What is an SEO Algorithmic Penalty?

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Categorized in:

An algorithmic penalty is something that website owners have come to dread. It’s a penalty that detects and punishes websites that are in violation of guidelines and other rules that are meant to keep everyone on the same playing field. Algorithms are constantly being updated, so websites often find themselves receiving a penalty. Reasons for these evolving rules include unethical SEO practices such as keyword stuffing and link buying. Here’s what you need to know about SEO algorithmic penalties:

 What Exactly is an SEO Algorithmic Penalty?

As mentioned, there is a set of rules that every website must play by in order to make things fair for everyone. Google algorithmic penalties are used to keep everyone on the same playing field. As the changes to the algorithm are made, some websites will come out winners and others will come out as losers (the penalized). In most cases, a website owner will know they’ve been hit with a penalty when they begin seeing a decrease in traffic, which is abnormal.

This happens because the website’s search engine result won’t be as high as it was before and keywords that were once performing well are no longer doing so. If a website owner suspects that their website has been penalized, it is possible to check manually. There is no set schedule for when algorithm updates take place, so instead of trying to anticipate them, it’s better to stick to the guidelines all the time. This means reviewing the guidelines on a regular basis because things will change.

Reasons SEO Algorithm Penalties are Enforced

There are a number of reasons why a website might receive an SEO algorithmic penalty, including, but not limited to:

  • Keyword Stuffing. Keyword stuffing is a commonly used technique because it gets results, but only for a short amount of time, because it is frowned upon. According to Google, keyword stuffing can include lists of phone numbers that add no substantial value, blocks of text that list cities and regions that a web page is trying to rank for, and repeating the same words or phrases so often that it doesn’t sound natural.
  • Too Many Backlinks. Backlinks can be beneficial as they point search engines to a valuable website. Too many backlinks will raise red flags with search engines as many of these may come from spam websites or obtained through black hat techniques.
  • Duplicate Content. If a website has different versions of the same content posted, this could cause a penalization. Google offers a resource that provides steps to avoid duplicate content and the penalties that come with it.

The Length of an SEO Algorithmic Penalty

When a website receives an algorithmic penalty, the visibility as well as the discoverability in the search engine results page will be affected immediately. This will be reflected in negative consequences for the website, including decreased traffic. If a website is hit with penalties, the owner must make the website compliant with the guidelines again.

Making these changes will help the website to escape the penalties, but unfortunately, it can take months, even a couple of years, to get themselves out of the algorithmic penalty. This is why it is crucial for a website owner to play by the guidelines. If a manual penalty is given by Google to a website, a timeframe will be given for the penalty depending on the severity of the infraction, but may be as few as 30 days for a minor transgression. Of course, fixing the infraction is a must.

SEO algorithmic penalties are something no website owner wants to be hit with. By studying and following guidelines, this can be avoided. Tactics used in an attempt to improve search engine results may end up costing you long-term. 


Watch How Brick Marketing Can Help Your Company:

Brick Marketing, a Boston-based digital marketing agency, specializes in SEO management, content marketing, social media management, digital ad management (PPC), email newsletter marketing, website development and more.

Contact Us for More Info

Digital Marketing Solutions Include:

Brands & Clients Brick Marketing Has Helped: