Avoiding Penalties: 8 Major Google Algorithm Changes

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There are many algorithms that Google uses to rank websites in their search results, and these are always being refined and changed. Any change, however, affects the traffic of all websites. The following are 8 significant algorithms that will threaten websites which are not following content quality and user experience guidelines, and which are the most threatening to websites which are not thorough with user experience and content quality.


Panda algorithm was launched in 2011. How to avoid Panda penalty?

Panda assigns a low-quality score for the website if you:

  • Duplicate content
  • Plagiarise content
  • Keyword Stuffing

It was launched in 2012. Penguin is concerned about your backlinks profile. Backlinks used to be an aggressive strategy. Today it can hurt you. Monitor your link profile’s growth. Also run frequent audits with a backlink checker.


This update was launched in 2013.

Hummingbird punishes sites with low-quality content. Google can interpret search queries and also evaluate how much your content corresponds to intention and expectations of the visitor.

The best way to be relevant is to expand your keyword research and focus on concepts, not keywords. Research related searches, synonyms and co-occurring terms. Always include latent semantic indexing keywords (LSI) in every blog post.


Pigeon strengthened the importance of Local SEO in the summer of 2014. Get listed on relevant business directories. If you are a local business with premises explore Local SEO.


On April 21, 2015, Google started to rank mobile-friendly pages at the top of the mobile search. The mobile update speaks for itself. Mobile experience, responsiveness, and mobile page speed are essential for ranking. Google’s mobile-friendly test will help you see which aspects of your page’s mobile version need to be improved.


In the autumn of 2015, a new algorithm change took placeThis one is definitely something to be careful of as Google calls RankBrain the third most important ranking factor. It is actually part of the Hummingbird algorithm but has been made more comprehensive with further machine learning system capabilities.

Again, content perfection is your goal if you want to please Rank Brain.  Discover relevant terms and concepts and continue developing your content.


Possum hurt local business in September of 2016. A searcher’s location has become more important since then.  What can you do as a local business? You should expand your keyword list, include hyperlocal keywords. Local businesses now need to be targeting more keywords than they used to.


In March, 2017, Google again tightened rules for the content. Blogs that are stuffed with ads and affiliate links rank lower. Be careful about posting ads on thin content which does not have any relevancy.

On-Page Guideline Violations

With Google’s continuous algorithm changes and tightened rules about on-page and off-page SEO practices, it is easy to get a penalty for specific violations. Each business owner should be careful about the following possible violations.

  1. Unnatural outbound links

Selling links for the purpose of influencing PageRank is another Google Webmaster Guidelines violation which triggers a resultant manual penalty, which can be very hard to get rid of.

  1. User-generated spam

Protect your comments from Spam with special security plugins. However, websites like forums, blog comments, and user profiles might still suffer from this violation.

  1. Incorrect structured data

Use Schema Markup with absolute caution. It might be tempting to use it for things than it wasn’t meant for. However, Google quickly identifies the misuse, and you won’t be tricking them anytime soon. Read the guidelines carefully. They are always updated and available here.

  1. Hacked content spam

It is always best to  follow Google’s Guidelines. Google gives good outlines of what is to be avoided. Trying to trick Google’s algorithms is not possible these days, and will only ruin your SEO efforts.

Specific guidelines that have been provided by Google follow.

Avoid the following techniques:

  • Automatically generated content. It can be very tempting to use various plugins and apps instead of creating content. However, if you really care about your visitors, customers and interested in building your brand then you must invest resources in authentic and useful content building.
  • Participating in link schemes. Do not buy links and join reciprocal schemes.
  • Creating pages with little or no original content.
  • Cloaking and Sneaky redirects.
  • Hidden text or links.
  • Scraped content. Content quality should be your top priority and not just guidelines, but Google main 8 algorithms and machine learning system won’t be tricked. Google ranks quality original and for that matter- long content.
  • Linking to affiliate programs too often.
  • Loading pages with irrelevant keywords. Create landing pages for relevant keywords.
  • Abusing rich snippets markup. What does this mean? Many website owners want to get rich snippet and get more clickthroughs. However, rich snippets support only particular type of post and pages.

What happens if your website gets penalized?

There is no need to panic. Even the best websites out there can get penalties. There are many stories in the SEO community about Google’ s wrong judgment of backlinks.

First of all, you should audit your website based on the Google report and fix the issues. Fix everything that Google is concerned about and submit a reconsideration request to Google. You will receive an answer

This is not an easy road. You will have to document everything. For example, if your website issue was thin and scraped content, then you will be required to provide examples of insubstantial content you have removed, and useful content that you added. Make sure that this time you add quality content.

Monitor your overall site health on Google’s Search Console, and before planning your website content and growth techniques always choose white-hat SEO. Be careful about choosing your SEO, link building, and content services. The low quality can hurt your site, and fixing this issue might take much effort, time, and cost you a lot of clients.

How to check if your website has a penalty?

You can diagnose your website with the following tools:

        1. Penguin Google Penalty Check Tool
        2. Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker

Keep in mind that Google updates are not stopping anytime soon. Therefore, when trying to rank business owners should always be aware and monitor new updates. Adapting to them is not easy but reacting is necessary to outperform the competition.

Your Turn: What have you noticed about Google Algorithm Changes? Let us know in the comments below.

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