How to recover from a Google penalty

20 Oct 2021


Nick Boyle

Nick Boyle

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What is a Google penalty?


For those of you who have never had the pleasure of receiving a Google penalty, and are simply reading this guide as a preventative measure, you may be wondering what one is.


As defined by Hubspot, “a Google penalty is a punishment against a website whose content conflicts with the marketing practices enforced by Google.” 


Before we dive into why this may have happened, there are two different types of Google penalties that you need to watch out for:


  • A manual action penalty, which you will have received from the Google spam team.
  • An algorithmic penalty, given to you by one of the many algorithms that determine what ranks on Google. With this, you would need to look out for a pattern whereby a new Google algorithm update correlates with a loss in website traffic.

As an SEO agency, we know the struggles of having a Google penalty – so let us run through it with you.

Why have I received a Google penalty?


There are a number of reasons as to why you may have received a Google penalty, but recognising the initial cause is the key to recovery. Google is constantly scanning the web for good quality content, and if it picks up on any Black Hat SEO techniques, whether this be intentional or unintentional, you’re practically asking for a lower ranking. 


Google’s algorithm is constantly fluctuating, forever finding new ways to display the best possible content that gives users a great experience. If you’ve read our guide to Google’s core web vitals, you’ll know that page experience is incorporated into overall ranking. This update assesses whether you have a mobile friendly website, checking for security issues, iffy links and ad violations. Using this criteria as an example, if your website features duplicate content, a number of spammy links, keyword stuffing and is a slow and laggy pain to use on mobile, you may have found the reason for a Google penalty.


What should I do after receiving a Google penalty?


The first step is to NOT PANIC. Of course, upon receiving a Google penalty, it’s easy to be consumed by a feeling of dread, but going into a frenzy doesn’t solve anything. Take a deep breath and start by discovering the root cause. With manual actions, Google will let you know of the affected pages in GSC (Google search console), providing a short description of the issue so that you’ll know how to fix it. 


Regardless of the penalty you’ve received, it’s always good practice to have a scan over your website, even if you have to look through each page 10 times. If you deem any pages to be low-quality, make a note of any changes you’ve made along the way, should you need to go back on yourself. 


The next step is to check backlinks, and this will take time. Although it may seem boring and time consuming to review each individual link to check whether it’s come from a reliable source, it’s a necessary part of recovery and vital for ranking higher on Google. However, if you would like to speed things up a little bit, you can always check out our guide on better ways to do internal linking


How can I avoid a Google penalty?


The route to recovery relies on perseverance, and proper techniques moving forward. Keep up-to-date with the latest digital news, so you’re informed about any of Google’s updates to prevent being attacked by its ever-changing algorithm. By carrying out regular SEO audits, you can be sure that you’re not accidentally incorporating any Black Hat tactics into your website – tools like SEMrush are brilliant for this. 


All in all, always prepare for the worst and recognise that no one can escape the watchful eye of Google. 


Impressing Google takes work, and that’s exactly what our team of digital marketing professionals are here to do. If you need some advice on how to enhance your strategy to produce genuine results (that won’t get you a Google penalty), give us a call today! 

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