Google Penalties and How to Avoid Them

If you see a major fall in your website traffic that looks something like this, you’ve likely been penalized by Google.

Big Drop in Google Search Visits

Still, it’s not enough to know that you’ve received a penalty; you need to know what caused it and how to avoid Google penalties in the future.

Google Penalties

Google has two types of penalties: manual action and algorithmic penalties. Manual actions can be found in Google Webmaster Penalties in the form of notifications. Here’s an example of one such warning:

Google Webmaster Tools unnatural links message

Algorithmic penalties, on the other hand, are the result of changes within Google itself. You’ll have to match the date when you lost traffic with the date of a Google updates. You can check Google Algorithm Change History for this data. The reason your ranking suffers due to these updates is likely from Panda, which focuses on content, or Penguin, which focuses on backlinks.

Avoiding Penalties

Bad Backlinks

Certain backlinks can damage your ranking. These include:

  • Penalized or banned websites
  • Websites with duplicate content
  • Websites unrelated to your audience and niche
  • Spam comments
  • Websites with thin content
  • Links from sidebars, footers, or widgets
  • Hidden text
  • Links from adult or gambling sites
  • “Sneaky” links, like cloaking, redirects, link schemes, auto-generated content, etc.

Over 95% of Google penalties come from your backlink profile, so avoid these kinds of links on your site. Learn more about bad backlinks at Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Automatic Direct

If you are using any automatic direct submission tactics, stop doing so right away. Automatic website submission causes your blog to look like spam. This can cost you your page rank, or even cause the complete removal of your blog from search engines.

Keyword Stuffing

This one gets caught by Penguin very quickly, plummeting even pages on a website anywhere from 10-100+ spots! Keyword stuffing refers to overfilling a page or post with your keywords, so much that it can’t read naturally and looks like spam. This is Google’s example of keyword stuffing:

Image result

Anchor Text

Anchor text refers to the text highlighted in a hypertext link. This text should be relevant to the page, and not just generic text. Using this wrong will inhibit your site from a high ranking. Plus, aggressive text can land you a penalty.

Boosting Your Rank

Whether you’re recovering from a Google slap or just trying to improve your ranking, it’s important to know how to accomplish this without getting penalized (again).

Improving Your Content

Rather than simply cramming keywords and calls-to-action into your posts, tell a story. Stories grab your audience’s attention, and can improve your conversion rate. And, as part of these stories, you’ll need to fill it with personal experiences, including case studies, and a relatable tone. Write first, and then find ways to insert SEO keywords in afterward.

Another way to improve your content is to improve your headline. It must be relevant and invoke curiosity. And, if you want it to stand out, try adding numbers, such as “5 Blogging Tips for Stay-at-Home Moms.”

Remember to add images! Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images. However, additional images may not influence ranking beyond one image.

Improving Your Site

Site speed matters. Based on data from Alexa, pages on fast-loading sites rank significantly higher than pages on slow-loading sites. Consider trimming some of your plugins if necessary, or reduce the size of your images as a start if your site moves slowly.

Web Directories

Submitting your blog to web directories is another of the easy ways to get backlinks. With that said, this method has become unpopular these days, because finding a legal web directory is not easy. You must especially avoid those web directories that ask you to create a backlink to their website to get their website into a directory.

Petitioning Google for Reconsideration

If you have gotten smacked, you can petition Google to reconsider the penalties on your site. You must only do this after correcting your site’s issues. Once you’ve pruned unnatural links, fixed layout issues, and tidied your content, you can send them a request for reconsideration.


Remember, it’s doable to recover from a Google penalty. The trick is simply to find out what caused it, and quickly remove it.

Have you ever been penalized on Google? We’d love to hear and learn from you!


5 Reasons Why PPC is a Must For Your Business

PPC advertising, otherwise known as SEM (Search Engine Marketing), is one of the fastest growing and cost-effective methods of advertising online. I am a strong advocate of PPC and believe the rewards greatly outweigh any doubts or concerns you have with the risks associated. PPC, if done correctly, can be the most profitable marketing channel for your company. Most PPC is done using Google Adwords, so I will base these suggestions off of what Google has eplained. Here are 5 reasons why PPC can help your business grow unlike any other platform.


