As Google continues to develop its search algorithms that help it to rank websites, it’s increasingly clamping down on SEO methods that result in a poor user experience. Poor link building strategies can result in Google penalizing your website. Google’s penalizes websites either manually or through algorithms for engaging in blackhat SEO techniques including using poor link building strategies. A manual penalty results when someone from Google goes through your site and determines it has breached one or more of their link building guidelines. An algorithmic penalty results when your site automatically trips one or more of the safeguards inbuilt into Google search algorithms.
Algorithmic penalties can either be Panda type or Penguin type. Panda penalties relate to the quality and usability of your web content. Pandas are rolled out by Google once per month. Penguins, on the other hand, relate to over-optimization. Penguins are rolled out several times a year and are usually accompanied by an announcement by Google.
Some of the common link building practices that are likely to land you in trouble include:
- Your site has too many inbound unnatural links including from websites that are not related to your own.
- Using link networks by tools such as Build My Rank.
- Exchanging links between two websites.
- Using too many links on sidebars
- Using repetitive anchor text
- Using the services of paid directories
If Google penalizes you manually, you are likely to receiving an email explaining to you the reason for being slapped with a penalty. Most penalties involve your website moving down 10-100 places on SERP, though in very serious cases a website can be banned completely.
To check whether you have suffered a penalty, just log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account then check the messages. Google, however, does not categorize Panda and Penguin updates as penalties and you might not realize you have been penalized. If you believe you have been penalized but receive no messages, then you have most likely been hit with a Panda or Penguin.