What’s the single, biggest nightmare for any SEO practitioners? For most, if not all, it is getting penalized by Google.
A Google penalty will significantly hamper your search engine ranking, and in a worst-case scenario, your website can be totally banned from getting ranked.
The thing is, not only a Google penalty can turn all your hard work to dust, it is often undetectable until too late. So, this guide will first address that issue, as we will learn some effective ways to detect Google penalty.
After that, we will also discuss ways to recover from Google Penalty. Although recovering from Google penalties can be really hard, we will show you that it is not impossible, as long as you know the right steps.
Without further ado, let us begin this guide by understanding the Google Penalty itself.
So, What Are Google Penalties?
There are two different types of Google penalty:
1. Manual penalty
Here, a person from Google’s team imposed a penalty to your website. There are several reasons for a manual penalty.
If you are affected by a manual penalty, Google will give you a notification via the Google Search Console (discussed below), and you can submit a reconsideration request once you’ve fixed the problem.
2. Algorithmic Penalty
These algorithm changes affect different things. For example, the Panda algorithm, implemented in early 2016, is focused on content. So, back then, sites with high-quality content received positive changes in ranking. On the other hand, sites that previously rank well by using keyword-stuffed content had their rank lowered or lost completely. This negative change is what we call the Google algorithmic penalty.
How Can We Identify Google Penalties?
To check whether your site is affected by any Google penalties, here is the step-by-step guide you can follow:
1. Check Your Google Search Console
Once you’ve logged in to your Google Search Console account, you can check whether your site has been imposed by a manual penalty.
Check the Search Traffic menu and Manual Actions submenu. If you see “No manual webspam actions found”, you are safe.
In case there is a manual penalty, read the notification carefully. You can submit a reconsideration request if you feel you’ve been wrongly accused. However, if you did make the indicated mistake(s), read along. We will discuss ways to recover from manual penalties further below.
2. Review Your Google Traffic
Detecting algorithmic penalty is a bit more complicated. The best way, however, is to use the free Google Analytics. Review your organic traffic, and check whether there’s any significant drop.
You can do this by going to the Acquisition menu. Then, select All Traffic, then Source/Medium under it.
If there’s any significant drop, use this guide from Moz to check whether there’s a Google algorithm change during that period.
How To Recover From Google Penalties?
Since there are so many factors that can cause a penalty, both manual and algorithm, it will be very difficult to list all the possible solutions.
However, here we have compiled some of the common penalties, and the steps you can follow to recover your site from Google penalties.
1. Recovering From Manual Penalties
As we have mentioned, the first thing you will need to do when you have been imposed by a manual penalty is to read the notification carefully.
Generally, a manual penalty is imposed when you’ve obstructed Google’s Webmaster Guideline. So, check the guideline carefully and fix any possible mistakes.
There are various obstructions that can cause manual penalties, such as unnatural links, spammy content, hacked site, and many more. Check this guide by Link Research Tools listing various causes of manual penalty and how to fix it.
2. Recovering From Algorithmic Penalty
Admittedly, recovering from algorithmic penalty can be really difficult. Because, even after you’ve fixed the problem, you will need to wait until Google run the next filter, which can take months and in some cases, years.
That’s not saying you shouldn’t fix the problem. The best thing you can do is to fix any possible issues affected by the algorithm update and hope the next filter is running soon.
First, study this guide by Search Engine Land discussing 8 major Google updates that might affect your site.
Next, create a step-by-step plan on how you want to proceed on fixing the algorithmic penalty, depending on your case.
Also, avoid doing any mistakes that might be penalized by future algorithm changes. Generally, you will be safe if you strictly follow Google’s Webmaster Guideline. Remember that SEO is a long-term strategy, so avoid using any blackhat SEO tricks.
This very nice guide by Robbie Richards will help you with Penguin and Panda algorithmic penalties.
It is far better to avoid Google penalties than trying to recover from it once you are penalized. Especially, avoid any dishonest link-building strategies at all cost. If you need any help with Google penalty removal you can work with digital marketing and SEO experts from I Know SEO to get it right and recover lost traffic.
Also, focus on creating high-quality content that are useful for human readers with at least 500 words of length. Avoid keyword stuffing with your content, and write naturally.
Also, although your site sees a significant traffic drop during Google’s algorithmic update period, sometimes your site might be hacked or injected by malware, so also investigate that possibility.
Using the methods mentioned above, you can detect whether your site is penalized, and take the necessary actions to recover from the penalty.