Lilo's End User Guide on how to Recover from a Google Penalty

Recover from Google penalty

Recover from Google penalty

algorithms vs penalties

algorithms vs penalties



In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the most effective ways to recover from a Google Penalty (and come back stronger than ever before).

Google penalties are bad news for your site – and your reputation. We will show you how to avoid Google penalties or fix them if you have any.”

— Elodie Berland

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, June 24, 2019 / — Google Penalties are designed to penalise or punish the owner of a website that uses unscrupulous SEO practices or attempts to manipulate search results. Some of these penalties are implemented manually, others are algorithmic. Whether it is intentional or completely accidental, a practice that doesn’t comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines will be penalised.

Penalties are bad news for your site – and your reputation. In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the most effective ways to recover from a Google Penalty (and come back stronger than ever before).
The Two Different Types of Google Penalties

Google can issue manual and algorithmic penalties to a site listed in its index.

Manual penalty: This type of penalty is applied by a human being on Google’s team. The action removes a website from search engine results pages (SERPs), as a punishment for unscrupulous practices.
Algorithmic penalty: This type of penalty is applied automatically by one of Google’s algorithms. The action reduces a website’s position in SERPs as a punishment for unscrupulous practices.

Manual penalties come in two forms.

Partial matches: Penalties affecting portions of your website, such as specific pages.
Site-wide matches: Penalties affecting your entire site.
Google Penalties: Myths vs Facts

Let’s debunk some of the common misconceptions about Google Penalties.

Myth: A penalty and an algorithm are essentially the same thing.

Fact: Don’t mistake an algorithm for a penalty. High-profile updates like (like Google Panda or Penguin) are algorithms, not penalties – although they can result in sites being devalued, which has a similar effect to a penalty (such as loss of organic traffic).

Myth: Google only penalises sites with “black hat” SEO.

Fact: Google initiates more than 400,000 manual actions every month! That’s in addition to the major algorithmic updates that have been released over the years, such as Penguin and Panda. This is a lot for SEOs to keep on top of – even those with the best of intentions for their website. While penalties are often intentionally given to sites using manipulative techniques, sometimes they may also be a by-product of an algorithm update. Any site can be affected by a Google Penalty, even if their SEO practices are well-intentioned.

Myth: If you’ve used some questionable tactics but haven’t been penalised yet, you won’t be.

Fact: Don’t assume you’ve dodged a bullet just because Google hasn’t picked up an issue with your site. Algorithms run every day and are constantly evolving as well, becoming more accurate and intelligent. You can be flagged for review at any time, so be sure to get your site in order before that happens. Start by removing any unnatural backlinks, and improving the quality of your onsite copy.

Myth: Recovering from a penalty means your site is safe from being penalised again.

Fact: Once you’ve removed any bad links and submitted a reconsideration request to Google, you can get a penalty revoked – but that’s not to say you should sit back and relax. If you’ve built bad links in the past, you’ll certainly still be on Google’s radar. Keep focusing on link risk management, to find and remove any bad backlinks to your site that might still be lurking out there.

Myth: You can recover from a Google Penalty by re-launching your site on a new domain.

Fact: This is a highly risky (not to mention dishonest) strategy. When the original Penguin penalty was released, some website owners migrated their content and code onto new domains, while others used a 301 direct for their site content, code and backlinks. At first, it looked as if their rankings were recovering, but Google caught up to them shortly afterwards, with heavy penalisation.

Myth: Your site will recover from a manual penalty and regain rankings as soon as you get it revoked.

Fact: Once a manual penalty action is revoked, it can take several weeks for the rankings to get back to normal, even after you receive a recovery message through Google Webmaster Tools.

Algorithms vs Penalties

Finding yourself on the wrong side of an algorithm update can certainly feel like you’ve been hit by a Google Penalty. So how can you tell if you’re being penalised, or merely feeling the effects of an update?

Here is the key difference: if your site is being penalised by Google, you’ll receive a manual action report via Google Search Console. Once you fix the problem, you’ll need to submit a reconsideration request to Google, explaining the origins of the problem and the solution you have implemented.

