Google Penalty Check & Removal Service
Website D-Day by a Google Penalty
You don’t have a clue what is happening, but from one moment to the next your website seems to be completely gone from the page one search results in Google, and you have lost a lot of visitors. Frustrated, you immediately call your webmaster to scold him and asking him what the hell he is doing. The webmaster will immediately look at messages in the Google Search Console and discovers one of the worst things that can happen to a website; A manual Google Penalty.
Uhm, what is a Google Manual Penalty??
It’s a strange expression, but it’s a term used in SEO to indicate that your website is reviewed manually by the Google Spam Team, and that they have decided that your website is not following their guidelines or conditions. They notify you of this by sending a message through their Search Console, which is linked to your website. Besides the manual penalties, there are also algorithmic penalties. These are no real penalties, but more like a free kick. Because Google continuously updates its algorithm, it is possible that your websites suddenly performs better or worse after an update. You won’t get a notification of this in your Search Console and these changes are usually hard to discover. The following video gives a clear explanation of penalties and free kicks.
Examples of well-known sites punished by Google
Indeed, the website of this big English broadcaster got a message from Google in March 2013. The offense was having unnatural links. It was only for one page, but still…
This is the company behind, among others, the web browser Firefox. They received a message from Google in 2013 that a page contained too much spam. By removing this page, the problem was fixed, but it shows that no one is spared.
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The Google Zoo
Panda & Penguin updates, is this a zoo?
Google has performed many big updates. Many of these updates have been given a name to give them an identity, so that references can be made to this.
What is the Google Panda Update?
Besides for example an update in 2015 for mobile rankings, Google has started reviewing the quality of your content a few years ago. This is done by Panda, which is a complement to Google’s algorithm and was introduced in February 2011. Nowadays, it is no longer seen as a separate addition, but as a part of Google’s algorithmic core. As a result, we no longer get a warning when a new Panda Update arrives, instead it is integrated as a process.
The aim of Panda
Panda’s goal is to decrease rankings of sites with low quality, for example websites with duplicated text or too little text. Compare it with gymnastics. Gymnasts that increase the difficulty of their exercise can gain the most points. Gymnasts who perform a simple exercise can only earn half the number of points, compared to their counterparts. As a result, the gymnasts will have a difficult time to get the best chance at the gold medal. Bad performing websites can never get on the first page of Google. There is one exception, and that is when many or all sites in a search result are of poor quality.
What is the Penguin Update?
Google introduced the original Google Penguin Update to block spam-related sites in search results in April 2012. Before this update, many results were dominated by websites that bought a ton of artificially generated links. The amount of links had a way bigger impact then the quality of these links. For instance, if you got millions of backlinks with the anchor text ‘buy pizza’, this was almost a guarantee for a high ranking.
The focus of this update is to assess backlinks and anchor text. Websites that deal with illegally getting backlinks are punished with a penalty.
How can I recover from a Google Penalty?
Now that you have some more background about the how and why of a Google Penalty, we can better explain how to recover from such a penalty.
The manual penalty recovery steps
When dealing with a ‘Manual Penalty’ you must have gotten a message from Google. Sometimes it is a clear message about the cause of the penalty and the solution is simply solving the problem specified by Google. Sometimes the message is less clear and a thorough website analysis should take place. Based on this analysis, improvements and corrections can be made that make your site ‘healthier’ again.
In both cases, a message must be send to Google after the corrections to ask for a reassessment of your website. A response from Google can sometimes take weeks, during this time your ranking will probably not improve. To recover it is vital for a company to initiate this process as soon as possible.
Is this different from an Algorithmic Penalty?
With this kind of ‘penalties’ you won’t get a message from Google. The analysis begins somewhat else in this case. Data of your website is initially compared with the dates of the known Google updates. This way, it can be determined whether, and which update has had a negative impact on the ranking of your site. Since it is known what each update is meant to do, it can be carried out for further analysis from here.
Subsequently, it is important to solve the found issues. Unlike the manual penalty, you can’t send a message to Google, but you have to wait for the next review from Google. Again, this may take several days, sometimes a few months.
5 strong indications for an Algorithmic Penalty
If one or more of these apply to your site, then it is fairly certain that your website has been given a penalty:
- Your website does not have a good ranking for your company name. This is a piece of cake. Even if your website doesn’t have a high ranking for anything else, it should at least have a good ranking for this search term.
- Your listing, if you eventually find it in Google, is for a different page of your website and not for your homepage.
- Google does not show any results if you enter the following search term: site:yourwebsitename.com.
- Every page one position that you had in the past goes down to page two or three without you taking any action.
- The entire website is suddenly removed from the cached (temporary memory) search results of Google.
51 Reasons to get punished
51 Reasons why Google can give you a penalty
Google is constantly fine-tuning the way it indexes content. Although Google gives clues about updates, they rarely say anything about the reasons for change in their algorithms. Correcting or improving things can be a difficult job because of this. To point you in the right direction, Directional Preference will describe the 51 most frequent possible reasons for a ‘penalty’ or ‘free kick’. This is no definitive list, but we know that all of these factors can contribute. Often it is a combination of aspects, so you can also use this list to optimize your site. By the way, the factors are in random order and not arranged in order of importance.
