6 Stress Free Steps to Recover from a Google Penalty

A Google penalty is probably the worst thing that can happen to your business online – essentially it completely suppresses your website’s rankings on Google – it is a business killer!

Things your SEO company may have done to trigger a Google Penalty.

Low-Quality Links

The most common thing your SEO provider would have done would be to buy backlinks from a range of very low-quality websites. Many cheap SEO agencies who have no clue about SEO will buy these very low-quality backlinks en masse. Once Google indexes these spammy links, a Google penalty will follow.

Poor Content Marketing Strategy

Another common SEO technique used by so-called SEO companies is to get articles written at $2 per article and submit these to article sites. A big issue with this is that these article submission sites are allowed to resell published articles meaning that the articles that your website appears on will be open for anyone to use. They are scraped by other websites and your articles are reused. This means that the article which has your business name on it and this links back to your site could have very quickly gained hundreds if not thousands of links. This is classic over optimisation, in strict violation of Googles guidelines, and will certainly trigger an alert and in turn a website Google penalty. You must also be aware of the hazards of placing your link on blog comment sites. This is very easy to do and if the anchor text has been repeated on too many blog sites, then this will be perceived as trying to manipulate your page rank authority. Gaming the system in this fashion will also be a likely cause that could have penalised your site.

Spammy Articles

Lazy SEO companies wishing to impress you with fast rankings will get articles written by the truckload for your business. As stated above it costs next to nothing to get 500 words written but the issue is; what are they writing about and how unique is the article content? Google will know if the content is duplicated or if articles are very similar. If your business has had unprofessionally written content chances are that most of it is very similar and will trigger an alert within Google.

Toxic Backlinks

When contracting out an SEO supplier, most businesses will know very little or are quite naive about what is involved in the process. All they know is that they see their main competition on page 1 and they want to get there by any means available to them. The brief to the SEO company is just that: get us to page 1 and get us there quickly. Trying to impress the new client, backlinks are placed on websites with no value or relevance and they are placed by the thousands. The big issue here is that there was absolutely no audit carried out on the actual website itself to see if it passes the strict guidelines put in place by Google. Rather than rushing off and link building, the SEO team should have done a thorough site audit and made ‘on page’ site recommendations. Failure to do this means that the site might not comply with basic web standards and rules which may be the issue – bad web design can harm your SEO efforts.

Many business people are so concerned about saving a few dollars in the website design phase of their business, that they give the job to the company that can do it for the cheapest. Even worse they use open source platforms and try a DIY web design. This is where the problems begin. There is no thought given to site mandatories like site architecture, programming, web copy, speed, titles and headers, and what small amount they save at this stage is going to cost a whole lot more once the site has been hit with a Google penalty.

Be aware of Reciprocal Link Building. This is where one company promises to put a link on their website in return for a link on your site. Most times you provide a link to your high page rank homepage for an internal page link on their website. You end up with a bad end of the deal. These practices are frowned upon and were common practice in days gone by. Be aware that links to your website could be on other very dubious sites that may themselves be penalised.

How to Lift a Google Penalty

1. Stop Stressing

The first rule is not to panic. If your SEO company is not answering the phone, returning email messages or is denying all responsibility then you must stay calm. Going into a meltdown will only inflame the situation and you may end up doing things that you regret.

2. Google’s Webmaster Tools

Log into your webmaster tools account (if you haven’t got one sign up and create one) – it is here that you will see if there is any correspondence from Google regarding your site. If there are messages similar to what was posted above at least you know what the problem is.

Google webmaster tools will tell you if you have a penalty and if it’s a manual action or algorithmic penalty. Photo Credit: Google

3. Link Profile

You need to get an idea of your link profile. There are online tools that will do this for you, but if like most business owners, you have no idea about SEO or link building then this is going to perhaps be an area that will confuse you.

At this stage, it’s best to look at engaging the services of a professional company like Hopping Mad who can check your backlinking profile and see what the issue is. Given the Penguin and Panda Google updates it is more than likely that you are going to have to get all these links removed. You might think doing this is easy, but this is a huge task and is fundamental to getting out of the penalty. The owners of the websites that your links appear on, need to be contacted and asked to have these links removed.

This has a 50/50 success rate.

