We decided it would be a good idea to post this in response to the complaint that was just posted by a reader about the recent Google Panda update. We have also received a bunch of emails on this topic of Google penalties. It is obvious that there are a lot of people out there that are either new to blogging or they have taken Google for granted – our advice here is do not ever take Google for granted or at least not while they command 75% or more of the search market.
All it takes is for Google’s bots or employees to see a snafu with your website that they see as sapm and you could be on the receiving end of any of a myriad of penalties. Some like the minus 950 and minus 40 are more serious and will basically all but remove any traffic you receive from Google. Others will just derank you or make you rank for insignificant keywords (ones that either no one searches for like “Big beach balls in Botswana” or ones that have extremely low Google Adwords demand and hence very low Google Adsense payouts).
So, if you have a blog or other type of website and you use Google’s webmaster tools, Quantcast, Compete or any other form of online analytics you will quickly see a huge change in your traffic if you should be on the receiving end of a Google penalty. The best way to avoid these Google penalties is to try and stay in Google’s good graces. No spammy behavior whatsoever.
One important tool here is to use the rel=”nofollow” tag in any sitewide links or other outside links, especially those that go to undesireable neighborhoods or websites. It is a good idea to Bad Neighborhood Link Checker and check your website and see if you have any bad links that should be removed or at least no followed. If you should find anything questionable or bad you need to fix it before the Google bots due a deep crawl and find it.
The easiest way is to delete the link, but if it is a good source of revenue, like an affiliate program (some affiliate programs are listed as questionable) and you need the money from it then by all means use the no follow tag. How do you properly use a no follow tag? This is an important question as not doing it correctly is the same thing as not using the no follow tag at all.
You place the rel=”nofollow” right after the end quotation mark for the url and before the “>” that seperates it from the keywords you are using for the link. By doing this you are sending Google a message that no link weight is to pass for that link and it will be ignored by their bots and spam filters.
You need to take this step for any links to questionable domains. You also, as a good idea, need to check your website for bad links with the Bad Neighborhood link checker (link provided above). By doing this it won’t guarantee you will not be on the receiving end of a Google penalty, but it is a great step in making sure that your website avoids a penalty and gets the rankings it deserves.
If you think that using the no follow tag could be seen as spammy you just need to review Matt Cutts stand on the no follow tag – he has stated numerous times that it is a tool to help a webmaster decide where to place importance and relevance and where to deny it. The no follow tag is a necessary tool nowadays to help you rank better and to avoid spammy links and Google penalties.