How to recover from a Google penalty
Has your website taken a hit from Google's latest update? Here are some top tips for getting back up to speed.
Published byAlexis Pratsides
Many websites will experience a drop in organic traffic the moment an update to Google’s algorithm is released. This is particularly true on Your Money Your Life (YMYF) websites that offer content about medical, legal, or financial information. If you have been experiencing these drops following an update, it is important to improve your EAT.
EAT stands for:
We discuss how to improve your EAT to recover from a Google Penalty and go through the five main key strategies you can use to regain organic traffic and keep it.
From leveraging real expertise to improving content, layout, and trust signals, to learning how to use no-index to your advantage, these are the top five tactics to use to recover from a Google Penalty today:
1. Leverage real expertise
Websites need to provide informative, authoritative content that is trusted by readers. Having page after page and post after post of content written by the admin doesn’t tell readers or Google who wrote it. Instead, you need to leverage real expertise.
You can do this in one of two ways. You can either accept offers of guest posts, or you can ask for experts to write for your website.
In order to really boost the power of these experts, you are going to want to showcase who wrote which piece. This means having a short bio underneath the post that links to a biography page on your website that links to all of their content and social media profiles.
If you are approached by an expert to post on your site, you will want to do your homework. Check their credentials to ensure they are an expert in their field. The three key characteristics you want from a guest poster are:
- Social media following
- Engagement online
You don’t want to feature just anyone on your website. Do a small background check to make sure they are a good fit for your niche.
2. Minimise aggressive ads
The Page Layout algorithm came into effect in 2012, and with that update, aggressive ads became a thing of the past. Or, at least, they should have. If your advertisements are not relevant to your website, or if they are distracting, flashy, or block the main content of any page, you need to remove them and rethink your advertising strategy.
If your site is full of annoying ads, your visitors will not read your content. Instead, your bounce rate will increase, and you will be ranked even worse by Google.
This needs to be done for both mobile and desktop.
Instead of intrusive ads, consider using an affiliate program or sponsored posts to bring in advertising money.
3. Implement trust signals
Add trust signals to your website. These will make your site and your brand more trustworthy to users and potential customers. Trust signals include:
- Reviews (Google, Feefo, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, etc.)
- Testimonials from clients
- Client logos
Another way to improve your trust signals is to ensure your personal brand is uniform across all channels. If you guest post on another site, it should use the same name and photo as your personal website. This is important, both for users and for Google, and will help both parties connect you to all the content you have created online.
4. Improve content quality
Improving the content on your website is one of the standard steps to take to recover from a Google Core Update. Content is king. Avoid keyword stuffing, ensure all content is written for people and not Google’s algorithm, and go through the effort of structuring it correctly.
Headings, subheadings, and achor links (jump links) will make your content more user-friendly, and in doing so, your content will rank higher.
Avoid overly salesy language
If you try to add a strong call to action alongside an informative piece, people will distrust your information and your intentions. They cannot trust you to be unbiased and lead them to the best option if you push an option upon them.
Improve readability score
You can check the readability score through a variety of platforms. Typically, you will want to aim for a score of 9 or lower. Readability scores are based on the reading level but don’t make the mistake of thinking that a higher score is better.
Most people statistically read at around level 9, but scoring less than 9 is perfectly acceptable. Ernest Hemmingway’s works often score around a 5. That’s because keeping your content concise, easy to read, and easy to understand is the priority.
You don’t want your readers to have to double-check what a word means. You want them to understand something fast and in as few words as possible.
Create original content
Paraphrasing a longer piece of somebody else’s content for your own site is not a good strategy. You need to create content that is truly original. A good way to do this is to find a topic in your field that is trending. Once you have this topic, add your own opinion or try to find a different perspective.
Great, original content needs to be informative, accurate, and well formatted. Some characteristics to aim for include:
- Well researched
- Well edited
- Citations to trusted publications
- External links
- Add anchor links to get to the right part of your page
- Ensure it is of sufficient depth
- Add captions to each image
- Add links to related articles
- Support claims with evidence
- Add disclaimers to any ads
- Ensure your ads are non-distracting and relevant
5. Noindex low-quality content
Deleting pages is not the way to remove low-quality content from your website. Deleting these pages and posts is a wasted opportunity. Instead, request for it to be noindexed. Once the pages are tagged with noindex, they should be improved. Flesh out content, format the page properly and improve your EAT. Once the page is ready, you can then request for it to be indexed again.
If you were hit by Google’s latest algorithm update, just work on improving your EAT and follow these strategies, and your organic traffic should improve by the next update.
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