1st Page Exposure

PPC is the fastest and easiest method to getting on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP). If your website doesn’t appear on the front page, or even within the top 5 placements on the SERP, you are not going to have a consistent amount of online traffic. Your advertisement placement is based on Ad Rank, which is graded on two criteria: quality score and your bid amount. Your quality score is determined by your expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and the landing page experience. Your bid is in your control. Google has a suggested bid on their Adwords site, but only use that number as a reference. If you want to show up on the first page or the the number 1 or 2 spots, you will most likely have to bid more. There is no definitive bidding strategy that will guarantee those top spots, but if you are just starting out with PPC, it will be best to bid high for your selected keywords and adjust your bids later. Initially bidding high will give you a higher chance of showing up on the first page and that will not only add value to quality score, but will also get more traffic to your site.


Pay for Clicks

The most advantageous aspect of PPC advertising compared to other platforms is that you only pay for the clicks, not the impressions. Your ad could show to 1,000,000 people on Google, but if only 1,000 of them click on your ad, you only pay for those 1,000 clicks. On top of only paying for clicks, you have the power to limit your budget to a certain amount of money per day so that you don’t go over your online marketing budget.


Targeted Ads

Wasting ads on customers who aren’t looking for your products or services is probably the most frustrating aspect of online advertising. The benefits of using Adwords is that you can modify your keywords to include certain variations and exclude the detrimental variations.  The types of keyword variations you can make on your keywords are exact matches, phrase matches, modified broad match, broad match, and negative keywords. These keyword modifications will help you develop an efficient Adwords campaign over time, you just need to look at your data and see why certain keywords are performing poorer than others. If you want to read up more on keyword modifications, click here.



As your ads show more and your Adwords account gains more information over time, you will be able to integrate that data with other online advertising platforms such as remarketing and social media advertising. Using your data from your PPC campaigns to track your customers and know their buying behaviors is critical in today’s digital world. Without an understanding your customer’s online behaviors, targeting your current customers and finding new customers is merely a guessing game, which can prove to be unsuccessful. Successful companies will use this data to make smart and educated decisions in their marketing strategies so that they can maximize their profits.



With Google Adwords, you are in control. You get to control your budget, your audience, the network you want to display ads on, etc. You have control over how you want to display your ads and you can test to see which ads or variations of ads are the most appealing and effective for driving conversions. You control what time of the days your ads will show and you can even target specific geographical locations so that you can reach the right customer at the right time. PPC advertising is all about you having control over your campaigns so that you can fulfill your marketing needs.


How to Start Your Own PPC Campaign

Starting your own PPC campaign[s] is really simple. If you have a Google account, you can start. I would advise you to not starting PPC unless you have studied up on PPC and have some knowledge and background in it. There are plenty of sources that provide study material, including Google. Study and, if you are feeling ambitious, take the Google Adwords Fundamentals exam to test your knowledge. If you feel like you don’t have the time to study up on PPC, then I would advise you to to either hire someone who has the experience and knowledge you need or to find an agency to do it for you. The start of your PPC campaign is the most critical time of the life of your campaign because it will determine right off the bat if you will or will not rank high for your keywords in the future.


Need help?

If you didn’t understand a word that was said in this blog, fear not! Here at Divvy, we have all of the resources and tools you need to have a successful online presence. Fill out the form below or call us at (801) 224-8666 and start experiencing the Divvy difference today!


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How to Improve Your SEO Strategy

When someone tells you that their website ranks #1 on Google organically, take it with a grain of salt. Ranking #1 on Google is a very difficult SEO task and goal for any company that doesn’t own that portion of the market. Powerhouse companies like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft always rank very high organically because they capitalize on how Google ranks webpages and they also have a huge online presence.


Within SEO, as with everything else in the world, there are those who follow the rules and those who break the rules to succeed. We label the SEO practices within the rules as “white hat” and the opposite as “black hat.” By following the recommendations from Google, or practicing “white hat” SEO, you can safely and effectively strengthen your online presence. There are essentially two areas that Google focuses on with webpage rankings: page quality and relevance to the search phrase.