Sometimes website owners are happy and agreeable to remove your links BUT there is the other 50% who are either uncooperative or cannot be contacted. Many of these sites have no owners and try to see the site owners details but you will find that they are hidden. In this case, you are left with no alternative other than to hire a takedown team that specialises in link removal.

Once all this has been done and there are still some toxic links remaining you can use the Google Disavow tool which tells Google to ignore those remaining links and not count them as part of your linking profile. This is the last step and should only be done once you have proven to them that you have made every effort to get rid of the backlinks.

Tips for dealing with Google

Once you feel that you have done as much as you can in deleting backlinks and looking at all your on-page work you may write to Google by filing a request for reconsideration through your WMT account. This is the only way you are able to contact Google so make sure that you adhere to these rules in the Reconsideration Request.

  • Be specific and don’t ramble. Google will be getting thousands of emails every day so they do not want to read tons of information that is irrelevant.
  • Be as honest and as upfront as you can be. Never lie, and it’s best to let them know the names of the SEO companies you were working with. Being honest is the best tactic. Google wants to display websites that give the best search results and if your site is one of them and has been penalised due to factors beyond your control then they will know this and be a bit more lenient.
  • Take very specific notes about all the actions you have taken since receiving the penalty notice. Make note of all links and articles removed and clearly write them down in a spreadsheet.
  • File only one reconsideration and wait for the response. Sometimes this can take weeks but you have to be patient. Spamming Google with emails demanding answers is not the way to go. If you get a negative response from Google and they feel that you still have too many inorganic links then start all over again. Look at what links are still active and ask the takedown team to be more heavy-handed. You must continue to remove each and every backlink that you possibly can and never give up on this process. It’s really your best artillery in the battle against the penalty.

4. Website Design & Structure

You will need to look at your ‘on page’ website content and structure. As this was never taken into consideration by yourself or your web developers this is now a priority and needs addressing. Get them to look at site title tags, headers, links, and content. There might also be issues with link duplication or links that just don’t point anywhere, over optimised site content, keyword stuffing and wrong URL structure. All these points need to be looked at carefully and you might even end up trashing your current site and look at getting a new site designed and built for you properly from the beginning.

As you probably paid next to nothing for your original site these funds should happily be written off. This is an option you may want to consider and it might be easier for you to do this than make changes to an existing site that needs a lot of coding amends and restructuring. Compounding this, it might be impossible to make changes to your site if there is scrappy programming or if there is a proprietary content management system that you are unable to get access to or even understand. Many CMS systems are the domain of 1 particular company and making amends is next to impossible.

5. Stop all SEO efforts

Stop all SEO work that has been going on. In the case of a company that has disappeared this has been taken care of but if you are still in touch with your provider tell them to stop all work immediately. If you are under a contract with them then see out the contract but they must cease all work. If they are any good at what they are doing they will offer to help you out but since they are probably the culprits that got you into this position then you should look at cutting ties ASAP. Saying this they should provide you with a report of all their activity and everything that they have done for you, including each and every backlink so you can give this to your Google penalty recovery team.

6. Be smart and get a new SEO agency

Engaging a new SEO firm to help you get out of a penalty will mean that you now have to be looking at a new SEO strategy. This, however, cannot commence until you are in the clear. Be as honest as you can with your new SEO partner and take their advice.

In conclusion

This is really the first stage in getting your business out of the Google Penalty. If you have done nothing wrong and you believe that this has been the result of negative SEO techniques then you should be fine.

What you MUST not do is to try this on your own.

This article is intended only to give you some peace of mind that there are credible and proven solutions to a Google penalty.

If you feel that your website has been subjected to a Google Penalty and would like to work out a strategy to get your rankings back get in touch with one of our Google penalty removal experts.

5 Ways To Tell That Your SEO Team is Ripping You Off.

Are you not getting the kind of SEO results you were promised. Has your Google rankings been in a slump for the past couple of months; even more?

Maybe someone is not being completely honest with you about your SEO.

Updated by Joanna Basile on 25th May, 2020

Follow are some tell tale signs that your SEO agency has been ripping you off. After you’ve read this don’t get angry, just make the call or send the email and terminate your current SEO agency agreement. It’s as simple as that!

