If your website has been hit by a Google penalty, you’re probably seeing a serious downturn in website traffic because your business isn’t ranking where it usually is. However, getting back in good standing is more difficult than you may realize, sometimes taking months for your rankings to return to pre-penalty standing. During this time your business is losing traffic, and your sales are suffering. To help you remove a Google penalty from your website, our SEO Agency is sharing the steps you need to take.
What Is a Google Penalty?
First, let’s look at exactly what a Google penalty is and why they are so detrimental to your website’s traffic. Google penalties are actions taken againsta website that don’t satisfy or intentionally go against Google’s algorithms and webmaster guidelines. Specifically designed to target and stop black hat SEO tactics that raise search engine rankings through dodgy means, a penalty will either drastically lower your website rankings or even take your website out of rankings for specific keywords altogether. Either way, this results in significantly lower traffic which can be disastrous for your website.
Manual Penalties and Algorithmic Penalties
Having a Google penalty removed from your website starts by determining its cause and how it was applied to the site, whether it was a manual action or an algorithmic penalty.
A manual penalty is an action taken specifically by a member of Google’s team. To determine if this is where your penalty originated, you’ll need to look at Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster) and look under “Manual Actions” from the “Search Traffic” tab. If you have a manual penalty, there will be a notification here that shows the reason for the penalty, the action taken, and the link directing you to the problem.
In an algorithmic penalty, Google’s algorithm will identify a problem during a website crawl and will sanction the website accordingly. There are two updates that can cause an algorithmic penalty:
- Panda update scans content and user experience;
- Penguin update scans for linkbuilding issues;
To determine if you have an algorithmic update, you just need to see if you have a manual penalty. If not, then your penalty is algorithmic, but to determine if it’s panda or penguin, you’ll need to check Google Algorithm Change History and cross reference any changes with when your SEO rankings and traffic dropped.
Most Common Causes of Google Penalties
Whether you are hit with a manual penalty or an algorithmic one, it’s most likely going to come from one of three areas.
Low Quality Backlinks
Bad backlinks are one of the most common forms of black hat SEO which is why they are such a common cause of penalties, both manual and algorithmic from the penguin update. Google specifically will penalize your website if a backlink falls under one of these qualities:
- The website doesn’t relate to your website;
- The website is a poor quality directory;
- Backlinks come from blog and article comments;
- Hidden text backlinks;
- Backlinks from adult or gambling websites;
- Poor quality affiliate pages;
- Low-quality guest posts;
- Spam links;
- Unnatural anchor text;
As Google strives to provide users with high-quality, relevant content, the panda update will penalize websites that have poor quality content including:
- Duplicate content or plagairized work;
- Keyword stuffing
- Hidden text within the code that isn’t relevant to your content;
- Cloaking content by redirecting users from the crawled page to an irrelevant or low-ranking page;
User experience is a growing priority for Google so they are naturally going to reward websites that offer the best UX with high rankings. Conversely, websites that have serious UX concerns will be negatively affected with algorithmic penalties. Specifically, you’ll want to fix the following issues to remove a Google penalty from your website:
- Not mobile friendly;
- Poor load speed;
- Too many ads
- Poor usability;
How to Remove a Google Penalty from Your Website
Now that you understand what may have triggered the issue, and you know whether it’s manual or algorithmic, it’s it’s time to remove the Google penalty from your website.
Removing a Manual Penalty
- Analyze your backlinks to determine where the irrelevant, paid, or spam links are. Then, contact those sources to remove your website or use Google’s disavow tool.
- Read the Webmaster guidelines and analyze your website for any penalties in the future.
- Submit a reconsideration to Google asking them to remove the manual action and detailing what you did to rectify the situation.
Removing an Algorithmic Penalty
- If your penalties are due to poor backlinking, follow the same steps you took in removing a manual penalty and analyze the links to determine the problems.
- If the penalties are a UX or content issue, look for the issues we outlined above. Check your speed page insights, verify mobile use, and run your content through a free plagairism checker to prevent duplicate content.
- This is a great time to do a deep dive into each page of your website, making sure you’re providing a good user experience, and your content is clear, relevant, and sounds natural.
- The search algorithm will catch changes to your site in the next update, which can take months.
Get Our Google Penalty Removal Guide
To help you clean up your website, check out our Google Penalty Removal Guide. This resource offers an abbreviated walkthrough on how to remove a Google penalty from your website or contact our digital marketing specialists to remove a Google penalty for you!
If you’re unsure about doing a deep dive into your website to find links, content problems, and other issues, as well as reaching out to Google for reinstatement is complicated and time-consuming, we can help. To spot the exact issue with your website, reach out to our SEO team for a Technical Website SEO Audit. We’ll provide you with the insight you need to get your site in good standing.