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June 3, 2015

How to Find Out if Google is Penalizing You

The search giants are constantly innovating, updating, and improving algorithms to enhance the overall user experience. This was recently seen with Google’s update to Panda and Penguin entitled “The Quality Update”.

Alterations took place yet again a few months later with mobile updates the internet dubbed Mobilegeddon. Just a few month prior to that in February, Google release an unnamed update to its algorithms.

See a trend here? With Google constantly changing how the game works for businesses, many owners have resorted to bending the rules to gain leverage and achieve better rankings in the SERP’s. The updates to Panda and Penguin have actually penalized many websites for not strictly adhering to Google’s guidelines.

As organic search traffic drops like a lead balloon, many have begun to panic while an attempt is made to discover the root cause of the problem. Yes, you can hire an expensive SEO firm to come to your rescue, but it’s not always necessary (or fruitful). First, take stock of Google’s guidelines and SEO best practices. It’s shocking how many issues can be addressed with some simple clean up.

To save business owners loads of time, money, and stress, here is the information needed to determine if your site has been penalized, how to identify what type of penalty it is, and how you can recover from this digital blow.

Types of Penalties

There are two different types of penalties that a site is likely to incur. The first is a Manual Penalty. These are quite easy to determine as Google will actually leave a notification in the Search Console. This will let business owners know which pages on a site, or if the entire site, has a penalty. The notification will inform you of the exact issue and it may possibly provide an example of this issue as well.

This will undoubtedly affect a site by lowered rankings in SERP’s and possible removal from the index altogether. Unfortunately, these penalties are quite difficult and time consuming to correct. Google has, however, provided the tools to use and it is possible to reverse the penalty. Be patient with the process and your hard work will pay off.

The second type of penalty that a site might face is an Algorithmic penalty. Unfortunately, these are much harder to identify than Manual penalties because there will be no notification of this handicap. One of the first telltale signs of an algorithmic penalty is a drop in site traffic. This could occur for many reasons and is not a defining trait of this problem. For this reason, it is important to have an intimate understanding of your site’s traffic patterns and cycles.

Once the drop in traffic has been determined to not be related to a different source issue, it is time to check on the rankings of the site. If an algorithmic penalty has occurred, entire groups of terms and phrases will be affected. By utilizing the Google Search Console’s search queries report, individuals can assess and determine if any of the terms and words used to rank the site have dropped in stature.

If your site has seen a dramatic drop in traffic as well as a decreased position in the SERP’s, chances are you are suffering from an algorithmic penalty. But with all the alterations to the algorithms, the question becomes which aspect is harming the site?

Diagnosing the Algorithmic Cause

With all of the updates that Google makes to their algorithms, determining this can be quite the difficult task. There are roughly 500 updates each year, so finding the one that is damaging your site’s visibility can be like finding a needle in a haystack. If you don’t have Google Analytics that is.

Google Analytics is a massively powerful tool to assist in the pursuit of fantastic overall health of a website. There are various tools and applications to assist in determining which algorithm change has been detrimental to the site. One paid tool that is extremely useful and will save massive amounts of time is the Fruition Google Penalty Checker. Simply provide Fruition with your Google Analytics account information and you will receive back a detailed report of all of the penalties as well as a percentage indicating the odds that particular penalty is the one harming you.

This is no easy task to correct, but it is necessary for survival. If penalties are not dealt with in a reasonable amount of time, your company is sure to suffer financial loss from the decrease visibility and traffic. As difficult as this process may be, it is entirely possible to correct and regain position in the SERPs.

While it is never fun to get hit with one of these penalties from Google, it does happen to companies frequently. By learning to maneuver these scenarios now, you stand a much better chance of handling the situation with a level head if it ever arises again.

What are some additional proactive steps you’ve employed to overcome these penalities?


Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

24 Responses to “How to Find Out if Google is Penalizing You

    thank for sharing . nice information.

    avatar K Bharath says:

    these google animal algorithms are creating a new route for seo professionals to rank sites.

    avatar Racky says:

    What so new in your article above. For fresher seo guys this might be useful but there is no use of this article.

    avatar Devansu says:

    This is an informative idea share about google algorithms. Thanks for sharing with us!

    avatar John Chablo says:

    Thanks Tina, always worth reading your articles! There’s always the option of using AdWords to boost your showing on Google – no Google slap there!

    avatar Pabitra says:

    Nice information. I use the Fruition tool but the free version. It’s a good tool.

    avatar Elizabeth says:

    This is all quite interesting. You are right, it is difficult to find out the reason for the drop when there is no penalty notice. So far I’ve gathered that it seems to be a mixed result of Google’s updates, localisation, competitor sites carrying out SEO, and increased competition affecting search for desired keywords.

    Unfortunately, understanding all the Google tools is quite time consuming. But it is an integral part of your online business, or it should be.
    Thanks Tina for putting it in simple words anyone can understand. 🙂

    Thank you very much for sharing of information and knowledge that are important like this.

    With this we can avoid the things that is certainly not desired by the blogger that the punishment of Google on our blog website all

    avatar Abhinav says:

    Thank you very much for sharing of information and knowledge that are important like this.

    avatar afrizon says:

    thanks for the information

    avatar dante says:

    There are two different types of penalties that a site is likely to incur. The first is a Manual Penalty. These are quite easy to determine as Google will actually leave a notification in the Search Console.

    What is the Search Console?

    avatar Dante says:

    Nevermind, I see it now

    avatar Anurag says:

    Panda and Penguin can’t be clubbed to single update. Both are different and those who were penalized by any of them will see recovery only after “data refresh” which google should do to reward those webmasters who have really worked hard.


    Interesting and good to know regarding penalties.Thanks for sharing.

    avatar Navid Tayebi says:

    The Mobilegeddon algorithm does not impose a penalty like panda & penguin where you need extensive effort to recover from the penalty. Mobilegeddon is some sort of on page check about mobile friendliness. When you convert your page to be mobile friendly your page recovers from this algorithm.

    avatar akshay says:

    really a great tool, but recently i read on webmaster forum that google stopped releasing names in few refresh or minor updates, will it impact the tool ?

    avatar Soowec says:

    A great article needed by every site or blog owner. It is good and necessary to carry out a post algorithm audit update for any website to prevent incurring penalties from Google. Thanks for the Google penalty checker tool you mentioned. I carry out intelligent checks of Google Analytics for my site to study traffic trends together with other statistical relevance info provided by this great tool. A great in depth understanding of Google Analytics coupled with some great tools like the one mentioned can make a difference.

    avatar chis flynn says:

    Great tricks, i think one of the most common reason of these penalty is low quality content and spam links. overall nice article really enjoyable to read

    Nice tricks…keep sharing such useful information

    avatar Linda James says:

    The most common reason which i notice is link spamming, due to spammy comment and content google can make your site full of spam.

    avatar Robert Heguy says:

    Hey Tina Nice Information, Well there is another tool is also helpful tool for penalty checking. it also featured on moz top 100 seo tools.

    avatar svreddy says:

    Recently, google updated panda 4.2. But still it is roll out slowly. When will it stops roll out. Please give a reply.

    avatar Anna says:

    Thanks for sharing this very useful article.

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