If Google issues a penalty for your website, it can be terrible news for you. What’s worse, it’s very difficult to find out if you have been penalized. It’s even more difficult to manage the penalty and recover from it. As bad as Google penalties might sound, they are still quite common and something which a lot of website owners will have to deal with at some point in their life. In this post, we will take a look at the kinds of penalties handed by Google. We will also talk about how you can tell if your site is suffering from a penalty and what exactly you need to do in order to recover from the penalty. Let’s get started.
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Google Penalty Recovery Service: All You Need to Know
What is a Google penalty?
Your website can be issued a penalty by Google upon being flagged by a manual review team or due to the negative impact of Google’s algorithm update.
Penalties typically result in your website dropping in the SERPS, seeing less traffic, or even being completely de-indexed in extreme cases.
It’s no secret that penalties are bad for business, especially for companies that depend on their website as a primary revenue channel.
What kinds of Google penalties are there?
There are two general categories of penalties: Manual and algorithmic.
Within each category, there are a number of reasons why your site may have been penalized. We’ll delve into some of the most common ones below.
A manual penalty (or manual action) occurs when Google’s spam team flags your website, usually for breaching one or more of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
To check whether you’ve been manually penalized or not, you need to log in to your Google Search Console and check for new messages. In case there are no warnings or messages, it’s highly unlikely that a manual penalty has been issued to your site.
The most common cause of manual penalties is your backlink profile. The three most common types of manual penalties are:
Unnatural links to your site – impacts links
This means Google detected unnatural links to your site, but it doesn’t look like you had a hand in building those links.
The unnatural links won’t be able to supply any link juice for your site. However, you don’t need to do anything special to recover from this penalty.
More often than not, the purpose of this penalty is to combat negative SEO. A competitor may point hundreds or thousands of spammy links to your domain in an attempt to knock you out of the SERPs, but according to Google, this penalty will kick in to ensure that your site’s traffic doesn’t suffer because of your competitors.
Unnatural links to your site
This penalty is the same as the first one, except in this case, you’re blamed for the unnatural links.
Depending on your unnatural links, this action can adversely affect your entire website or just a few pages.
The unnatural links penalty is generally caused by the purchase of backlinks, link swapping, reciprocal links, and other discouraged link building practices.
Unnatural links from your site
This penalty is simply the reverse of the first two.
If Google thinks you’re linking out too often, linking to the same site with exact match anchor text repeatedly, or engaging in other manipulative linking activities, you’ll get hit with this penalty.
Similar to the case above, the impact of this penalty can be across your entire website or might just be limited to a few pages.
How to recover from a Manual Penalty?
If you have been issued a manual penalty, the recovery process of that is quite quick and efficient. Just follow the steps we are going to mention and you should be able to recover from it with ease.
Because manual penalties are almost always link-based, you have more control over the situation than you would under other penalties.
Simply check whether you’ve been penalized for unnatural inbound or outbound linking practices, and address the problem. For example, if you have lots of spammy links pointing to your website, do your best to remove them.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which links you’re getting penalized for. Some of the things that Google might be talking about include:
- Link buying.
- Link trading.
- Utilizing a Private Blog Network.
- Some other explicitly discouraged link building practice.
If you’re still not sure which links are “unnatural,” you’ll need to do a bit more exploring.
A good place to start is by digging into the anchor text of your inbound links. You can do this with a combination of free and paid tools like AHREFS, SEMrush, and more. In general, Google doesn’t like exact match anchor text.
Once you are done identifying the low quality links, reach out to the webmasters of those sites and request for a link removal.
If that doesn’t work, you don’t get a response, or it’s simply taking too long, you can go ahead and disavow those links using Google’s disavow tool in Search Console.
Disavowing backlinks tells Google’s crawlers to ignore those inbound links next time your site gets crawled. Check out Google’s support page on disavowing backlinks for more information on the process.
After you’ve fixed the problem(s) to the best of your knowledge, submit a reconsideration request through the “Manual Actions” section of your GWT account.
