Has your website been penalized with no discernible reason? There are a lot of hidden factors that could have led them to punish you.
1. Bad Links
This has been the most significant source of penalization for the past year. Bad links come about through buying links or excessive and unwarranted link swapping. This results in what Google calls a unnatural link profile: your backlink profile does not grow at a rate that could be explained by organic link growth. If your link profile looks non-organic, Google will punish you.
2. Murder by Backlinks
It doesn’t happen that often, but competitors have been known to link sites from deliberately irrelevant or low-quality sites to try to mess up the backlink profile.
However, there are ways to fix this problem. A good marketer can respond to poor backlinks with site restructuring.
3. Foreign language Links
This one is kind of weird, but hey, most internet users only speak one language. Google sees foreign language links as useless to most users.
4. Dead Internal Links
If any of your internal navigation links return a 404, Google will punish you. You can prevent this by making it easy for users to tell you about dead links, and by extensively testing your site every time that you reorganize it or delete any pages.
5. Hidden Links and Unclear Navigation
Google is big on transparency: users should know exactly where they are going whenever they click on a link or element of your website. Poor transparency affects not only your search engine ranking, but also your PPC Quality Score.
6. Duplicate or Spun Content
Duplicate content happens a lot if you hire cheap writers or buy content from low-quality content mills. You can avoid this by paying more for content and by running all your content through CopyScape.
Similarly, your content could be stolen, spun, or otherwise scraped from another website. Generally speaking, Google has become a lot better at catching spun content than writers are at spinning it.
7. Spam Keywords
Some industries have absurd amounts of spam, like dating sites, non-bank financiers, etc. Google has responded by penalizing the keywords of these industries. If you’re in a spammy industry, try to avoid spammy keywords like “loans” and “free.” However, if you need these keywords, you just have to accept that Google is going to punish you.
8. Domain Name has a Bad History
If your domain used to be spammy, you could still get punished for it.
9. Advising Any of the Above
Yeah, seriously, Google actually punishes websites for offering advice on how to manipulate SEO rankings unscrupulously. It could be that Google is overreaching here, but it could also be a common sense reaction to the fact that most people who advocate for black hat methods also use them.