Has your law firm’s website ever been hit by a Google penalty? If so, you are not alone. Google has been getting increasingly aggressive with its ranking slap-downs recently. A Penalty may arise by one of three routes. Either one of the search engine’s ranking algorithms may reduce the score of one or all pages on your site, a human reviewer may apply a penalty, or the company’s management may take action and arbitrarily hit a specific website with a large penalty. This third category is usually announced and is intended not only to punish a particular website, but act as a warning to all company’s operating on the Web.
You should keep abreast of these public penalties and check to make sure your firm’s site does not apply the same banned techniques. If they are there, it is just a question of time before your law firm’s site gets slapped with a penalty if you do not get them removed.
This Search Engine Roundtable article from March 20th illustrates Google’s new tactic of penalizing a site and announcing that penalty without naming the site so it can put the fear of God into as many sites as possible. Everyone involved in sites that fit the description given by Google’s Matt Cutts in his penalty announcement rushed to monitor their rankings. The site proved to be MyBlogGuest.com, which not only ties in with Google’s disapproval of “link networks” but also reminds us of Matt Cutts’s declaration of his dislike of guest blogging made in January of this year.
Search Engine Watch’s analysis of the MyBlogGuest penalty examines whether sites linking to the punished blog site were also penalized. This issue would be particularly pertinent to your law firm’s website if you have many guest blogs posted on the Web pointing to your site. In this instance Google said it hadn’t penalized linking sites. However, a number of the Webmasters of those sites reported that they had been affected.
This Search Engine Roundtable article notes that Google seems to have gone into penalty overdrive recently. The article speculates that this volatility may be part of Google’s attempts to reconfigure its rankings in the run up to the removal of much of the Panda algorithm. Watch your law firm’s rankings over the next two months and pay particular attention to any news pages or blog pages. These are expected to be hit by the Panda update rumored to be slated for release at the end of May 2014.
Search Engine Land covers the topic of the difficulties of understanding the notifications your law firm’s Webmaster might receive if your site gets hit by a penalty from Google. Google claims to have simplified these notices. However, this article begs to differ.
After your Webmaster has decoded any penalty notifications, the next step is to work out how to get that penalty removed. Search Engine Land has published this case study on penalty removal procedures that your law firm’s Webmaster might find useful.