1) Long term SEO Contracts

This is a common occurrence and happens all the time with Sydney businesses. This is the worst type of SEO scam and is one of the quickest and easiest ways that you can get ripped off.

The way it works is that these SEO shonks will lock you into a 12 month contract and then pretend to do work. What happens is that they blame the poor, pathetic results, not on their lack of ability or work but on the Google algorithm. Most people go along with this but I am here to tell you that you need to open you eyes, wake up and know that you are getting completely ripped off every month when they deduct money off your credit card.

Also read20 Questions Your Potential SEO Partner Must Know

2. Zero transparency

If they do not or unable to provide you with an activity report at the end of every month then these guys are having a go. They are not providing these end of month reports simply because they are not doing anything. Or even worse, they are afraid to show you your rankings because they have completely tanked. Ask yourself this question; what the hell are you paring for each month if you can’t get an activity statement.  Letting this go by and not taking action is letting these guys off the hook and basically they are taking your money. You would not allow anyone else to do this so why be complacent when it comes to your internet marketing.

3. They outsource all their work

This is a major turn off. Ideally you want a local Sydney based company to be working on your SEO, NOT someone sitting at a desk half way around the world. You want them to be accountable and you want to be able to have meetings face to face whenever you want. Yes, outsourcing your SEO to third world countries is a cheaper option, but what’s the level of work you are getting and is it completely Google compliant. Honestly, I would say that you are getting shafted and more than ripped of if it is going to India – get your money back, do whatever it takes and make it happen immediately. Trusting these guys with your SEO is like going there for a medical procedure. You wouldn’t do it so why would you trust these guys with your business. Its insanity and ultimately you will be paying a heavy price as these SEO scam artists start to ruin any chance you have of ranking.

Don’t get me wrong here and don’t think that I am painting everyone with the same brush, but overall in my many years of SEO experience, outsourcing is SEO death. If you don’t believe me give it a try for a coup0le of months and see the results you get. My phone number is here 02 9360 8514, and I am available for a counselling session after you deal with these guys!

4. Excessive link building & no content marketing

Guess what, Google’s latest updates now requires you to be adding content to your website and I mean adding content on a very regular basis. If you are not aware of this and have not been told about the importance of blogging or content marketing, then I can tell you 1 thing for sure. Your SEO team are just building links. Again, guess what happens when you only focus on link building? You contravene a Google rule and your site will get penalised for over optimisation. SEO companies keen to get your business and lock you into a contract will say almost anything to you so you believe them. They will out right lie to you over the phone and completely BULLSH** you to get you to sign on the dotted line. They wont however, tell you what is required in order to rank. This is because their core business is all about turn over – see once you sign up they basically don’t give a stuff about you and its all about the next sale. BE WARNED about this and be especially aware of non disclosure of topics like blogs and social media. For these guys you are just another number a blip on their sales chart.

5. Cheap SEO prices

Whilst you might think you are smart by going for the cheapest SEO quote, I can tell you from experience that this is again a path to tears, ranking drops and being treated like a second rate citizen. Cheap SEO fees mean 1 thing and 1 thing only, cutting corners, insanely stupid back links and the worst type of customer service you are likely to get.

I often get calls from people wanting me to do their SEO but they try to price shop and say that the other SEO company is offering a better deal. All I say is good luck to them. If they are prepared to trust their marketing to someone who acts like it’s a Persian bazaar then they are going to get what they deserve.


Joomla CMS WebSite Design and Joomla Web Developers Sydney

All our in-house designers and Joomla developers have built thousands of websites from basic brochure style sites right through to more complex eCommerce shopping cart sites. So no matter what type of website you are after we have the technical CMS know how to deliver a great looking website all built using the Joomla framework.


4 Advantages of a Joomla CMS for your Website.


1) The obvious advantage is that it is open source. This way you are not locked into or tied up with another web companies purpose built CMS platform. What this really means for your business is that you never have to pay monthly fees for the intellectual property of their CMS – many web companies will slug you a hefty monthly fee for the CMS and tell you all kinds of stories about security, SEO updates, what ever they like just to keep n hitting you with this fee. Joomla negates this rip off and allows you the freedom to take your website anywhere, without the fear of loosing your website. Watch out for companies that try to flog their own CMS platforms – at the end of the day they are really not worth the money or the aggravation. We get so many phonme calls from businesses that have or are trapped into using a CMS that they really don't like.


