Published on August 24, 2015 • by Nishant Updated on December 9, 2023 • 9 min Read
It would be shocking for you to see your inbox with a message from Google alert that your website has been penalized. Your website may face huge loss in Google search rankings or completely removed from Google search engine. Moreover, the worst can happen with an end of business for many business owners.
Now the Question arises, why this happen ?
A website may be penalized by Google due to one of following factors :
Manipulative methods are used to improve a site ranking.
Poor website experience is provided to visiting people.
There are further two categories for Manipulative methods i.e. on-site or off-site :
On-site methods are used within a site’s technical set-up.
Off-site methods are related to back-links as primary factors that Google use to check the authority and trust of a site.
A Google penalty can either be an algorithmic or a manual one.
A manual penalty may enforce when a Google visitor has manually reviewed a site and found to violate one or more of Google’s guidelines.
An algorithmic penalty may come in to force when a site has stumbled a safeguard or filter built into Google’s algorithm.
Algorithmic penalties further fall into Panda or Penguin categories. Panda penalties are related to the low quality content of site along with usability of the site. Penguin penalties are related to the over-optimization and generally supports high quality content.
The minor and major updates for Panda & Penguin may implement various changes, which are sometimes remain unnoticed and sometimes may destroy the SEO of a website completely!
Therefore, it is necessary to keep up to date with the most important updates for algorithm.
How to Recognize a Google Penalty ?
Following are the main signs to understand that your site is being penalized by Google :
Website suddenly stops showing up selected keywords or phrases in the SERP’s.
Without any reason, lost a lot of its traffic and without any recovery sign.
Website Page Rank unexpectedly dropped to a big fat zero.
Sometimes, there may be a complete shutdown of a website, sometimes it can be easily recovered from a Google penalty while sometimes it is quite difficult to do so.
To resolve all these issues a SEO expert can follow a checklist to identify the probable reasons for website penalty along with various suggestions to Avoid it:
How to Avoid a Google Penalty ?
1. Guest Post Link, Spam Back-links and link building
Using guest posting with a too many links as a link building strategy, can be an absolute killer. Also we should not use only this strategy that you use. A natural looking profile link is the key to avoid Google Penalties especially for Penguin.
There’s also a very real risk of devaluing of links from Google which are coming from guest posts. There’s simply too many people guest posting on an industrial-scale for them to ignore it.
It is very easy for Google to detect and devalue all guest post links.
Also, the latest Google algorithms never allows websites to purchase or sell back-links. So, you must be cautious not to add a huge number of back-links within a short time period, otherwise Google will take it as you are accomplishing this using a dedicated software.
Moreover, same situation can happen by using any back-link from a penalized website.
Hence, mostly use back-links relevant to website contents.
2. Plagiarized or a Duplicate content
As per Google’s perspective any plagiarized or duplicate content could result in a penalty. Always ensure the content should be unique and properly written. The help popular tools like Copyscape and CopyGator can be taken for it. Also, check for everything that can be duplicated along with the link anchors, meta tags and the whole copy.
All the essential elements should be written from the beginning or a rel canonical tag can be used.
Now, what is rel=canonical and how to use it ?
Google, Bing and Yahoo! Introduced & published the rel=canonical link element in Feb 2009. Issue of duplicate content with several similar versions can be resolved by picking one “canonical” version and pointing the search engines at that. Here, search engines don’t know content of which version to show.
Assumetwo versions having different URLs with exactly the same content. Their content is clearly valuable for both versions linked from other sites. Here, nobody can understand about the version a search engine usually show?
See following example:
This can usually happen especially in various e-commerce systems showing a product with several different URLs depending on how a visitor got there.
rel=canonical can be applied in the following manner:
Pick any one of page as the canonical version and take it as the most important one or pick the one with the most visitors and links.
From the non-canonical page, add a rel=canonical link to the canonical page. For example, if we add the small URL as a canonical URL, the other URL would link to the smallest URL like so in the page section :
As per a search engine’s perspective, technically this will “merge” the two pages into one like a sort of “soft redirect”, without redirecting the user.
Both URLs links now count for the single canonical URL version.
3. Hidden Links or Text
All website links or text should be clearly visible and beneficial to visitors. Any hidden link or text may be considered as suspicious. Even if you have genuine motive, never colour a text or link same as the background of a button or page.
Although website visitors might not notice the hidden links or text, but the Search engine bots can easily notice it.
4. Stuffing of Keywords
Avoid overusing of targeted keywords, as a very high keyword density is a flag for badly written content. So, always check your keyword densities.
In a page, a weirdly high number of keywords, will attract Google’s attention and it may end up penalizing you – rightly or wrongly.
5. H1 tags Overuse
Google can well understand about the page title with the help of a H1 tag, as a clear indicator. Google can see excessive use of H1 tags as an attempt to pump its listing with keywords.
6. Affiliation and Advertising
Google doesn’t like websites with many affiliate marketing and advertisements. Excessive usage of these advertisements Google believes to be handled by people who only cares for money. Also, Google will reject a website with higher bounce rates.
7. Control Hacking
Your site will be immediately kicked off by Google from SERPs, if in any case it has been hacked. So, always prepare yourself for the worst, quickly act to control hacking attempts and always take a backup to restore sites.
How to Recover from Google Penalty?
Do not Panic.. Be Patient.! As even bigger websites can suffer from penalties.
Try to figure out and correct all the causes for your penalty.
A slightly different solution will be required for every problem.
You can try some of tricks as shown :
If troublesome links causes the penalty, then request Google to ignore and not to count these links by using the disavow tool.
Clean your website and submit a new site-map to Google with a notice that about fresh and new content.
Use Google Webmaster Tools to find and download all of your back-links.
Put in some legwork to get some links removed and also try to get some of the links taken down.
For a manual penalty, request for reconsideration.
Sometimes, Google takes a while to act on your changes and requests. So, wait until crawling of your site starts again by the search engines bots.
Most of the penalties can be fixed with an ethical approach, a little effort, and some hard work to rebuild a site.
Still, if unfortunately, Google denies to remove your website penalty then you will be left with no other option than to purchase a new domain, shift everything there and restart its promotion from the beginning.