When it comes to online traffic, Google is where everything is at. After all, if your website is not ranking on Google for search terms related to your business, you’re unlikely to get much organic traffic. If you have optimized your website and achieved good rankings for various search terms but suddenly, your website seems to have lost all its rankings and your traffic is down big time, it’s possible that your website has suffered a Google SEO penalty.
Now, Google SEO penalties can happen for a variety of reasons such as the use of duplicate content, having spam on your site, having malware on your site, a hacked site, keyword stuffing, broken URLs, use of bought links and other reasons.
Simply put, your website can be penalized for several reasons and the first thing you need to do in order to even think about lifting Google’s penalty from a website is to know the exact reason for which your website has been penalized.
Another important thing you need to understand is that sometimes, Google penalizes websites even when site owners are engaged in activities they think are legit but Google thinks differently.
Sometimes, a website gets hacked and there is malware on the website which leads to a Google penalty. In other words, it is not always the fault of the site owner if their website gets penalized.
Here is a quick guide on what you need to do if you are facing a Google SEO penalty.
Checking for Google Penalty
The very first thing you need to do is find out whether your website has been penalized by Google. While you can find several online tools that can give an idea of whether your website has been penalized or not, the best way to check the penalty status is to log into Google’s Webmaster Tools and find out whether Google has taken any action against your website.
You will find a link inside the search console for manual actions report. In this report, you will find everything related to your website and why your website has been penalized (if it has been).
There are also some links in the sidebar you can open to check whether your website has been determined by Google to be spam and actions you can take in order to lift the penalty.
In case you haven’t set up your Webmaster Tools account, it is the first thing you need to do. Sign up for it and verify your website. Once you have done that, log into your Webmaster Tools account and check the messages section. If any messages require attention, go through those messages to discover the exact cause of the penalty.
Once you open the manual actions report, you will find several links that will tell you why your website has been penalized. It can be for a hacked site, cloaking, unnatural links, blocked images, keyword stuffing, user-generated spam or a variety of other reasons.
Once you find the root cause of the penalty, you need to take manual corrective action to fix the problem. If you are well versed in the technical side of things, you should try to do it on your own. In case you don’t have the required technical skills or SEO skills, it is recommended to hire the services of a company specializing in recovery from Google SEO penalty to help you get back on track.
As far as hiring a company specializing in lifting a Google penalty is concerned, you should do your homework before partnering with someone. While you can easily find a multitude of companies claiming to be the experts in lifting Google penalties, you’ll find that most are just looking to make a quick buck. Therefore, you need to be smart and check their credentials thoroughly including the work they have done for other clients before allowing them to work on your site.
In case you decide to do all the work on your own, and you have taken the required corrective action, you should resubmit the site map again in Webmaster Tools. If you have signed up for Webmaster Tools, you will get an email from Google where they will ask you to make certain changes in order to fix the penalty. In this message, you will also find a link wherein you can tell them about the fixes you have made. You can also wait for Google to re-crawl the page when they want to but if you message them, things will move quickly.
Simply put, this is what you need to do in order to lift the Google SEO penalty. However, the tough part is taking the corrective actions as required by Google. In case you don’t have the skills, always partner with an expert to lift the penalty and get back that organic traffic.