Google Penalty Recovery
Have you experienced a sudden, significant drop in organic traffic on a specific date? Has your site disappeared from Google’s search results? Have you received a message from Google notifying you of a manual penalty?
Has Google penalised your site?
If you have received a manual penalty, you will have a message waiting for you in Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) notifying you of the type of penalty your site has been hit with. If this is the case, then there’s no need to read on, simply get in touch and I can help you remove it.
If you haven’t received a manual penalty, but think you may have been affected algorithmically, it is crucial to assess the exact reason for your traffic drop. I have seen many cases where site owners (or agencies!) frantically try and remove links, when the problem was to do with content. Your traffic drop may be caused be something else entirely, such as a technical issue, in which case we wouldn’t need to delve into a Google Penalty Removal. In this instance a SEO audit may be more beneficial.
Why has your website traffic dropped?
Before jumping into fixes, we must determine why your traffic has dropped, and whether this drop is a real problem or whether it is due to seasonal changes. We also need to determine whether your traffic has dropped at all, or whether there is a glitch in your analytics tracking.
I cover a number of different clues when carrying out a traffic drop analysis. These include, but are not limited to:
- Google Panda algorithm checks
- Google Penguin algorithm checks
- Seasonal traffic issues
- Robots.txt issues
- Negative SEO attacks
- Content accessibility or crawl issues
- Google Analytics or Search Console misconfiguration
The goal from this analysis is to determine exactly what is causing your decrease in traffic or rankings. I provide a full report and recommendations for how to proceed, whether this is a backlink audit, a site quality audit, or even an analytics audit. In some cases, my recommendation may be that recovery would be extremely difficult and that it would be better to start from scratch. This is rare.
Google Panda Recovery
The Panda algorithm was created in 2011 with the purpose of “demoting” sites that have content quality issues. Issues may include duplicate content (internally or externally), pages with little to no information, empty tag pages, hidden (or cloaked) text etc. Sites that have been penalised by Panda may see a very obvious drop in traffic, or they may have experienced more subtle hits. Either way, it is very possible to recover from Panda, especially as Google updates this algorithm frequently.
In order to recover from a Panda penalty it’s important to make sure that every page on your site meets Google’s quality guidelines. By carrying out a thorough site quality audit I can investigate and analyse each on-site factor that may look bad in the eyes of Panda. This process may include the following:
- Thin content assessment
- Duplicate content checks
- Malware scans
- Page speed analysis
- Evaluation of site structure
- Canonicalisation audit
- Report including actionable recommendations
Google Penguin Recovery
The Penguin algorithm first launched in 2012 with the purpose of “demoting” websites that have unnatural backlink profiles. Typically sites who have purposefully created “spammy” links in order to improve keyword rankings in Google have been affected. Unfortunately, there are cases where sites have been subject to negative SEO attacks, or have unknowingly worked with agencies who have built low quality links.
In order to recover from a Penguin penalty it’s important to do an extensive “link cleanup”, manually analysing every domain linking to your site to determine whether it is good quality or should be removed. In some cases, if a site doesn’t have any good links, it may not be possible to recover. A full assessment will be made as to the likelihood of recovery before any work commences. Examples of links that Google class as “unnatural” may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- SEO directory links
- Links from bookmarking sites
- Low quality article syndication links
- Links from private blog networks (PBNs)
- Purchased links without the “nofollow” tag
Manual Penalty Removal
A Google manual penalty can take many shapes and forms. The most common is an unnatural links penalty. However, it is also possible to receive penalties for thin content with little or no added value, pure spam, hacked sites, unnatural outbound links, keyword stuffing or hidden text etc.
You can easily check whether you have a manual penalty, and which one, by going to Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), clicking on ‘Search Traffic’ and then ‘Manual Actions’. If you see a manual action notice it means that a member of Google’s webspam team has personally reviewed your site and decided that it doesn’t meet their quality guidelines, and is therefore worthy of being penalised. If you don’t see a message in this area, but have still experienced a drop in traffic, then you might be experiencing an algorithmic issue.
Manual actions can be site-wide or partial. This means that your whole site can be completely removed from search engines. In order to recover from such a penalty, the necessary auditing and improvement work will need to take place depending on what type of action. Your case will then need to be made to Google in the form of a reconsideration request, whereby your site will again be reviewed personally by a member of Google’s webspam team.
If you have received a Google manual penalty, you will be notified of the type of penalty via your Google Search Console account. Simply navigate to ‘Search Traffic > Manual Actions’.
Algorithmic penalties are harder to diagnose, and will require a thorough analysis into your traffic drops.
A manual penalty happens when a member of Google’s webspam team personally review your site and determine whether it’s worthy of penalisation.
An algorithmic penalty means that your site has been negatively affected due to changes in Google’s algorithms.
Panda targets sites with on site content quality issues. Penguin targets sites with unnatural backlink profiles; off site quality issues.
Where you have received a manual penalty, the time is takes to recover will largely depend on the levels of budget and resource for implementing recommended actions. Google usually takes 10-20 days to respond once a reconsideration request has been submitted. Occasionally responses are quicker, or sometimes you might have to chase and send the request again.
Where you have been affected by an algorithmic penalty, your site will only recover when Google update the relevant algorithm.
Unfortunately this is not something we can guarantee. In my experience, sites don’t tend to fully recover to their previous traffic levels. However, in many cases traffic may surpass that of previous levels. It is also possible for a site to have a combination of a manual penalty and an algorithmic penalty. Therefore, even once a manual penalty has been revoked, there may still be issues to do with another algorithm that are negatively affecting the site. In this case, a full site audit would be most beneficial.
1 – 100: £500
101 – 300: £750
301 – 500: £1250
501 – 700: £1750
701 – 900: £2250