Does my Website Have a Google Penalty?

Google Penalty - Panda and Penguin If you are dis­ap­poin­ted by the per­form­ance of your web­site in an online search then one of the first ques­tions you need to ask is: Does my web­site have a Google penalty?

Much is writ­ten about Google pen­al­ties, the dif­fer­ent types, names and dates, and how to recover from them. It is a con­fus­ing and ever chan­ging story. I want to give a brief simple guide to help you determ­ine if your site is being affected by a Google penalty.

How To Detect a Google Penalty

Have you had a noti­fic­a­tion in Google Web­mas­ter Tools?

If Google has (manu­ally) pen­al­ised your site you will receive a noti­fic­a­tion in your Google Web­mas­ter Tools (GWT) account. This is usu­ally for lar­ger more ser­i­ous offend­ers who are already well aware that they are not entirely innocent.

Is your site in Google’s index?

If your site has been removed from Google’s index you are likely to know about it and be well aware that you have a prob­lem but it is the next thing to check. Go to Google and type in This will give a list of all the pages on that domain in Google’s index. If your site has very few or no pages in Google’s index then you need to invest­ig­ate — it may indic­ate a penalty.

Have the num­bers of vis­it­ors find­ing your site in a web search dropped dramatically?

Look in your ana­lyt­ics at a graph of organic search vis­it­ors over the last year. (In Google ana­lyt­ics go to Acquis­i­tion, select All Traffic then select source google/​organic). In some situ­ations you will see a sharp drop-​off — that’s a pretty good indic­ator of a pos­sible pen­alty and you can check if that is asso­ci­ated with Google rolling out another update. Often the decline will not be clearly asso­ci­ated with a spe­cific date but gradual, hid­den in the noise of nor­mal fluc­tu­ations over Christ­mas or sum­mer – you may still have a penalty.

Is your site hit by a Google Pen­alty but per­form­ing well in a Bing web search?

Google and Bing do the same thing but in dif­fer­ent ways using dif­fer­ent algorithms. Often a keyword will be on page one with one and not in the top 50 with the other. Hav­ing said that in many cases care­ful com­par­ison of your sites per­form­ance in the dif­fer­ent search engines can give evid­ence that your site is being pen­al­ised by Google. I would recom­mend ana­lys­ing your rank­ings for at least 50 keywords and com­par­ing your site to other tech­nic­ally sim­ilar sites as there are many other factors that affect rank­ing dif­fer­ently in Bing and Google. This can be com­plex. We are happy to include this as part of a web­site audit to help you asses your site fully.

Identifying a Google Penalty Graph of Search engine ranking results Bing vs Google

Has your site got an unnat­ural back­link profile?

Large num­bers of back­links gathered in a short space of time, with the same anchor text or from low qual­ity sites are all con­sidered by Google as evid­ence of an unnat­ural link­ing pro­file and this may res­ult in a pen­alty. Again this can be time con­sum­ing and com­plex to asses but can be included as part of an audit.

As out­lined by Colin’s pre­vi­ous post bet­ter search rank­ings is only a means to an end and should not be the sole tar­get for a mar­ket­ing cam­paign, but it is not some­thing to over­look. You do not want to miss the oppor­tun­ity to attract new vis­it­ors to your web­site at just the moment when they are search­ing for your ser­vices. Often if you are frus­trated by declin­ing rank­ings mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als will be quick to recom­mend invest­ing in a web­site redesign, more con­tent or link build­ing. Any com­pany that has been work­ing on your web­site for some time will prob­ably not want to raise the pos­sib­il­ity that your site is being pen­al­ised by Google. My research and exper­i­ence in this area has con­vinced me that many web­sites whilst not ser­i­ously pen­al­ised are sig­ni­fic­antly under per­form­ing in Google search res­ults due to algorithmic pen­al­ties that they may not be aware of and are not easy to detect. I value your com­ments and feed­back on this topic.

I hope this post has been inform­at­ive and help­ful. If you sus­pect your site is under per­form­ing or being pen­al­ised in Google search res­ults and want a clearer answer prior to decid­ing whether to invest in a new site, SEO or domain recov­ery activ­ity please do not hes­it­ate to con­tact us and we will be happy to dis­cuss this further.

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