If you are just taking your first steps in the world of SEO (Search Online Optimization,) it is very important that you know the basic rules of the game, especially those strictly related to those activities prohibited by Google, which is the most important search engine nowadays, and, therefore, the one that actually set the rules of what is right and wrong when it comes to SEO. In addition to that, it is important that you know what to do in case Google penalizes your blog or website because if this happens, you should not worry about possible legal consequences (because there are none in general unless you are dancing in the territory of criminality.) Penalties from Google and other search engines are unfortunate events, but they are not the end of the road. They are lessons — rather than failures — that help some people to become more efficient to break the rules, and some people to walk in more profitable ways.
So, which are the main actions that Google penalizes today?
Recommended: Avoiding Google Penalties
1. Your website does not have an HTTPS
What does that mean? HTTPS is a security protocol that allows the information registered in a website to be protected, and the connection to be secure in consequence. Unlike traditional HTTP, in which HTTP webs do not have a secure connection, the information is not encrypted. Since the beginning of this year, Google Chrome has been spotting those HTTP websites that collect passwords, credit card data, and other sensitive information as non-secure pages. This is because it seems that in the longer term all websites that do not implement the HTTPS protocol will be marked as not secure. Obviously, this will have a negative effect on the web user, since seeing a message that indicates that the web is not secure does not inspire much trust, especially after the multiple online fraud cases that take place every day. On the other hand, Google’s penalties directly affect the visibility of websites since only sites with HTTPS protocols can access the best search rankings (although this, of course, is not the only requirement.)
Read also: What not to do when it comes to SEO, by ReputationDefender
2. Your website does not have an SSL certificate
An SSL certificate is a digital credential that confirms that a website is secure and that all the information registered in it is encrypted and protected (passwords, bank data, personal information, etc.) It is a guarantee to your users to show them this certificate installed on your website, and, of course, it is one of Google’s requirements to locate your website in a good search position.
What are the consequences of a website that does not have an SSL certificate? Legally, none, but Google announced three years ago that the security of a website would be a decisive factor in the search engine rankings. Now Google materializes its statement. The next step is the penalty of the insecure websites: They are pushing off in the lowest search rankings, to those search pages that virtually no user checks when he or she is looking for information on Google.
We all hate pop-ups, and Google too, by the way. Since January this year, Google is penalizing millions of websites containing pop-ups with the aim of making the user experience much better, especially in terms of mobile browsing. Why? Well, because the screens of such devices are much smaller than that of a computer and the presence of Pop-Ups is, therefore, much more annoying (besides that it makes the website to take more time to load.)
Google began implementing measures to improve the user experience on mobile devices by penalizing those websites that are not adapted to mobile navigation. So, people try to get mobile-friendly tags to make websites fully usable on mobile devices without the need for zoom or side scrolling. Even today, there are several websites that are not yet optimized for mobile devices, and, even worse, new sites are still being developed without such optimization.
Generally, pop-ups are used to advertise intrusively, although they are also used as a means of warning. Some examples of a proper pop-up use are subscribing to a newsletter, displaying legal notices (cookies,) and while accessing private user areas.
It is important to note that Google will not penalize all kind of pop-ups: Only those that are too intrusive for users (for more information on this topic, take a look at this link.)
4. Unnatural outbound linking
Links may be the best thing that can happen to your website or a ditch that can cost you leave. Having unnatural links on your website is the perfect recipe for Google’s spiders to detect that there is something wrong with your site, and, therefore, that you do not deserve to be in the first rankings. Some examples of unnatural links: Receiving many links with the same link text (anchor text,) links on websites with too many outgoing links, links on pages containing spam, porn or explicit content, as well as the fact that all links are ‘dofollow’ and none is ‘nofollow.’