How to Know if You’ve Been Penalized by Google
Have I Been Penalized by Google?
Google Panda, a Google update which is related to the quality of a website’s content, has been updated over 25 times since February 23, 2011 when the first Panda update was launched.
Google Penguin, a Google update which focuses on a website’s link profile and how many quality, relevant backlinks are coming from other websites, has been updated twice but with extremely major ramifications to a number of websites.
And there are a number of other Google updates which have launched over the past 2 years which have either positively or negatively affected webmasters, depending on individual situations and who is working on your website on a regular basis.
So the question remains- how do you know if you’ve been penalized by Google?
One way to figure out if you’ve been penalized by Google is to look at drop-off dates in your organic search traffic by using Google Analytics, and then corresponding those dates with Moz’ Google algorithm change document which shows the dates when each Google penalty/update was launched.
Another way is to use the Panguin tool to see if you’ve been penalized by a recent or past Google update.
We’ve recently been using another tool, Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool, which is a free tool that will access your Google Analytics and assess a probability of whether or not your website has been positively or negatively affected by past Google penalties, so that you have a better idea on what to focus on. They also give a brief explanation of what each Google Update focused on, which you can also correspond with Moz’s document for more detailed info on what each Penguin or Panda penalty focused on.
Here are a couple of screenshots of the Google Penalty Checker Tool:
I’ve Been Hit With a Google Panda Penalty
If you’ve been hit with a Google Panda update, then you probably want to take a good long look at your website’s content. Most Panda updates focus on the quality of a website’s content, so be sure to check your website for misspellings, broken links, and duplicate content.
Once you’re sure that your website doesn’t include any grammatical errors, duplicate content from other websites, or broken links, then you can focus on making tweaks to your website’s existing content. To do this, download the Screaming Frog SEO Spider, crawl your entire site, export the results to an Excel Spreadsheet, sort by page size, and start with some of the smaller or shorter pages that are indexed on your website. If you have some pages that are only a few sentences which you an condense into one main page, I would recommend doing so. If you can eliminate some shorter pages that are no longer relevant, or set some short/non-relevant pages to be set as noindex so that they’re not crawled by Google or any of the other search engines, you can do so but be sure to 301 redirect any pages that you delete to either the home page or to another internal page so that you eliminate any possibilities of future crawl errors. You can also bulk up some of your pages by adding more content, images, or videos. And remember, if you have a bunch of videos laying around, you can always have these transcribed so that you have more content on your website. Fiverr is a good place to look for video transcribers.
I’ve Been Hit With a Google Penguin Penalty
If you’ve been hit with a Google Penguin penalty, then chances are that you have something wrong with your website’s inbound link profile.
Use a free tool such as Open Site Explorer or AHREFS and get a better feel for what website link to your website, and identify any websites that link to you which are not relevant or seem like lower quality links. Also be sure to download your links from Google’s Webmaster Tools to get a better feel for which links Google counts for your website’s search engine rankings. We’ll have a more in-depth guide of what to look for when removing or disavowing potentially harmful links in the near future, or you can refer to our Google Penguin 2.0 Recovery Guide for more information on how to recover from a Google Penguin 2.0 penalty.