2) Joomla will automatically provide your website with security patches and SEO plug –ins so you are always up to date with the latest technologies – these are done automatically so you never have to worry about site hackings or being disadvantaged with your SEO. I would however, suggest that you talk to use about a SEO campaign and a search engine startegy once your website has been launched.


3) If you are hosting on 1 server with Joomla and you want to transfer it to another hosting company, this is very easy to do. With Joomla you are not stuck with 1 hosting provider. If your hosting platform is not working properly, or you are disappointed with the performance, then its super easy to migrate.


4) Some people may think that Joomla platforms can limit design – this is far from the truth – our CMS sites are all very visual, original and custom made. In no way does Joomla affect design, in fact, it enhances our abilities and gives us more license to be creative.


Joomla CMS & Hopping Mad Designs, Why Us?


If you have never been through the web development process, then you should know that they type of CMS platform that you use can have a massive impact on your web outcome.


By engaging Hopping Mad for your web design and build, and knowing that we use a Joomla platform, you can have the confidence that your final website will be; functional, highly creative and totally user friendly.


Once your site has been made live we will give you full training and support. This means that you can get into the back end of the site whenever you like and make as many changes and amends as your want. If you get stuck or have any issues, we are always here to help and answer any questions you may have. This is the beauty of a CMS like Joomla, once you get the hang of it, it's a breeze to use.

So if you are thinking about getting a new website or looking to update your website with a new content management system – give us a call here at HMD on 02 9360 8514. You will see that the whole web process is so much easier once we are on board and once we start building it with Joomla.

Content Marketing Agencies in Sydney | Tips and Ideas To Get You Started

Lets go back two years and look at what was needed to get your website ranked on the first page of Google. It was all about back linking strategies and companies paid a fortune to have their linking profiles handled by SEO companies. This was all the rage and worked really well until Google pulled the pin on this and started to penalise this type of practice. Instead, they rewarded businesses that had a content marketing strategy.

Content Marketing is Easy

Content marketing is simple, but there are a couple of golden rules that you must adhere to such as; the content must be unique, it must be highly relevant and engaging. If you have these areas covered then you should be able to get your web page ranked. Well worded content on your website or blog is the best way to rank.
If you want, you can apply this technique to all your content throughout your website and blog. The more that you write on individual separate topics, the more you will be perceived as an authority on the subject and in turn the higher your rankings.

Its a great marketing tool and if you write regularly you will see the immediate benefits.

Top Hints for Content Marketing.

1) There is really no short cut to this. What you need to do is write content yourself or contract out the services of a professional copy writer. If you are a novice I highly recommend a copywriter – if you don't know anyone then we have our own team of blog and web copy people here at Hopping Mad Designs.

2) Look for topics that are related to your line of work and write blog articles on each topic. They can be as varied as you like within the topic, but be certain to try and keep the content within each article unique. I find that a good way to keep the content original is to write 2 or 3 pieces for myself and then get a copywriter to contribute 1 article per month. This mixes the styles up a bit and makes again, for a better read.

3) Get a client to write an article about their business and publish on your blog as a guest piece. This not only makes your client feel a apart of your business but also benefits you with new interesting blog content written from a totally new angle. Get them to write about their business or experiences in the business world.

4) If you are writing for the search engines and wanting your article to rank don’t be under the illusion that stuffing the content with keywords will help you in anyway. In fact, it will probably go against you when Google doesn’t rank the article and it will just bore the pants of the readers who will are likely to exit your site. Write content as if you are speaking naturally. Never write for the search engines, make the dialogue seem natural and never try to fool the system.

5) Be alert for content writing scams. There are a lot of online businesses out there promising that they will be able to write your unique content for $1 per article. These companies should be avoided at all costs. What they are doing is scraping content of other websites and reselling these. Essentially you end up with duplicated content that has gone around the net and is in no way unique to your business.

6) I have seen clients that think that they can write 100 word articles and think that this will be enough to get them ranked. Having this approach is a waste of time and effort. If you are serious about content marketing then you have to have a articles of around 1500 words. You will find that once you start the writing process and you are in the groove, you should get to your target very quickly.

