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Tips on How to Avoid Google Penalties from ex-Googler Kaspar Szymanski

Tips on How to Avoid Google Penalties from ex-Googler Kaspar Szymanski

Kaspar Szymanski is a renowned SEO expert, former senior member of the famed Google Search Quality team and among the select few former Googlers with extensive policy driving, webspam hunting, and webmaster outreach expertise. Nowadays Kaspar applies his skill set to recover websites from Google penalties and helps clients to max out the potential of their websites in search engines. Get more about Milosz by visiting his website or Twitter page.

1. How many years of experience in digital marketing do you have?

I have been working in the digital marketing industry for over 15 years.

2. What type of digital marketing do you have the strongest skills?

I consider the experience and insights gained while working for Google Search a critical asset and part of the unique selling proposition I bring to the table.

3. What projects have you launched recently that you are proud of?

Client confidentiality is among the highest goods, which is why I do not share any insights on past projects, regardless of their spectacular success.

4. What do you do to further your own SEO knowledge and skills? 

There are a number of very knowledgeable and highly respected industry experts with whom I share and exchange thoughts. First and foremost among this group is Fili, a former Google engineer, and the worldwide leading technical SEO consultant.

5. Is there any marketing or SEO blog you like most of all and why?

I am a keen follower of both SearchEngineLand and SearchEngineJournal. And there’s of course the Google Search Central Blog. These are among my personal top 3 due to their relevance.

6. What are the TOP-3 errors you made at the beginning of your SEO specialist career?

Picking and choosing the right clients, that have development capacity and are in the position to introduce changes in a timely manner is something I did have to learn over time.

7. What SEO tactics do you think are underrated?

Disavowing Backlinks in order to mitigate legacy backlink issues and to reduce related risks is definitely underrated.

8. Do you believe that backlinks are Google’s past? Is link building important for increasing the website’s positions nowadays?

No, backlinks as a relevant SEO signal are there to stay. And they remain an important lever to grow a website’s visibility in search if done right. Looking at backlinks exclusively from Google’s perspective and without consideration for their vital importance for the world wide web as we know tends to obscure why links are truly important for a website. For anyone curious to embrace a future forward-oriented link building strategy I recommend Fili’s article on how to do link building proper:

 9. In your opinion, does the technical health of the website affect the ranking positions in search engines?

Yes, considerably. Input, including technical SEO signals impacts output such as website rankings. If you are unsure whether your website signals are understood by Google algorithms, an in-depth technical audit of the website is in order!

10. How do you stay up-to-date on the near-constant search algorithm changes?

I don’t. There are several Google updates and or releases every day. Attempting to follow these doesn’t seem to be a productive use of time. I work to make my client’s websites successful no matter which new update Google is pushing.

11. Are you going to surprise the SEO and Digital Marketing world with something new (tool/app, course, product)?

It would not be a surprise anymore if I announced it now, would it? 🙂

12. How do you make competitor analysis? Please provide a short 1-2-3 steps guide. 

Competitor analysis as a website benchmark has limits. For example, while on-page technical and performance signals can be compared against each other and allow for drawing some actionable conclusions, off-page comparisons allow only for very limited insights. This is owed to the fact that while backlinks of any website can be crawled and evaluated, their disavow files remain inaccessible.

Also, even if disavow files were available, no one is in the position to ascertain whether Google embraces these in full, in part or if at all. For these and other reasons, competitor analysis does not represent the most effective tool to gain website visibility.

13. In your opinion, does a user’s behavior impact website ranking in SERP?

Yes, user signals are relevant.

14. What is your approach to developing an SEO strategy?

An SEO strategy is developed individually, for every single website depending on its technology, product or service, development capacity etc. They do however all rest on the same foundation, which is their individual, unique selling proposition.

15. How do you see the future of SEO (in 5 years)?


16. What advice can you give for those who are just starting their career in digital marketing?

Read in-depth articles, follow known experts, become an active member of the community.

17. How to make a website search engine friendly? Could you please name the main steps?

Make it crawlable and uber-fast! And make sure there are no conflicting technical SEO signals to confuse search engine algorithms.

18. SEO is such a controversial thing. Every SEO specialist rates its success differently. What is your way to rate SEO success? What metrics do you look at? 

SEO is a critical part of any e-commerce enterprise. The ultimate success rate is converting traffic. On the way, getting there, page performance indicators are extremely important.

 19. In your opinion, a good SEO specialist should be a good analyst? What extra knowledge should an SEO specialist have to succeed?

Being a skilled developer and having a keen understanding of business are both great assets for any SEO expert.

20. You are noticed at many digital conferences. How important live communication is for business? How does it work for you?

In-person communication is essential for building a relationship with prospective business partners. In that sense sharing from one’s experience at industry events presents an excellent marketing opportunity. That having said, personally I simply enjoy engaging in a dialogue with fellow industry experts. The learning experience there goes both ways.

 21. Should a business have a corporate blog?

No, not for SEO reasons.

22. How can start-ups and early-stage businesses use SEO effectively to drive traffic to their sites?

Start-ups should not rely on SEO as an effective way of growing their business. Their only focus should be to build and improve their product. Once that goal has been achieved, they can look into improving their website signals, too.

23. What do you prefer the most: client SEO, own projects, consulting, something else?

I find solving international SEO through consulting most rewarding.

24. What strategy do you prefer: launch and grow many small projects or work on a few solid projects?

I prefer large projects, which bear the promise of substantial gains.

25. Have you ever used black hat and grey hat SEO tactics? What do you think about them?

Working for Google Search as well as advising clients I have and I still do come across black hat methods. They are shortcuts, which often bear the promise of quick rewards. They can work, however, they also come with a high risk to be caught violating Google Webmaster Guidelines. When that happens a penalty is a common consequence. I have published on that topic extensively, among others on

When black hat methods are applied with the full knowledge of the potential risks, they become a high-risk marketing strategy. When they fail and websites are penalized, that’s typically when website owners turn to us for assistance with penalty removal and recovery. While I explicitly do not recommend black hat methods, it is worth mentioning that any penalty can be lifted though.

26. Have you ever run Google Ads campaigns? How do you combine Google Ads campaigns and SEO?

While we specialize in SEO consulting, that’s organic search, exclusively limited paid search can support organic optimization, for example when testing snippets with PPC campaigns. In more broad terms, complementing an SEO strategy with paid search efforts can be an excellent approach, provided that there are enough resources allocated towards both channels.

27. Does your university degree help to succeed in SEO and digital marketing?

Yes, it had. It is not merely the education gained that helped but it has been a door opener early on in my career.

 28. Can you share your professional and business plans for the next 2-3 years?

We are intent on continuously providing superior, data-driven SEO consulting for our clients. Also we remain committed towards outreach, publishing, and conference speaking engagements, provided that the currently still ongoing pandemic will dissipate.

29. Structured data is becoming more and more important these days. What do you think about it? Why did Google start to pay so much attention to structured data sites?

Structured data has been important for several years. It helps search engines to better understand the content and its context and thereby provides an opportunity for website operators to improve their on-page signals.

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