Contributed by Scarlett Erin – SEO Expert, Social Media Marketer and Blogger
If you have been wondering how you can recover from a Google Penalty then keep reading. When you are struck with a Google penalty, your website’s traffic and earning potential could seriously suffer. Unfortunately, it can be hard to even determine if you have a Google penalty on your hands.
The Different Kinds Of Penalty
There are generally two kinds of Google penalties. They can be manual or algorithmic.
The Manual Penalty
Manual penalties are levied when Google’s spam team manually reviews your website. If they see something wrong, they would flag your site and remove it from the search engine rankings.
To check if you have a manual penalty, check you Google Search Console. You may have received a message about your breaking the rules. Most likely you have breached a Google Webmaster Guideline.
For instance, may have unnatural links on your site (ie links unrelated to the content on your site). These may or may not have been placed by you (they could be in the comments section for example). Google penalised these because having spammy links is a black hat SEO technique, which Google is trying to stamp out.
Although receiving a manual penalty is not always your fault, it is up to you to make sure that you don’t suffer.
Google’s Panda update was about stopping poor quality sites getting to the top of search results
How to Recover From a Manual Penalty
The good news is that recovering from a manual penalty is not that hard. In fact, it could happen quickly, efficiently, and without much effort.
Since the reason for this sort of penalty is often link-based, you have control over the problem. Once you have determined that you have a manual penalty, start by removing spammy links from your site.
If you are involved in link buying, exchanging, or any other discouraged link practice, then you should immediately limit it. You may also be penalized for utilizing a Private Blog Network. Be wary of using such sources, as they could come back to bite you.
Sometimes, competitors may be pointing certain links your way. In cases like these, try looking at the anchor text of your inbound links. There is a wide range of tools available to help you out with this. Two examples are AHREFS and SEMrush.
You can start weeding out bad inbound links by asking the webmaster of the origin sites to take them down. However, if they do not cooperate or are just taking too long, you can take action yourself.
You can use Google’s disavow tool in the Search Console for this. Doing this would tell Google’s crawlers’ that you have nothing to do with these low-quality backlinks. You can find instructions on how to do this here.
Once you get rid of the offensive matter, you can submit a reconsideration question. Use the Manual Actions of your Google Search Console account for this. This may be denied, but don’t get disheartened. Denying reconsideration requests is quite common. You may have to submit your request three or four times before it is approved.
Google’s Penguin update was about stopping sites which use spammy links.
The Algorithmic Penalty
These are not technically penalties, but we’ll discuss them as such below as the end result is the same. While you are essentially being penalised because of a change to a Google algorithm, the term “penalty” has a specific meaning in SEO which does not apply to this type of problem.
Anyway, these “penalties” occur when a search algorithm by Google flags your website. This is an automatic occurrence, so you probably won’t get a message about it. Usually, this happens when there’s a new algorithm update or a refresh of previous updates.
The most likely warning signal you get is when your traffic drops without warning and with no message. There can be no proper explanation for this plunge in visitors, other than that your site has been removed from rankings (or has dropped significantly).
The best way to avoid being flagged automatically is to stay up-to-date about new algorithm updates. Many sources online can tell you about such updates and what you need to do to stay in the clear. If there are any big changes, Google itself will announce them. However, you have to stay alert and keep on your toes if you want your online business to keep flourishing.
Algorithm Update Examples
Panda was a big algorithmic update which targets low-quality websites. It created a site-wide penalty, which means that all of your pages can be caught in its net.
Another update was called Penguin, which automatically detects weak or bad links. There is also a mobile-friendliness algorithm, which catches sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
Search Engine Land has a great resource to read up on past and future updates here.
Google’s Pigeon update was about improving local SEO by making local sites come up more often.
How To Recover From An Algorithmic Penalty
If you discover that your site has been the victim of Broad Core Update penalty, there’s nothing specific to do. You should definitely try to improve the situation by weeding out weak links and thin content. Other than that, however, you may simply have to wait it out. Use the slow time to improve your sites SEO, so there will be a noticeable improvement once you are out of the “sin-bin”.
If an algorithm update is more specific than that, read up on what changes were made and see if you can address the specific problems. While Google are often opaque about what updates mean, there are great communities of Twitter and Reddit which can help you work out problems.
Whenever your traffic plunges, look in the various results in Google Search Console to see if you can find (and fix) problems.
Google usually runs data refreshes of such algorithms every few months. Your site should be strong enough to get refreshed when they run it again. Of course, this could take some time and you may suffer some losses as a result. Some websites even suffer from the Panda penalty for a year!
While Panda and Penguin are hard to recover from, Google’s mobile testing makes it easy to determine your site’s mobile-friendliness. You should not be caught by surprise with such an algorithm.
Google’s Pirate update was about punishing sites with too many copyright infringements.
When it comes to Google penalties, staying alert is the key. In any case, trying to avoid a Google penalty would automatically up the quality of your website. Hopefully, you won’t have to face such a situation. If you do, the above knowledge could help you out.
Next: SEO Toolkit