7) If you are wanting to engage the services of a web copywriter be sure that you are using a credible team that has experience in content marketing. Again, there are many content creators to be found online, so make sure you do your due diligence before taking anyone on board. Check references and read some of their past work.

8) People are so bombarded with information and content that they need to be literally blown away with what they read. It has to be informative, easy to read and attention grabbing. If you are going to post your content on social media sites like LinkedIn or Facebook then make sure that what you write will not come back to haunt you later on.  If your content lacks substance, is offensive, badly written, the effect will be to turn people off and this can have a negative effect on your business or brand.

Why use Hopping Mad Designs for Your Content Marketing Campaigns?

1) We are the content marketing experts. We have a team of in house copy writers that understand the online environment.

2) Social Media Gurus. Social media is a great new marketing platform and a great way to engage with a whole new customer base. Having intelligent, targeted content that is aimed specifically for a promotion or to highlight a new product or brand is the best way to reach out to this audience. Hopping Mad knows social media and knows what it takes to get a reaction from people on these social networks.

3) We are fast to respond to any new content marketing campaign you may have and you will find that we do offer a surprisingly affordable service. We can save you heaps of money, time and get your business looking and sounding so much more professional than you thought possible.

4) Our content team are able to look at your business or company from a different perspective and deliver catchy content solutions that you may never have thought of.

If you want to start your CONTENT MARKETING please call us on 02 9360 8514

Google Panda attacks again – what you need to do

The Google Panda update has been designed to help improve the search engine rankings of websites that have better quality content and on the other hand to penalise sites that have meaningless, spam-like web copy.

We refer to the Panda update as an attack. You can compare a Panda bear attacking you and a Google Panda attacking your website ranking.

The attack happens because companies will often use SEO companies that try to fool the algorithm and employ SEO tactics that are outside the search guidelines. Eventually, this catches up with them and they become part of this panda attack.

How do you know if you have been the subject of a Google Panda attack?

– Check your rankings and if they have dropped a few pages or disappeared altogether then you have incurred the wrath of the dreaded Panda.
– Audit your site and make sure that there are no duplicate pages and that each page on your site has unique content. This is an important step as you may have accidentally loaded content to your site that was on another or old site.

Search Engine Journal has a great article regarding the Google Panda penalty which you can read here. Wikipedia also has some useful information about the Google Panda Update which is worth a read.

What Do You Do Now?

Following are a few points to help you improve the quality of content on your website and this, in turn, should help you get out from the Panda attack or Panda penalty.

Work on improving upon slim content

A lot of websites will have images only on the home page. Sure images look great and they are impressive, but look at adding original copy or content describing those images. If, for example, you are an architect why not have 2 or 3 case studies on the home page with great copy describing actually what you did for the project. This will have the effect of providing useful information to someone visiting your site and help the search engines when indexing your site. Remember to make the content unique.  Also continually look at updating content on your website and this includes old blogs ( which I am doing right now almost 10 years after originally posting this blog) with new links, images and more relevant copy. Outdated blogs provide no benefit to users so keeping them fresh with new copy and including your services, staff and contact details updated is a good way to stay ahead of Panda. I want to point out here that the worst thing you can do if your feel too stressed about writing copy is to buy blogs or copy online. There are lots of people selling content but they scrape this off the internet and republish this as their own which they sell to you. Obtaining content this way has so many negatives including duplicate content which is in strict violation of Panda. The rule here is to write the content yourself and make certain it’s unique.

Also read: 10 Content Marketing Predictions for 2022

In so far as design is concerned, there are ways you can integrate this copy into the design without ever compromising on the site’s overall appeal. Speak to your web designer about this. Most web design studios should be able to advise you on this.

Add new and fascinating content will radically help you

Ask yourself this question; when was the last time that I added content to my website? If the answer is, I can’t remember, then you really need to take action and take it fast. Think about adding a blog to your site and adding an interesting article every other week. This will keep the search engines satisfied and keep you out of the crosshairs of the Panda update. Make sure the blog articles are well written and posted online regularly. Blog posting is great for business and lifting your online profile as a source of information.

Now start linking

Google’s spiders are always on the lookout for new pages. Having an external link pointing to your new content is a sure way to get noticed and help your article as well as a website with SEO rankings. Getting links that point to this new content is not easy but a good starting place is on your social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. A great way to promote your site legitimately is to have a link point to your blog from another external blog.

