Has your website’s organic search traffic taken a nosedive? Could it be a sign of a Google penalty or manual action? If you observe a sharp drop in traffic, such as a decrease of over 50% overnight, it’s a strong indication that Google has penalized you.
Is your site experiencing a sudden decline in organic search traffic? This abrupt change might be a symptom of a Google penalty or manual action. A drop of more than 50% in traffic from one day to the next could be a clear sign that you’ve been targeted by Google.
Many Consultants try to manipulate the system by using SEO shortcuts to quickly boost their organic rankings. Whether it’s through over-optimization or employing ‘black hat’ strategies, Google’s algorithms are designed to detect these tactics. To counteract this, Google has implemented a penalty system that can cause a website’s rankings to plummet overnight. While these penalties can severely impact a business, it’s not impossible to regain lost page rankings.
Some consultants attempt to fast-track their way to higher organic rankings by employing SEO shortcuts. Whether it involves over-optimizing or using unethical ‘black hat’ methods, Google’s intelligent algorithms are on the lookout for such practices. To combat these manipulations, Google has a penalty system in place that can send a website’s rankings into a freefall overnight. Although these penalties can have a devastating effect on a business, recovering lost page rankings is not out of reach.
Now, let’s examine the different types of penalties that Google can enforce.
Creating a good backlink profile is important for achieving high-quality SEO. This process involves having other websites link back to your site, something that Google interprets as a vote of your credibility. However, some individuals attempt to artificially inflate their website’s rankings by using unnatural links to deceive the algorithms. Google’s response to this was the creation of the Penguin penalty, aimed at sites that exist merely to place illegitimate links. If your business has been slapped with a Penguin penalty, it may be a complex situation to resolve, but we have the necessary tools to address it.
Possum was conceived to enhance the quality of local search results. Google’s goal was to diversify these results and prevent spam from achieving high rankings. This algorithmic update rewarded authentic businesses that were popular with customers in their local vicinity. However, this major shift had unintended consequences, affecting some companies, with studies showing that up to 64% of local results were impacted. If your local business is missing from relevant search results, you might have been adversely affected by Possum.
Google’s Panda algorithm was designed to prioritize content deemed high-quality and reduce the visibility of subpar websites in search results. Understanding what qualifies as low-quality content is essential, as falling foul of Panda can lead to a significant drop in rankings. Factors that might lead to a Panda penalty include thin content, a lack of authority, reliance on content farming, or simplistic user-generated content.
Hummingbird SEO Update
Hummingbird marked a significant evolution in Google’s algorithm, enhancing its ability to interpret user queries and recognize conversational language. Many experts believe this change was in response to the rise in voice search. Hummingbird addressed many of the discrepancies between typing and speaking, helping to align search results more closely with user intent. If this major update has affected your rankings, our skilled team can investigate and pinpoint the issue.
How To Identify and Fix a Google SEO Penalty
Experiencing a significant decline in rankings can be both baffling and disconcerting, potentially leading to a loss in potential leads or profits. If you’re not equipped with the knowledge to address the issue promptly, your company’s financial future may be at stake. The first step in recovery is to pinpoint the type of penalty, and the approach to regaining traffic and rankings will differ based on the penalty. Penalties can be broadly categorized into manual or algorithmic:
A manual penalty, also referred to as “manual action,” happens when Google’s web spam team identifies your site for breaching guidelines, resulting in either a demotion or complete ban. Recognizing a manual action is relatively simple, as Google will send a notification through Webmaster Tools. Specific triggers include unnatural links, scant content, a hacked website, outright spam, deceptive practices, hidden text, and spammy structured markups. Manual actions can be either partial or site-wide. For a detailed list, you can refer to Google’s support page.
Algorithmic SEO Penalty
An algorithmic penalty isn’t a penalty in the traditional sense but a modification in Google’s algorithm that negatively influences your site’s rankings. These “penalties” can lead to minor to substantial losses, pushing your site down in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Identifying them is more complex, as Google won’t send a notification. Often, they are tied to major algorithms like Panda or Penguin.
Fixing A Manual Action SEO Penalty
Since Google will explicitly state the type of manual penalty you’ve incurred, resolving it is a two-step process:
Address the Issue on Your Website: The remedies are usually clear-cut, such as auditing and cleaning up links, enhancing content, eradicating hacked pages, purging spammy content, utilizing the “Fetch as Google” tool, inspecting source code and CSS, and ensuring markups align with Google’s guidelines.
Submit a Reconsideration Request: After rectifying the issues, you must inform Google’s web spam team. Be forthright, meticulously document your efforts, demonstrate your understanding, be transparent, and include your contact information. If initially rejected, you can resubmit, but it’s advisable to thoroughly address the problem the first time.
Fixing An Algorithmic Penalty
Algorithmic penalties are more elusive to identify and rectify, often necessitating professional assistance. Most stem from the Penguin or Panda algorithms. To pinpoint the underlying problem, refer to a list of significant algorithm changes, like Moz’s comprehensive list, and cross-reference with the date of your traffic loss. Analyzing your website’s statistics and running specific reports can uncover the root issues, allowing you to initiate the recovery process.
