Have you noticed the amount of traffic for your site dropping unexpectedly over the past week or so? Maybe your sales have suddenly seemed to have frozen and stopped coming in completely?
If so, one possibility could be that your site has been penalized by Google and, as a result, your site has become unranked and pretty much excluded from the search engine search result pages. And it should come as no surprise that if people online can’t find you, you won’t get many visitors or sales.
So how can you be sure that you’ve been penalized by Google? Well, if it was a manual penalty, meaning that your site was marked to be penalized by a person at Google rather than an algorithm, you’ll get a message from them, which makes things pretty obvious. However, if you haven’t received a message, it’s still possible that your site has been automatically penalized. Here’s how you can tell:
5 Giveaways of Penalization
- Brand Name Ranking
Rankings can change frequently and fluctuations are not too uncommon. Significant drops in ranking over a short period of time is unsettling, but not entirely naturally impossible; especially in highly competitive keyword fields, this isn’t necessarily an indicator of being penalized by Google. However, the one keyword that you should be ranking well if not the best for is your brand name. If you search your brand name and still have a difficult time finding your page, there’s a good chance you’ve been penalized by Google.
- Cached Search Results
When Google penalizes a site, they usually will also make all of the cached pages of that site unavailable. If you can’t find any of your cached pages in search results, and they seem to have just disappeared for no reason, there’s a good chance that Google’s found something against you.
- Home Page Listing
At this point, you might be looking for your page, scrolling down the results pages, one after another, just out of curiosity. If and when you do finally find your page on Google, it likely won’t link to your home page if you’ve been penalized.
A sudden and rather drastic drop in your PageRank is also a good indicator of penalty. If your PageRank suddenly appears to be a 0 or 1 when it was a respectable 3 the week before, it’s a good idea to look into reasons you might have been penalized.
- Site Search
Finally, if you do a site search—that is, entering “site:www.mydomain.com” into the Google search box and your site does not come up, there’s clearly something wrong.
What to do
Whether you’ve been manually or automatically penalized by Google, you need to handle the situation in a professional, respectful, and honest way.
Take another look at your SEO strategies—could any of them be considered to be fraudulent or “black hat?” Review Google’s guidelines and see if there are any you might have overlooked. Try to discover why you might have been penalized if you were penalized automatically. Then get into contact with Google. Sometimes, the penalty can be lifted if everything is handled well; however, other times the penalty can be permanent. Whatever happens, be respectful and as honest and forthcoming as you can be if you hope to save both your site and your reputation.
In the future, to prevent being further penalized by Google or any other search engines, stay up to date with their rules and familiarize yourself with blackhat SEO techniques so that you know what practices to avoid. Sometimes ignorance may be your only fault, but alas it does not make you innocent.
Best of Luck!