Google Penalties: What They Are and How to Recover

Google penalties are the punishments that the search engine imposes on websites that do not comply with its quality guidelines or that use illicit techniques to improve their positioning.

These penalties can negatively affect the organic traffic, visibility and reputation of a website, so it is important to know how to detect, prevent and solve them.

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What is a Google penalty?

A Google penalty is an action that the search engine takes to lower or eliminate from its search results web pages that it considers do not offer a good user experience, that have low quality content, that are spam or that violate any of the its rules. 

These standards are found in the Google webmaster user manual, which specifies the good practices that must be followed to create and maintain a website that is useful, relevant and secure for users.

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

Manual penalties are those applied by a Google employee after receiving a spam alert or report from a user or a detection system. These penalties are notified to the webmaster through the Search Console tool, indicating the reason and how to solve the problem.

Algorithmic penalties are those applied automatically by Google's own algorithm when it detects any irregularity on the website. These penalties are not communicated to the webmaster, making them more difficult to identify and correct.

How do I know if my website has been penalized by Google?

To know if your website has been penalized by Google, you must pay attention to metric analysis tools, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These tools allow you to monitor the performance of your website, the traffic it receives, the keywords for which it is positioned, the errors it presents, etc.

If you see a sudden and drastic drop in these metrics, it is possible that your website has been penalized by Google.

Additionally, you can use other external tools that help you detect possible penalties, such as Google Penalty Checker, which analyzes SEMrush traffic data and compares it with the dates of Google algorithm updates, to determine if your website has been affected. for some of them.

How to recover from a Google penalty?

To recover from a Google penalty, the first thing you need to do is identify the type and reason for the penalty. If it is a manual penalty, you must follow the instructions that Google gives you in Search Console to resolve the issue and request reconsideration.

If it is an algorithmic penalty, you must analyze your website and correct the aspects that may be causing the penalty, such as content, links, optimization, etc.

Here are some general tips to recover from the most common Google penalties:

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Content Penalty

If your website has been penalized for having low-quality, duplicate, hidden or over-optimized content, you must review and improve the content of your website, following these guidelines:

  • Remove or modify duplicate content, both internal and external, using tools such as Copyscape or Siteliner to detect it.
  • Create original, useful, relevant and valuable content for your audience, using natural language and avoiding keyword stuffing.
  • Review the external links you include in your content, making sure they are quality, related to the topic, and have the nofollow attribute if they are paid or sponsored.
  • Avoid hidden content, that is, content that is not shown to the user but is shown to the search engine, such as text with the same color as the background, that is hidden with CSS or that is inserted with JavaScript.
  • Use the appropriate HTML tags to structure your content, such as headings (h1, h2, h3...), lists, tables, etc.

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Link Penalty

If your website has been penalized for having an unnatural, poor quality, purchased or spam link profile, you should review and clean your link profile, following these steps:

  • Analyze the links that point to your website, using tools such as Ahrefs, Moz or Majestic, and evaluate their quality, relevance and authority.
  • Identify and eliminate toxic links, that is, those that come from low-quality, penalized, irrelevant, spam websites or that use black hat techniques.
  • Request the removal of links that you cannot remove on your own, by contacting the webmasters of the websites that generate them and asking them to remove them or add the nofollow attribute.
  • Use Google's link rejection tool to indicate to the search engine the links that you do not want it to take into account when evaluating your website.
  • Create and obtain quality links, in a natural and organic way, offering valuable content, establishing relationships with other websites in your sector, participating in forums, blogs and social networks, etc.

Optimization Penalty

If your website has been penalized for being over-optimized, that is, for using excessive or artificial techniques to improve its positioning, you must moderate and balance your optimization, taking these aspects into account:

  • Avoid keyword stuffing, that is, the excessive and forced use of keywords in the content, titles, meta tags, links, etc.
  • Use keywords in a natural and varied way, including synonyms, related terms and long tail, that is, more specific and less competitive phrases.
  • Optimize the technical SEO of your website, improving loading speed, navigability, usability, adaptability to mobile devices, security, etc.
  • Optimize the semantic SEO of your website, using natural language, structured data markup, rich content, etc.

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How to prevent Google penalties?

To prevent penalties from Google, the most important thing is to follow the quality guidelines established by the search engine and avoid practices that could harm the user experience or the relevance of your website. Additionally, we recommend that you:

  • Stay up to date with Google algorithm updates, which occur frequently and may change positioning and penalty criteria.
  • Monitor the performance of your website, using the metric analysis tools that we have mentioned, and correct any errors or problems you detect.
  • Carry out periodic SEO audits, which allow you to evaluate the state of your website and apply the necessary improvements to optimize it.
  • You generate quality content that is original, useful, relevant and of value to your audience, and that you update and renew it regularly.
  • Build a natural, quality link profile that reflects the authority and trust of your website, and avoid artificial or low-quality links.
  • Optimize your website in a moderate and balanced way, using keywords in a natural and varied way, and improving the technical and semantic SEO of your website.

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What are the benefits of avoiding Google penalties?

Avoiding Google penalties has many benefits for your website and your business, such as:

  • Improve your positioning in search results, which will allow you to increase your visibility and organic traffic.
  • Improve your online reputation, which will allow you to generate trust and credibility among users and potential clients.
  • Increase your loyalty, which will allow you to create a lasting and satisfactory relationship with your current and recurring customers.
  • Increase your profitability, which will allow you to obtain more income and benefits from your online activity.

Written by Moises Hamui Abadi : I am an entrepreneur, founding partner of Viceversa and SoyMacho. After leading several digital businesses and advising several other businesses; I decided to form MHA Consulting, a digital marketing consultancy dedicated to growing and enhancing digital businesses in more than 7 countries and generating more than 1,500 million pesos.

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