It’s very common for initial reconsideration requests to be denied, so don’t be disheartened if it takes two, three, four, or more requests before Google finally considers your website back in good standing.
According to Google’s Matt Cutts, more than 400,000 manual penalties are initiated every month. Of those properties, only 5% submit reconsideration requests. Try to ensure that you belong to the 5%.
Algorithmic penalties are quite self explanatory. These penalties happen when your website is flagged by one of Google’s search algorithms.
Algorithmic penalties can be caused by a new algorithmic update or a “data refresh” from a previous algorithm update.
Algorithm-based penalties are much harder to detect than manual penalties. The reason behind that is that you don’t get any Search Console message that informs you about the penalty. What usually happens instead is a steep drop in traffic without any explanation.
The best way to keep track of algorithm-based penalties is to stay in the loop when it comes to Google algorithm updates. There are many different resources out there devoted to tracking Google algorithm updates, and Google itself will often confirm big changes.
In case your site sees a completely unexpected and abnormally steep decline in traffic, check to see if any confirmed Google algorithm changes were implemented around the same time. Certain major algorithmic updates trigger the majority of algorithmic penalties:
Google’s Panda update is continually responsible for many low-quality websites getting seriously penalized.
The aim of Panda is to ensure high quality content. If Google thinks your website has thin content, doesn’t add value, is falsely authoritative, and so on, a Panda data refresh will absolutely run your rankings to the ground.
Panda is especially dangerous because it’s a site-wide penalty, meaning all of your traffic and all of your rankings are affected by a Panda penalty.
When Penguin was released, it’s safe to say that it completely reshaped the SEO landscape. In the simplest form, Penguin is an automatic “bad link” detector. It looks for things like overall link quality, how quickly a website acquires and retains links, and how diverse (nofollow, dofollow, high quality, low quality, etc) a website’s backlink profile is.
If your backlink activity is deemed “unnatural” by Penguin, your website will be issued a penalty.
Contrary to Panda, the Penguin penalty only impacts a few pages of the website and not the whole thing. But, since the pages affected are typically the ones with the most backlinks, most sites hit with a Penguin penalty still end up losing the vast majority of their traffic.
To date, Google has pushed out two “mobile-friendliness” algorithm updates with the intention of ranking websites that are mobile-ready better in mobile search results than those that aren’t.
This is definitely the easiest algorithm update to detect since Google supplies webmasters with a useful mobile friendliness test which will help you adjudge the condition of your website. “Mobile-friendliness” can entail several things such as responsive design, appropriately-sized UI elements, page load speed, and more.
How to recover from an Algorithmic Penalty
While these algorithmic penalties are very different from one another, there’s really only one path to regaining your rankings: Fix the problem, then wait.
Data refreshes on these algorithmic penalties are run once every few months. If your site has been penalized, it’s not going to recover until the data refresh has determined that your site is not deserving of a penalty anymore.
These algorithmic penalties can be truly devastating for certain websites – some have been trying to recover from a Panda penalty for more than a year.
Because you don’t necessarily know when the next data refresh of an algorithm update will be, it’s important to identify and rectify algorithmic penalties as quickly as possible.
Once you think that you have figured out what caused the penalty, get into action mode and start trying to fix it. In case, you were hit with the Panda, audit your site completely and ensure that all your content is up to standard.
In case you were hit by the Penguin, you can follow a process that is similar to the process to recover from a manual penalty. However, you won’t be able to file a request for reconsideration. What you need to is identify the harmful links on your website and get them removed and/or disavow them.
As far as mobile friendliness is concerned, you just need to keep testing your website with Google’s mobile testing services. Based on the test scores, keep making minor changes to your site until you can score well on the tool. Once you do that, you should be fine the time Google rolls out a mobile data refresh.
So that was some information on Google Penalties and how you can recover from them. With the help of the information in the post, you will hopefully be able to get your site back in the rankings if you have suffered some steep traffic and revenue decline because of a Google Penalty. Good luck!