Google Website Penalty: Tips to Recover and to Avoid

Written by Web Hosting Expert

July 19, 2022
Google Website Penalty: Tips to Recover and to Avoid

If you want to have a successful website and business, being present on Google is a must. Google is the most popular search engine by far, with a market share of over 92%. It's the best place to get the most exposure and traffic, as it generates over 8.5 billion daily searches!

Also, Google's one billion active monthly users make a massive pool of potential customers that all websites target.

So, it's no surprise that website owners put a lot of effort into their websites. A big part of that effort and having a successful website is knowing what you can be penalized for and how to avoid getting penalized, which we will cover in this article.

What Is a Google Penalty?

A Google Penalty is a sanction or punishment that a website can receive if it does not follow the specific Google guidelines regarding keyword stuffing, SEO, backlinks, etc.

Usually, websites are penalized when there is an update in Google's ranking algorithm or after conducting manual reviews.

Each type of penalty has a different effect on websites, ranging from a drop in ranking, lower website traffic, or partial or total removal from the Google index.

How to Check if Your Website Is Penalized by Google

How to Check if Your Website Is Penalized by Google

So, as mentioned, Google penalties can have drastic consequences on your website. Thus, you must recognize them and react on time to be able to minimize the damage as much as possible. Here is how you can check if your website has been penalized:

  • Penalty type
    Before doing anything else, check to see whether the penalty you got is for your whole site or for specific web pages.
  • Using Google Search Console
    Log into your account and open this tool. Then, to see whether you have any penalties pending, click on the "search traffic" icon and open "manual actions" to see if you have any messages regarding penalties.
  • Website traffic
    If you notice any significant decreases in website traffic, check when it happened and see whether any updates or changes to Google guidelines were made in that period. You can do this by logging into Google Analytics.
  • Domain
    Type your domain in the search bar on Google to check if it's indexed in the top ten results. If it doesn't show up, it's possible that Google has penalized it and de-indexed it Checking for partial penalties – if you think you might have received a partial penalty, you can check by typing your domain name and main keyword in the Google search bar. If some of your pages don't show up, it's highly likely that you've received a partial penalty
  • Page rank
    You can check your page rank and amount of visitors for a specific time to pinpoint when a penalty was issued
  • Website audit
    You can audit your website to check for any SEO practices that are not compliant with Google's guidelines, like keyword stuffing, having too many pop-up ads, having low-quality backlinks, not having an appropriate security certificate, or HTTPS, etc.
  • Robots.txt
    In some cases, Google's search engine robots aren't able to crawl your website, which can result in you thinking that you've been penalized. To know if this is the case, you can add "robots.txt" at the end of your domain name to check if Google's search engine robots are allowed to crawl your website. It would look like this:

Google Penalty Types

Google Penalty Types

The first step you need to take when dealing with Google penalties is to identify the type of penalty you are receiving. There are numerous penalties that Google can issue, and each penalty harms your website in different ways. Here are the four main types of Google penalties:

  • Automated or algorithm-based penalties
    These penalties are automatic and are given to websites that do not follow or break Google guidelines. These penalties are usually given when Google releases new updates to website guidelines, like the Panda update, which banned low-quality content, or the Penguin update that dealt with low-quality links, etc.
  • Manual penalties
    These penalties are given when a site is manually reviewed by a webspam team because that website had previously triggered an automated penalty. Typically, the website owner receives an email notifying them of the problem. If you have received this type of penalty, it's best to contact the team and have them examine the site again once you've fixed everything. To check for manual penalties, you can use the Google Search Console method mentioned above.
  • Partial manual penalties
    These are also given after a webspam team manually reviews your website. They are issued if the team believes that some of your web pages do not follow Google's guidelines or contain unfitting content.
  • Site-wide penalties
    These penalties are the most serious ones and cause the most significant damage out of the four because they are given to the website as a whole. You can receive this type of penalty if Google concludes that your website is spam. When Google issues a site-wide penalty, the rankings of the affected site drop significantly, and the site can get de-indexed or even blocklisted.

