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Website Penalty? How to Diagnose and Fix a Google Penalty

22 Feb SEO | 8 comments

Website Penalty? Steps to Diagnose and Fix a Google Penalty

One of the most devastating things that can happen to a small business – especially a business that generates leads and business through the internet – is a Google penalty.
A Google Penalty is often difficult to diagnose and fix, especially if you have recently made multiple changes prior to the suspected website penalty, such as a complete redesign or if you are not completely aware of what your SEO company is doing.  I’ll provide you with some practical advice on how to diagnose and fix a Google Penalty.

What Was Done Before Your Website Rankings Dropped?

I suggest you apply the scientific method of eliminating variables here as well as ask yourself some honest questions. Let’s presume your website previously ranked well in Google for select keyword searches, and now it doesn’t – ask yourself this:

  • Did your website really deserve to rank for those terms?
  • Have you, your web design firm or your SEO firm recently made changes to your website?
  • Where does your website rank for a Google search of How about
  • What do you see in your Google Webmaster Tools account?
  • Has your organic search traffic dropped on all search engines or just Google?
  • Do you buy or sell links (or both)?
  • Do you run an affiliate program?

Review and understand exactly what has been done to your website prior to the suspected Google penalty.

Google Penalty or Search Engine Algorithm Change?

Sometimes your website may lose it’s rankings because of an algorithm change. OK – sometimes Google makes a change to it’s algorithm and that can impact your website, the rules do change and that’s a good reason to diversify your small business’ marketing exposure, as well as hiring an SEO firm that stays on top of this activity. Sometimes this happens for other reasons, for example new websites that rely on rankings because of keywords in the url.
In my experience, sudden dramatic drops in small business website rankings are not algorithm changes, but it’s possible.

Fixing a Google Penalty

Here are some of the things I recommend you consider to diagnose and fix a Google penalty:

  1. Check your website for Malware and Viruses (every directory, every file, every line of code – start with .htaccess and your web logs.
  2. Look at your links – use Xenu or a similar product, a bad link profile can crush a website.
  3. On page content – could you be keyword spamming? Using excessive anchor text? Loading your footer with keywords and links?
  4. Consider a reconsideration request with Google as a last resort.

Resources for Fixing a Google Penalty

Having seen this with several clients, I understand the frustration and real revenue consequences that come from a penalized website. I recommend the follow websites as resources as well as for more tips on diagnosing and fixing a Google penalty:

If you suspect you have experienced a website penalty, I recommend you either plan on spending a lot of time analyzing exactly what changes potentially triggered the change or hire a professional, qualified SEO company. In order to properly diagnose and fix a Google penalty it is critical to understand what caused it.  More important is fixing the penalty, and restoring your business’ website traffic.

  1. eBook Reader03-28-10

    I am glad that I found this information. I am the type of person that loves to be inspired. Whether it be with regards to home life or business. This blog has some great posts and your posts inspire me to be productive and has given me ideas to move forward.

  2. Andrew A. Sailer04-12-10

    Thanks for the great post. I always try to save concrete or construction related posts like this one.

  3. Melvin Petrizzo07-01-10

    Interesting post , I also found another related article in other blog about latest SEO news – Yahoo publishes online style guide as printed book gives SEO advice

  4. Lorette Helms11-21-10

    Sometimes, I wonder if google’s website penalty is justifiable and fair. They should at least send the owner a notice to justify their action. How can the owner fix the problem if they are not even aware of it?

  5. Law Firm Websites04-26-11

    Yea, just redesigned my site and it took a nice hit. Not sure if there’s a redesign penalty or what. But by the next day all my keywords almost disappeared from the first page =/

    • Marketing Practicality04-26-11

      Hi Law Firm Websites,
      I just looked at your site – I like the design, nice job!
      Looks like you have a Design/SEO company…
      There is no “redesign penalty” per se – but it is important to make sure you’ve have taken the necessary steps (redirects if old urls are now changed, etc.)
      Why don’t you give me a call or send me an email?

  6. ady12-17-13

    thank’s for information….mybe this information can help recover my site from google penalty

  7. RKINFO05-20-14

    Google gives you an answer even automatically by webmasters center on whether the site was decriminalized?

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