A Google penalty is imposed on a website for unethical and anti-policy activities that aim at increasing the page’s position unnaturally. Google penalizes websites for many reasons, mainly because of all the elements analyzed by Google algorithms, duplicate content, too many optimizations, keyword stuffing, or poor quality of external links leading to your page. The list of possible reasons is endless, that’s why the issue is so complex.
If your website is filtered, the greatest challenge is to determine the exact source of the problem. This is due to the fact that a Google penalty may be a result of several or even more elements. The filter will be removed once you get rid of all the harmful factors. Then, you’ll quickly witness a sudden increase in your website traffic and positions. Websites should comply with the rules established and updated by Google.
Adjusting your page to Google quality guidelines will help you reach higher positions in the search results. This is a complex, demanding, time and energy-consuming process because you can’t expect spectacular results overnight. However, some people try to find a shortcut and achieve better Google positions faster, consequently, they don’t follow the established rules. Nevertheless, trying to deceive Google usually results in a penalty or filter.
What may indicate your website is penalized
If your website traffic has decreased dramatically over a short period of time, then your website might have been penalized by Google. And we aren’t talking about a seasonal decrease or almost inconspicuous changes but about a serious traffic drop noticeable right away. When checking data from Google Analytics, you can precisely determine the time frame when the traffic decreased or even establish the exact day when it’s started.
With such information, you can verify whether any other activities were performed on your page during that time – if not, you have serious reasons to get more suspicious. Next, you should compare the dates of traffic decreases with the dates of algorithm updates. If they’re the same, it’s clear what happened. Traffic decrease may entail sudden position changes. If your site has many top 3 phrases that are suddenly ranked almost at the end of the search results and the situation doesn’t improve, your website was probably penalized.
How to check for a penalty from Google
Being unaware of the current state of affairs is frequently one of the greatest issues of website owners. You can suspect that your page was penalized but you still may not be sure. Many pages are filtered and their admins are completely unaware. Why? Because they don’t use such a basic tool as Google Search Console which informs about the website, helps to monitor phrases it’s displayed on, provides a list of the finest keywords, and, more importantly, enables checking if the site was penalized.
1. Manual action
A manual action is a penalty imposed by Google Search Quality Team that analyzes websites every day and checks whether they comply with Google principles. Due to this penalty, the positions of all or some phrases decrease drastically which results in a drop in website traffic.
- Log into the Search Console account of your website.
- Click in the menu and select “Security & Manual Actions”.
- Choose “Manual Actions” from the menu.
- Here, you may get either positive “No issues detected” or negative feedback “Issues detected”.
If you don’t have complete matches, check the partial ones as well. Complete matches mean lowering the positions of all website phrases, whereas partial matches decrease positions of selected phrases with unnatural activity.
Types of manual Google filters?
You can see each of the notifications listed below in the Google Search Console.
- Unnatural links to your site.
- Unnatural links from your site.
- Pure spam.
- Spam generated by users.
- Sneaky mobile redirects.
- Hidden texts or keyword stuffing.
- Spammy free hosts.
- Spammy tag structures.
- Low-quality content.
- Hacked website.
- Graphic cloaking.
- Cloaking: violating the right to the first entry without any restrictions.
2. Algorithm filter
An algorithm filter is imposed by Penguin or Panda algorithm, not by humans. Algorithm penalties decrease website traffic and positions. The reasons for imposing these penalties are much more complex and it’s also harder to get rid of the problems. Checking whether your website has an algorithm filter is much more complex than in the case of manual penalties as this time, you don’t get any information that your page was filtered. There aren’t any indications in Search Console. You need to thoroughly observe everything related to your page and all updates implemented by Google. Monitor your positions and website traffic in Google Analytics and Google Search Console.