For most online businesses, ranking high in search engines is the main source of traffic and, as a consequence, income.

No wonder everyone wants to get a slice of the pie, which makes the whole process harder than it used to be a few years ago.

Many SEO and link-building companies are making big promises to their clients, and they often deliver. The problem is that the results are temporary, especially if your website climbs in the ranking a little bit too fast.

Many SEO and link-building experts are pushing the limits. Sometimes, they end up in the grey area, with links to unrelated websites. Other times, they end up in private website networks, or with recycled, low-quality content.

Of course, it’s not always SEO to blame. Often, it’s the website itself—poor design, slow loading, too many ads, or anything that makes the visitor race their way to the “X” button.

But like every problem, if you want to solve it, you need to find its causes.

Read on to learn what might’ve caused the problem and how you can solve it and prevent your website from ending up on the dreaded page 3.

Manual Action

A manual action includes the penalties made by the Google spam team.

It could be that your content is low-quality or that you’re part of a private blogging network. Or it could also be because your competitors performed negative SEO.

If you fear that you got penalized by Google, contact an SEO specialist to start looking for clues on what part of your website got you dinged.

Algorithmic Penalty

This usually happens after an algorithm update.

Google constantly works on improving their technology. Once in a while, they release a new update.

The best way to figure it out if you’re doing something that is now penalized by the new updates is to take a look at the update list.

The updates that had the biggest impact are Panda and Penguin. The first penalized low-quality content, and the second spammy backlinks.

Types of backlinks you are better off without

Low-quality links are one of the most common threats to your website.

For example, if someone is linking back to your website from a domain where most of the content is low quality or plagiarized, you might get in trouble.

Any backlink from websites that are violating Google’s guidelines will affect your rankings as well.

Links that come from spammy comments and forum profiles are also harmful to your website. Often times, this is how some websites get attacked by their competition who invest in negative SEO.

Bookmarking and directories used to be big in the SEO world a few years ago. But now they’re considered low-quality backlinks sources.

Another way you can get in trouble is for advertising your links in the sidebar of another website, along with advertorials that can’t be used for SEO purposes, only for advertising.

Hidden text and links are also frowned upon by Google, as are links from gambling sites and those with adult content.

Keep in mind that most penalties are linked to the quality of your backlinks. If you have too many backlinks from 2.0 web domains, social bookmarking websites, or spam comments, you might end up being penalized by Google.

How to find out if bad backlinks are the cause of your penalty

The first step is to identify yourself as the owner of your website on Google.

Make a Google webmaster account and look for all the links that point to your website. Next, import all the links found in the Google console in your SEO tool of choice and look for the quality of the following links.

Also, keep an eye out for links from websites with a poor design, hidden text, hidden links, poor quality content, or any sign of a guidelines violation.

The links you find can also come from spam comments on forums and blogs.

How to request the removal of harmful links

The first step to increase your chances of having the harmful links removed is to contact the webmaster of the website who links back to you and ask them politely to remove the link.

Find the name of the website owner, and send them a personalized email with your request. If this doesn’t work, you can disavow the link on the Google console.

Final Thoughts

Matt Cutts states on his website that over 400,000 monthly manual actions are made by Google, but only 5% of the website who get penalized try to fix the situation by submitting reconsiderations

This might make you wonder, do most business owners think that a Google penalty is the end of the line?

Fortunately, Google is not as unforgiving as people may assume, But make sure that all of your link-building techniques are clean and the content on your website is high-quality.

There are no shortcuts to success. For most website owners, it takes a minimum of six months to see results from white hat SEO techniques.