On the other hand, if you take a knock from an algorithmic update, you won’t be required (or given the ability to) submit a reconsideration request. Algorithmic penalties don’t include any manual processing by Google employees, so they cannot be lifted or revoked during a manual review by an employee.
Common Manual Penalties & How to Address Them

Here are the steps you can take to help a site recover from Google’s various types of manual penalty actions.

Hacked Website

The problem:
Hackers can infiltrate your content management system to add their own malicious content and links. They often “cloak” this content, making it difficult for you to find – but Google will spot it, and will add a notification to the hacked pages, which will lead to a drop in your organic search results.

The solution:

Contact your web host about the problem.
Quarantine your site.
Assess the damage and determine whether the issue is spam or malware.
Determine how the hacker gained access to your site.
Clean up the malicious content and install the necessary security features to protect any vulnerable areas and prevent future hacking.
Request a review, asking Google to consider removing the notification about your site being hacked.
Make sure you always have a clean, recent backup of your website available in case of hacking.

Thin Content

The issue:
Google may manually penalise sites with poor quality or shallow page content.

The solution:

Identify and remove any auto-generated content, doorway pages or low-quality affiliate pages.
Use duplicate content detection software to find any content that has been “scraped” or copied from somewhere else on the web. Remove and replace with unique content.
Improve upon copy with low word counts and make it more detailed and informative. Invest in the services of a professional content writer to help you create unique, high-quality onsite copy.
Submit your reconsideration request.

Unnatural Links

The issue:
Any purchased links, or links created in order to manipulate search rankings, are considered “artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links” and will be penalised.

The solution:
Remove any unnatural links, or modify them by adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute. This attribute will ensure that the links no longer pass PageRank.
Disavow any bad links that you aren’t able to delete.
Be thorough and ensure all non-compliant links have been cleaned up before submitting a reconsideration request.

Did You Know? Neil Patel reports that more than 95% of Google Penalties are related to the backlink profile of a website. Avoid linking to sites of low quality, sites that are unrelated to your industry, sites with thin content and sites with large numbers of external backlinks.

User-Generated Spam

The issue:
User-generated spam is low-quality content from “black hat” SEOs, typically found in online forums and post comments.

The solution:

Identify any pages on your site where users are able to leave comments.
Check these pages for commenters with spammy usernames, comments with non-relevant links, automated comments, off-topic comments, and adverts masquerading as comments.
Remove all inappropriate comments.
Remove the ability for users to post unmoderated content to your website.
Prevent unmoderated content from appearing on your website.
Send your reconsideration request, and be sure to moderate all future user-generated content on your site.

Image Mismatch

The issue:
If an image on your website appears differently in a search on Google Images, you can be penalised by Google’s “Image Mismatch” manual action. This is to prevent websites from manipulating Google Images by forcing the search engine to index images that don’t match what visitors are seeing on the site.

The solution:
Update all your image alt attributes (alternate text) and image descriptions.
Make sure these descriptions actively reflect what is being shown in the image.
Once this has been done for all images on your site, you can submit your reconsideration request.

Keyword Stuffing

The issue:
You can be penalised for having too many keywords or phrases crammed into your onsite copy, especially if the phrases are repetitive and impact the readability of the copy. The same goes for hidden text, which is a dishonest SEO practice.

The solution:

For excessive keywords:

Remove or rewrite any repetitive or keyword-heavy paragraphs.
Fix any title tags and alt text that contain strings of repetitive words or phrases.
Consider investing in an SEO-compliant content writer to boost the quality of your onsite content.

For hidden text:

Go to Google Search Console > Crawl > Fetch as Google.
Fetch the pages from the affected parts of your site.
Look for any text that is the same colour as the web page body.
Look for hidden text using CSS styling or positioning.
Remove any hidden text, or make it visible, so that it’s obvious to human users as well as search engines.

Once you’ve addressed all keyword issues and removed all hidden content, you can send a reconsideration request to Google.

Bad Use of Structured Markup

The issue:
Structured content markup is a great way to get enhanced SERP results for your website. However, if you don’t follow the proper rich snippets guidelines from Google, you will be penalised.

