If you’ve noticed a sudden dip in your traffic rankings, then you may have incurred a penalty on site. Penalties can seriously affect the amount of traffic that’s coming to your site, and for affiliates, this also brings a financial impact. So what do you do when you receive a penalty notice? How do you take action?

At this year’s AffiliateFEST Bootcamp, our expert SEO speakers discussed this regular occurrence and here are a few suggestions that were revealed.

Manual actions

There’s no such thing as an algorithmic penalty within Google, these actions are taken manually. This means a real person has looked at your site and deemed that it doesn’t give a quality experience. This reduces the margin of error notices, so if you have a penalty your first thought should be to look at what could have caused it.

From time to time, you might have dabbled in grey or even black hat SEO and this is most likely why you will be penalised. This doesn’t really happen to those sites that have done something unintentional, but where there is an obvious intent to manipulate the search engine these actions could be deemed worthy of a penalty. The exception to this would be if your site was hacked, at which point you obviously have very little control over what happens to it. 

Deeming a site as spam is one of the most common penalties out there. Spam is generally classed as a site that adds no value and is a nuisance to users. User generated spam can also incur a penalty, so you have to moderate this if you allow users to contribute to your site. If you don’t do this, then it’s likely that you will receive one of these penalties. 

While link building has the potential to be beneficial, it can also be incredibly harmful. Carrying out regular link audits is a good idea. Penalties for unnatural links can be severe, dropping you down the rankings a significant amount. This can be hard to come back from too, as you have to manually remove the links. There are also penalties for unnatural linking from your site to others too, so be aware of how you use these links. 

Responding to penalties 

The first step you need to take when you get a penalty is to rectify the issue. You can ask for forgiveness from the search engine, but the first thing you have to do is ensure that the issue is no longer there. This might take a few moments to recrawl your user generated content and ban disruptive users, or it can take a lot longer! 

Don’t think that you can dupe Google, they’ll know if you’re hiding elements of your site from them. Some site owners that sweeping these indiscretions under the rug will be enough to have their penalty removed, but this won’t work in the long term. Don’t ignore your penalty either, as your site will stay weighted to the bottom of the rankings unless you do something about it. 

Finally, using the Search Console, you need to submit a reconsideration request. This is your chance to make your case, so don’t just quickly gloss over the issues. Just the same as your initial manual action, this will be overseen by a real person and you have to get them on your side. Starting with a ‘sorry’ is always helpful, especially if you’re aware of black or grey hat tactics ongoing. 

Focus on the positive changes you’ve made to your site, rather than the negative that brought about the penalty in the first place. It’s essential that you take the time to understand the issue and write an eloquent response that will compel the search engine to remove your penalty. 

Then it’s simply a waiting game to find out if your reconsideration request has been successful. If not, more drastic changes are required to bring your site up to scratch once more. 

Keep learning and attend the AffiliateINSIDER Bootcamp

If you want to find out the latest SEO tactics, link building techniques and how to avoid penalties which can impact earnings from your affiliate site, you’ll want to attend our next Affiliate Bootcamp on the 21-22 March 2019. For more information about the event and to register for your Early Bird ticket – simply book your place here.