Google Penalties Expert Guide: How to Find, Fix, and Avoid Them

Google penalties


The last thing you want to deal with in your SEO campaign are Google penalties. But it can happen to you if you’ve been fairly aggressive with your campaign. A Google penalty is a manual penalty given by a Google employee after reviewing your site. It is not to be mistaken by a fall in rankings due to an algorithm change. While a penalty will hurt your campaign, it’s not the end of the world. You can definitely recover and continue to get the benefits of SEO.


How to See If You’ve Been with Google Penalties


The first thing you have to do is to make sure that you have a penalty in the first place. If you’re a Houston business owner that doesn’t have much experience with SEO, it can be hard to figure out if you’ve been hit with a penalty or if there was an algorithm change. If you’ve recognized a fall in rankings, then check this Google algorithm update page to see if there were any recent changes.


If there wasn’t anything major that has occurred, then you’ve probably been hit by a penalty from Google. To check what the penalty is, you can login to your Google account and go the the Google Search Console. Simply enter your domain and go through the verification process.


Once you are able to get to the dashboard, you want to go the “Search Traffic” section into lefthand menu options. It will collapse and open more options. From there, you want to click on “Manual Actions”. This will give you a list of manual actions that your site has been hit with.


If you want a professional SEO to look over your site for you, click here for a free video SEO analysis.


Different Types of Penalties Houston Businesses May Face


There are various types of penalties that you may face as a Houston business owner. You’re likely to see more penalties if you or your SEO has been using black or grey hat SEO techniques which are SEO exploits that Google frowns upon. Sometimes it might be just a technical error on you or your webmaster’s part. Here are some examples of the penalties and how to recover from them:


  1. Cloaking or Redirects


Sometimes you may want to show Google one page while showing your visitors another page for the same URL. This is something that many affiliate marketers do to attain high search rankings while also managing to convert more visitors into sales.


To fix this issue, crawl your site with the Search Console and compare the pages that are provided to you with the cloaked pages. Fix any inconsistencies between the two. Sometimes the problem stems from sneaky redirects that try to trick the visitors. After fixing the issues, submit a reconsideration request.


  1. Thing or Low Quality Content


Google has gotten better about low quality content. They’ve been able to detect spun, scraped, and auto generated content created by various software programs. They also look for content that are duplicates. The latter can often happen by accident if you’re copy and pasting manufacturer product and sales descriptions on an eCommerce site. To fix this problem, simply remove the low quality content from your pages.


Blogging is a must, but there’s no point creating content if you’re creating low quality material. If your content is original but is still getting flagged, rewrite them by adding more useful content that is valuable to your target audience. You’ll also want to make your content longer to increase the quality and increase your ranking prospects.


Use tools like Copyscape or its lower cost alternatives to see if you’ve accidentally posted duplicate content on your site. After the fixes are made, submit a reconsideration request.


  1. Keyword Stuffing or Hiding Them


An old SEO strategy that people have used is to stuff their pages with keywords at the very end for an onpage optimization boost. They may also use hidden text by blending it with the background color (white) to keyword stuff. While hardly nobody uses this strategy anymore, it may be triggered by things like WordPress themes and free templates that try to link back to the developer’s site. Remove any onpage black hat tactics or tricky redirects then submit your site for reconsideration.


  1. Links from Bad Neighborhoods


If you’ve been aggressive with your link building campaign, then you may have gotten backlinks from a bad neighborhood. Sometimes this can be caused by unnatural link building (reciprocal links, bought links, low quality guest posts, etc.) dubbed as the Penguin penalty. This is one of the more common violations and search engine spam penalties business owners see. Google recommends that you disavow backlinks that have have been flagged by Google.


In the Search Console, go to the disavow links page to disavow low quality links.


  1. Hacked Sites


An issue that many people don’t expect is their site getting hacked. Many times you won’t even know that your site was hacked because nothing is changed. Hackers simply add malware, bad redirects, and malicious links onto your page. These hacked sites are detected by Google and users are prevented from viewing them for their safety. These hacks are usually done through WordPress exploits.


Figure out how to get rid of the hacks. Then update your WordPress to prevent it from happening again. You’ll also want to get plugins that that prevent hacks from happening in the first place. After you’ve worked with an experienced webmaster to fix the issue, you’ll want to submit a reconsideration request.


These are some of the more common penalties, but there are still a handful of others that you may face along the way.


How Long Does a Google Penalty Last?


After you’ve fixed the penalties, you’re probably wondering how long it will be until the penalties are removed. There’s no specific timeframe on when the penalties will be removed, but you can expect your site to be updated within 30 days. If you’ve incurred some serious offenses by partaking in black and grey hat strategies, you’ll probably have to wait a lot longer to get the penalties removed.


