What exactly is a Google penalty? Google has Webmaster guidelines which in effect, are their terms and conditions and if they find the site which are engaging practices against these guidelines, then Google will apply penalties to that web page or site. A Google penalty a result in a drop rankings for a particular keyword, for a specific page or every page on the site. As every drop rank will lead a decline in traffic, it is best to avoid Google penalties at all costs. Google penalties can be manual or algorithm based.
A manual penalty happens when a human reviewer reports that the pages on your site compliant with Google’s quality guidelines. When a reviewer flags a site, as having broken Google’s quality guidelines, the site can be devoted or even removed from Google’s index. If there is a manual penalty applied, you will be notified by email and in the Google search console. There are also penalties applied automatically by Google’s algorithm.
The main algorithm penalties over the last few years have been Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon.
Google Panda: this targets pages and sites with low-quality content. Sites that have thin content and content farms are also on Google’s radar. If your site gets hit by the Panda penalty, it will see a marked decrease in rankings, regardless of the number of backlinks it has going for it.
Google Penguin: this targets sites, which Google deems to be spamming the search results. Sites are buying or renting links, using link farms, or otherwise using links designed to manipulate the Google rankings.
Google Hummingbird: The Hummingbird is not a penalty, but it does affect ranking as it looks as each word in the search query and returns results based on that.
Google Pigeon: This update is not a penalty either, but this gives prominence to useful, relevant, accurate local search above more generic searches.
It is important to be aware of these Google penalties and updates so that you can provide drops in the search engine results and fact, jump ahead of the competition by adhering to Google’s quality guidelines.
If you are already have suffered a drop in rankings for a keyword, for a page or an entire website, you will want to find out how to recover from these penalties. If you get a manual penalty, you should:
- Stop what you have been doing.
- Download all backlinks going to your site.
- Identify any spamming links.
- Identify keyword stuff anchor text.
- Create a list of all your bad links.
- Request Webmasters to remove all these bad links.
- Identify all removed links.
- Disavow any remaining bad links.
- Request reconsideration by Google.
For more information on recovering from a manual penalty, check out this article
The process for recovering from an algorithm is similar. Fix your content and links that got you into trouble, and your site should retrieve the rank it had.
Black hat and grey hat SEO techniques will get your site into trouble, so it is better to keep away from anything that promises quick rankings. It is much better to hire a competent SEO professional who will achieve good rankings and keep within the Google Webmaster quality guidelines.