How to Recover from Google Penalty ?
Many webmasters sometimes face a situation where there website and the high-performing keywords aren’t shown in the SERP of Google. In such cases, it is possible that either Google has made changes to its algorithm or has penalized website/s by de-listing them from its result pages.
There are ways of recovery to this problem, but ofcourse one has to make sure if the drop in rankings is due to changes in the algorithm or is it that Google’s filters have caught your website(s) for some un-ethical activities.
Analyzing the reasons for a drastic Dip in the Rankings
There isn’t any precise technique for checking Google penalties. One cannot claim for any degree of certainty. Webmasters may find an unexpected dip in the rankings for some of the well ranked keywords, this might be because of changes in Google’s ranking algo. According to case studies, whenever there has been an update in the algorithm, users have experienced fluctuations in the keyword rankings in SERP’s. Therefore, one cannot claim or strongly say that a particular website has been penalized by the big ‘G’.
Though, there are few pointers which can suggest users if their website is penalized.
Google makes regular improvements and enhancements in its algo and filtering process for detecting violations and unethical activities done by websites which try for better ranking in the Google SERP’s. Therefore, there are possibilities that any of the filters probably has detected a site and is showing a dip in the SERP for any keyword.
Effects of Link De-valuation
If you are one of the webmasters who is considering and hunting for the causes of decrease in ranking, it is important to know that, Google has always been applying link de-valuation to backlinks from non-trusted and non-reputed sources. The basic reason being, spammers have been known to use unethical techniques to rank their websites well in the result pages of search engines. Therefore, inorder to tackle such instances and give justice to the webmasters who adopt ethical ways for optimizing their websites, Google has been making the necessary changes/updates on a regular basis.
If you too have been affected by link devaluation, there are chances that your website is involved in reciprocal linking, paid link advertisements or while building backlinks for your website, you might have submitted the site URL to link farms, low in quality directories, all these factors would adversely affect the rankings. All the mentioned techniques are considered strictly by Google, hence any website caught using any of the unethical ways would feel the heat.
Many webmaster websites that used to be ranked very well in the SERP, now have been de-valued hence is nowhere seen in the SERP’s. After analyzing such websites, it has been observed that most of the backlinks were from directories and do-follow blogs. And since Google no-longer gives much value to low quality directories, such websites have experienced a reductions in their overall rankings. Apart from that, its also been observed that such websites have a large volume of backlinks from irrelevant niche websites.
So, if you realize or doubt about Google penalizing your site, you must first of all not come to any decision or assumptions. It is better to checkout few reputed SEO forums. If at all there has been any change in the algorithm, you’d immediately come to know from the discussion happening there, as yours isn’t the only website on the web facing such a change in the rankings.
Having said that, if you face an unexpected fall in the rankings for your website and there hasn’t been any algorithm updates, then this can be considered as a pointer that your site has been penalized by Google. Violations to the Google Webmaster Guidelines can lead to permanent de-valuation of your website. Rather not just de-valuation but permanent de-indexing too has been observed for some websites.
To recover from such a scenario is a very painful task. If you are able to convince people at Google and dont get involved in any illegal activities, only then they would probably think of withdrawing the ban.
Tests for confirming a Penalty
Test A : If you suspect that Google has penalized your website, you must compare the total number of previously indexed URL’s with the latest figures. To get along-with that, you can use the command site:yourdomainname.com in the search bar of Google. Incase there aren’t any URL’s seen, try using the command link:yourdomain.com Still if no links are shown, there is a dense possibility that Google has penalized your site.
Test B : One more pointer for Google penalty is a decrease in the rank for your unique company name. Though this cannot be considered to be a perfect indication of de-valuation, as it might yet to be crawled if you have a new website. The new websites with very few backlinks would usually not be seen in Google, hence you cannot assume that your website has been penalized by Google.
Though, Google Page Rank isn’t a crucial parameter anymore, still it is possible that incase of penalization, you would experience a loss of pagerank.
To check if Google has de-indexed your website entirely, you can copy some content from the website and paste the same in the search bar of Google. If the page from where you’ve copied the content doesn’t come at the first place you must use the command cache:www.websitename.com/page.html in the Google search bar. Yet, if your domain name or the webpage isn’t listed in the search results, your website has surely been penalized by being de-indexed from Google. This is the most extreme form of ban, which usually happens when you have used Black Hat SEO techniques on your website.
Google Penalty Checklist
If your site has been penalized by Google, you must go through the below checklist. After identifying the probable reason, you must make the required changes and proceed with requesting Google to reconsider your website for inclusion.
- Back-linking to banned websites
You must check every outbound links from your site. Further check if you are linking to websites that have been banned by Google.