Page Quality

Google uses the popularity of a website as a proxy for page quality. Google measures popularity, from most influential to least influential, based on the click-through rate, bounce rate, short load times, grammar/spelling, ad space, and content. A high click-through rate shows Google that your webpage is popular with certain searches and a large amount of people find your website relevant. Having a low bounce rate means that those people who click on your website, don’t immediately click back to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The combination of a high click-through rate and a low bounce rate are a tall tale sign to Google that your website is very popular and your SEO ranking will be high for this portion.



Relevance is the portion of Google’s ranking system that you, as a digital marketer, have complete control over. The foundation for your relevance starts with your keyword selection. There are three things you want to consider when it comes to keyword selection.


  1. You want to make sure your keyword selection is relevant to what is searched on Google. If your keywords aren’t related to what is being searched, you should expect your bounce rate to increase which will lower your SEO ranking.
  2. Another thing to consider when it comes to keyword selection is the traffic for that keyword. There is no point in ranking high for a keyword that no one searches for.
  3. The last thing to consider with keyword selection is the competition of that particular keyword. If the competition for your selected keyword includes Amazon or another online powerhouse, you might want to reconsider your choice because you most likely won’t be successful. You might want to try using a long tail keyword phrase, or a phrase that is very specific


After you have a strong keyword foundation, the next focus is appropriate tagging and labeling. Whatever keyword you choose for a specific webpage, make sure, I repeat, make sure that your chosen keyword appears in the URL, the title tag, the header tags, the main content, and the image alt text. Google cannot see your webpage, it can only read the code and tags that you make available. If you use your keyword in all of those areas, Google will be able to see that your webpage is related to your keyword because of the amount of times the keyword is found across the page.


Start Improving Your SEO Today

By following the suggestions in this blog, you will be able to see an improvement in your organic listing on Google and an increase of traffic to your website. This is only a guide on how to build an overall strong SEO foundation for your website. We will be discussing more ways to improve your SEO in greater depth in later blogs. If you want more SEO advice, this is a great link that has easy-to-understand steps for starting your SEO. Let us know in the comments below if you find any of these suggestions helpful or if you have any success from implementing any of these suggestions!


Need Help?

If SEO is new to you or you need help optimizing your website, look no further! Divvy is your source for digital marketing consulting and digital marketing management. Fill out the form below so that we can help fulfill your needs today!


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3 Things to Know About Google’s New Business Pages

If you’ve worked with Google+ page listings in the past you know they’re a great asset for businesses and online marketers. However, adding listings, managing locations, maps, and linking all of the individual Google features together can prove difficult.

The good news is that Google just launched Google+ business pages or Google My Business, a platform for businesses that integrates Google+ pages, reviews, YouTube channels and other Google features into one convenient platform.
Google My Business

The new function simplifies all the business-related functions for online marketers and business owners. Before you get started launching your business into online success, we’ve created a list of 3 things to know about Google’s new business pages to help you navigate, set-up and understand how to utilize the updated platform.

1. Simplicity

Google My Business now puts everything in the same place—maps, listings, reviews, analytics, Google+ sharing and even YouTube stats. The page layout is clean and intuitive, with a row at the top for the listing info, and subsequent rows beneath for each of the page’s functions. Users can share Google+ statuses from their dashboard, check their page views and interactions, respond to reviews, and monitor their analytics.

2. Now for brands and franchises

In the past, Google business pages required a physical location for each listing, making it difficult for some brands and companies to utilize the Google offerings. As a remedy, Google My Business now allows companies or brands three options when setting up a page:

  1. Storefront
  2. Service Area
  3. Brand

If your business has a storefront or a listed address, you can attach your listing to Google maps. If you service an antire area (i.e. pizza delivery, taxi service, etc.), you can set-up your page based on a larger area. Brands without a set location (bands, sports teams, causes, etc.) can also have a page independent of any geographical listing.

Google also allows businesses to manage multiple locations at once. Those that have 10+ locations can input each location  into the Google My Business feature and change listing info (hours, websites and phone numbers) for each location.

3. Existing users need not worry

If a Google business listing has already been made, transferring over to the new business platform will not require much effort. When our team at Divvy and Alexander’s transferred their page, they simply signed into their existing Google+ pages and the switch was seamless.

If you want more information about how to leverage social media for your business, please contact us.

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