Has your website search engine rankings slipped lately? Has your website lost some traffic?
Well, you may be a victim of an algorithm update or you must have been hit with a Google penalty. In either case, you need not panic as there are ways to recover from it.
According to Matt Cutts, Google initiates over 400,000 manual actions every month and several websites are penalized by algorithmic updates such as Panda and Penguin. Interestingly, only 5% of these penalized websites try to recover their rankings.
Google uses certain filters to provide its users with good results. These filters are nothing but a set of rules and calculations that are used to deliver the desired outcome of the user's queries. These algorithms help define if a website is up to the mark or not. Google then filters for sites that it considers to be as good quality. Any change or update in the algorithm can cause the website's traffic to drop. Unfortunately, the updates are hard to be found and without any notification.
Why are Websites Being Penalized?
For most businesses, search engine traffic is very important. However, achieving high rankings in Google is not an easy task today. Most SEO professionals are pushing link-building which is causing many websites to violate Google’s guidelines and as a result are being penalized. Also, the penalties can be applied either partially (only to certain pages) or to the entire website.
Before you get to fix the issue, you need to discern if the sudden change was the result of either manual action or algorithmic penalty and then fix it accordingly.
1. Manual action- Manual penalties are easier to identify. Go to the Google Webmaster Tool (Google Search Console) and check to see if you have any new notifications to know if you have penalized for manual action. If you have no warning or a message on the console, you will have to look at other reasons for the drop in traffic.
2. Algorithmic Penalty- These penalties are difficult to detect as they don’t come with a notification in Webmaster Tools. Algorithm penalties occur when Google updates its algorithm. A small change or a group of changes in the algorithm can cause your website’s traffic to drop. Panda and Penguin are two popular algorithmic updates. While Panda is focused on quality content, Penguin is focused on backlinks and anchor text distribution.
To know all the latest updates of Google’s algorithm, you can;
Follow Matt Cutts on Twitter (he announces all the latest changes) Follow Google Webmasters on YouTube (to get tips about SEO) Check MozCast or Algoroo (to know changes that are not officially recognized by Google.)
You will be surprised to know that over 95% of all Google penalties are related to backlinks on your website. If you have too many poor-quality backlinks on your website, it may affect your rankings adversely.
Some of the low-quality backlinks that are a potential threat to your rankings are;
Hidden texts Websites having duplicate content Websites that are banned by Google Links from gambling and adult websites Links from websites that are not related to your business Spam forums and comments Advertorials
How to Recover From Any Google Penalties?
Once you understand the cause of the drop in rankings or traffic, you will be able to fix the issue better. This is because both the penalties have to be resolved differently.
Regardless of whether it is a manual or algorithmic penalty, you will have to have to analyze your backlinks and identify the one that caused the drop in your rankings. Once you identify the link, you can either remove them or disavow them.
How to Recover From a Google Panda Penalty?
Panda usually targets low-quality websites with on-page problems such as;
Too many ads Less content Duplicate content Low website speed Poor navigation structure.
The first step is to log into your Google Webmaster Tool and check if your site has low-quality or duplicate pages. Click on “search appearance” then “HTML improvements”. You can check if you have any duplicate page or title.
If you find duplicate pages or low-quality links, make sure to either remove them or disavow them.
How to Recover From a Google Penguin Penalty?
You will have to analyze your website’s anchor text distribution to recover from a Penguin penalty. If your website’s anchor text distribution contains the exact match keywords, you have likely been hit by Penguin.
Follow 4 Steps to Recover from Google Penguin Penalty.
Step 1: You may use tools like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, Google Webmaster Tools, Open Site Explorer, etc., to draw reports on your backlinks. It is recommended that you pull out the reports from at least three tools so that you cross-check your data. The more data you have, the easier it is to make sure you are not missing out on many links.
Step 2: Once you get the report, analyze all the links for quality.
Step 3: Keep track of links that you wish to remove.
Step 4: Talk to the webmasters and disavow the links
Poor quality backlinks are a major reason for your website to be penalized by Google. The key to recovering from any Google penalty is to identify the real cause and remove the backlinks that lead to the drop in the rankings. As a word of advice, you must stick to building a natural backlink profile backed by a strong content strategy. Make sure to follow the best On-page SEO practices and write informative content having a mix of generic keywords and anchor text.
Numerous websites have recovered from Google penalties. However, you need to be patient and avoid resorting to manipulative practices to gain higher rankings.