- Sharing Links with bad neighbors
Analyze if you are sharing links with any bad neighbors, link farms or doorway pages. With bad neighbors we mean the spam sites and doorway pages. Such websites with a sole intention in mind ‘Sharing links’ and have no useful and quality content. Such domains have the minimum trust in the eyes of Google, hence should be strictly avoided.
- Penalty for an Automated query
At times, Google penalizes websites that use automated query tools that use of Google’s API, particularly when the queries are run from the same IP address hosting your website. This is a clear violation of Google’s terms of service. Though Google does allow few automated queries into its database using its analytic tools, but users must be registered and having a Google API account. Any other types of automated queries would surely lead to problems.
- Penalty for Over-optimization and Google filters
Aggressive link building for selected keywords and keyphrases in the anchor text can attract the curt attention of Google. It is suggested to use different anchor text/keywords when working for your link building campaign. A backlink anchor text analyzer tool can be considered to check the number of backlinks for a particular keyword/phrase. It is a good practice to steadily build backlinks and use long tailed keywords and its variations.
- Cross linking & link schemes
Incase you have multiple websites and you believe all of them have suffered with a penalty, you must instantly start analyzing the interlinking between all those domains. If you unintentionally have done an extensive interlinking of websites, specifically from the same C Class IP address even then it seems to Google that you are involved in some link schemes, hence are violating the TOS. Furthermore, if you receive backlinks from sitewide pages of a website, even then Google would treat that as a Grey Hat technique if not completely Black Hat, which again is a little risk. Also, if you have purchased backlinks from external domains and have added it to the footer, that too would be detected by Google and wouldn’t give priority to such backlinks as compared to the backlinks received from the content. According to the latest updates and the suggestions from SEO Gurus, webmasters should strictly try and refrain from site-wide links. Practically any such site-wide links offer least advantages, what Google does consider is the number of backlinks from unique domains to your website.
- Duplicate Content Issues
Content duplication isn’t considered very strictly, Google would simply de-index the duplicate content or page from its search result pages. Now, this too can affect in a different way, such as loss in traffic to a website, which is equivalent to being penalized.
- Hidden text links
Many webmasters adopt a technique where they hide the text in the content by using same text colour as that of the background. This is virtually invisible to human eyes but it can be seen by Google bots and crawlers. So, removing such links and keywords is a better option.
- Keyword stuffing is no different to spamming
Removing excessive keywords from the web page content can help you regain your rankings in Google SERP’s. Natural and informational content is preferable.
- Look for Malware Issues
You would not find this stated at much places, but it is worth looking out if Google has blacklisted your website due to unsafe browsing. Users can check that using the following link from Google :
www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=yourdomain.co.uk, replace ‘yourdomain.co.uk’ with your website name.
- Automated page redirects
Any other re-direct other than a permanent 301 redirect isn’t suggested by Google. Users can also use the Mod Rewrite technique instead of 301 redirection. Users should set up a .htaccess file onto your web server.
- Purchasing or selling Links
It has been observed and suggested by SEO experts, purchasing backlinks can harm your optimization efforts. As a matter of fact Google had recently penalized link selling websites.
- Reciprocal link building campaigns
Intense reciprocal linking might attract the attention of Google, and after confirmation, penalise or cause a SERPS filter to be applied when the same or very similar link anchor text is used often and big volume of reciprocal links are added in a relatively short time. Effects can be worse if large amounts of backlinks come from websites with low quality.
- Affiliate Websites
It is a known fact that Google hates affiliate websites with almost negligible content and which is set-up with an intention of adding Adsense programs. Users should get assured that the affiliate sites have good quality and original content if you wish them not to get filtered-out of the search results.
- Content Feeds
Content feeds such as RSS are widely used over the web, according to experts fetching in larger volumes of duplicate content through such feeds might cause an adverse effect on the rankings and if done extensively, it can even alert Google for penalizing your site.
- Same Registrant Domains
Google have the permission of accessing the WHOIS database for domains. Using that information, they can penalize a website having the same registrant.
- Google Webmaster Tools
Google has been taking efforts to improve communication with webmasters with respect to the banned domains. According to the latest updates they now inform webmasters with the reason of ban and the penalty given. Inorder to do that, they have developed a new Webmaster Console. Further, once the users have made the suggested changes, they can make a re-inclusion request via. the same console. Users are just required to sign-up for the Google Webmaster Tools and upload an XML Sitemap onto your site. To make it even simple, Google has prepared a Video Tutorial that describes the process of reconsideration. There the users can check the tips about what Google expects for when assessing the re-inclusion of any website.
To completely recover from the effects and rank well in SERP’s of Google, would probably take around 2-3 months once all website problems are rectified. Though no one except Google can guarantee you about the time required for completely recovering from the down fall.
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