While the regularity of receiving a penalty has reduced in recent years, it is still important to know how to deal with one if you find yourself with the dreaded notification in your Search Console.
There are two types of penalty, a manual penalty is made known to the webmaster via Google Search Console and an algorithmic penalty is harder to identify as there is no official notification, it will become noticeable when a page or multiple pages loses traffic for no explicable reason. The below graph shows traffic on a site that received a manual penalty
If you experience any of the following then you may have been penalised:
- Steady decline in traffic.
- SERP rankings do not respond to changes to your website. (On Page)
- SERP rankings do not respond to link building treatment
- You receive a “Unnatural inbound links” message from Google stating that you have “unnatural or artificial” links. (see below)
Steps for removing a ranking penalty
Regular SEO activities such as altering page titles or building new keyword targeted content is likely not going to work. If you have been penalised then here are some facts you need to know:
- Stop link building immediately. It is likely that you do not need to continue investing in any link building activities. In fact, any further link building activities you undertake may cause more problems if its not done correctly.
- Investigate your own backlink profile through 3rd party tools and identify links with anchor text that are very highly keyword targeted.
- Review the content on these pages and see if it is contextually relevant and if there are any other external links on these pages.
- Collate the highest risk links and place into a disavow file.
- Follow Google’s disavow guidelines here.
This can be fixed! We have successfully revoked penalties and have noted improvements in SEO rankings / traffic. It’s a lot of effort but it can be done!