SEO Tips: What to Do if Your Website is Penalized by Google

The organic traffic your website gets from Google is essential for your business. Achieving high rankings in Google isn’t easy, it takes a lot of hard work, time and resources. Think about waking up one day to realize that all your SEO efforts have disappeared instantly because your site was penalized by Google. It’s scary to think that you can go from receiving thousands of visits to your website and have them all virtually removed instantly.

Penalties are nothing new for websites, but with recent updates to Google, they can happen to even the most ethically run website. Google has estimated that the search engine hands out over 400,000 manual penalties on a monthly basis. With that amount of penalties, it’s easy to see how they can happen.

Having your website penalized is not the end of the world (especially if it never happened before), there some things you can do to regain your lost SEO ranking, traffic and leads.

The first thing you need to do when you think your site has been penalized by Google is to confirm it. Log into your Google Webmaster Tools account and check to see if there are any new notifications on your account. This can be an easy way to see what’s happening to your website. You’re not out of the water just because there are no errors listed on your Google Webmaster Tools account, you just may need to spend some more time and dig further. One of the most common ways website owners get punished is by unknowingly having malicious websites link back to their sites, Google Webmaster Tools should alert you to this issue.

There are some common signs that a website has been penalized by Google including:

  • A noticeable decrease in traffic to individual pages
  • An entire website disappears from Google search results
  • A big overall drop off in traffic across the website
  • Less traffic coming through for specific organic keyword searches
  • A significant number of web pages disappearing from Google search

As a website owner, it’s important that you pay attention to your Google Analytics. Not only will Analytics keep you up-to-date on how people are interacting with your website, it will let you know if there are any sudden traffic drops happening. A sudden drop in your website traffic can be a sign that your site has been penalized by Google, other common reasons include an issue with your web server, your web pages being blocked from Google, poorly set up redirects and various other factors can instantly make your traffic drop off. Seasonal decreases in online traffic could also be a factor, cross reference your current traffic to historical data to identify seasonality. Take a look at your organic traffic, if you find that you’re drop off in traffic is happening exclusively to organic Google traffic you’ll want to do some digging around and see if your website is being penalized.

Google is arguably the biggest tech company on the planet and there are 3.5 billion searches on the site every day. Search is their bread and butter and they are always trying to improve it. Google is known for constantly trying out different updates to their algorithm to produce more relevant search results for their audience, that’s why they have been so successful over the years. These Google updates can affect your website traffic and in some cases, they can cause your site to be flagged and penalized. The quickest way to have a penalty removed is to ensure your website meets all of Google’s requirements. The tech giant does a great job at posting their website policy updates to their website, every update is given ahead of time for the public to understand and make revisions when needed. It’s not uncommon for a website to lose traffic and ranking after the release of a major update to Google search algorithm. Sometimes this decrease in traffic is temporary and the site will regain its ranking after a few days. An update can be good news, with an instant and long-term increase in organic Google traffic. If your website doesn’t rebound from a sudden decrease in ranking after a few days you’ll want to see if your site is being penalized.

If you’ve been working with an SEO consulting agency, you’ll want to ask some hard questions if your site’s been penalized by Google. If an SEO marketing firm promises you instant rankings in Google, you should run away. There are no secret recipes for achieving SEO success, and many of the firms guaranteeing instant results are probably doing something wrong. Common SEO cheats including mass link buying and cloaking may give you a short boost in ranking, but they will put you in Google’s penalty box quickly. Sustainable SEO gains happen with hard work and a strong Internet marketing strategy focused writing informative and keyword-driven content, clean and fast design, user-friendly navigation, great mobile functionality and various other factors. If you find that you’re website has been utilizing shady SEO strategies you’ll want to remove the offending elements right away and resubmit your website to Google.

A good reputation can go a long way on the Internet. If your website has been penalized for the first time you’ll have an easier time regaining your rankings than a site on their second or third offence. Having a website that’s been on the Internet for a long time will also help when appealing to Google to remove penalties. Google will probably go easier on you if you have a track record of running a clean and informative website.

Once you’ve made sure your website is compliant again you’ll want to submit a re-inclusion request. You can also follow Google on social media and send your request via Twitter. It’s important to be honest¬†and to let Google’s team know what happened, how you fixed the problem, and how you can assure them the issue won’t happen again. You’re not going to fool them, Google is probably already well aware of how your website broke their rules, so full disclosure is your best path.

Some websites will never completely¬†recover after being penalized by Google, especially after more than one offence. If Google’s spam team denies you re-inclusion requests it may be time to raise the white flag and start again with a new domain with fresh content. It’s not an ideal solution, but it could be the only option you have.

Following the rules and working with a reputable Toronto SEO agency is the best way to not receive penalties from Google. Avoid having your blood pressure shoot through the roof and stay in Google’s good books. At Insiteful Solutions, we only give our clients ethical and sustainable SEO advice. You care about your brand’s reputation and we wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize it.

Websites are penalized by Google every day and it really can happen to anyone. Need some help getting your website clean and included in Google search again? Our team of experienced SEO experts and website designers will make sure your website is compliant with Google’s rules and regulations and get you ranking again. We can even walk you through the Google re-inclusion process. Contact us today to learn more about our Toronto SEO services.