- The art of buying links. Especially when buying a lot of links of bad quality, alarm bells start to ring.
- The duplicate content issue. Almost every form of duplicate text makes your website less useable from Google’s point of view. Ultimately, this can result in a penalty, but you have probably already got a lot of free kicks with every form of duplicate content.
- Structural internal 404 errors.If you get this kind of messages, website visitors may have a hard time finding what they were looking for. It is important to have your internal structure optimized.
- Texts are cluttered up with search terms.If you use the same word 5 times in every sentence, or fill your page with a certain word in a different way, this will not be appreciated. Make sure that the percentage of search terms, also known as the keyword density, remains low. A keyword density that’s too high can unintentionally cause problems.
- The absence of a sitemap.Google uses the XML sitemap to find out how your website is constructed. Make sure that your sitemap is available, updated and linked to the Search Console.
- External links that no longer work.Visitors will not have a good user experience if the links they click on don’t work. Regularly check your external links and replace the links that no longer work.
- The secret of the hidden text. This technique to optimize a website is often used by the ‘dark site’ of the SEO world. It goes without saying that this is a technique that is punished severely.
- Not applying of hreflang. Hreflang is designed to indicate that you have deliberately published duplicate content in a different language or for different locations. For example, if your website is displayed in multiple languages. The question is whether this really helps, but it certainly can’t hurt.
- Domain dilemma with exact match search terms. Domains with exact search terms or ones that partially contain a search phrase are not inherently wrong. Google’s experience however shows that these domain names are often used by less ethical parties for ranking. As long as the quality on the site is good, there is nothing to worry about. Do pay attention to the use of the anchor text, this is easily over-optimized.
- Making use of blog networks. Every network on which links are generated is an attempt at manipulating search results. Google is actively searching for these kinds of networks. If they shut down a network and your site has links that came from such a network, then your website is probably screwed.
- Links that are present across the entire website. These are for example often at the bottom of the page, in the footer. It is important to use links to link the pages of your website together in a logical way. Google looks for unnatural patterns, for example a site wide link to a website about viagra pills on the website of a pizzeria is quite suspicious.
- The frustration of a slow website. If your website is slow, it has a negative influence on the user experience and therefore also on Google’s opinion of your site. Many factors affect the speed of your site, so don’t start investigating this yourself. Leave this to the experts in this field.
- 1001 spam comments. Most sites have a system for filtering spam comments, but sometimes spam still makes it past the filters. Regularly check the comments on your website. If you don’t have the time to do this, disable this option.
- A hacked website. If your site has been hacked, it will disappear from the search results quite quickly. Act quickly reads the motto here, and restore your site using a backup, if necessary.
- Your site on the most wanted spam report list. Google has published a form for reporting websites that contain spam. It could be that someone has reported your website as spam. This could’ve happened with good or bad intentions.
- Hiding the links of your sponsors. Sponsors are sometimes an essential part of your income, so it is normal to refer to them. Be sure to do this as a no follow link on a page that is not scanned by Google News.
- Links to dubious sites. Make sure to never associate your site with sites that contain unethical content. I’m sure you can think of what kinds of websites these would be. Also remove links to sites that have been penalized by Google.
- The over optimization paradox. Too much of a good thing is not good either. It usually means that you went too far in optimizing your website for certain keywords. Slow down a little and add natural content, before you really get into trouble.
- An abundance of external links. When you refer to other sites, keep it relevant and natural. A high amount of external links can be a sign that you’re exchanging links with other sites with the goal of improving your position in Google.
- Harmful error messages. Google doesn’t think 302 messages are chill, change these into 301’s if you want to redirect something. If you encounter a 500 error, resolve the cause as quickly as possible.
- Malicious unwanted backlinks. An unfriendly competitor has probably deliberately started a spammy backlink campaign against you in order to knock your site off the first page.
- Smuggling links as if they were a mind-blowing white powder. Don’t try to be tricky by placing links in your script files that don’t belong there. Google is smarter than you think and will take these right out.
- Having few external links also isn’t good. Big G likes it when you refer to relevant sites with useful additional information. If these are missing, it can be a reason for a punishment.
- Text swiped by sad people. If you don’t copy and paste content, someone else can obviously still do it to your site. Sometimes it is difficult for Google to determine who the original publisher of content is. Depending on how important the content is for you, you can either simply adjust the content or start legal proceedings. If you have received a penalty due to this reason, you can ask Google to remove the stolen content.
- Using a ‘content farm’. These SEO factories poop pounds of low quality content per second. The idea behind this is to fill pages with words to make sure they are not empty. Don’t start this, it isn’t appreciated by Google.
- Exchanging too many links. The trading of links is an example of an innocent tactic that nowadays can work against you with excessive use. It can be a sign of manipulating your rankings.
- Strewing H1 tags like candy. Structuring your site definitely helps. The H1 tag helps Google understand what your page is about. Excessive use is not natural and is seen as a sign of artificially influencing the rankings.