Things You Have to Avoid Unless You Want to Get Your Website Banned From Google:

  • Low-quality content
    If Google detects that your website or some of your web pages have content that adds little to no value to users, it will penalize you. When Google finds websites that have thin content and low-quality guest posts, it de-ranks or de-indexes these sites to improve the quality of its search results.
  • Duplicated content
    If your website contains content that is plagiarized or written by some software, Google will penalize you because it will conclude that you have copied the content from another site that is also on Google.
  • Low-quality backlinks
    If Google detects that most of the backlinks that lead to your site are manipulative, artificial, deceptive, etc., it will penalize you. So, avoid having backlinks from banned or penalized websites, links from gambling or adult websites, links from unrelated websites to yours, site-wide links, etc.
  • Link-buying schemes
    Over 41% of companies believe that backlinking is quite difficult, which is why some engage in link scheming or the buying and selling of links. However, Google has banned all types of link schemes. Additionally, it has banned the participation in a Private Blogging Network, which includes multiple different websites that build links to each other, creating a plethora of unnatural links.
  • Using spam content
    If Google detects that you are using automatically-generated or user-generated content that makes no sense and is unrelated to your other content, it will penalize you. Also, if it detects that your site contains scraped content from other websites, it will see it as spam content as well because it is against Google Guidelines.
  • Cloaking and redirecting
    Modern Google tools can detect cloaking easily, which is when the content shown to Google is entirely different from the content users see. Basically, cloaking is when website owners show less or insufficient content to users while they show Google another version of the same content. It is considered a Black Hat SEO technique, and it violates the Google Guidelines.
  • Redirecting
    Is when website owners give Google a page to index, and after it is indexed, they redirect users to a different page. So, the content and URL users see are different from those given to Google's search engine bots. This is also considered a Black Hat SEO technique.
  • Slow loading speeds
    The average loading time for a website is 10.3 seconds on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile devices. So, if your website is slower than this, you could face a significant drop in your SERP ranking, and it could lead to an algorithm-based penalty.
  • Cyber attacks
    If your website gets hacked or if someone targets it, Google could penalize you.
  • Improper data structure
    If Google concludes that your site's architecture is poor, it could give you an algorithm-based penalty. This usually happens when your pages contain rich snipped markups that are manipulative and do not adhere to the official structured data guidelines.
  • Using hidden text
    You will definitely get penalized if you add text to your website and make it the same color as your background, hiding it from regular users. This text may be invisible to users, but it is not to Google. Google considers this manipulative and against its guidelines.
  • Keyword stuffing
    If you overuse keywords and place them where they make no sense, Google will consider this as an effort to rank higher in the SERPs by all means necessary, which it deems manipulative. Also, if you use keywords that are not in no way related to your content but you want to rank for them anyway, you will most likely get penalized.

Tips to Recover From a Google Penalty

The best way to recover from a Google Penalty is to avoid it entirely in the first place. Of course, not all penalties are avoidable, so it would be best if you were always careful and did things the right way. Because even if you are extra cautious and skillful in getting a higher ranking by using shortcuts, Google will most likely find out and penalize you. Here are some tips on how you can stay out of trouble and avoid penalties:

  • Always keep an eye out for new guideline updates and study them in detail.

  • Double-check the links to your website and the content they have regularly.

  • Do not include backlinks in your content that are unnatural and low-quality.

  • Update your content, backlinks, and SEO each time there is a change in the guidelines.

  • Choose affiliate links and ads that are appropriate and relevant to your website.

  • Always correct all issues and mistakes when penalized and submit a request for reconsideration.

  • Check your security regularly and pay attention to it to prevent cyber attacks.

  • Make sure to choose the appropriate web hosting.

Concluding Remarks

Google can be pretty ruthless when it comes to penalizing websites that violate its guidelines. Since its inception, it has regularly and swiftly updated and introduced guidelines that prevent any form of cheating or taking shortcuts on your way to the top.

So, no matter how confident you are in your abilities, it's best if you don't try to cheat Google because it has an army of bots and humans that will find you and penalize you. Therefore, make sure to acquaint yourself with its guidelines and follow the tips mentioned in this article to have a clear and successful path to the top without any setbacks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I produce high-quality content for my blog?

To create amazing content for your fitness blog, you will need to do proper research and take your time. Write fewer posts, but make sure that the ones you’ve written stand out.

Am I going to be able to host high traffic websites with self-hosting?

No, your home computer will not be able to handle a website with a lot of traffic.

Can I host multiple websites?

Yes. Some packages even give you unlimited domains. However, the more you host, the slower your speeds will be.

Is there more than one Content Management System?

Absolutely! There are hundreds of CMSs available, and they all work in different ways.

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