Have you noticed a sudden drop in your website traffic, lead by drop in website ranking too? If yes then, there’s high possibility that your site is penalised by Google. Google has its own algorithm and guidelines that every marketer, seo or site owner needs to follow. For online businesses, getting search engine traffic is at high priority
The most frustrating moment of any digital marketer is getting his/her site penalised by Google. If you are a digital marketer, this is one of scariest time you have to face. And, if you are worried about how you can recover from a Google penalty, this post will cover everything you need to know.
If you have ever been involved in an SEO agency, you probably have faced this situation before. And probably know the trouble behind it. So, without making it a fuss, lets break down into the meat.
What is Google Penalty?
In 2010, Google started an ongoing war to kill all the spam going around the web. Whether it’s related keyword stuffing or link spam, Google has deemed a penalty for every spammy activity. Named after animals, Panda and Penguin are considered as two most destructive weapon of Google arsenal. Any SEO or webmaster that has been in the web field for over 5 years, understand the risk of flirting with these two wicked animals.
Usually the updates happen once in a year. The last penguin update was in 2014, where it impacted 1% of search results in the SERPs. Just recently, Google integrated one of its animals (penguin) in real time. So, from now on, any site that was affected by Penguin doesn’t have to wait a whole year. Every time Google recrawls the web, it counts the link and adds value to it, making everything quick and easy.
How to know if your site is penalised by Google?
Usually, when a site is struck by Google’s penalty, it sends a message to the search console. A message will be similar to this right here:
However, as the recent penguin update rolled out, it’s certain that Google wont’ send any manual action messages.
So, the easiest way to check if the site has been penalized is to check the organic traffic flow in Google Analytics.
This is most common traffic drop off for panda/penguin attack.
This is the most intimidating part of any SEO. One site is generating 10k a month and Bam!! The G’s bomb explodes. The site that had been paying bills is no longer in 1-5 pages at all. Yes, this can be really scary. However, it’s not the end of the world. With right measures, anyone can get out the temporary jail Google puts your site into.
So, let’s dive into the recovery process.
The Recovery Process
The first part of the system begins with finding out the root cause behind the penalty. You need to find out if it’s the panda that has caused the drop or is it the Penguin. If it’s Panda, the process is really straight forward.
Just remove the duplicate content or thin content and add a good chunk of original content. Don’t change the URL of the duplicate page. Just pour down original content by removing the duplicate stuffs, and you are set to go. If this doesn’t move a needle, make a new page with your targeted keyword of duplicate page. Fill it with good quality content. And, 301 redirect the duplicate content to new page.
Now, when it comes to penguin, the process isn’t as easy as Panda. However, there are few methods that have a high success rate.
Find the Bad links
First thing you need to do after a penalty is log in to search console account. In Search traffic tab, click links to your site.
In the right hand side, there will be who links the most section. Underneath that section you will find a More>> button. Click it and you will get something like this:
This is the part where you have to be on your toes. There is an equal chance that a good link is deleted by assuming that it’s the bad link.
At first, you need to categorise dofollow and nofollow links. Google completely ignores nofollow links so there isn’t any point running after it. The main concern is the links that pass juice.
So, tap into ahrefs. Click backlinks. And categorise the links to only do follow.
Now go one by one by putting referring domains in the site explorer. Check their link profile. If the website seems to have more than 100 external links from the page you are getting link, that’s one red signal. Another one is the spammy anchor text manipulation. If a site is getting link from irrelevant sources, you should avoid that website too.
Make sure you have a clean anchor text
Have you ever thought how Google finds out if you are trying to manipulate the search rank? Anchor text. Always dilute your anchor text. Never use the same anchor over and over again. In ahrefs, you can see your anchor text ratio. To be in a safe zone, your exact match anchor text should be within 1-3% max.
Let’s take an example: If your site target keyword is painters in Miami. You should keep the percentage of this term down to 3%. Instead, optimise the same keyword with LSI like professional painters Miami, painting services Miami etc.
Remove the low quality links
There are two actual ways of removing the low quality links. Either email the person handling the site (it can be you if you have low quality PBNs), or use the lethal weapon of Google – Disavow.
As a Google recommendation, you should try to put some efforts on removing the bad links. How can you do that?
You need to reach out to the webmaster of the website owner and let him/her know about the removal request. Always be polite and keep everything short. If you are using your own PBNs, simply remove them.
If they don’t respond, move on to next. Remember, Disavow should be the last stop for your solutions. However, most webmasters use disavow directly to good effect.
Go directly to this tool right here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main
You will get something like this:
Click Disavow links. You need to upload a file in text format. And let Google do the processing.
After everything is done, send a reconsideration request. It usually takes from 3-5 weeks to process the data. Then, you can see a gradual improvement after a month.
Double 301 method
This is one of the trickiest methods and effective one if the above process doesn’t get the penalty uplifted. This is a tested and proven process that can get your website ranked again, if the random ranking factor doesn’t come into play.
So, what is this double 301? And how does it work?
It’s really simply actually.
All you have to do buy a domain name that’s relevant and somewhat close to your penalized domain name.
For example: If your penalized site is raiserblade.com. Register something like hqraiserblade.com. Now, clone everything from your penalised website to this new domain. This will be the domain that gets double 301.
Then, Register another domain similar to raiserblade.com like findraiserblade.com. (This will act as middleman)
Now, you need to 301 redirect the penalised domain to the middleman (raiserblade.com>findraiserblade.com)
And, finally 301 redirect middleman to the new cloned website. (findraiserblade.com> hqraiserblade.com)
Whether you build your own links to manipulate search rankings, or someone did negative SEO on your site, these two legit processes can help you get out of Google’s misery. It’s just a matter of finding out the root links that is influencing the penalty. Then, you can follow the above steps and enjoy the rankings again.