What to Do When You Find Out You Have a Google Penalty
There are few things that can strike fear into the hearts of webmasters more than the phrases “manual penalty” and “algorithmic penalty”. Google in particular has become the life-blood of many websites and brands, and to fall on its bad side is to lose the vital traffic and attention that is required to sustain a business. Unfortunately, the search engine’s algorithms are in constant flux and this can result in some pretty chaotic situations for those caught in the crosshairs. If you believe that you have been impacted by a penalty, then you need to act quickly but consciously. We’ll discuss today how you can begin the process of recovering from a penalty so that your website can be back to optimal performance in no time at all.
Double-Check via Google
It should go without saying, but don’t assume that a sudden loss in traffic is being caused by a penalty: make sure that is the case. Within Google Webmaster Tools, you’ll be able to verify for sure whether a manual penalty has been assigned or not. This is very important to do – don’t just assume that you’ve been penalized – as it will help provide you with specific information that can then be used to rectify the problem in question. If, however, the penalty is being caused by an algorithm change, then you will need to do more investigate work by digging through recent algorithm changes and determining which ones could be the culprits in question.
More often than not, a penalty will be caused by a bad backlink somewhere on the web. There are many pinging tools available that can be used to determine all of the associated backlinks pointing to your website. Once you have a comprehensive list of backlinks, be sure to filter them down to only those that are dofollow. Since Google does not read nofollow links, those could not be causing the problem. Once you have discovered which links are causing the problem, you have two courses of action. The first is to request that the site in question remove any link to you from their website. This can often be the quickest and best way to handle the situation, but there are times where this doesn’t work. In that case, you’ll want to use Google Disavow within Webmaster Tools in order to disassociate your domain from the link in question. These requests can be denied as well, but usually are acknowledged when there is a clear problem and the link wasn’t obviously obtained through a black hat scheme.
Verify Content Quality
Algorithmic penalties – when not derived from bad links – often appear due to low-quality content or the appearance of manipulative tactics. As such, it is always important to verify the quality of recent content to see if there is any major deviation from your historic norms. This can apply to everything from word count and keyword frequency to multimedia usage and number of links included. Usually, if there is a sudden change in how your website is ranking or the amount of traffic being derived from search, it is due to an algorithm change and/or the quality of your content.
The important thing is to respond to the situation calmly. Do your research and make sure that you’re taking the appropriate course of action before doing anything. Have you experience a drop in traffic or penalty in the past? Tell us below about your experience, and how you fixed the situation.