If you think that the penalties stem from careless mistakes you’ve made with your campaign, you ought to check out the starter guide on how SEO works. This will teach you the fundamentals and give you an idea of what Google wants so that you do not make mistakes that hurt your campaign.

In conclusion, fixing any Google penalty is possible if you do a thorough analysis and fix everything Google has identified as problematic. However, the process is not easy. You’ll usually want the help of a SEO professional to guide you. If you need some help, request a free video SEO analysis from us at Destiny Marketing Solutions. We’ll provide solid advice on how to approach penalties and move forward with building a winning SEO campaign.

The 13-Step SEO Audit: How to Find Your SEO Mistakes & Opportunities

SEO audit

What is an SEO Site Audit?


An SEO audit is a complete analysis of all the factors that affect the positioning and visibility of a website in search engines.


Audit of a website allows the website owner to detect hidden content, duplicate entries, and navigational issues. Site audit also allows analyzing performance issues, site architecture, and bad links.


Sometimes, an SEO audit and technical SEO audit are used interchangeably; however, there is a difference between these terms.


What is a Technical SEO Audit?


It differs from the general audit because it mainly focuses on resolving technical issues related to the structure and coding of a web page.


For instance, checking sitemaps, index, web crawlers, and link content are part of the technical foundation that needs to be fixed for better rankings.


While a typical SEO website audit looks for broken links, slow page speed, image tags, and anchor text, the technical audit also includes deep analysis of a web page technical foundation.


Why SEO Audit is Important?


An audit is a type of diagnosis, which tells us what is good and what is wrong with the website. It is logical to think that Google and other search engines do not prefer websites that are not useful to search engine visitors.


SEO audit is important to enhance user experience and improve ranking because search engines will prefer a well-maintained website. From the webmaster’s perspective, if the website is well organized, it has a better chance of success, online.


How much does an SEO audit cost?


There are no specific guidelines on how much experts should charge for an SEO audit. The cost can run anywhere from a hundred dollars to thousands depending on the size of an audit.


The overall cost will depend on the number of pages, the structure of the content, the languages, and whether the website has an e-commerce platform.


The 13-Step SEO Audit Checklist


To gain a better understanding of website audit, here is a 13-step guide on how you can audit and fix your website:


Website Accessibility


As a first step, make sure that all of your pages are accessible to website crawlers.


For instance, you should check the robot.txt file and ”˜Robots’ Meta tag to guarantee that the search engine crawler is able to crawl web pages without any issues.


You can also modify your ”˜Robots’ Meta tag to tell crawlers what page they should and should not crawl.


Indexed Pages


Once you’re sure that there is nothing wrong with the crawlers, the second step is to see if all the pages are indexed correctly. If your initial assessment about the crawl is accurate, all of your pages, that you want to be indexed, should be on the search engine.


A simple site request, “” will reveal all the pages on the website that are indexed by the search engine.


Page Structure


If the search crawler is able to crawl the pages and those pages are indexed correctly, there shouldn’t be any problem. If certain pages are still not indexed, you should check website navigation.


A good site navigational structure not only enhances the user experience, but it also allows the search engine crawlers to crawl and index the page easily.


Internal Links


After analyzing pages, it’s time to look at internal and external links.


If you have too many faulty links on your page, you may need to review your link structure. Internal links that lead to nowhere or links that are prone to errors will reduce the ranking of a website.


Don’t clutter your webpage with too many links because it will be difficult for the search crawlers to understand the structure.


External Links


Keep an eye on the external links to your webpage. If there are lots of spammy and low-quality pages linking to your website, you can be penalized by the search engine.


There are a lot of free SEO audit tools that allow you to review your external links, and delete suspicious or spam links.


OnPage Factors


Once links are taken care of, you should look to audit on-page factors such as Meta title, Meta description, and H tags for headings.


Make sure that your Meta titles are in order without any discrepancies. Similarly, pay close attention to how your H Headline tags are configured. You should review if H1 to H6 tags are structured according to a meaningful structure.




Content is a part of on-page factors; therefore, you should check if all of the images on your page have alt tags and they are compressed accordingly.


It is also important to review JavaScript, CSS, and interactive files ensuring that these technical components are not taking excess time to load or interfering with the user experience.




These days, everyone is infatuated with their keywords. Website owners often put the excess time in ranking their keywords forgetting that they also need to audit keywords.


A keyword audit will help in evaluating keyword positions across the Internet. You can search for potential winners and losers ensuring that losers get less focus compared to your winning keywords.




