Anyone with a webpage knows that a Google penalty is about as bad as it can get. When it happens, it seems like your worst fears have come true. However, it doesn’t have to be all that terrible. There are ways to find, fix, and resolve Google penalties. Your website will be back up and running just as well as it was before, and all is right with the world again.
As the algorithms are changing, it’s easy to get swept away in the new rules. Within this guide, you are going to learn exactly what these penalties are and how they are different from filters, how to find them, ways to recover, and as a bonus, how to avoid it from happening again!
Google Penalties vs. Google Filters
For those who are inexperienced about the Google and search engine optimization world, it’s really easy to get confused about Google penalties and Google filters. Some even interchange them when talking about them clearly not knowing the difference. There’s a very simple way to establish which is which:
- Penalty– The site has been manually reviewed by an employee from Google, and they marked it with a message that it has been penalized. The reason will be for violating one of their regulations or conditions. The algorithm or a live person will flag the site for something, and an evaluator goes in and sees what’s going on.
- Filter – When there is something with the main algorithm that doesn’t agree with your site’s quality for example, a computerized filter will be applied, and it slows it down. It makes it harder for pages to rank well.
Filters have somewhat of the same impact on your site as penalties do, but they are very different. Filters are applied automatically, and algorithms are getting better at detecting what a quality site is and which ones aren’t. Additionally, with the improvements in Google algorithms, more manual penalties are being given out. Employees are being notified more frequently and accurately about issues with sites.
Finding Out What’s Happening
If you are curious about whether or not your site has been penalized or filtered for any reason, you have to go in and check it out manually. First of all, go to the Google Search Console (GSC), then click on search traffic, and then manual actions; if there’s nothing there, you’re good to go.
There are a number of reasons why you might be penalized, so look for these:
- Hacked site
- Unnatural links to and/or from your site
- Thin content with no value
- Sneaky redirects
- Cloaked images
- Keyword stuffing or hidden text
You should know if this is in your content. If it is, you need to take care of it right away the best you can.
While you’re in there, you should make sure your Google Analytics tracking code is working. You can also run a search engine rank report to find out where your keywords are currently ranking. Finally, check to make sure you are only looking at organic traffic.
There’s a chance that if nothing is showing up as far as a penalty or filter, you might just be losing to a competitor. If that’s the case, it’s time to increase the content and quality of your page.
Getting Rid of Penalties
Those unnatural links seem to cause the most problem when it comes to penalties. It is something that you have to check in your backlink profile. Any sort of dominant, irrelevant, or over-optimized text with tons of backlinks are going to raise red flags. That’s especially true if the links are coming from low-quality websites.
Of course, if you find a penalty, you want it to disappear as quickly as it came. However, that’s sometimes easier said than done. You have to start with following the manual action message. If it says that you have “cloaked images,” you have to get rid of them. That’s something that you can easily do on your own by removing or replacing the image.
An unnatural link is one penalty that could be more challenging to clear up. You have to send a request to the website that is linking you to their page and asked to be removed. If that’s impossible, you have to go through the disavowing process.
Whatever you do, document it, so you can show that you’ve done everything in your power to fix the problem when you get in touch with Google.
Keeping Your Page Safe
After going through this process, the last thing you want to do is hop online in a day or week and find that you have been hit with another penalty. In essence, you need to bulletproof your page. You should be monitoring it regularly to ensure that it meets the quality guidelines that Google has in place. The link should be completely natural.
Whenever you find hacked content during your regular monitoring, get rid of it as quickly as you possibly can. You also need to have a plan in place to prevent spam generated from users from popping up.
Once your page has been penalized, just be aware that it may take some time for it to get back to where it was.
Think about a local brick-and-mortar business that has done something wrong. Like a restaurant getting a health code violation for instance. For a while, people are going to stop going in there. After a while, the flow of customers will get back to normal. If the penalty, or rumor, is terrible enough, they might have to move to a new town. The same goes for your domain name.
All of this might sound like a bit much to handle, especially if you are entirely new to penalties and filters. Once you get started on the process, it really is fairly simple to figure out. Just follow it step-by-step, and you shouldn’t have any issues. If you’ve done everything that you can do, and you still aren’t getting the results you want, you can always call in a professional SEO agency which will help you in resolving these issues.
Author Bio –
Sameer Panjwani is the Founder & CEO of Mondovo.com, an online marketing toolset that helps you track your rankings, monitor your site stats, and research your competitors. A man of many talents, Sameer is currently on a mission to help 1 million businesses grow organically through his products and services.