Have you ever thought about why your website ranking is gradually dropping? You spend thousands on advertising, but nothing improves the ranking. It may sound scary, but it’s possible that your website might be panelized. Google has a strict set of rules and regulations, ensuring that every creator provides content to the audience that doesn’t harm them.
If any website fails to abide by these rules and its content doesn’t align with Google policies, it can get blacklisted. Google penalties are similar to punishments in sports.
When an athlete breaks the law, they have to face the consequences. Likewise, any business or individual running a website must follow these policies. They can impact a website’s performance, but most people don’t know about them.
I have run over hundreds of websites and seen how it looks and how you can trace it. Read on to learn the most common Google penalties you must know.
What Is A Google Penalty?
A Google penalty is a negative impact on a website’s search engine rankings caused by Google’s algorithms or manual actions taken by Google’s search quality team.
A penalty is usually imposed because a website violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which set the rules for creating and maintaining websites that offer a positive user experience and follow ethical SEO practices.
But you might wonder what this penalty can cause.
In simple terms, it can cause a significant decrease in your search engine rankings and a loss in organic search traffic.
But it’s important to know that sometimes due to Google’s algorithmic updates, your website may face these negative effects. So, in that case, your website isn’t facing any penalty. With proper SEO and updating your content, you can increase your website ranking again.
Types of Google Penalties
If your website has no technical issues, high-quality backlinks, and content. But still, your ranking is still decreasing, and there is a high chance your website has faced a penalty. If you go through Google documentation, you will notice that they don’t mention the word penalty directly. Instead, they use two terms;
- Manual actions
- Algorithmic actions
Depending on the scope of impact, Google penalties are majorly split into two types.
- Downranking: In these penalties ranking of websites starts to drop and the search algorithm does not favor them. It eventually affects all the pages, and website traffic also reduces.
- Delisting: The URLs of websites are entirely removed from the Google index. You can check it by searching the URL but your URL will not show up in search results.
Google employees give these penalties. But you may wonder why you are getting these penalties. Basically, you will get a penalty whenever they notice that your website is going against Google’s Terms of Service. It can consist of cloaking, getting links with money, or spammy redirects.
If you receive a manual penalty, you should appeal to Google. Google will review your website and decide whether your website will reindex or not.
There is no manual thing involved in this case. Everything is being done automatically, and they are due to algorithm changes. These changes support websites with high-quality content, and websites with weaker content fail to keep up with their position in search engines.
These penalties include thin content, usage of excessive keywords, duplicate content, and much more. Due to this penalty, your website ranks in search, but probably much lower that no one would find it.
Difference Between Manual & Algorithm Penalty
Both penalties are different from each other. Let’s examine some primary differences because these penalties greatly affect your website performance. It will also help you look deeper into how it impacts your website.
|Manual Penalties||Algorithmic Penalties|
|Trigger||Triggered by a human reviewer at Google after a manual review.||Triggered by algorithms such as Panda, Penguin, etc.|
|Timing||Imposed after a review process, can take time to lift.||Can be lifted automatically after the issue is fixed.|
|Reconsideration||You can submit a request review after fixing the issues.||Not applicable since they are lifted automatically.|
|Scope||It can impact an entire site or specific pages.||It can impact specific pages or sections of a site.|
|Severity||Range from a slight ranking drop to complete deindexing.||Range from a slight ranking drop to significant visibility reduction.|
|Examples||Unnatural links, thin content, spam, cloaking, manual spam action detected, and AMP content mismatch.||Keyword stuffing, content scraping, doorway pages.|
Things That Can Get Your Website A Penalty
After reviewing some case studies, I have noticed the factors that can get your website punished by Google. You will be surprised to know that these seemingly small mistakes can hurt your website incredibly.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid. You can check and analyze if you are also at risk of these penalties. Read this until the end to ensure you don’t end up on the radar of Google penalties.
1. Stop Stuffing Keywords In Content
Yes, Many people still believe that stuffing content with keywords will help them rank in SERPs which is completely false. It is on the list of bad SEO practices that will only hurt your website’s ranking. It’s a black hat SEO tactic.
But how can you check whether your website has stuffed keywords?
It’s simple. Stuffed keywords appear so unnaturally in the content, often lacking context. It is also a negative SEO ranking factor and you should avoid implementing it.
Keyword stuffing is often combined with deceptive SEO techniques such as cloaking, duplicating, or spinning content. Once they are implemented together, the chances of penalty increase.