More SEO points related to Panda

The Panda is a complex beast. In terms of SEO, it has changed the landscape forever, which I personally feel has been positive. It has rewarded companies like hopping mad designs who spend hours upon hours writing quality content on our blogs. We play by the rules and this is why we are ranking online. Panda has eliminated all the dodgy SEO companies, who in the past, could rank sites easily.

My main tip to anyone reading this is to speak with an SEO professional and get advice if you feel that you are the subject of a Panda attack. These people will be able to diagnose the issues and fix them so they won’t occur in the near future.

Google Penalty Help

Has your website been penalised? Have you lost all your online rankings? Are you finding it hard to get a straight answer from your current SEO agency?


We  are able to help you get your GOOGLE rankings back by cleaning up your SPAMMY backlinks & quickly correcting any Google Penalties your website has in a 100% completely Google compliant manner. This is a very serious business and if your website has been subjected to a Google penalty then you need to act quickly.

What is a Rank Suppression or Google Penalty?

Search engines maintain a set of guidelines for use. These guidelines, when followed carefully, will prevent your website from falling foul of the search engine itself, in terms of its filtering and categorising tools that essentially decide whether or not your website is a legitimate website, which they are happy to include in their search catalogue.

Businesses have come to recognise the importance of search engines as a means of obtaining new business. Where telephone directories were once used, search engines now are; especially Google. But unlike their predecessor, your listing does not simply appear in a search engine in alphabetical order—it all depends on your SEO.

A great looking  website, with careful attention to the principles of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), will assist the search engines in correctly identifying and indexing your website, so that when users search they will find appropriate and legitimate websites that respond to their search query.


Unfortunately, there are simply too many SEO providers who don’t ascribe to such ethical practices. If your SEO provider engages in practices that are outside the official guidelines supplied for the use of search engines, your website may achieve high-rankings to begin with, but when the search engine becomes suspicious it will suppress your ranking, and in so doing making your business invisible to searchers.



How do you know when your website has been penalised?

There are two ways to find out whether or not your business is subject to a rank suppression or Google penalty. The first indication is a significant drop in your ranking, which can be measured by looking closely at your website traffic statistics.

If there is a sudden or noticeable drop that remains consistent, this can be an indication that such a penalty has been applied. If your drop in ranking is gradual, or there is evidence that it is temporary (meaning you drop, but later regain, traffic) it may just mean that the search engines have altered how they categorise your business, or it may be time to review your website content for freshness of material.

The second indication is receiving a communication regarding a penalty. If you’ve received an email to your Webmaster tools with words to the effect of: “We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.“—You can be fairly certain that your website is in trouble.

The key is to act fast. If you have received this email, or a similar communication, and you remain unsure about its authenticity, our team can assist you in determining its legitimacy and directing you towards your next steps.

Why has my business been penalised?

When it comes to manipulating search engine results, businesses are becoming more active in their SEO. When this activity crosses the line between what we call ‘healthy’ optimisation, and ‘unhealthy’ optimisation (or cheap tricks that fall outside the search engine’s guidelines), the search engines themselves will respond by suppressing your ranking or by applying a penalty.

Like all forms of online strategy, SEO is an evolving art. As the search engines get wiser to SEO techniques, they respond with better monitoring. Unfortunately not all SEO providers are as quick to adapt; leaving some whose practices may have been acceptable in the past, now veering dangerously towards suppression penalty territory.

How could my SEO have caused this?

The fact of the matter is that many SEO companies still use out dated SEO techniques  – they are not up to date with the latest Google algorithm changes, and this is why your website has been penalised – simple as that. Dodgy back linking practices are one of the main reasons your no longer ranking. In our experience I would say that roughly 50-70% of SEO agencies still implement out dated, non compliant techniques.

While many businesses desire to engage the latest forms of marketing, sadly there are those, like in all areas of business, who operate SEO services without due regard to the guidelines. The guidelines that apply to search engines are there to prevent illegitimate companies and websites from achieving high rankings. If your SEO supplier has failed to comply with these guidelines, your legitimate business may be deemed to be illegitimate or ‘spam’, and will be treated accordingly.

