Google is notorious for constantly changing up algorithms that affect search engine rankings. When business websites think they are in a safe spot, the ground gets shaky again, making them find ways to renew their online marketing strategies.
Although there are long-standing principles in digital marketing, many business website owners wonder if Google ‘punishes’ certain domains for breaking search engine rules. Have you ever wondered if certain websites take a harder hit on Google’s algorithm and if they practice some favoritism over other domains? In this post, we will explore this question and how you can stay on top of this dilemma.
Google’s History of Algorithm Updates
There has been a slew of Google’s search engine algorithm updates over the years, and it is common practice to expect that business websites should adhere to their guidelines. One of the most notorious ones was Google’s Panda update, which caused websites that churned out massive low-quality content to drop in the search engine rankings.
The Panda update brought down many businesses, including eHow.com, About.com, and other article-based websites that received revenue through digital advertisements. Another world-shaking algorithm change was the Penguin update, implemented to destroy manipulative link building strategies that enabled some websites to get top rankings for certain targeted keywords.
After these drastic search engine updates, there’s one thing that marketers and business owners have learned–change is constant when it comes to Google. Thus, digital marketing professionals and business owners work hand-in-hand to get the most of the revenue from Google’s traffic referral.
Does Google Punish Business Websites?
The principle of ranking in Google is simple. Any strategy that attempts to manipulate the ranking system through the use of ‘shortcuts’ will eventually take a hit from Google’s algorithm updates. Every day, Google tries their best to weed out websites attempting deceptive practices and closes loopholes to ensure the best content appears at the top of the search rankings.
Thus, to answer the question if Google does punish websites, the simple answer is yes. Google does punish business websites who do not adhere to their SEO guidelines regarding:
- Creating long-form quality content
- Link building strategies through inbound/outbound links, guest posting, and collaboration with other authority websites
- Appropriate keyword optimization
- Website speed, mobile optimization, and a usable interface
Anything that is the opposite of the basic guidelines mentioned above will bring the risk of ranking lower in Google’s search engine results.
With this in mind, what are some other situations where business websites can be delisted or blocked in Google?
Websites with adult, violence, substance use-related or mature-related content
Any website that condones adult themes, violence, or substance abuse may not be easily searched on Google to protect its users. Although you will likely see them when searching volitionally, these websites cannot be found using keyword suggestions.
For example, a simple search of “where to buy cocaine” or “where to buy heroin” does not yield any keyword suggestions. This implies that Google does not support information sites that lead people to abuse substances. There are also no keyword suggestions for adult and violent themes such as pornography, hate websites, and illegal materials.
Does this mean that businesses such as rehabilitation centers for alcoholics and drug addicts, and other help-related websites are affected by Google’s stringent rules? Thankfully, these are websites that Google supports. A search for any site that attempts to solve problems on these common societal problems yields keyword suggestions that may help someone in need.
Websites with multiple 404 pages or changing domain names
There are also business website owners who fail to check on the status of some of their website pages. Google has a bot crawler that constantly checks if your website content is relevant to search engine terms. Even with stellar long-form content, your business website may get ‘punished’ if you have multiple 404 pages.
Alternatively, some website owners also suffer from domain name regret. Upon growing their business, they realize that their domain doesn’t match up to their branding or the audience they are trying to reach. Thus, a difficult but permanent solution would be to change up the domain names. Google then has to re-index everything on the new domain addresses.
As a result, it could take some time before you rank for the keywords you previously targeted. Thus, it is not advisable to change domain names unless it is a life-and-death situation for your business website.
Lack of social media presence
Google doesn’t literally ‘punish’ websites with a low social media presence, but they do favor those that interact with their audience on various platforms. According to SEO strategist Neil Patel, business websites that take time and effort to post on social media are more likely to rank in search engines.
The Simple Solution: Reverse Engineering
If Google constantly changes up the rules in their search engine game, what then, is the permanent solution for business website owners who aspire to rank long-term?
One great principle to remember is reverse engineering websites that already rank. Startups and other businesses that would like to rank can simply observe how other ranking websites:
- Create their content
- Design their pages
- Perform in social media
- Use their keywords
- Implement other factors that influence Google search results
Through reverse engineering, smaller business websites can learn from the ‘giants’ and hopefully gain momentum in achieving their SEO goals.
Using this simple strategy, marketers and business owners can gain insights on what to do to finally be in the top 10 of Google’s search engine results. By adapting to Google’s constant changes and learning from others, you can not only avoid algorithm hits, but also rise to the top of the SERPs.