2. Thin Content Is Your Biggest Enemy
According to a report, around 30 to 50 billion web pages are indexed on Google. Among these websites, you have to stand out.
And how can you make that possible?
By creating informative, educational, and valuable content, you can grab your audience’s attention. On the other hand, thin content provides no value to users.
But don’t worry one or two poor-quality pages will not put you at risk of penalty from Google. Because achieving perfection is not easy. But if all the pages of websites are poor-quality and contain thin content, then the algorithm will badly affect the website.
However, you might wonder what can be the reason behind thin content.
Site content can be low quality if you excessively use AI-generated content without adding a human touch. If you have an e-commerce website, then to increase credibility, you have to add product descriptions that will make you more trustworthy. Likewise, affiliate and blog websites can also have thin content if their E-E-A-T is not strong enough.
3. Your Affiliate Website Is Not Original
Affiliate websites are increasing gradually. But despite that only a few get successful, do you know what the major problem is due to which many affiliate websites get penalty notices?
It’s their lack of originality and relevant content. I’ve noticed that most of the affiliate websites are copies of merchant websites. They provide no value to users, which also increases the bounce rate of websites. When search engines detect websites with the same template or are not customized to provide a better user experience, ranking gradually decreases. They ultimately get the content penalty.
4. Audience Wants New & Engaging Content
We all know Google highly dislikes that duplicate content. But you will be surprised that the penalty for duplicate content differs from how you think it is.
But why is duplicate content a problem? What’s the harm in copy-pasting content?
The problem with it is that you are wasting your website crawl budget. When search engine bots come across your website, they will get confused. Because they don’t know which URL they should present to the user.
Let’s suppose Google shows this type of content to users. What will happen next?
Users will not find answers to their queries because the bot will show unnecessary pages. Your website visitor will get upset, and the bounce rate will increase. Ultimately your website ranking and traffic will start going down.
With external duplication, things are quite simple. Google will penalize websites that contain unoriginal content. If you don’t want to suffer from any of this, then watch out for websites that are copying your website design or content.
5. Spammy Auto-generated Content
Many people get confused about spammy auto-generated content. But let me explain it to you in simple terms. It is the content that is produced programmatically and doesn’t provide any value to the reader. This type of content is just for the sake of manipulating search rankings. That’s why in past years, Google has made a lot of rules to remove this spam from SERPs.
Here are some examples of spammy auto-generated content. Let’s see if you are making any of these;
- Gibberish content in which target keywords are excessively used to increase ranking
- Text generated from AI tools with zero optimization
- The article generated from the rewrite or paraphrase tool
- Adding content from different web pages and combining it to create a single piece of content for your website
- Text generated only for ranking in search results and has no meaningful insights or information
However, after chatGPT-3 technology, AI content creation has taken a very interesting twist. It can create engaging and professional blogs, posts, landing pages, and content.
But what’s the problem, then?
The problem is that people copy and paste content from AI tools to their websites. AI tools have limited knowledge, so you have to fact-check and give your content a human touch. In short, you need to learn how to use AI tools for your website without falling under the criteria of spammy auto-generated content.
6. User-generated spam
It appears under the comment section of your blog post, forums, and even your social media accounts. The main purpose of these comments is to acquire SEO backlinks and automatic tools are often used to generate them.
User-generated spam can damage the ranking of websites. Often these comments are irrelevant to the content. When Google detects this spammy behavior of users it gives your site a penalty.
7. Doorways Which Redirect To Other Sites
They are also known as jump and bridge pages. It is a spamdexing technique. The intermediate pages of the website are generally ranked for similar search queries. But they are not as helpful as the final destination. These doors take up a lot of SERP space and funnel users to a website.
The doorways meet these criteria. Which are extremely harmful;
- Many domains and web pages rank with the help of unoriginal, duplicated, and AI-generated content.
- The page provides little to no value to the visitors and acts as a bridge to direct the user to another website.
- The website aims to rank in search engines, so the user experience is terrible.
Doorways give a bad user experience. They mislead users and even search engines. That’s why whenever Google spots these pages, it immediately gives them a Google penalty.
It is also a black-hat SEO technique and is widely used by people. The users will see different content on one page. Simply put, the specific page ranks for different keywords with less competition. But when a visitor opens the page content will be completely irrelevant.
Let me share an old-school cloaking method with you which might surprise you.
