Google Penalty

If your website once ranked highly for your targeted keywords but suddenly dropped several places, then your website may have been penalised by Google. This can require quite a lot of time and effort to remove.

Get Your Website Back on Track

As Google continues to update its algorithm, we’re starting to pick up more clients who have been hit with a penalty. These clients have lost the bulk of their previous rankings and site traffic, putting their SEO campaign at risk.

While this is a terrible situation to be in, it’s also something we have experience handling and fixing.

The one thing that never changes when a site has been hit with a penalty is that it always takes time to recover. No matter how much work goes into fixing the problem, ranking improvements won’t happen until Google has “seen” those changes, and you’ve started to demonstrate positive patterns with a genuine change of habits.

What is a Google Penalty?

A Google penalty is a situation where your site has been deemed to be using manipulative “black hat” tactics. Your site will either be removed from the search results entirely or dropped considerably lower down. Since ranking on page 2 downwards will see you get less than 1% of the potential traffic, this can have an enormous impact on how much business your site generates online.

Google’s algorithms are continually getting smarter and better at understanding what your site is about and what you’re doing with it. What they’re really looking for is a clean, helpful site that is easy to navigate and provides great information for visitors. Google does this by looking for positive or negative patterns that your site may demonstrate over time.

If Google determines that your site is employing black hat tactics (like the ones listed below), then there is a good chance your site will get penalised. This can render your site completely invisible to search users.

SEO Tactics to AVOID

  • Blog comment spam
  • Over-optimised content
  • Too many ads on your site
  • Directory link building
  • A large number of backlinks from low quality or irrelevant websites
  • Ads too high up on the page

If you’re using any SEO tactics that exist purely for the sake of your rankings with no real-world benefit to the user, then you’ll want to stop that immediately and avoid it.

The question we often ask ourselves is, “Would we do this if SEO didn’t exist?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to move on and put that time and effort into something more productive.

Major SEO Penalties You Should Be Aware Of

Although Google updates its algorithms regularly, the two biggest ones that all website owners should know are the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates.

Both of these are still being refined in further updates, but their goals remain the same – they’re simply getting better at understanding what you’re up to.

Avoiding these penalties really is as simple as maintaining ethical white-hat practices. This means only making changes to your site that make it more helpful to your visitors. Remember, as a general rule, anything that helps the user will also help your search rankings!

Penguin

This update focuses on the offsite factors that help determine the quality of your website. Several years ago, any link was considered a good link. Similarly, a “strong” backlink profile was simply one that had a high volume of links.

But not anymore.

The introduction of this update thankfully forced a drastic change in the SEO industry, as Google now doesn’t just look at how many backlinks you have, but also the quality of these links. A small volume of links from powerful and relevant websites will give you far greater value than a large number of directory links or backlinks from irrelevant websites.

Tip: If your backlink profile doesn’t look too good, check at our Link Removal page to see how we can help!

Panda

Released not too long after the Penguin update, Panda looks at a number of onsite factors to determine how good your visible elements are. It looks for over-optimised (spammy) elements like page content, page titles, meta descriptions, navigation etc.

It also looks for intentionally deceptive behaviour like “cloaking”, where users are presented with a different version of your site than the one presented to search engines.

How We Fix It

In its simplest form, escaping a Google penalty is a matter of reversing all SEO tactics that have been used across your site. Your plan of attack will depend on your situation and the severity of the penalty. But in most cases, you will be hit by either the Penguin or Panda update. We deal with them in separate ways:

  • Fixing a Penguin Penalty

    Getting your site out of a Penguin penalty involves a lot of time looking over your backlink profile to see exactly what has been done. From there, we will develop a plan to get it fixed quickly. Generally, we need to:

    • Identify the worst of your backlinks
    • Contact these sites and politely ask them to remove the backlink
    • Compile a list of sites to send to Google asking them to ignore the links (disavow)
    • Monitor the removal of links and any change in the strength of your backlink profile

    Begin building new, high-quality backlinks

  • Fixing a Panda Penalty

    In a Panda penalty situation, we will look at the following factors and put together a structured plan in priority order:

    • Meta descriptions
    • Page content
    • Ad placement
    • Navigation and internal link structure
    • User interaction (high bounce race, low time spent on site etc.)
    • Page titles
    • Headings (H1, H2, H3 etc.)
    • Image alt text
    • Page layout and content distribution
    • Duplicate content

    If you are unlucky enough to have onsite and offsite issues, then this will require a combination of all the above in order of priority and the severity of your situation.

How Long Does It Take to Fix?

This is the most common question we get from penalised clients. But the truth is, like most things in SEO, it’s impossible to give a definite answer.

Basically, the worse your situation is, the longer it will take to resolve. Panda penalties are generally easier to fix than Penguin penalties, but it really could range from anywhere between 2 weeks to more than 6 months.

What Google will look for is a consistent pattern of improvement. Don’t think you can simply re-write your home page content and suddenly the Panda penalty will be lifted! Truly fixing up your site takes time, and Google will continue to cache and index your site throughout this process. If you’re doing it properly over a long period, it will be clear to Google that you’ve changed your ways.

Since you’re relying on Google’s algorithms, there really is no way to speed up the process. All you can do is get the priority site updates applied and monitor the results while the smaller tasks are taken care of.

The Fastest Solution to a Bad Penalty

If your site has been hit hard with a penalty and you’re nowhere to be found in the search results, then it can be faster to start again with a new site.

This solution isn’t for everyone, and the decision isn’t to be taken lightly. But remember that in some situations, it can take more than 6 months to bounce back. And even then, the rankings may never truly recover 100%.

If your site does appear to be one of these unfortunate few, it can be much quicker to build a new site ASAP, optimise it and begin building strong links quickly. This will still take some time since your new site will likely be sandboxed for a while before it even starts to rank. But 2 or 3 months is still better than 6!

As you can see, the common theme with penalty removal is that it takes time, a lot of hard work and a broad range of SEO knowledge to know just what you’re looking for and how to fix it.

With Kymodo, you can stay confident knowing that we are experienced in fixing Google penalties and can help your site recover. We are more than happy to answer any questions you might have about our process. We hate seeing sites in a penalty situation as much as you hate being in them, and we take great pride in turning your site (and potentially your business!) around.

Are you ready to talk? We’re ready to help