Why You Can Ignore That Google Penalty Email

In this week’s edition of “Things about SEO that make Adam want to eat a bag of broken glass” I would like to cover the most bullshit, overblown sales tactic in the world of SEO: the fear-mongering email.

Lately, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time talking current and former clients off the ledge when they receive an email telling them they’ve been on the receiving end of a Google penalty. Now, mind you, this isn’t the client’s fault. They don’t know what they don’t know and a term like “Google penalty” is enough to send a shiver down your spine as a marketing manager or small business owner. In the Netvantage spirit of taking a giant dump on SEO companies that have absolutely no ethics, I’ll dissect one of the more prevalent emails floating around from one of these lowlife SEO companies.

It’s nothing personal.

The big thing that seems to catch people off guard is that these trolling emails appear to be somewhat personalized. To the untrained eye, they seem to call out very specific things your site is doing wrong. In truth, that’s not the case. Let’s have a look (my commentary in red):

Re: Google Manual Action Penalties

Hello!

Hope you are doing well.

I discovered some major issues in your website which might be the cause for the Google Penalties and poor search rankings of your website:

* Your website has different adverse technical errors such as dead links, HTML errors, lost image alt tags etc. You can verify this by searching your website URL on validator.w3.org, brokenlinkcheck.com, feedthebot.com/tools/alt/.

The beauty of the above line is that technical errors CAN have an impact on your site’s rankings. Namely, if it’s very slow or has a lot of dead links and pages you might incur the wrath of Google. Truth be told, though, a tool like the W3 validator is more about giving coding suggestions than pointing out explicit errors. Just about any page will show a laundry list of what it considers errors or warnings, but this doesn’t necessarily correlate to your rankings. Just throw in a page from Wikipedia and see how many errors it gets – then notice that Wikipedia ranks highly for just about any search on the web.

If you want to give your site a legitimate health check up, verify your site with Google Search Console and check your crawl errors. If you want to have a look at site speed issues, run the site on a free site speed tool like Pingdom. This “issue” the company is trying to point out is intentionally non-specific because they didn’t actually look at your site…this is the exact same email they blanket the web with hoping to sucker you into responding. As an honest SEO, if I were talking to someone about these sorts of issues it would be fairly easy to find a specific issue to point out. In that case, you would get a PERSONALIZED email that would sound something like, “On your services page, your image files are WAY too large and they’re making your page load really slowly and it might be hurting your rankings.”

* I found that there are various ‘bad’ links pointing to your website. You can confirm this by searching your website on the key search engines search boxes – Google, Yahoo & Bing. Simply search by entering your website: URL.

Any SEO worth their salt has access to backlink tools that can quickly provide exact examples of these ‘bad’ links. However, it’s quite telling that their advice to have you go check for these yourself doesn’t even make sense. “You can confirm this by searching your website on the key search engines search boxes – Google, Yahoo & Bing. Simply search by entering your website: URL.”

If you follow these instructions all you’ll get are some meaningless search results from these engines. The fact that a company markets their services with something this wrong is a sign they have no clue what in the hell they’re doing.

* The number of quality and/or commanding Back links related to your website is very low. You can confirm this by simply visiting ahrefs.com

Interestingly, this advice would have been the correct approach for the previous piece of non-information they provided. Unfortunately, ahrefs.com is a paid service, so the average Joe isn’t going to have access to this data or be able to make heads or tails of it. Of course, if they actually ran such a report they could have spent the 10 seconds it would have taken to copy and paste some data to better explain this. But, of course, no one did that so they have nothing to share.

* Duplicity in the contents has been found which can be negatively affecting your website search rankings. You can simply verify this at copyscape.com.

Did you copy your content from another site? Do many of your own pages share the exact same content? Most sites don’t have this issue – you can check it yourself as they suggest, but since you probably don’t have that problem they’re just hoping you call them instead. 

We can help you fix these problems and get your website ranking on the top page of Google, Yahoo & Bing!

If this company is too dumb or too lazy to identify these problems, do you really have any hope that they could fix them for you? 

We can help you develop the visibility of your website in all major Search Engines to increase website traffic, sales and popularity in the target area.
If you are interested in receiving affordable Search Engine Optimization (SEO/SMO/SEM) done for your website, just email us back and get a full affordable SEO proposal.

You could hire this company, sure. Or, you could see if your money multiplies when you douse it in gasoline and throw a match on it. I’d imagine you’d get a similar ROI.

Adam Henige

Adam Henige is Managing Partner of Netvantage Marketing, an online marketing company specializing in SEO, PPC and social media. Adam heads the SEO and link building efforts for Netvantage and has been a contributing blogger for industry publications like Search Engine Journal and SEOmoz.

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