Google Penalties Economic Impact
Google penalties are more than just an annoyance and lost traffic. They can spawn economic impacts that cause businesses to shut down sites and buy new domains to start over.
In particular, Google Panda and Penguin penalties are harshest ones a webmaster can have levied against her site.
Because if your site gets hit with one or both of these (it's happened), and you work hard to clean up the site, you won't see recovery until the next time the penalty is injected into Google's search algorithm.
And this is where it's really brutal, because neither penalty gets updated on a regular, scheduled basis, and it can be months - even up to a year - before Panda or Penguin is once again activated.
What's worse, your site isn't guaranteed to recover. It can be due to a number of reasons, but it boils down to that you didn't completely mitigate the SEO issues on your site. Perhaps you didn't dig deep enough on those links, or maybe there are still some pages several levels down that are thin content or spammy.
SEO Leaders Are Calling Out These Google Penalties
In the last two days, Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land and Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable have published articles questioning a couple things about the random, not-knowing-when the search formula will be updated, and they have some interesting things to say.
Danny teed off on Google first by calling the search engine out for remarks made that Penguin and Panda would be running constantly. No longer would we have to wait months for the penalty to be programmed in again, and hold our breath that we did enough work to recover sites.
It seems that while Google first said that, they then walked back those statements and said, no, they're not in the algorithm and they aren't upated at regular intervals. Hell, we knew that.
The big point Danny's making is that it's time for Google to create a notification system via Google Webmaster Tools to tell the affected sites which penalty they've been hit with.
I think this is fair. Hit a site, let it know, and once the SEO team has cleaned it up, run the improvements through the filter and see if it's enough. Don't impose an economic hardship on a site by waiting for months and months before deciding to program the penalty in again.
Run Google Penalties Real Time, All The Time
Barry Schwartz then published an article summarizing how the SEO community has asked Google to end the confusion and stop putting out contradictory information.
Well, that's Google's MO. But I agree with the SEO leaders who are pushing Google for clarification - just tell us what's going on, and more to the point, just permanently program Penguin and Panda filters in.
I feel like this levels the playing field a little bit if we know for sure which penalty we got slapped by. We can quickly evaluate the problem, come up with a mitigation plan, do the work, have the crawlers come back and re-index the pages to see where they shake out.
By doing this, the SEO profession will be more efficient. Hell, we might even get some respect if we can solve an SEO problem fast and save a business from possible economic ruin.
C'mon Google. We're waiting on you.
If Google penalties are new to you, here's an article about their recommended webmaster guidelines that may help.
Until the next time, stay safely between the ditches.
All the very best to you,