Many websites used to hide keywords and spam links on their pages using different design elements such as color, size, styles, etc.
Another advanced form of cloaking is when more sophisticated methods are also implemented. They identified users based on IP address, referrer, etc, and showed them the page. But after the detection of Googlebot, they showed it a completely different version from what they showed to humans.
Cloaking violates Google Webmasters Guidelines, and if you want to save your website from the Google penalty, stay away from this black-hat technique.
But there are some instances when cloaked pages will appear on searches.
Why is that so?
Google reconfirmed that they can detect invisible text and ignore it. So John Mueller mentioned that if a page has hidden texts and still ranks, there might be another reason behind it.
Many experiments proved that these hidden texts have no significance in improving website rankings. So, they are useless and just a waste of time.
9. Unnatural Shady Links Will Do No Good
Google has been working on finding an effective way to remove manipulative links and decrease these practices. That’s basically why the Penguin Algorithm was announced.
But have you ever heard that links work whether you earn them with or without money?
That’s false; you should never be a victim of these websites. Google can easily analyze link quality, and it ignores bad links.
But you might wonder how Google can even identify it. How’s that possible? Well, here are some signs that give a red indicator to Google that site might be using some manipulative and poor practices for link-building such as:
- Many backlinks appear out of nowhere, meaning the website owner is generating them artificially.
- Links from irrelevant domains, and paid blogs.
- Many outbound links from one web page.
10. Incorrect Structured Data
If you are running a website, you already know the importance of structured data. It’s a powerful way to increase your SERP rankings. But mistakes in this can become disastrous.
According to Google documentation, if there is a structured data manual action against a website. Then the website will lose its eligibility to show up as a rich result. But recently, it also notified that this manual action could negatively impact website ranking.
But what can be the mistakes in the schema? It’s not easy to detect mistakes in structured data. Many people use Structured Data testing tools to ensure it’s up to mark, but it doesn’t mean everything is fine. So these might be the typical causes of penalties;
- The structured data on the website doesn’t align with the content on the page. For example, a company on the website is marked as medicine, and medicine is marked as a company. It is also an indication of low-quality content which might contain sneaky redirects.
- Structured data also has hidden elements that are not implemented properly, and some important fields are not filled. Moreover, several typos and punctuation mistakes are changing the meaning of the content.
- A web page violates the guidelines and can be penalized if ratings are not from real customers. There are several errors in RatingValue and BestRating.
11. Intrusive Pop-ups
This penalty was first introduced in the Page Layout algorithm update in 2012. Whenever an algorithm detected that a website had excessive ads beyond the fold, it immediately penalized them. However, later on, they also added pop-ups and overlay ads in this penalty.
This penalty applies algorithmically and happens whenever intrusive interstitials are on the web page. If that’s the case, you will notice a drop in search impressions, visitors, clicks, and traffic. However, after resolving the problem, everything will go back to normal.
12. Your Content Is Misleading
You will be surprised that a lot of News & Discover content is penalized daily. But why? It’s mainly because of two reasons.
- It’s spreading misinformation
- It’s violating Google’s policies
It’s significantly true for YMYL topics because they need research and evidence-based blogs. Thus accuracy is important for these sites. Some of these site niches are health, law, finance, and news.
13. Spammy Free Hosting Service
You can also get penalty notices if your site shares any spammy-free hosting. It doesn’t matter if the other website is doing anything wrong. Penal notice will be given stating that third-party spammers abuse-free hosting.
So what will happen next?
The website’s online visibility will start decreasing. It includes a significant drop in ranking, clicks, and impressions as well. However, it will still index on Google.
14. Hacked content
Hacked content refers to stealing content or code of a particular website, and the site’s owner has no idea about it. It breaches the security of a website and can cause several issues, such as;
- Hidden links
- Deceptive pages
- Hijack content management system
Hacking websites is a cybercrime; the major problem is that some websites get information from hacked websites and users. These websites are not delisted but are then marked as a potential threat. It appears right next to the URL in the search engines.
Have you ever opened a website and seen a full-screen warning that this website is potentially harmful?
Then this is a sign that Google is warning you about website hacking.
You can also check the status of any website through Google’s Transparency Report. According to the report, security warnings have decreased compared to the last five years.
15. News and Discover Policy Violation
It is one of Google’s most important and detailed sets of rules. It was announced in February 2021. Every website on Google must comply with Google News & Discover guidelines. These are as follows;
- Google highly prohibits harassment in any way, whether it’s bullying, racism, abuse, or malicious or harassing content.
