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The Guide You Need to Navigate Google Penalties

The Guide You Need to Navigate Google Penalties

Getting penalized by Google may sound like a marketing nightmare, but don’t worry—all hope is not lost! 

In this guide, we’ll explain what a Google penalty is, why Google penalizes sites and what you can do to rectify these actions so your rankings don’t suffer.


  1. What is a Google Penalty?
  2. Why Does Google Penalize Sites?
  3. How to Find Out if Google is Penalizing Your Site
  4. 5 Common Causes for Google Penalties
  5. How to Get Penalties Lifted
  6. Get Professional Help with SEO

What is a Google Penalty? 

So, what is a Google penalty? In SEO, a Google penalty is a punishment action Google takes when you’ve done something that goes against their quality guidelines. These penalties hurt your search rankings, meaning you may suffer a loss of organic traffic to your site.  

There are two types of Google penalties: algorithmic actions and manual actions. 

  • Algorithmic Actions: An algorithm penalty results from a Google update automatically demoting your site since it no longer meets certain guidelines.  
  • Manual Actions: Getting a manual penalty by Google means a human employee flagged your site after reviewing it. 

Why Does Google Penalize Sites? 

With the rise of AI, bots and an increasingly tight race to rank online, Google has had to make efforts to reduce search spam and dodgy indexing practices. Using “black hat” SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing, inorganic backlinks and hidden text, also warrants penalties.  

In short, Google’s strict guidelines are designed to limit spam and unethical SEO practices within their search network. Therefore, to enforce its rules, Google must take action to discipline offenders.  

How to Find Out if Google is Penalizing Your Site 

Have you experienced a sudden drop in traffic for no apparent reason? This may be the result of Google taking action against your site. 

Whenever a manual action is taken, you will always be notified in the search console under “Security and Manual Actions”. However, it can be trickier to determine whether you’re the victim of an algorithm update. Follow the steps below to find out if a Google update is suppressing your traffic. 

How to Check for A Google Penalty 

Step 1: Check for a drop in your organic traffic that coincides with a known Google algorithm update. 

Step 2: Browse or post on forums such as Google Search Central Help Community to see if other website owners are experiencing similar drops. 

Step 3: Use a Google penalty checker tool like Website Penalty Indicator.  

Once you’ve determined whether or not you’ve been penalized, it’s time to audit your site for harmful practices that may have landed you in search engine jail. 

In the next section, we discuss common causes for Google penalties—some of which may surprise you! 

5 Common Causes for Google Penalties 

If you’re reading this article, you might be wondering, why did Google penalize my site? Below, we discuss some of the most common causes for actions against webpages and sites.  

1. Low-Quality Content
Essentially, this is the result of favouring quantity over quality. Low-quality content, also referred to as thin content, offers little to no value to the user.   

2. Hidden Content 

Hidden content is text that is masked on a page by either setting the font size to zero, making the font colour the same as the background or placing it behind photos, menus and other widgets.  

3. User-Generated & Third-Party Spam 

If you run a forum on your site or allow guests to post, you may end up with a flood of spam, including irrelevant links that lead to poor-quality sites.  

4. Unnatural Links to and From Your Site 

If you’ve tried to establish domain authority by inorganically linking to and from countless websites, then you should know this is a surefire way to get a penalty.  

5. Keyword Stuffing 

This is the act of filling your on-page content, meta tags and alt text with keywords and ignoring the core message of the content. Generally, stuffed content won’t read naturally, making it easy to spot.  

How to Get Penalties Lifted 

It may seem like you’ve been blacklisted once you receive a google penalty, but fortunately, many of these actions can be reversed.  

First, you should audit your site for the common causes of penalties discussed above. Once you’ve gotten a handle on spam, removed any instances of hidden text, optimized your links and halted all potentially shady SEO practices, you can submit a reconsideration request to Google.  

Writing a convincing request is the best Google penalty fix. Document all the changes and improvements you’ve made to show Google that you run a high-quality and trustworthy site that has something of value to offer its users.  

Get Professional Help with SEO 

Whether you’ve been penalized or not, professional marketers can help you recover from lost traffic and amplify your site’s reach.  

When you work with a team of SEO experts, such as those at Web ROI, you can look forward to increased organic traffic, improved page rankings and an overall boost in business. Contact us today to find out how! 

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