- Links from sites in different languages. Look at this in perspective. As long as these links are relevant, add value and are in the minority, you don’t have to expect any issues. Visitors usually prefer a link with the same language, so a link of another language is often not usable for them.
- Wrong footer links. Sometimes these are used for navigational purposes, but often these links are also used to manipulate search results. Be careful with this.
- Hidden links with chameleon effect. All links on your website should be perfectly visible and valuable to the user. Everything that’s hidden is suspicious, including links. So don’t give a link the same color as the background.
- Scraping content with your digital cheese slicer. This form of copying content is seen as duplicate content by Google. Don’t do it, but if you’ve done it in your past, adjust the text.
- Anchor texst ratio abuse. A long time ago in the digital prehistoric years before 2012, you could make unlimited use of the same anchor text to increase rankings. It is clear that this technique is being punished. The right anchor text ratio is dependent of several factors like; DA, TF, domain name, search term and niche. It is also subject to constant small changes.
- Website not available by timeout or just offline. It is obvious that nobody will find this pleasant. A few minutes is no problem, but a de-indexing site can be the consequence of your website being offline for a few days.
- Renting out links like they are cheap hotel rooms. Some feel that the renting or hiring of links is legitimate and valuable for SEO. It is paid monthly for the link and they are regularly exchanged for new buyers. It is a form of paid links, thus not following the guidelines of Google.
- An abundance of affiliate links on your site. Google is not necessarily against these types of links, but a high number of affiliate links is an alert for Google to take a good look at the content. Masking these links, moreover, does not help much to fool Google.
- Excessive use of meta keywords. Although Google does not give much attention to it, it is still a factor in other search engines. Hence, this is mentioned. Do not use more than a handful of meta keywords to play safely.
- The spun content plague. This form of text is not value as well as it is not have worth. This kind of content isn’t going to add value to your site and Google is getting better at detecting them. If you have these kinds of texts on your website, be warned Google will find it eventually. Watch out when buying cheap texts, these are probably automatically generated and useless.
- SEO advice from the ‘Dark Site’. If you publish information how to influence search results trough ‘black hat’ methods, you could anticipate a warning from Google.
- Building links in the fastest way possible. Of course you do want your website in the number one position in search engines. Don’t do too much in a short time. Many links to the same page in a very short period of time equals an alarm bel to the search engine spiders.
- Links from every forum available. Forum were and still are being flooded by comments with links. So make sure you pick only relevant forums and leave an informative and valuable comment with a natural link. Also consider making use of a ‘no-follow’ link instead of ‘do-follow’.
- TXT mistakes. The robot.txt file should be used to tell search engines how to handle your website. Although there are legitimate ways to exclude pages, do it with moderation. Excessive blocking could result in a penalty.
- Landing page tricks. Companies sometimes try using several landing pages to improve their position in search results. Also creating a website that exists of one page and is optimized for one search term, to attract visitors to that site and then send them on their way to another site, is a popular technique. Google doesn’t like these kinds of tricks.
- Advertorial with follow link. This advertisement disguised as an article is highly annoying to Google. This form of paid links are often used to manipulate search results.
- Redirecting a site with an existing penalty. Your website already got a penalty, so you build a new site with a new domain. You think you’re smart by redirecting your old site to your new site with a 301. This might bring the penalty to the new site. What’s even worse; the penalty might stick to your new site, even if you decide to remove the 301 redirect. The advice here is clear: do not redirect in this case.
- Automatically generated duplicate meta data. Some tools and content management systems make it too easy to create duplicate meta data by accident. Meta data by itself does not cause a penalty, but it can be a sign that your website contains duplicate content. This is unwanted either way, so you have to take care of it.
- Popular keywords for spammers. Google performs a fierce battle against keywords that are popular with spammers. Check your spam box to find out which words are in this category. If you are active in a branch like that, expect regular visits – not only from Google, but also from unethical competition.
- Not being mobile-friendly is like going 40 miles an hour on the highway. In 2015, Google released an update to increase the ranking of mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. If your website doesn’t work properly on a mobile device, it’s time to do something about this – you’re being overtaken from all sides.
- A domain with a bad rap. Without even knowing it, you might have bought a domain that has been used for questionable things in the past. Do not try to solve it, but cut your losses and change to a different domain.
- Dominated by ads. Ads are fine, but it should never be the main thing on your page. Use ads in moderation, just like Google does with AdWords…
- Beware of smooth talking and ‘rank in 1 day’ solutions. Never engage with anyone that claims to hold the magic powers to get your website to no. 1 in Google within 24 hours. The only way to get lasting results, is to put in a solid foundation.
- The grammar of a toddler. A spelling mistake here and there is not the end of the world, but when your text looks like it’s been written by an immigrant who has been learning a new language for two days, it will be a problem.
A Google Penalty should be taken seriously, if you value a good position in their search results. The explanation above might be complex, but to solve a penalty you need expertise and knowledge to correctly interpret the data. It’s not advisable to try and do this by yourself, so let an expert take over. If you have any doubts about the state of your website after reading this, you can ask our advice without any obligations or check out the next step in our SEO process.