acceptable standards have found themselves suffering the wrath of Google. When updates such as Penguin and Panda were first released, a lot of sites were in uproar about the techniques they’d practised for years suddenly putting them on the wrong side of Google’s guidelines.
Sites were forced to adapt or be penalised, so as the years went on most sites were eventually updated and any rotten low-quality links or spammy scraped copy were expelled. Some sites didn’t clean up their act as much as others though, and carried on selling links and utilising questionable techniques; despite Google issuing multiple warnings and presenting users with written guidelines on how to follow best practise on the web.
Rebels Without A Cause
Sites that disobey eventually get noticed by Google’s Webmasters. Recently there’s been a rather high profile case of Google penalising a collection of sites. This case included brands such as Interflora as well as several newspaper websites.
Whilst Google didn’t confirm exactly why each site was penalised, they did issue a reminder against selling links or ‘advertorials’ that pass PageRank. Typically Google will punish sites that sell or buy links, as they want to encourage a more natural, trust-worthy net through relationship-based link building.
Many based newspaper sites found their PageRank reduced to zero towards the end of last month. These sites were supposedly punished because they were offering sponsored articles on a very wide scale with followed links, which goes against Google’s terms and conditions.
Whilst the newspaper sites only saw their PageRank drop, popular online florist Interflora found themselves truly suffering when they completely isappeared from their usual search results nearly two weeks ago. They were not even ranking for their brand name. This penalty came at a particularly harsh time from Google, as Mother’s Day is just round the corner, a period when flowers are known to be much more popular than usual.
Even Google have to abide to their own rules, as was seen last year when the Google’s own Chrome site suffered from a 60-day penalty which resulted in them not ranking for the search term ‘browser’.
Google’s penalty may seem severe to some, but it certainly does a great job of getting the message across to other site owners. It seems that as long as the sites that come under scrutiny take steps to appease Google and break away from their questionable tactics, then the penalty could only temporary.