Last updated - May 31, 2022
For every e-commerce website, the key to success is achieving a top Google ranking. Being on the first page of Google unlocks the door to vast numbers of potential customers. In the past, many websites attempted to beat this system by any means possible.
But as Google’s algorithms have become more sophisticated, these unscrupulous techniques now result in one thing only. A Google penalty.
Of course, you may find that your site has dropped in ranking despite your best efforts to comply with all the recommendations. In both cases, a good Google penalty checker tool is vital for identifying the problem.
If you’re worried that your e-commerce site is violating Google’s guidelines, this article is for you. Not only do we explain what the most common infringements are, we also highlight some of the top tools that will keep you off Google’s naughty list.
Let’s dive in!
What Are Manual Penalties?
Google has a huge team of people that continually assess websites. These Google employees can issue a penalty if they find that you have violated any of the Google webmaster quality guidelines.
The reason behind a manual penalty is that your website is aiming to artificially manipulate the Google search index. These penalties are known as manual actions and can result in your website ranking much lower than it was previously.
In the most extreme cases, they can cause your website to get removed from search results entirely. Fortunately, Google will always notify you via Google Search Console if you have received a manual penalty.
What Are Algorithmic Penalties?
These penalties come out of the black box of Google’s algorithm. They happen without human intervention and if you’re penalized you will not receive any notification from Google.
Google’s algorithm is constantly being updated and you can find all the latest update info and major changes on their website. Examples of these updates are Penguin, which focused on detecting spammy backlinks, and Panda, which targets websites with poor quality content.
It’s highly unlikely that your website will get removed from search results due to a change in the algorithm. Though your ranking may drop considerably if you have been penalized.
Most Common Google Penalties
Here are some of the scenarios:
Buying backlinks in link schemes
This involves purchasing links to other websites in an effort to increase your domain authority and artificially boost your ranking. These are generally unnatural links to low quality or irrelevant websites that exist solely for this purpose.
A similar tactic that will result in a severe penalty is being part of a Private Blogging Network (PBN). These are networks of websites that provide each other with artificial backlinks. There are ways to do link building properly and with excellent results, but these are not them.
Many e-commerce websites are guilty of doing this in their product descriptions. Using as many keyword variations as possible in non-sensical sentences will result in a penalty.
Google now analyzes words in conjunction with the surrounding words to ensure sentences are grammatically coherent. All your content needs to be easy to read and should avoid unnecessarily repeating specific keywords.
Insufficient and duplicate page content
All of the products on your e-commerce website need to have a unique and thorough description. Google is on a mission to improve user experience and will penalize your site for using duplicate content.
Providing detailed product descriptions makes it easier for customers to choose between different items. The Google bots will also find it easier to classify and differentiate between your pages.
Slow loading time
By having hundreds of un-optimized images, your e-commerce website is bound to have slow loading pages. Adding too much image or video content can also increase your loading time and lead to a poor user experience.
This is frustrating for the user and will result in Google reducing your ranking with a penalty.
Cloaking is a technique that provides human users with different content or URLs to which Google’s bots can access. A common example of this is showing human users a page with images, while the same page shows the Google bots a list of keywords.
There are various ways to do this with sneaky redirects or by using the same color text as the background. Another way is to use a tiny font size that’s not visible to a human user.
All of these practices will result in a severe penalty from Google. Violating this guideline can even result in your website getting delisted from the Google Index.
Best Google Penalty Checker Tools
If you notice a significant drop in your site traffic the first thing you should do is identify the problem. Once you understand which penalty is affecting your traffic you can address the issue directly.
Here are the best penalty checker tools to do that:
Google Search Console
This is the first place you should check to see if your website has received a manual penalty. Should this be the problem, you will get notified if the penalty is affecting your whole site or only certain pages.
Once you have identified the issue, you can make the required changes. Search Console has an extensive resource of links to all the best practices your website should be adhering to.
When you’re satisfied that you have completely fixed the problem, you can request that they reconsider your penalty. This process can take some time and Google will contact you when their review is complete.
As one of the most powerful and in-depth SEO tools SEMRush offers a wide range of services. These include detailed rank tracking, backlink analysis and comprehensive audits.
By auditing your website with this tool, you will be able to identify all the problem areas that are affecting your ranking.
The SEMRush Sensor is a useful feature that allows you to monitor the volatility of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This daily score gives you an indication of how updates in Google’s algorithm are changing how websites rank.
This uncomplicated tool is free to use and a great way to easily check how Google algorithm changes have affected your site.
By logging in with your Google Analytics account, it is simple to compare your traffic fluctuations with algorithm updates. This allows you to identify if your website has gotten hit with any penalties.
As one of the most accurate rank tracking systems, this powerful tool compares the daily ranking of thousands of different keywords. Large fluctuations are an indication that Google is making significant algorithm changes.
Setting up an e-commerce site can be simple, but keeping it ranking as high as possible is an ongoing process. By avoiding the most serious violations, you can ensure that you don’t end up with a manual penalty. Other minor issues are easily uncovered by running SEO audits and then diligently making the necessary changes to fine-tune your website.