How to recover from a Google penalty
SEO & Copywriting
For most, the purpose of owning and operating a website is to have visitors find their way to your content. In marketing terms, this is called search engine traffic. Achieving high Google rankings as a result of traffic is important, but as online spaces have become overly competitive, and thus the chances become more difficult. Further, many new businesses practice link-building, pushing this process to its limits in order to attract traffic. However, this practice is a violation of Google’s guidelines, and thus your website could be penalized.
Have you noticed your search traffic plummet as of late? If so, you could be one of the many websites facing a penalty as a result of Google. First, it’s important to figure out if you do have a penalty and how to recover from it. Read on to find all the important information regarding this subject!
How to recover from a Google penalty placed on your website
Are you facing a Google penalty?
If your traffic has slowed down or is somewhere close to a halt, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are facing a penalty from Google. In some cases, you could have accidentally triggered an algorithm that is affecting your traffic. It is important to understand the difference between your website being impacted by a manual penalty versus triggering an algorithm, especially because this will determine how you form a concrete recovery plan. This will start with a breakdown of the difference between manual penalties and algorithm updates.
Manual penalty: manual penalties happen when Google’s spam algorithm is flagged and is pointing towards your website. In this scenario, Google will apply a manual penalty and this will affect your site’s rankings. In the majority of cases, this penalty will be accompanied by a message that can be found within your Google Webmaster and is generally labelled “unnatural links.” The one positive aspect of this type of penalty is that it’s easy enough to identify.
Algorithm update: penalties can occur without notice following a small change or group of changes, and in most cases, this will cause your site's traffic to drop. Unfortunately, this type of penalty is much harder to identify as a notification does not accompany them. However, to identify the type of action that has been taken against your site, look back at your data and analyze the time period when you began to lose traffic. Compare this data with Google’s Algorithm Change History and see if anything lines up.
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There are several types of bad backlinks, and these will affect your website ranking and could help you to incur a penalty. They are as follows:
- Websites that contain duplicate content or are of poor quality;
- Websites that have nothing to do with your niche or marketplace, making your website seem less relevant;
- Spammy forum profiles and comments, comments as well as posts on forums that are left specifically for the purpose of placing a link will reflect poorly on your website;
- Sponsored content;
- Site-wide backlinks;
- Backlinks from directories;
- Links from gambling, adult or other lude websites;
- Hidden text as well as cloaking or redirects that are not immediately evident;
- Automatically generated content.
Penguin and Panda
Yes, these might be the names of two beautiful creatures but Penguin and Panda are much more than just animals when it comes to your website and content. Regardless of whether it’s a manual penalty or an algorithm update, the source of the drop in traffic is, more often than not, Penguin or Panda. Specifically, Panda focuses on content quality and Penguin looks at backlinks as well as anchor text distribution.
Looking for a more detailed account of Google's Penguin and Panda penalties? Check out The different types of Google penalties.
Recovering from a Penguin penalty
In order to recover from this type of penalty, you’ll need to analyze the anchor text on your website. This will consist of finding an application that can create a backlink report for your website. Examine the overview of your website following the application's analysis, and look for targeted keyword variations, URLs that stand alone and so on.
Bear in mind that Penguin looks for websites that have anchor texts which contain only match keywords. Make sure to look at the backlinks page of the analysis and identify the source of the anchor text. If the backlinks happen to come from referring websites, which is generally the case, get in touch with them and request to have the backlink removed.
Recovering from a Panda penalty
The Panda penalty really comes down to the quality of content on your website and targets insufficient content, too many ads, duplications, poor navigation, poor loading times, site speed and so on. It is important to be on top of all of these problems, as not only do they affect your search engine ranking but they also affect how credible and reliable comes across to visitors.
Poor content, long wait times and terrible site navigation come across as careless, and thus, people will likely refuse to interact with your company or product. Look for duplicate or low-quality content across your pages, using Webmaster tools to find ways to improve. If the website's content itself isn’t performing well, have you considered hiring someone to take care of it instead?