Got penalised by Google?
You’re not alone.
There are over 400,000 manual penalties dished out by Google every month. That doesn’t even include the websites that get penalised by core algorithm updates.
Here’s some good news:
It’s possible to recover from any Google penalty.
But Google penalty recovery is not for the faint-hearted. You need to have the right process in place and be committed to getting the results you need.
In this blog post, I’ll give you my 4x steps Google penalty recovery process to recover from any Google penalty you receive.
Let’s get started.
What Will I Learn?
The first step for a successful Google penalty recovery is identifying what kind of penalty you were hit with.
There are 2 types of Google penalties:
Depending on the type of penalty you have, will depend on what you need to do. Each requires a different strategy or a combination of strategies to get past them.
Manual penalties are given by Google employees from the search quality or webspam team. They review your website and after consideration decide to manually take action against your business’ site.
Manual penalties usually come from:
You will know you have received a manual Google penalty because Google will notify you through Google search console.
If you didn’t know…Google search is powered by an algorithm.
The algorithm is really just a series of complex mathematical equations used to determine what results should be shown to a user.
Algorithmic penalties are triggered by the Google search algorithm rather than by a human. There are usually two algorithmic penalties to worry about:
Google Panda was launched in 2011 and has since become a big part of the core Google algorithm. Its primary goal is to target content-related issues.
These include pages that offer very little value or pages with tons of ads compared to the content they offer.
Google Penguin was launched in 2012 and caused considerable issues to thousands of websites. Its goal is to target websites using dodgy links to increase rankings.
That’s why you should only ever build high-quality links or use reputable link building services that focus on quality control.
Think you’ve been hit by a Google penalty?
Just follow my step-by-step Google penalty recovery process. I use this very process with our own clients and have successfully helped tons of businesses recover quickly.
Here’s how you do it.
Before you can do anything, you need to understand what’s happening.
Stabbing around in the dark hoping to find the “right fix” won’t get you anywhere.
Check these following sources for potential ranking issues first.
Firstly head over to Google Analytics and ensure that your analytics tracking code is installed properly. You would be surprised how many times this is the problem.
Use the Google Analytics Debugger extension to make sure everything is in order.
Go to Google Search Console to see if there is a manual penalty taken against your website. Click on Security & Manual Actions and then Manual Actions. Now look for any error messages here.
Have you confirmed the problem is a manual action?
Check to see if Google Search Console is reporting any errors.
Click on Index, then Coverage.
Google search console will highlight any coverage issues here.
Lastly, you need to check your website experience.
Click experience and then check through each of the following reports:
If you find any issues – don’t worry.
Just work through each one and submit the fixes for validation. Any major errors that are causing penalties should be highlighted within Google Search Console.
Still can’t find the issue?
Make sure you check with each member of your team (or developer) to see if anyone has made any big site changes in the last 3 months.
You’d be amazed at some of the changes people make and the effect they can have on your website.
Important: Don’t panic if you find errors.
Panicking will lead you to make unnecessary changes based on emotion. You only want to make decisions based on data. Follow through with the rest of the process.
Google’s algorithm gets frequent updates.
A change in the algorithm can be the culprit for a drop in traffic and site performance. In some cases the update will mean you end up with a penalty.
That’s why it’s essential to:
Moz has a super helpful page that lists each Google update as it happens.
Check their page and see if any of the updates listed correlate to when your website performance dropped.
Found a correlation?
Investigate what the update targeted and make the appropriate changes to your website.
Over the years there have been tons of tools to help you pinpoint which updates had the biggest impact on your site and why.
Use any of these Google penalty checker tools to really help you drill down into updates and overcome them.
Now it’s time to look at your own site and identify any issues on it.
There are two audits to run:
This will ensure that you identify any issues that may have caused a Google penalty.
You should run a complete SEO audit on your website every 6-12 months.
Here’s the thing:
Unless you have extensive SEO knowledge it’s hard to do a true technical SEO audit. It requires a level of skill that only professional SEOs really have.
If you aren’t confident, reach out to a professional agency to help you out.
Ready to run an SEO audit by yourself?
Follow these 5 steps:
Resource: You can follow my complete 5 step SEO audit guide to get more detail on each of these steps.
Content is the face of your business online.
Good content will help your business grow and bad content can damage your reputation. A content audit highlights content issues for:
Both are important to ensure that your content is helping your business and website grow.
For content audits, I use Surfer SEO.
Surfer SEO has a SERP analyser which will:
Pretty cool, right?
Surfer SEO does all the heavy lifting. All you have to do is follow the recommendations.
If you need to recover from a Google penalty, cleaning up your link profile is a must.
Here’s how to do it yourself.
There are 2 tools to use for this job:
Google search console provides a list of all of the domains that link to you. Login to your GSC account and click links on the left sidebar.
Click export external links.
Google Search Console won’t necessarily have a complete list of all backlinks to your site. That’s why you should cross-reference with another SEO tool to make sure that you get them all.
Use the Moz Open Site Explorer tool to find more backlinks. You will need to create a free account and then add your domain.
Now export the list of links that Moz has found. You should now have 2 lists of backlinks.
The last thing that you need to do is evaluate each link and identify the bad ones. This will require you to use the right tool.
Upload your 2 lists of backlinks into Monitor Backlinks.
Monitor Backlinks also uses Google Analytics and Ahrefs API to find other links so this combined with the lists you just uploaded, means you won’t miss a single link.
Use Monitor Backlinks to evaluate each link so you can prepare to remove the bad ones.
GROWTH ALERT: Sign up for my free link-building training.
Once you have a list of links you want to remove you need to reach out to each website owner and request a removal.
Use a tool like Hunter.io to track down the name and email address of the site owner.
If you have a lot of site owners to reach out to I recommend using a tool like BuzzStream. It makes it super easy to track all of the emails sent and even send automated follow-up emails.
Word of caution: Be friendly and polite when sending your link removal request. The site owner is helping you out so being polite will go a long way.
Some sites just won’t respond.
After sending a couple of follow-up emails and not receiving any responses it’s time to switch strategies.
Disavowing links is when you request Google to ignore certain links. If the link disavow is successful, those bad links won’t be counted against you.
Here’s how to disavow backlinks step by step:
You will need to create a disavow report to submit to Google. For this I use Monitor Backlinks.
You should have a complete list of your backlinks already which allows you to easily select the ones you want to disavow.
Now you just need to upload that report to Google. Use Google Disavow Tool and simply upload your file.
Just make sure you have selected the right backlinks before submitting the report.
This is the ultimate question.
Google penalty recovery is not an easy thing to do and will require significant effort on your part. That’s why I always recommend that you get a professional recovery service to take care of it if you are not confident.
For manual penalties you can expect about 10 to 30 days. It will depend primarily on how long it takes for a Google team member to notice your changes.
You can always email them to speed up the process.
Algorithmic penalties are a different story. It can take more than 6 months to recover from this kind of penalty.
There are tons of factors that will affect this so the best thing to do is rebuild trust with the Google search algorithm again.
Check out this core update recovery case study to see how we helped our client recover from an algorithmic penalty brought on by a Google core algorithm update.
You now have all of the information you need to identify a Google penalty against your website and more importantly how to recover from it.
For Google penalty recovery, you need to remove bad backlinks and duplicate content. In addition, you need to make sure you are taking care of other on page seo factors as well.
We’ve helped our own clients recover from penalties and even end up with better results than they had before following this exact process.
Google penalties don’t have to be permanent.
As long as you have the determination and follow the steps above you can recover from any Google penalty you encounter.
Have a Google penalty you need help with?