Google and other search engines have started to consider certain key performance indicators to rank websites.


These KPI include metrics such as click-through rate, bounce rate, and time on a web page. Make sure that you write quality content and good headings that are attractive to consumers.


As a result, your metrics will automatically provide a positive outlook and increased rankings on search engines.


Responsive Websites


Mobile friendly and responsive websites are the mainstay of most successful websites. Just make sure that your website looks as good on a mobile as on a laptop.


There are tons of free tools on the Internet where you can check your website’s mobile friendliness and how they look on different devices.


International Orientation


If you sell products and services to a global community, it helps to create a multilingual website.


The “hreflang” attribute tells Google which language and country the website is focusing on. The attribute can be added to the sitemap or the “head” section of a page.


Rich Snippets


You can enhance the user experience by adding rich snippets to the website structure. Google and other search engines use Rich Snippets to highlight the content and services of a page.


These rich snippets can be edited for potential search engine visibility using free Google tools or using Google search console under the structured data. You can decide which content is important for viewers and how you can create great snippets using the correct source code.


Local SEO


For local businesses, it is imperative that their business shows up in the local search listings on search engines. For instance, if you own a local Houston business, Local SEO audit involves checking if the business is listed in “Google My Business”.


You should also study the city and geographical location of your business and use the geo-targeted and geo-modified keyword to increase local visibility in Houston.


Still need more direction with your SEO audit? Give us a call today and we can assist you.

Houston Local Web Presence Creation

The journey to a successful web presence is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Okay, it is not really that simple, but we have come up with a comprehensive strategy that helps you, the business owner, understand what a web presence is and how we can help you strategize, create and maintain it.


First: Develop Your Web Presence Strategy


One of the biggest problems that we see in the internet-marketing arena is a lack of preparation. The results of a success web presence are outstanding (more presence = more customers = more money = potential to grow your business), and because of these many business owners want to skip the preparation step and get to the creation step.


In this step, we will:

  • Identify the current limits in your thinking about what is possible
  • Expand the scope of what might be possible
  • Clarify desired outcome from your web presence (very important)
  • Identify markets to be targeted
  • Identify keyword phrases potential customers use to search for your product or services
  • Research competition to discover opportunities to dominate
  • Develop your web presence strategy

Second: Creating Your Web Presence


Now that you have a clear vision as to what you want out of your web presence and how we can help, we can begin the creation process. This is the part where most business owners and other marketing companies spend the majority of their time. This is okay, but can be costly. As we mentioned earlier if you don’t take time to plan, then you may be wasting time on elements of your web presence that don’t help you or your business. Furthermore, there is a maintenance step that needs to be remembered (we will talk about that below).


In this step, we will:


  • Determine if Personal Brand Development is right for your strategy
  • We will create content which will help you become an authority online
  • We will create the places where your content is distributed:
  • Your Website (This is the starting point, we make sure to include copy that sells)
  • Your Blog (This is where relationships are built and trust is gained)
  • Social Media Sites (This helps you to be more than a billboard and be a real person)
  • Video Distribution Sites (This is a huge trend right now and you need to be a part of it)
  • Podcasting (This is not as popular as video, but is another way to communicate)
  • Email Marketing Setup (This helps you create a list, which is needed to sell your products or services)
  • Link Building (This is a stragety that you may not fully understand, but know this, it is how you get your website to start showing up in searches)
  • Article Marketing (This is how you gain visibility in your niche)

Third: Testing, Monitoring & Adapting Your Web Presence


Now that you have a web presence, you are done right? Some people think they are, but this is where you can fail. If you want to have a successful web presence then you need to remember the third step: testing, monitoring & adapting.  This is a critical step, as we all know that things change. Think back to when you were a kid, what technology was available then? This step allows you to have confidence that the time and money that was invested in the creation step is not wasted.


In this step, we will:


  • Test various website home pages & landing pages
  • Review Google Analytics to determine best keyword phrases
  • Adjust search engine optimization (SEO) and traffic strategies to achieve highest conversation rates
  • Review email marketing analytics to determine which emails are being read & adjust
  • Study new trends in SEO & SEM and apply proven tactics to achieve maximum conversions

These Three Steps Insure Your Web Presence Success


Now that you have gone through the process of strategizing and creating your web presence, and understand the importance of maintaining it, you can continue with confidence knowing that your web presence is working for you.


Feel free to contact us with any questions you have about your web presence. It does not matter where you are at in the process, we are here to help you get on track and see the results that you were looking for.

Sign up for your free web analysis today!