Besides its algorithmic penalties, Google also has thousands of people manually reviewing websites. This is how manual penalties come about. A manual penalty is a little more serious violation than an algorithmic one.

Until now, though, Google has allowed you to fix the issue, and then get your rankings back. However, some dishonest SEOs and websites would fix the issue, get the penalty removed, and then go right back out and do the same old things to climb the search rankings.

In particular, a post at seochat says this behavior was common among link sellers. Selling links to other websites so they rank is a flagrant violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. And strangely, Google, which can sometimes be quite harsh for minor violations, allowed this more serious violation to happen repeatedly.

On September 18, 2015 Google Publicly Stated that Would Change

They announced it here. For starters, Google’s made it known to the public they are aware of the issue. So if your website repeatedly violates their guidelines, you’re in jeopardy of never getting your rankings back ever again.

However, repeated violations aren’t the only situation where Google may do this. If your site has clear intentions to game its rankings, they may take more drastic action too.

They actually close their blog post out by saying, ”We, the Search Quality Team, will continue to protect users by removing spam from our search results.”

Remember, In Search, Google is the Police, and No One Currently Polices the Police

Google has ultimate power in search because they’re the search engine most people use. Worldwide, 89.19% of all searches happen on Google, according to Statcounter. Bing is #2 with 4.17%, while Yahoo comes in third at 3.42%.

And those numbers fluctuate little.

So until you, or someone else, invents a way to search that most people like more than Google, they’re going to make the rules. It’s possible Congress could call them a monopoly and break them up too, but not likely.

Make Sure You Work with an SEO You Trust with Your Life

At the end of the day, you won’t get a penalty because of low-quality websites that choose to link to you. To Google, it’s clear when your SEO takes active steps to manipulate you up the search rankings.

SEOs will always be able to game the system because Google’s not perfect. But it’s a short-sighted, high-risk strategy because you could lose 40-90% of your business overnight! And now, you might never get it back.

Ask your SEO:

  • How long they’ve been in business (work with SEOs only with 5+ years of experience at minimum, and ideally 10 or more)
  • If you can review some other client websites they’ve worked on
  • For a couple client references to call
  • How they build links to your site (it should involve attracting links through a promotional strategy that could include social media)
  • Where they’re located (don’t work with anyone out of the country).
  • How much they charge (expect to pay at least $1,500 per month for quality work)

Finally, if they pressure you to use their services in any way, don’t hire them. That usually means they only want your money. Quality SEOs give you all the information you need to make a decision, and then let you decide.

Do These Guidelines Sound Obvious?

Good – that means you’re ready to make a sound decision. But, I have to repeat them because I can’t tell you how many clients come to me who’ve been burned.

Be careful out there. Protect yourself so you don’t lose your rankings – and stay competitive online.