Search Engine Optimisation

Recovering From a Google Penalty

April 18, 2014

Amid the many changes to the SEO landscape over the past months, we have had quite a bit to say about the various actions you can take in order to continue to rank well online, and avoid being penalised by Google. This includes providing great quality useful content on your site, and avoiding tactical errors such as keyword stuffing and link trading. But what happens if – despite all your efforts to do excellent work on your site – you find that you have been Google-slapped?

First of all it’s important to realise that a Google penalty can be like one of those silent-killer diseases – you might not even know you have one until you bother to check. This is especially the case if you receive an automatic penalty, which basically means you are not going to get an email from Google saying ‘we’ve penalised you’. It’s more likely that you will simply find that your site stops showing up where it used to in web search, or that your traffic suddenly slows.

What can you be penalised for?

Some of the main reasons for a penalty include:

  • Keyword stuffing.
  • Posting poor-quality or duplicate content.
  • Buying or exchanging links.
  • Linking to sites that have no relevance your business.
  • Having broken links on your site.
  • Overusing anchor text.
  • Using guest blogging purely for SEO purposes (for example posting guest blogs that are keyword stuffed, and not relevant or useful to your audience).

There are also myriad other reasons you could get a penalty – some of which may not be your fault. For instance, your site may have been hacked, or have too many old backlinks. Or it may be that someone has plagiarised your content, or has a malicious linking campaign against your site.

How to find out if you have been penalised

It can be hard to find out if you have received a penalty. Tools such as Google Analytics will indicate how your site traffic is faring, with a sudden change indicating you might have been penalised. You can also log on to your Google Webmaster Tools account and check the message page to see if Google has notified you of a penalty.

What to do if you get a penalty

Firstly, don’t panic! It is not the end of the world, and with the right moves you should be able to recover from a Google penalty.

If you have a troublesome link problem, for example, you can work to resolve the resulting penalty by:

  • Collecting backlink data.
  • Tracking and documenting all the actions you’ve taken to remove bad links.
  • Identifying low-quality links.
  • Contacting webmasters to request removal of links.
  • Using the Google Disavow tool if necessary.
  • Submitting a request to Google for reconsideration.
  • Waiting for a response.
  • Taking steps to avoid it happening again.

You can use these same steps to deal with any other issues, such as keyword stuffing, which may have resulted in your site being penalised.

Where did I go wrong?

Just as a parent might do all the right things and still find their teenager running wild, you might feel a bit disconcerted if you believe you’ve followed the guidelines and your website is in trouble! At least this scenario is probably a little easier to manage than parenting, and these tips on prevention should help:

  • Use canonical links if you post content that is very similar to existing content.
  • If you outsource content, make sure to always use a professional and reputable provider. Avoid buying cheap content that may be spun or copied. If you suspect plagiarism, use a plagiarism checker to test it.
  • Avoid being connected in any way with sites that could be considered suspicious.
  • Be a little careful with guest blogging – see our guest blogging article for more information.
  • Monitor the comments on your site and remove spammy-looking ones.
  • Be careful that you do not have too many affiliate links in place.

Of course the above is on top of posting quality useful content, avoiding link schemes, and generally following Google’s guidelines.

In any case, it’s important not to take a penalty too personally! It could happen to the best of websites, and by investigating the cause, taking steps to fix the problem, and contacting Google for reconsideration, you should be able to get on top of the problem and recover your search engine standings.

Discover how we can help with SEO Penalties

Enquire Now
By Bill Vasiliadis

By Bill Vasiliadis

Bill Vasiliadis is an Australian SEO and Digital Marketing Consultant with over 20 years of online experience. He has helped businesses of all sizes increase the return on investment from their online marketing spend.

Related Articles

View All Articles

“It has been a pleasure working with Bill and his team from SEO for Small Business Australia. The results from all his work have been truly amazing and in no time our business was on the first page of Google. I will continue to work with Bill and his team in the future and highly recommend him.”

Sherleen Chand, Criminal Lawyers Sydney

“We started using Bill last year and have been very happy with his service since. He is incredibly responsive and is generally available to answer the phone or an email when we need it. We have noticed improvements in several areas of our SEO and are keen to see what the next steps in our SEO strategy bring. We would definitely recommend engaging SEO for Small Business Australia Pty Ltd.”

Katie McGovern, Patricia Holdings

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Bill from SEO for Small Business Australia. The results have been amazing. We are kept up to date regularly with what’s going on and the customer service has been great. As a small business, it’s always a pleasure to work with another competent small business.”

Murray Roach, Billabong Spas

“Bill has been a great in getting our SEO set up and running for our meditation business.”

Mairead Ball, Bondi Meditation Centre

“If you are looking for SEO services for small business, this is definitely the one - knowledgeable, easy to work with and great value.”

Nancy Wang, RivetLab Pty Ltd

“I highly recommend Bill Vasiliadis and SEO for Small Business Australia – as a new business, the best decision we made was to engage Bill Vasiliadis.”

Ted Neaves, Shoalhaven Lawyers

“A very professional no-nonsense approach which we appreciated. Makes everything easy to understand and is very clear on the improvements he can deliver. ”

Andrw Harvey, The Optical Co

“After trusting in two other SEO companies over the last 5 years and getting horrible results, 5 months ago I started with Bill and the results have been great and we have only been doing business with him for a short time so I'm super confident that my business's future is going to be amazing. I highly recommend trusting Bill and his team.”

Robin Wickens, Sheepskin Tailors

“Great service with great results, highly recommend.”

Marnie Fawns, Tri to Swim

“Bill has been great to work with and has provided good results.”

Brian Scales, Glen Erin at Lancefield

“Bill has detailed knowledge of SEO, we are a demanding client that has some robust measurements on our ROI and Bill manages to find solutions and report back in line with our KPI's on a weekly basis.”

Graham Budinger, Signal Advantage

“Bill from SEO for Small Business Australia has been great. Easy to deal with, flexible with small business budgets, and already achieving great results.”

Lyn Fisher, Moss Furniture

“Extremely impressed with Bill and his team. The work they did was really in-depth & thorough. Within just a few days I was at the top of the second page of Google, and Bill has given me advice to further increase my rankings. I highly recommend them to anyone who needs SEO help.”

Jordy Fabian, Organised Simplicity

Check Out Our SEO Services

Read More >
Reviewing SEO Analysis

Get Your Free SEO Analysis

Read More >