Got a Google Penalty? Here’s What To Do About It

closeup of a laptop keyboard with the enter key replaced with Google button

You did the research, followed the SEO “rules” set down by Google, but suddenly your website traffic has taken a major drop. Or a few of your top-ranking website pages have now been removed from Google’s search index entirely. Or maybe your website simply isn’t netting the organic search leads it once did. So, what’s the deal? You’ve most likely been hit with a Google penalty.

The Scoop on Google Penalties & SEO Basics

Google played the largest role in creating the SEO industry we know today. After launching their search toolbox extension in 2000, Google made it their goal to provide users with the highest quality content possible by ranking websites based on set parameters and algorithm updates. These updates are now purposefully kept secret from the public following widespread implementation of SEO manipulation strategies based on the search rank parameters Google previously supplied the public with. (Today, entire websites are dedicated to tracking and alerting the public about possible algorithm changes.)

To filter out the spammy sites, Google introduced major overhauls to their search algorithm that targeted sites with poor quality content or ones that used black-hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing or duplicate content. Which brings us to today: A time when Google’s search algorithm updates are done in total secrecy, and SEO experts and Digital Marketing Managers alike work hard to stay abreast of any sudden or noticeable changes in their search engine rankings.

So, back to your issue. Your website’s rankings have taken a dive, or your organic search leads have suddenly run dry. These are often clear indicators an element of your website has been flagged by Google for violating a quality guideline they use to establish page rankings for search queries AKA you just received your first Google Penalty.

How can you know for sure? You can find any manual penalties in your Google Webmaster Tools account that’s linked to your website. In the Search Console, you will see any manual penalties listed along with a description of why your site attracted the penalty. The other type of Google penalty is an algorithmic penalty. These are applied automatically without assistance from human employees, which means they are harder to identify and resolve.

Solve Your Google Penalty Problem

The good news is it’s possible to reverse the damage done by Google penalties, and either have them removed or clean up the flagged pages, so your full website gets added back into Google’s search index.

For manual penalties, the process is pretty cut and dry since your site was penalized by an actual Google employee. If you address the issue within your website raised by the penalty and remedy it (i.e., remove keyword stuffing, delete spammy or paid links, delete duplicate content), then you can submit a reconsideration request to the Google employee. After reviewing the request, the penalty is typically lifted and the page in question returns, often with a much lower ranking, to Google’s index.

For algorithmic penalties, the process is more complicated because you’re not dealing with an actual human and likely won’t receive any alert you’ve been penalized. Instead, Marketers track their website traffic, organic search leads, and keyword rankings and compare the timeline of major disruptions to these results with any recent news on possible algorithm changes to isolate the reason for the potential penalty. If you’re aware of sketchy SEO practices your website has used to rank high in SERPs, it’s likely that the algorithm has finally caught on as well.

The best way to resolve an algorithmic Google penalty, especially when you’re unable to isolate the cause, is to methodically go through every page of your website and clean them up. Remove any remotely suspect links, duplicate content, low-quality content, and any other black-hat SEO techniques. You’ll also want to do an audit to resolve any glitches or 404 pages on your website that can result in a Google penalty.

However, for those not fully versed in the best practices and latest updates of SEO and Google’s algorithm, resolving issues stemming from a Google penalty is a full-time job; one that many Marketers are unqualified or unprepared to take on. Combing through websites with numerous SEO issues can take anywhere from weeks to months to complete even with several SEO experts working on it, which means regaining those covetable rankings will take much longer and your company’s bottom line will be negatively impacted for the foreseeable future.

SEO Hires (More Than) Worth The Investment

This is why a majority of businesses, especially enterprise-level, have hired on-site experts to handle and resolve their SEO needs. Fully understanding the complicated world of SEO and what impacts your website’s SERP rankings takes more than a few Google searches on the topic. SEO professionals have years of experience with evolving Google algorithms and resulting penalties. They are skilled at recognizing SEO issues on your website and providing effective strategies to improve your website page rankings for the search queries most valuable to your business.

SEO-based roles we’ve seen an increase in demand for, sourced from our 2017 placement data, include:

These experts specialize in effectively identifying and resolving the wide array of reasons behind Google penalties (there are dozens and dozens of potential causes). Although the average salaries of SEO professionals are on the rise thanks to increased demand, this set cost is often more than worth the investment for businesses facing the prospect of having a website in limbo (removed from Google’s index) for an extended period.

If you lack the SEO talent you need to ensure your website stays Google penalty-free or you’re looking to improve your website’s current SEO rankings, contact Mondo today. We’ll match you with the skilled, high-end SEO experts you need now.

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