- It’s not allowed to publish any content which can directly lead to harm, or danger to anyone, whether it’s a human being or animal.
- In general, publishing content that promotes hate speech, G-rated and violent content is strictly forbidden. Discrimination is not allowed and hateful content will also face penalization.
- It’s common to make fake news, images, videos, and audio content nowadays. That’s why Google takes strict action against anyone who publishes manipulated media and misleading content.
- Google doesn’t allow medical content that goes against Google guidelines and contradicts best medical practices. Giving medical advice and diagnosis is strictly prohibited. It’s not allowed on Google even if it’s especially for commercial purposes.
- Adult-themed content is not allowed on Google. It includes nudity, sexually suggestive, and explicit content. However, sex education is an exception in this case.
- Google bans terrorist content that can fuel or promote terrorism.
Google Penguin Algorithm
There was a time when SEO was all about getting backlinks to your website. So everyone was running towards getting backlinks without bothering about the quality of links. You could easily skyrocket your website ranking with just a few keywords and links. Since everyone was implementing this technique, a lot of issues arose.
But Google became smarter and came up with a solution.
If Google detects a lot of unnatural links or links that are from shady websites that have low domain authority, then it takes action. The Penguin algorithm came to the scene to eliminate these black-hat SEO sites. Instead of demoting a website for spammy links it now devalues incoming links from low-quality websites. It has become a primary part of Google’s core algorithm.
But does that mean getting backlinks isn’t worth it? Should you stop looking for external links?
No, not at all. Instead, focusing on getting high-quality backlinks from sites with higher domain authority would be best. In a recent Penguin algorithm update, Google made it clear that it will no longer penalize websites that implement this black hat SEO technique. But it will devalue all shady links without harming your website ranking.
But either way, it’s important to stay up-to-date and check your backlinks’ quality and add natural links to your backlink profile. because they can greatly impact your website ranking and organic traffic.
How To Check If Google Has Penalized My Website?
If you are worried that the decrease in search engine rankings is because of Google penalties. Here is a simple way you can check it. Follow this method step-by-step to determine if your suspicion about the Google penalty is right or wrong.
But before that, you must know how to check your website’s health.
Go to Google Search Console and check Manual Actions Box. For healthy websites, a statement appears saying everything is fine. And that’s how you can tell your website is not facing any penalty.
If you want to check any past penalty messages. Then check the messages which are right below the bell icon. You will see a warning notice in red if there are any penalty messages, as it will detect all the issues and penalties of your website. You can also use penalty checker tools to check if Google has penalized your website.
Recovery From Google Penalty
Removing the Google penalty from your website is a challenging task. It can be a frustrating and overwhelming experience to recover from a penalty, and there are several steps you can take:
- Find the root cause of the penalty. You must carefully analyze your website, check Google Analytics, and determine what’s causing the problem. You can also get relevant information from Google Search Console (It was formerly called Google Webmaster Tools). You should find what is the factor which violates Google Webmaster Guidelines.
- Now, you know what’s the problem. You can take the next step which is solving it. If content quality is poor and doesn’t align with webmaster quality guidelines, then you are facing a content penalty. In that case, update your website content and remove irrelevant content. Likewise, find a solution for the factor that caused the problem.
- After you have ensured the problem is fixed, submit a reconsideration request to Google. Sometimes, you won’t need to file a reconsideration report because if the issue is sorted, google will automatically recover your website.
- Lastly, don’t be too hasty and be patient. Google will review your request and may require more changes or time to ensure your website is now compliant with their guidelines.
It is a brief of how you can recover from the Google penalty. But it’s a more detailed process if you don’t know how to solve this issue. Then it’s best to hire someone to assist you and solve that problem.
EchoFish’s Professionals Can Help You Remove Google Penalties
Learning more about the Google penalty is important because it can save you time, money, and effort. You can understand and avoid the penalties by going through this list.
Need assistance? If you are unsure how to remove Google penalties from your website, check whether you are making these mistakes. Then EchoFish is the best choice for you.
Our team of professionals will help you identify and remove Google penalties. We will work on your website so you can focus on what matters most: building an unshakeable empire. We are just a call away.
I'm a very hard-working, motivated, and committed individual with a positive attitude towards life and a passion for doing new things that help people.I love challenges in my career because they make you more robust than before when you overcome them.