Many SEO providers have short-term thinking. SEO has become a hot area for online marketers, and as such has attracted with it the good and the bad. The shape of SEO is also constantly evolving, and while the best providers will stay ahead of these changes, many are left operating as before, and hoping their clients won’t be the first ones to be penalised.


The SEO Culprits

In order to achieve rapid results with little cost, many SEO companies engage in the following techniques that can be highly detrimental to your website and make you a penalty target:

Link Schemes
Search for websites that are willing to sell ‘links’ and you will find many—none of them reputable or the type of sites that you would like your business associated with. As your SEO company may have told you, increased links to your websites from other sites will improve your rankings, but if the sites and volume of links is suspicious, Google and others will regard it accordingly.

Ask your SEO provider whether links have been purchased for your website. If the answer is yes, ask them for an audit of the websites currently carrying your links.

SEO has taught us many clever tricks to achieve higher rankings, but take those suggestions to the extreme and again you will be deemed suspicious by the search engines. The aim of SEO is to make your site easily identifiable by search engines. When the steps taken to improve the ease of this classification begin to manipulate such, trouble becomes inevitable.

Search Engines provide a great service. But part of their business model is to ensure that the end user is able to obtain the most relevant results from their search. If SEO is causing these results to affect the correct identification and ranking of a website, then the Search Engine’s reputation is going to suffer.

It’s about finding a balance between what will reasonably assist the search engines regarding the ranking of your site, and what will cause them to wonder whether the content is legitimate.

Duplicate Content
When it comes to maintaining your search rankings for a sustained period of time, updated and fresh content is king. But the content must be unique. If your SEO company has purchased content for your site, that has also been sold to hundreds of other sites, it is likely that the search engines, such as Google, will regard this duplication as a clear sign of foul play.

To avoid content duplication, all new content for your website should be written in house or by a professional copywriter, who can provide unique content that is relevant to your business. To ensure you are getting this, ask your SEO provider to provide you with copies of any articles written on your company’s behalf, and search key paragraphs to check that the content is unique. If you find your article elsewhere, or in multiple places, you can be pretty sure you are being sold duplicate content.

Hidden Text
One of the older tricks in the SEO book is to include ‘hidden text’, or text that is built into the background or non conspicuous areas of your website. Typically done during the design phase and brimming with your key words, this type of practice is frowned upon by search engines and sits well outside their guidelines. What was once considered a clever way to exploit the system is now a quick way to find yourself excluded. Talk to your graphic designer about whether this has been included in your website design. Sometimes SEO providers might make such requests to your graphic designer, and like all areas it’s particularly important that you are communicated with.

Keyword Stuffing
Your content should be rich with relevant key words in order to assist the ‘crawlers’ or ‘spiders’ (the little guys from the search engines who rank websites) to correctly identify and categorise your website. But like most things, there’s a balance between content rich in keywords, and content that is stuffed to the brim with keywords, making it unnatural and suspicious. Apart from the damage such content may do to your brand and reputation, it is a quick way to attract the wrong side of Google.

While you might think the more the better, it is often the placement of keywords that is ultimately more effective. Your website copy is also an important opportunity for you to reflect and build your brand, leave an impression on potential customers, and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Automated Redirections
A simple way to achieve hits that enhance the perception of your website as a popular site is automated redirections. While redirections are an effective tool for user navigation when applied appropriately, if these redirections appear unnatural or are there simply for the purpose of elevating the popularity of your website (on false pretenses), don’t expect that Google and the like will
view your popularity with the same degree of kindness.

As with all areas in business, we have to be careful that as business owner practices reflect the integrity we want associated with our brand or product. Who we select to work with in new areas such as SEO can be challenging, but the same degree of research and accountability should apply.

If your SEO provider is reluctant to share their strategy with you, or to make you completely aware of what they are doing to enhance your rankings, it’s a good indication that they are not being entirely forthcoming for a reason. Google, Bing, Yahoo and the like, are world leaders in online technologies, and if they haven’t already, they will soon find ways to counter each less-than sound SEO practice. The benefit of being listed on a Search Engine far outweighs the risk of attempting to unfairly rig the system.

Suspect you’ve attracted a penalty…What can I do?