The solution:
Remove or update any markup that is irrelevant, misleading or invisible to users.
Send your reconsideration request.
Algorithmic Penalties: Some Background on Panda & Penguin

Panda and Penguin are two of Google’s most significant algorithm updates, and each of them has had a far-reaching impact on the SEO world. Let’s go over the basics of Panda and Penguin, and the factors that caused them to devalue websites across the globe:

Google Panda

Release date: February 2011.

Purpose: To reward high-quality sites while reducing the prevalence of low-quality sites in Google’s top organic search engine results.

Panda aimed specifically to target content farms and devalue them, returning better-quality sites to the top (or near the top) of the search results. Over the years, Panda became a more holistic quality-seeking algorithm, and it was eventually incorporated into the main Google algorithm.

Triggers: Panda knocked down sites in SERPs that displayed the following problems:

“Thin content” – pages with very little text (i.e. just a few words or sentences) and no relevant or substantial information.
Low-quality content – pages with little or no valuable information for human readers (i.e. content focused largely or exclusively on search phrases, written with only search engines in mind).
Duplicate content – content copied from another place on the Internet, or multiple pages across the same website with identical or very similar content.
Untrustworthy content – content from sources that are not authoritative or verified.
Content farms – sites containing large numbers of low-quality pages with no real value to human users; typically short articles that cover a wide variety of search phrases, for the purpose of gaining search engine rankings.
Low-quality user-generated content – UGC can be a great organic marketing tool if it’s implemented in the right way. But Panda looks out for low-quality implementations, like badly written guest blogs that are full of errors and contain no authoritative information.
High ad-to-content ratio – web pages that are made up mostly of paid advertising, with very little original content.
Blocked websites – Sites that human users have chosen to block (either directly in the search engine results or via a Chrome browser extension), which indicates that the site is spammy or bad quality.

Google Penguin

Release date: April 2012.

Purpose: Like Panda, Penguin aimed to reward good quality sites while diminishing the presence of low-quality sites in Google’s organic search results. Penguin became a part of the core algorithm in 2017.

Triggers: There were two specific triggers for Penguin:

Keyword stuffing – pages populated with large numbers of keywords and phrases; a manipulative attempt to rank for those phrases. Keyword stuffing leads to a lot of unnatural sounding repetition, sacrificing the readability of the content.

Link schemes – acquiring or buying backlinks from low-quality or unrelated websites, to generate an artificial image of popularity and relevance.

The ultimate goal here was to reward sites that meet the quality standards outlined by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. While Penguin and Panda did cause significant drops in traffic for websites using the above practices, they are are not the same as “penalties” themselves; they are what’s known as “algorithmic filters”.

As mentioned previously, if your site is being affected by an algorithmic filter like Panda, Penguin or any other member of Google’s menagerie, you won’t receive any notification from Google. You’ll need to use your site’s analytics tools to try and determine whether you’ve been on the receiving end of an algorithm smackdown.

First, check your Google Search Console > Search Traffic > Manual Actions to rule out a manual penalty (no notification = no manual action).
Make sure your Google Analytics tracking code is working correctly.
Take a look at organic Google traffic (not all traffic) to your site, and see if you can spot a dip in this traffic that coincides with a confirmed or suspected algo update.
Check your rankings manually on an incognito browser to determine if there really is a drop.

Note that this is a good rule of thumb, although it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to spot the culprit. It could also be that your competitors are outperforming you, hence the drop in rankings. This is a sign that you need to refocus your efforts on improving the overall quality of your site.

If you think you have been affected by an algorithmic filter or update, first do your research into that update and its triggers, before taking action. Then clean up your site and make sure it’s free of issues that could get you targeted by a filter like Panda or Penguin.

Make sure you stay up to date with Google’s latest search algorithm changes. Follow the senior webmasters and trend analysts on Twitter and YouTube, for news and advice. Check out other trusted sources in the SEO community too, for their take on unconfirmed updates.

Original Article found @
Identifying an Algorithmic Penalty

Elodie Berland
Lilo Website Design
+44 207 631 3366
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Source: EIN Presswire