Google Penalty Recovery

What are the benefits of a Google Penalty Recovery?

Many modern businesses rely on search engines to deliver their website relevant traffic and with it new leads and conversions. Delivering this means making sure your site ranks and continues to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs) on key search queries. Following two major updates to Google’s algorithm in 2012 (known as Penguin and Panda) many websites were hit with penalties for violating Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Many of these were as a result of “spammy” and lazy SEO strategies that sought to exploit Google’s algorithm by acquiring high volumes of poor quality links or create thin badly written content. For many websites, this resulted in a significant drop in rankings and for some, it meant being de-listed from SERPs entirely.

Google’s Penguin and Panda updates now operate in real-time meaning that recovering from a penalty quickly is now possible. A good and responsible SEO agency will never put your site at risk but if you do find yourself hit with a Google penalty then there are many benefits to recovering from it as soon as possible. These include:

  • Allowing your website to rank again in the SERPs
  • Understanding which factors or practices resulted in a penalty (so you can avoid repeating the same mistake twice)
  • Removing the need to buy a new domain

Our process of gaining a comprehensive understanding of the errors that resulted in you receiving a penalty aren’t just important to our penalty recovery process but will help us clean up any other issues that could cause you problems in the future. We’ll then take the necessary steps and refinements to help you recover and avoid experiencing any issues in the future.

Recovering from a Google penalty

The first step is not to panic. Some of the biggest brands in the world have had to deal with Google penalties. The good news is that identifying the specific issue, you’re already well on the path towards a successful recovery.

We’ll run a complete analysis of your backlink portfolio using a variety of different sources, including Google Search Console and our own SEO software. We’ll then methodically remove and disavow any poor quality links, documenting the process as we go. If the penalty is manual, this can then be submitted to Google’s Webspam team via Search Console, as evidence with your request for removal of the penalty.

Penalty recovery as a result of poor quality links can be a time-consuming process. It is essential that meticulous identification of low-quality backlinks is undertaken, not only because of their damaging effects on your traffic and visibility but because we don’t want to remove any high-quality links in the process, something that could cause more harm than good to your rankings.

What is a Google Penalty?

Algorithm refinement is a process that Google has been undertaking for over 15 years, consistently improving its ability to elevate quality content and fully meet the needs of its users in the process. In addition to elevating top tier content, Google has also taken steps to eliminate poor content by penalising websites that have broken its webmaster guidelines, usually, in an attempt to exploit the search engine’s algorithm by employing what SEOs refer to as ‘black hat’ tactics.

A Google penalty can be algorithmic (that is it is generated autonomously by Google’s algorithm) or manual (Google’s web spam team apply the penalty) but boiled down they will cause your site to drop on some or a whole range of search queries. In the worst case scenario, your website may even stop ranking for your own brand name.

In 2012 Google rolled out the Penguin update, which affected more than 10% of search results and in some cases eliminated websites entirely from the SERPs. Essentially changing the landscape of optimisation overnight, content strategies were forced to become far more refined and measured.

What are the different types?

  • Manual penalties: Manual penalties are issued directly by Google’s web spam team. You will be informed that you have been affected by a manual penalty and will be provided with an indication as to the reasons via your Google Search Console dashboard. The message will outline which guidelines your strategies have violated and request that you make appropriate changes before submitting your website for reconsideration.
  • Algorithmic penalties: If your website has been affected by an algorithmic penalty, you will not get the same warning through Google Search Console and it’s likely your first indication will be a significant drop in your rankings and website traffic. Accurately identifying the specific issue and efficiently taking the appropriate steps to recover is imperative. In these cases, some comprehensive research will be needed to determine precisely when your website got hit with the penalty and correlating this information with any alterations Google may have made to its search algorithm at this time.

How do you get one?

Google is consistently making alterations to its indexing methods and since it is rarely forthcoming with information about the changes it has made and why, identifying and correcting errors can often be a difficult process.

There are many possible ways in which your website can incur a penalty. The following are just a few of the approaches we actively avoid within our digital strategies specifically because they run the risk of incurring penalties:

  • Link buying
  • Excessive link swapping
  • Hidden links
  • Misuse of header tags
  • Links from poor quality sites
  • Thin content
  • Slow page loading times
  • Time outs
  • Comment spam
  • Overly optimised content (keyword stuffing)
  • Multiple links with overly optimised anchor text

Ensuring that your website contains only relevant, useful and valuable information is key, and this means actively avoiding both duplicated and keyword-stuffed content. Similarly, close attention must always be given to content structure, with an over reliance upon H1 tags and anchor text often seen as an active attempt to manipulate rankings and unnaturally increase page authority.

Spam comments are a huge issue, which is why comment moderation is a key part of our approach to content creation. Equally, while measured optimisation is an essential element in ensuring website visibility and audience engagement, it is possible to go overboard without having a closely considered SEO strategy and content calendar in place.

Does a Google Penalty last forever?

Google penalties do not last forever but if you do not take the steps required to clean up your website, whether that’s removing toxic links or taking down web pages with poor quality content, then the Google penalty will remain in effect indefinitely.

While it is clear that taking steps to actively avoid incurring penalties by adhering closely to Google’s guidelines is the optimum approach, the successful identification of the reasons for penalisation is essential. Once this has been achieved, we’ll be able to take the steps needed to address those issues, cleaning up your website and demonstrating to Google that we have done so. We’ll also be able to offer you a comprehensive explanation of what went wrong and how to avoid getting another penalty again in the future.