It’s important that you address your ranking suppression as soon as you can to limit the damage a low-ranking search can have on your reputation. The first step is to review your SEO practices. Contact your SEO company and let them know that you are concerned that you may be subject to a Google Penalty or Search Engine Suppression. How they react will give you the first indication as to whether their practices may have had something
to do with the penalty.

What happens if your SEO Company is at fault?

If your SEO company has been using practices that have increased your chances of attracting a penalty, we recommend you cease your contract with them immediately, request a refund and engage the services of a more reputable provider. This has to happen fast – the more they continue to work on your website, the more damage they can do.

Can I get my money back?

While we can’t give advice as to what legal recourse may be available to you or your company, as each situation is different to the next, we would suggest locating and reading the terms of your SEO agreement, or consulting a lawyer to find out whether your circumstances give rise to a cause of action against the SEO supplier.

How can I avoid dodgy or risky SEO companies?

If you are yet to engage a SEO company, it is important to do your research. We recommend you visit the company or provider to ensure they operate a legitimate business. Ask for a complete SEO strategy report for your approval, which will state how they aim to achieve your rankings.

Pay a fair price. SEO can be a highly effective form of marketing. It’s worth investing in if you want your website to be found online. Like all quality forms of marketing, it will require some financial investment, so be prepared to pay and demand transparency from your provider. Don’t ever go with the cheap n cheerful option – yes, it is highly tempting BUT this is probably the main cause for your SEO penalty.

Please note this: Any SEO company that promised guarantees or pay on performance gimmicks, avoid them at all costs. These are the very worst type of SEO companies and are there to just scam you out of your money. If you want to avoid really dodgy SEO agencies avoid these people at all costs.

Rectifying the Damage – WE CAN HELP!

The quickest way to stop the damage caused by a penalty is to engage an expert to assist. At Hopping Mad Designs we have helped businesses throughout Australia get out of their Google penalty. In some cases this can take a few weeks – but be prepared to wait at least a couple of months – this will depend on the severity of your penalty and the damage caused by your previous scam ridden SEO provider – so if you are in penalty get in touch with us now so we can start the process for you.

What we offer:

Our services include penalty determination and cause assessment, assistance with your application to be reconsidered by the search engine (i.e. Google, Yahoo, Bing) as well as post penalty SEO assistance. We have done this for many businesses in Sydney and throughout Australia – AND OUR SUCCESS RATE IS NEARLY 100%

Penalty Determination
Our team will examine your current SEO practices and identify areas that fall outside the search engine’s guidelines, or are likely to place your website at risk. This includes assessing your ‘link profile’, website content, back links and other factors that may be influencing how the search engines are characterising your business. Once identified, we can work with you to ensure these practices are ceased immediately, and provide a report to that effect in support of your reconsideration application.

If you have received any notices regarding a penalty, we are also able to confirm these notices and assess their authenticity. What you may first consider to be spam may in fact be an official warning and the best opportunity to act.

Application to Reconsider
Our team can assist you by documenting the steps you’ve taken to address your penalty, and by preparing your application to be reconsidered. We have a thorough understanding of what the search engines require to feel confident that your website is legitimate and that you’re willing to comply with their guidelines.

If you would like to prepare this application yourself, we offer the following advice:
• Be honest, succinct and transparent: Google and the like do not view kindly those who endeavor to shirk responsibility or conceal questionable practices.
• Provide a summary of the actions taken to correct the problem, including the names of websites and dates that links have been removed, changes in your website content or graphic design elements, copies of notifications sent requesting the removal of automated re-directions; give complete disclosure on your SEO supplier and provide easy and reliable contact details should they need to confirm anything.
• Be patient. Google and other search engines have many applications to process and will likely take some time getting to yours.

Rebuilding your SEO Strategy

Once you’ve overcome your penalty, you will no doubt be keen to regain a high SEO ranking. By engaging our expert SEO service, not only can you be confident that you will remain within the guidelines (and away from search engine penalties), but that you can achieve great SEO results without compromising them.

Like all business products, your SEO is a valuable tool that requires professional guidance and implementation. While we’re sorry you have fallen victim to unethical SEO practices in the past, we hope that by working with us, we restore your belief in a quality SEO product.

Let’s Repair the Damage

If you believe a Google penalty or Search Engine Suppression Penalty has happened to your website – get in touch with us now on 02 9360 8514