Google Penalty

What Is A Google Penalty?

A Google penalty is a punishment action taken against a website for violating Google’s quality policies in their webmaster guidelines.

Also known as manual actions these penalties can result in lower rankings or removal from search results and can significantly drop the site’s organic search traffic.

google penalty examples in google search console

In the worst cases, a Google penalty can result in completely removing your website from the Google search results.

Most websites are penalised for using deceptive practices to manipulate Google’s algorithm.

This is common for website owners who use black hat SEO strategies.

There are two primary types of Google penalties:

  1. Algorithm Penalties – These are automatically occurring penalties that trigger when Google’s algorithms detect a site violating guidelines, often related to updates like Google Penguin or Google Panda.
  2. Manual Action Penalties – These occur when a human reviewer from Google’s web spam team determines that a website isn’t compliant with Google’s guidelines.

the 2 primary types of google penalties

Most Google penalties are algorithm-based.

Google’s machine learning algorithms identify about 99% of all web spam, which can be up to 40 billion pages daily! The other 1% of spam is dealt with through manual penalties.

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What Causes Most Google Penalties?

The most common causes for Google penalties are:

    • Unnatural Links: Participating in link schemes or building low-quality links to your to boost your rankings.
    • Black Hat SEO: This includes things like cloaking, gateway pages and sneaky redirects.
    • Duplicate Content: Publishing content that is identical or very similar to content on other websites.
    • Keyword Stuffing: Overusing keywords in your content to manipulate Google’s algorithm.
    • AI or Auto-generated Content – Using AI to create low-quality content quickly or spinning other people’s content.

Don’t get caught in the trap of trying to “hack” Google’s algorithm.

Focus on white hat SEO strategies like creating high-quality content people want to read.

How Do You Know If You’ve Been Penalised?

There are three ways to know if you’ve been penalised:

  1. Sudden Traffic Drop: A significant and sudden decline in organic traffic for no apparent reason.
  2. Deindexed Pages: Key pages of your site or the entire website disappearing from Google search results.
  3. Search Console Alerts: Google will alert you in the Google Search Console if you’ve received a manual penalty.

manual google penalty in google search console

Pay close attention to your rankings and traffic. If you see significant sudden drops, it’s a good indication that something is wrong.

Google will often notify you through Google Search Console and tell you which URLs are affected.

How To Recover From A Google Penalty

How to recover from a Google penalty in 4 steps:

1. Hire A Trusted SEO Service

I won’t lie to you…

Google penalty recovery is hard work. There are a lot of factors and Google isn’t exactly straightforward about the recovery process.

If you aren’t confident, hire an SEO agency specialising in Google penalty recovery services.

search logistics google penalty recovery service

They will have all of the tools, knowledge and experience to get you back on your feet!

2. Identify The Cause

The easiest way to check if you’ve been penalised is through Google Search Console.

Login to Google Search Console, click “Security & Manual Actions”, then Click “Manual Actions”.

google search console security and manual actions

If there is a manual action, all the details will be here.

No manual action?

You need to run a website audit to identify any errors on your site.

Think of the audit like going through your website with a fine-tooth comb to weed out any problems.

Check out our website audit tutorial to learn the entire auditing process.

3. Fix the Issues

This part is pretty straightforward…

Once you’ve identified the issues, you need to take the right steps to fix them.

Remove or disavow unnatural links. Delete any duplicate content on your website. Rewrite any AI or auto-generated content.

The most important thing is that you don’t cut corners.

Spend the time necessary to fix the issues and get the penalty removed.

4. Submit a Reconsideration Request

You can request a “reconsideration” from Google if the penalty was a manual action.

Once you’ve fixed the issue, ask the Google team to review your changes.

If you have fixed the problem correctly, they should remove the penalty from your website in about 10 to 30 days.

With Algorithmic penalties, you’ll just have to wait for Google’s algorithm to notice the fixes you’ve made.

Check out our complete Google penalty recovery process tutorial to learn more.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Google Penalty?

Manual Google Penalties can take 10 to 30 days after you’ve fixed the issues. This will ultimately depend on how long a Google team member takes to review your changes.

Don’t forget to message them in Google Search Console to speed up the process.

Algorithm Google Penalties can take up to 6+ months before the penalties are removed and traffic starts to return.

Many factors will affect how long it takes because you need to rebuild trust with Google’s algorithm again.

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Frequently Asked Questions

These are the best practices to avoid Google penalties:
  1. Create original and unique content
  2. Follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines
  3. Build a natural-looking backlink profile
  4. Monitor your backlinks regularly
  5. Use keywords naturally
  6. Ensure your website is without technical issues
  7. Make sure your website is secure for visitors
A Manual Google Penalty is issued by a human reviewer at Google after determining that a website does not comply with Google's Webmaster Guidelines. This type of penalty is notified through the Google Search Console.

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