How do I know if I have a penalty from Google?

How do I know if I have a penalty from Google?

The next in my series of quick and easy SEO Question and Answer blogs: this one from a client, Karen, who runs a wedding inspiration website.

SEO question:

“How do I know if I have any form of penalty from Google?”

Short answer:

If you had, you’d probably know about it. Common signs that Google has you in the naughty corner include:

  • A large unexpected drop in traffic
  • A sudden slump in sales

Long answer:

If Google isn’t happy with you, it can exclude you from the search engine results pages, and that means no one can find you, which most likely means no sales. Yikes!

If you’ve been manually penalised (by a person at Google rather than an algorithm) you’ll get a message from them.

But, if you’ve been automatically penalised, you might have to try a little harder to discover it. Some tactics include:

1.     Check how your own brand name ranks

We all know that our rankings for keywords change frequently, but if all is going well, you should rank highly (ideally first) for your own brand name. If you don’t, something could be amiss.

2.     Hunt for cached pages

If all your site’s cached pages are suddenly missing from the search results, then it’s likely that Google has you in its bad books.

3.     Do a search for your site

Enter ‘site:www.yourdomain.com.au’ into the Google search box and see what happens. If your site doesn’t come up there’s clearly something wrong.

Word of warning

There’s a big difference between not ranking well and actually being cut from the search results. So, if you’re not ranking well for a particular term, don’t get your knickers in a twist fretting over Google Penalties – the problem lies elsewhere!

So, what next?

If you have genuinely been penalised by Google, don’t lose heart. Take a look at your SEO strategies – are you doing anything that could be construed as black hat? Read through the Google guidelines again, and make sure your site complies.

Common issues I’ve seen recently have included:

  • Spammy links from totally irrelevant sites with low quality, duplicate content
  • Over-optimised anchor text
  • Sites that have built too many links too fast
  • Poor / duplicate content

Or consult someone awesome like me to take a look at your site and advise on the best steps to make Google love you again.

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