Submit a Reconsideration Request
Once you’ve addressed the issues that led to the manual penalty, you need to submit a reconsideration request to Google’s web spam team. Here’s how to increase your chances of getting the penalty lifted:
Be Honest: Admit to any mistakes or explain if problems were created by a previous SEO company or consultant
Document Your Work: Create a Google doc detailing all the steps taken to rectify the issues and link it in your reconsideration request.
Demonstrate Knowledge and Understanding: Assure Google that you comprehend why the penalty occurred and commit to adhering to web spam rules in the future.
Be Transparent: Include your full name and contact information in the request.
After crafting your reconsideration request, navigate to the Manual Actions section of Webmaster Tools and click “Request a review.” Within a few weeks, you should receive an email informing you whether the manual action has been lifted or if further work is needed.
Rejection of SEO Reconsideration Request
It’s not uncommon for your first reconsideration request to be rejected if Google believes you haven’t done enough to rectify the problem. Therefore, take your time and make a thorough effort to fix your website before submitting your request. If your first reconsideration request is denied, you can submit again. However, it’s best to invest the time to do a comprehensive job the first time to avoid prolonging the process.
Fixing An SEO Algorithmic Penalty: Detailed Steps
Algorithmic penalties are more challenging to identify and address, often requiring the expertise of an SEO consultant. Most algorithmic penalties arise from issues with two primary algorithms: Penguin, which targets spammy or manipulative link profiles, and Panda, which penalizes sites with thin, duplicate, or low-quality content.
Identifying the Problem
To identify the root cause of your issues, you’ll want to consult a list of major algorithm changes, such as Moz’s extensive list of algorithm updates with dates and explanations. Start by analyzing your website statistics in tools like Google Analytics or Semrush to pinpoint the date of your traffic loss.
Fixing A Manual Action Penalty: Specific Examples
Manual Action: Unnatural Links
How To Fix It: Conduct an audit of your incoming links, request removal from spammy sites, and disavow unremovable links.
Manual Action: Thin Content
How To Fix It: Enrich your website with more pertinent content and enhance site UX.
Manual Action: Hacked Website
How To Fix It: Eradicate the hacked sections of your site.
Manual Action: Pure Spam or User-Generated Spam
How To Fix It: Eliminate spammy content and replace it with user-friendly material.
Manual Action: Cloaking or Sneaky Redirects
How To Fix It: Use the “Fetch as Google” tool to ensure consistent content for users and Google’s bot, or remove any deceptive redirects.
Manual Action: Hidden Text or Keyword Stuffing
How To Fix It: Inspect your page’s source code and CSS for hidden keywords or content, and rewrite any keyword-stuffed content with the user in mind.
Manual Action: Spammy Structured Markup
How To Fix It: Ensure compliance with Google’s rich snippet guidelines and remove any misleading or concealed markups.
Submitting a Reconsideration Request
After addressing the issues, you must submit a reconsideration request to Google’s web spam team. Be honest about any mistakes, document your efforts, demonstrate your understanding of the issue, and include your full name and contact information. Once you’ve crafted your request, go to the Manual Actions section of Webmaster Tools and click “Request a review.” You should receive a notification email within a few weeks, informing you whether the manual action has been lifted or if more work is needed.
Fixing A Manual Action Penalty: Additional Guidance
Since Google will provide specific details about the manual penalty, addressing it involves clear steps:
Fix the Specific Issue on Your Website: Depending on the type of manual action, the solutions may include auditing and cleaning up links, enhancing content, removing hacked pages, purging spammy content, utilizing the “Fetch as Google” tool, inspecting source code and CSS, and ensuring markups align with Google’s guidelines.
Submit a Reconsideration Request: After rectifying the issues, you must inform Google’s web spam team. Be forthright, meticulously document your efforts, demonstrate your understanding, be transparent, and include your contact information.
Fixing An Algorithmic Penalty: A Closer Look
Algorithmic penalties don’t come with direct notifications from Google, making them more challenging to identify and address. They often stem from issues with two major algorithms: Panda, which targets thin or duplicate content, and Penguin, which focuses on spammy links.
Identifying the Problem and Taking Action
Reference Major Algorithm Changes: Consult a comprehensive list of algorithm changes, such as Moz’s list, to identify correlations between your traffic loss and specific updates.
Analyze Website Stats: Tools like Google Analytics or Semrush can help pinpoint the date of your traffic loss, allowing you to cross-reference with known algorithm updates.
Take Corrective Measures: Depending on the identified issue, you may need to clean up link profiles, enhance content quality, or take other specific actions to recover your rankings.
Reconsideration Request Tips
When submitting a reconsideration request, consider the following tips to improve your chances of success:
Be Honest: Own up to any mistakes or clarify if issues were created by a previous SEO company or employee.
Document Your Efforts: Create a Google doc detailing all corrective steps and link it in your reconsideration request.
Demonstrate Understanding: Assure Google that you comprehend the penalty’s cause and commit to future compliance.
Be Transparent: Include your full name and contact information in the request.
Conclusion: Recovery is Possible
While Google penalties can be daunting and significantly impact your website’s rankings, recovery is possible with the right approach. By understanding the type of penalty, taking targeted corrective measures, and following the proper reconsideration request process, you can regain your lost rankings and traffic.
Whether dealing with manual actions or algorithmic penalties, transparency, diligence, and adherence to Google’s guidelines are key to successful recovery. If the process seems overwhelming, consider seeking professional SEO consultant to guide you through the recovery journey.