Dealing with Google Penalties

Imagine waking up one day to find your site has vanished from the rankings.

The first sign is usually a drop off in traffic, leads and orders. If you rely on callers, the phone stops ringing. Then a quick search on Google shows your site is nowhere to be found for the key search phrases that his business depends on.

If this hasn’t happened to you yet, it probably will in some form. That’s why it’s wise to have a plan ready. Here’s your guide to dealing with Google penalties.

First Steps

The first point to realise is that something must have changed and disturbed the status quo. It could be at your site in the form of new content or links, or at the search engine in the form of an algorithm update or refresh. It’s important to realise that Google refreshes algorithms such as Panda on a monthly basis. Check Moz’s Algorithm Change History tool for details on any recent activity.

Before you search for the offending action, you should quickly check as to whether the phenomenon was caused by some technical issues. Some site architecture change could have block access to the Google crawlers for example.



Losing rankings is bad but Google has an even worse weapon against those who really displease it – de-indexing. As the name suggests, this involved removing your site from their index so that it never shows for any search query.

To find out if this has happened to you, go to Google and type in If you get the message “Your search – – did not match any documents”, then the worst has happened.


Action Steps

If you’re sure you’ve been hit with some form of penalty, first find out if it’s manual or algorithmic. A quick look in your Webmaster Tools will reveal if any manual action is to blame.

On Page

Run a tool such as Screaming Frog over your site to identify any technical issues and fix them. These can include duplicate pages, broken links and so on.

Another factor is duplicate content which the recent Panda 4 update focused on, and over-optimised text in which obvious keyphrases are repeated excessively.

Off Page

Spammy links and anchor text can be the culprits. In this case, you have a major job ahead. Identifying the offending links can be difficult and removing them a grind.

Once done, you face the long task of rebuilding authority with quality natural links. Time and resources are needed for a good job but there’s no alternative. However you’ll end up with a site to be proud of that should be immune to any future Google action.

To see how Smart SEO can help you get and keep high rankings, get in touch today for a free, no obligation, consultation.

About Nathanael Vanderkolk

Nathanael Vanderkolk is the Director of the Smart SEO Company, a SEO Agency in Sydney, Australia. Smart SEO Sydney has a keen awareness of the latest approaches to online marketing. Follow him on , Facebook and Twitter.
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