Has your web site been hit with a Google penalty?
Have you lost a significant volume of site visits from Google, and you think your possibly already know it was because of a penalty? If so, what kind of penalty was it? Recovery from a Google penalty begins with understanding whether it was manual, algorithmic, a combination of those, or something else entirely.
Google Manual Penalties
The only way to know whether you’ve been hit by a manual penalty, or whether some other issue(s) might have caused your site traffic problems is to check Google Webmaster Tools to see if there are any site messages or manual actions (not all manual actions are listed in the site messages system!).
If you don’t have Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) set up on your site, and if a manual penalty was assessed, you won’t be notified of that action. So it’s critical to have GWT set up. Then, when you’re logged into the system, check both the “Site Messages” tab and then after that, drill down into “Search Traffic”, and in that section, click on the “Manual Actions” tab.
If a manual penalty has been assessed, information about that penalty will be listed in one of those two areas.
Algorithm Based Losses
SIDE NOTE: Some people argue losses due to changes in the Google algorithm are not penalties, but instead, they are an “adjustment”, or a “realignment”, etc…
As a site owner, if you took a major loss in your traffic from Google because of a change in their algorithm, it is, for all intents and purposes, a penalty. You’ve been penalized for doing things that Google finds unacceptable, or doesn’t meet their standards. So for the most part, I call it a penalty.
Unfortunately, even if you see a manual penalty notice, or a manual spam action notice, and even if you see a major drop in your organic search traffic from Google, the actual cause may not be easily identified. This is why it’s also important to look at other data points and understand the bigger picture.
In about 70% of the SEO audits I perform each year, sites that were hit by a manual penalty were also hit by an algorithmic loss. And of course, sometimes it’s just an algorithm based penalty.
All too often sites have so many problems site owners are not even aware of, that it’s not just a matter of addressing a single issue based on a single known penalty (manual or algorithmic).
Google is a vastly complex system of several algorithms split between two teams — the anti-spam team, and the search quality team.
Their system evaluates hundreds of primary and thousands of secondary factors in those algorithms. And more often than not, sites I audit tend to have a complex layering of issues, only some of which can reasonably associated with a specific algorithmic update such as Panda, Penguin, the Above the Fold algorithm, the Exact Match Domain algorithm, or any of several other highly targeted factors.
The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back
When a site has many problems across a wide array of separate algorithmically targeted considerations, that site is more likely to see an even bigger loss when a specific algorithmic hit happens. That hit is like the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was one too many problems for the site to be able to overcome.
So while there are some situations where focusing exclusively on just one aspect of SEO, a site may be able to rebound, that’s become the rare exception in recent years.
More often, the only way to ensure the most potential for a rebound, and to set your site up for a sustainability plateau, issues need to be worked on across the board.
Penalty Recovery Process
The only way to know if algorithmic issues are a factor, how many issues exist (regardless of whether they’re part of a specific Google update or not) is to look at your site’s traffic — isolating out just that traffic that comes from Google Organic Search Results. And that’s just the beginning of the process. Every aspect of a site’s presence needs to be checked.
- Information Architecture
- Crawl Efficiency
- Content Organization
- Over-Optimization Signals
- User Experience Factors
- Topical Refinement
This is why SEO is not so easy, and why so many sites run into so many problems. SEO is complex. It’s NOT rocket science, yet there’s a lot that needs to be considered, and understood from a higher level. When that happens, and when work is done correctly based on that evaluation, beautiful things can happen…
This is why I do SEO audits for a living. It’s only through a true digging in, diving down into the rabbit hole, and looking for all the big flaws and defects in a site’s presence, that you can really know what’s going on and how to resolve the problem(s).
So if you think or even if you know you’ve been hit by a Google Penalty, and if you want the best possible chance at recovery from that penalty, then you need someone who can provide you the right services. Once you’ve been hit, the last thing you need to do is spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on services that don’t even address the highest priority issues you’re facing.
With an audit, penalty recovery is more likely to take place, and with an audit and an accompanying action plan, you’re going to get actual, valid penalty recovery services instead of shiny object “sounds important” services.
This is why I recommend site owners get a real audit at a forensic level. Anything else is likely to be throwing darts at a wall while wearing a blindfold.
So if you want to dramatically increase the potential for your site to properly recover from a Google penalty, contact me today and let’s talk about how I can help…