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How To Identify If You’ve Been Hit By Google Penalty

Most bloggers and webmasters don’t have much experience nor knowledge about Google Penalty. There are many types of Google algorithm updates. For example, have you heard of Google Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird or the latest Google Pigeon?

Have you ever wondered why all the internet and Google likes to name their algorithms using animal names? Well, you’ll find out at the end of this post.

But these are just the names that Google and the rest of the blogs and forums (net) use to differentiate the different types of Google ranking algorithm and changes.

In This Post, You Will Learn

What is Google Penalty?

What happens to your site when it is being penalized?

Types of Google Penalties

How Long Does The Google Penalty Lasts?

Identifying The Types of Penalty

Ways To Identify If Your Website Has Been Hit By Google Penalty

Not Necessarily Caused by Google’s Algorithm Update

What’s Google Penalty?

It is a known fact that Google frequently updates their ranking algorithms changes to improve and enhance the quality of their search engine results.

But since Google has these algorithm changes too often. Every time these changes occur, webmasters will automatically be affected.

It also means that some websites will be affected positively by the algorithm change, which in return their Google rankings will improve. Receiving more exposure and organic traffic.

Then some of the other sites will be negatively affected by the Google algorithm change, which in return they will notice a drop or completely lost in Google’s search rankings therefore having almost or NO traffic coming into their respective websites.

What Happens When Your Website Is Penalized?

If you’re being penalized, you’ll see a huge drop in your organic traffic (traffic referred by Google).

Also, Google has lost trust in your website and which means that you need to work hard cleaning up all illegal or spam links, and be patient regaining its trust.

Google Search Engine hates spammy and blackhat technique (trying to trick their algorithm) websites. Google will only de-index your site from its search rankings.

Here’s the thing, recovering from the penalty will get you back on its search engine (indexed), but it does not mean that you can recover your original rankings. Thus, it will be harder to rank higher from now as you’ve been sort of “blacklisted”.

Types of Google Penalties

There’s two types of penalties that you should be aware of so you can understand and know their difference.

Automatic Penalty: Also known as Algorithmic Penalty. Automatic penalties are caused by the frequent changes in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Be mindful about automatic penalties as they are not reported to Google’s Webmaster Tools when you are hit by it. There is no option to submit for reconsideration either.

You can only identify whether you were hit by an automatic penalty by using the following methods and techniques provided in this post.

Manual PenaltyManual Penalty occurs when and most likely someone from Google’s Search Engine Spam Team issued a penalty to your website.

Well, there are a couple of reasons. Sometimes it is only a few pages in your website that is affecting the Google search engine and therefore causing the penalty.

When and if you’re hit by Google’s Manual Penalty, the Google WebSpam Team will indicate the problem to you. They will also attach a list of actions you can take to recover from the penalty.

You can submit for a reconsideration request once you are done fixing the problem. Google will reply to inform you whether the penalty has been removed or not.

How Long Does The Google Penalty Lasts?

Manual penalties will always be in effect until you submit your site for reconsideration request or until they expire.

Penalties effect’s duration may differ, some lasts for around 6 months while I have had heard of cases that their penalties lasted for 2 years before it expires.

NOTE: Do not hope that when a Manual penalty expires, this does not mean that your site has recovered from the penalty and therefore regaining search ranking and traffic. 

Actually, it means that the penalty is no longer showing in your Google Webmaster Tools but if you did not do anything to prevent being hit by a penalty again. Your website will very and most likely to be hit by automatic penalties.

Identifying The Types of Penalty

It’s pretty simple, if you suspect that your site has been hit with a Google penalty after an algorithm update, then the first thing you need to do is search and identify which algorithm change that penalized your website from Google.

Once you have identified the penalty that your site got hit with, then it’ll be less time consuming to work towards the recovery of your site. Identifying your site’s penalty is an essential.

If you did not take the first step which is to identify which penalty hit your site.

You will be shooting in the dark trying to fix things that are not the root or the main cause of the penalty. Most webmasters make this mistake, often making matters worse.

Ways To Identify If Your Website Has Been Hit By Google Penalty

  1. Google Algorithm Change History by SEOMoz

One of its webpage is very useful because it lists out all major algorithm changes and updates Google. The algorithm’s date and details about the algorithm changes.

This webpage is a very good point of reference due to its up to date news. It also shows all of the changes and updates Google’s ranking algorithm has made in the last 16 years.

Google Algorithm Updates - Moz

But if after you have checked the page and still suspect that your site has been hit by a penalty due to drop in traffic or ranking.

Then check out their MozCast for the day to see if there’s any changes made that specific day. So you can check and know if an update is effective at the current time.

NOTE: MozCast is used to represent changes and updates in rankings using the weather format. For example, the higher the temperature, the more movements there are in the search rankings on that specific day.

  1. Track and Identify Your Penalties Using Google Webmaster Tools

Firstly, log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account, please link your website to Google Webmaster Tools if you have not done so.

Google Webmaster Tools is used by Google to inform webmasters of any potential threats, errors and penalties that their websites may have in the present day or in the future.

Once you’re logged into Google Webmaster Tools, you can check whether your website has been hit by a manual penalty. Head over to the menu and go under (Search Traffic / Manual Actions).

If you have not been hit by any penalty, you will see this on the page “No manual webspam actions found”.

Just in case you’ve been hit by a manual penalty, please read the message along with the REASONS very carefully, after that try to fix the problem and then submit your site for reconsideration.

  1. Track and Identify Your Penalties Using Google Analytics

Login to your website’s Google Analytics account. Link Google Analytics to your site if you have not done so.

After that, you would know if your website has been penalized by an Automatic/Algorithmic Penalty by inspecting and reviewing your site’s Google Organic Traffic.

It will be pretty obvious when you start seeing a sudden drop in traffic by comparing the dates, when Google released their algorithmic change and update to the present date.

Or to when traffic started to drop tremendously and that’ll be the reason why you were penalized.

Not Necessarily Caused by Google’s Algorithm Update

Once you have determined and found out which few Google penalties are potentially affecting your site, you can start the recovery process while finding the main cause of the problem.

Remember that when you see a sudden massive drop in your Google traffic, it does not mean that Google’s algorithm update is at fault.

But by looking at Google’s algorithmic change first should be able to point you in the right direction.

Other causes are because your site may contain duplicated content, spammy backlinks, hosting malware, paid backlinks, spammy comments and links, site being hacked and etc.

Second reminder to make sure you really get it. Find out the main cause first, DO NOT start fixing things in the wrong direction. Trust me, It’ll only make matters worse.

So please make sure you are completely sure of the main cause why your site’s traffic and ranking dropped before taking any action in fixing anything.

Wrapping it Up

Finally, once you have narrowed down to which Google algorithm updates is causing the penalty, you can begin to planning out your steps to recovery.

If you think your site has been by Google Panda, do a FULL SITE AUDIT searching for spammy comments and links, duplicated content and site structure problems.

If you have been hit by Google Penguin, you can use Ahrefs to analyze the backlink profile and anchor text distribution of your website.

Take note that it is very common if your submission for a reconsideration request with Google the first few times. Work closely with them. After a few tries, your submission will be approved.

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