Ahead of his session at the Berlin Affiliate Conference, iGB Affiliate caught up with former senior Google search quality team member Kaspar Szymanski to hear how currently used Google manual penalties impact affiliate websites, and how they can be dealt with swiftly and successfully.
iGB Affiliate: How damaging can Google search penalties be for igaming affiliates?
Kaspar Szymanski: That greatly depends on the specific penalty applied. It’s important to keep in mind that there are a number of different penalties that can be applied. Google Webmaster Guidelines transgressions can relate to on- and / or off-page signals. Accordingly, penalties address specific violations identified. In consequence, a manual penalty for link building may substantially reduce a website's visibility in Google Search, while a penalty related to the site’s content quality can, in the worst case, completely wipe the site from Google Index. Additionally, the impact Google penalties have on affected sites may only unfold to the full extent over time. Ignoring an initially less business threatening penalty can prove to be a very dangerous thing to do. In short, every Google penalty has the potential to be very damaging to a site’s visibility in organic search.
iGB Affiliate: What is the best way to react to a penalty?
KS: Initially, it is very important to remain calm and refrain from the urge to apply for reconsideration immediately, before the issue has been thoroughly analysed. Many site owners rush into applying for reconsideration on the spot, only to face a rejection shortly after. The contents of the Google Search Console warning are of the greatest importance to initiate a preliminary investigation to identify the exact issue. The next step is to collect data, such as crawling the sites link data before being able to remove and disavow link risks. That process may take longer than many site owners are comfortable with. It really depends on volumes of data. Only after a thorough clean-up has been conducted and documented is a well phrased, short and to the point reconsideration request in order. The objective is to succeed with the first attempt, if possible.
iGB Affiliate: What are the biggest mistakes you are seeing igaming affiliates making from an SEO perspective?
KS: Some affiliates seem to struggle with the concept of providing a unique selling proposition via their websites. Instead they provide essentially a ‘thin’ affiliate, that is a site with content that is neither unique nor particularly rare. They fail at a fundamental level to demonstrate to Google or users why their site should rank well.
iGB Affiliate: What can igaming affiliates do to stay on the right side of the law from a Google penalties perspective?
KS: To remain in Google’s good books it is important to ensure the site is Google Webmaster Guidelines compliant, but it is equally essential to provide a website that is popular with users because of its great service. Google loves websites that are popular with users.
iGB Affiliate: How do you see Google penalties evolving over the coming year?
KS: Google penalties evolve in the same way as Google policies are adapted. They are meant to reflect the realities of the search industry. Whether the Google outreach team will choose and be at liberty to share any major updates with an interested public remains to be seen. While individual, experienced Googlers maintain a dialogue with the webmaster community, policy updates have become infrequent and increasingly brief in recent years.