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How to check if your site has been penalized by google

how to check if your site has been penalized by google

How to check if your site has been penalized by google

The first step you should take before even optimizing your website for Google is to check if your domain is penalized.

A website that is penalized by Google cannot achieve good rankings, so your priority is to find out what algorithmic changes are affecting your web property and create a recovery plan.

What are Google penalties?

Blogging novices and webmasters with no SEO experience hear the words panda, penguin, pigeon, hummingbird, and wonder why everyone online makes such a fuss about these animals.

The answer is quite simple, these are the names that Google (and the press) gave to the different changes that Google is making in its ranking algorithm.

Google officially stated that each year they are making hundreds of changes to their search algorithms to improve the quality of their search results.

Every time they make a change, there are winners and losers. This means that some websites are positively affected because they get better rankings (which means more organic traffic from Google), while other websites are losing traffic because their rankings dropped or lost altogether.

Why do you care?

It is well known that not much can be accomplished online without Google. Like it or not, Google is the best source of traffic, especially if you are looking for targeted traffic.

Putting your website in the top positions of Google produces a number of benefits that you cannot ignore.

So that's the first reason why you should be able to tell if Google's algorithms filter your website.

Another reason is that if you know from which Google update you are penalized, you can take corrective action so that the next time there is a change, you are out of the penalty (this is not easy but it happens if you make the effort).

Lastly, acknowledging Google penalties can answer the question "Why did I suddenly lose my traffic?" since if you apply a Google penalty, the changes in your traffic will be more than visible.

What is a Google penalty and how long does it last?

A Google penalty is simply the search engine's way of blocking certain websites that engage in tactics that go against its guidelines or don't meet certain criteria.

During the penalty phase, a website may see a large reduction in ranking position or an outright block in traffic, all because Google no longer shows it in rankings.

For a business that is getting fairly consistent traffic overall, the process can be absolutely detrimental to sales and lead generation, so it's important to try to avoid getting one at all costs.

The good news?

Most digital marketers who only engage in white hat tactics should never have to deal with a penalty from Google.

Only those who stray off course and get involved in things like sneaky redirects and undercover images are the ones who really have a reason to worry.

➤ For a list of known penalties, take a look at our black hat post.

So how long does a Google penalty last?

If you've been unlucky enough to get hit with one, you can expect it to take up to thirty days for a small infraction or longer for a major one.

But keep in mind: Google penalties expire on their own.

At that point, your website will be verified to make sure the issues have been fixed and the penalty removed. If not, you could face another.

How can you tell if Google penalizes your website?

Oftentimes, the only indicator you'll get that Google penalizes your website is a sudden, extreme drop in traffic.

This is usually the first noticeable issue you have a problem with, and it's worth checking out.

However, that's not the definitive answer as to how you know you've been penalized by Google.

Some marketers don't even realize there's a problem until they use a verification tool or notice a warning in their favorite analytics program.

To understand how Google issues penalties, it is important to realize that most are issued manually.

This means that a specific website is flagged for a problem and then a human verifier reviews the problem to determine if there really is a problem.

Thus, this double step into the land of lost traffic is usually something that happens over time.

If you just made a small mistake but corrected it right away, you shouldn't have a penalty problem.

What is the difference between an algorithm change and a penalty?

It is important to understand that there is a clear distinction between a universal Google algorithm change and a penalty.

An algorithm change (like BERT) is something that affects all websites, not just a few.

The algorithm changes are designed to improve search quality for the end-user, sometimes creating a drop in traffic for certain content.

A penalty is exactly what it sounds like: a penalty for engaging in specific activities that go against Google's rulebook.

Think of it as a waiting time to get traffic due to something you've done to your website, whether on purpose or not.

Again, fines are often issued manually, which means your website would have had the problem for an extended period.

Another way to know that you have a penalty?

Algorithm changes are widely publicized. A quick internet search will tell you if there has been a recent Google update, which seems to take place every few months.

If there is no coverage of this type of event, then it would be wise to start researching whether you actually have a penalty on your website.

How do you know if your website has been penalized by Google?

There are two ways to find out if your website was sanctioned by Google. The first is through the Google Search Console and the second is by looking at your Google Analytics traffic reports and comparing your traffic to the dates the Google update occurred.

Let's see how you can use both methods to track and identify Google penalties.

Step 1: sign in to Google Search Console

If you have not yet registered your website with Google Search Console, this is the time to do so.

Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools) is the means that Google uses to communicate with webmasters and inform them of potential problems their websites may have, and this also includes manual penalties.

Before showing where exactly you can find this in the Google Search Console tools, it is worth mentioning that there are 2 types of penalties and it is important to know their difference.

# 1-Manual Penalty: A human (probably from Google's quality team) imposed a penalty on his website. This can happen for various reasons and can affect the whole site, that is, affect the website in whole or part, that is, affect only some pages of your site.

When this is the case, Google will give you an indication of what the problem is along with a list of actions you can take to correct the problems. Once you make the necessary changes, you can submit a reconsideration request and they will tell you if the penalty has been removed or not.

# 2 - Algorithmic Penalty: This is the most common type and it is automatic. Algorithmic penalties are not reported to Google's search console tools and there is no option to complete a reconsideration request. The only way to identify if you were hit by an automatic penalty is to use the method described below.

Algorithmic penalties are the result of the continuous changes Google is making to its ranking algorithms (this is when the animal names mentioned above are gaining more importance for webmasters).

Going back to the example, you can log into Google Search Console to see if your website is subject to a manual penalty.


how to check if your site has been penalized by google

If you see the message “No issues detected”, then you are clean and you don’t have to take further actions; you need though to continue with the steps below to find out if you were impacted by an algorithmic penalty.

In case there is a manual penalty, you need to read to carefully read the message with the reasons, try to correct the problem, and then request a review of the site.

Step 2: log in to Google Analytics and check your Google traffic

The best way to check if your website was penalized by an automatic penalty is to log into Google Analytics and check your organic traffic from Google.

If you notice a drop in traffic during the dates that Google launched an algorithmic change, chances are it was affected and that is why your traffic dropped.

Select your website in the Google Analytics dashboard and then go to ACQUISITION> All traffic> Source / Medium.

From the list, select GOOGLE / ORGANIC. What you see now in the report is the number of visits you get from Google search.

Then select the reporting period in the upper right and go back as far as you can.

how to check if your site has been penalized by google

What you need to do now is compare the dates that you see a significant drop (or increase) in traffic with the dates that an update was released.

This handy guide from Moz shows all the dates in the last 16 years that Google made a change to its ranking algorithm.

Tip: You can also create annotations in the Google Analytics report to mark the dates a change was made in the same view as the report chart.
If you see a sudden drop in traffic on a date (or close to the dates) an update was released, look through the Moz report to see what kind of update it was and start reading about what you can do to recover.

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