5 Ways to Know Your Site Has Been Penalized By Google

seoHave 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. PageRank
    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.
  5. 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!


  1. says

    All of a sudden I seem to have disappeared in search results on Google and Bing. My domain does show up in Site: searches but if you use the keyword term ‘durabak’ I don’t show up at all. I used to, up until a few days ago, come up on the first, maybe beginning of 2nd page. Now its gone. How can I find out from google what happened or more importantly WHY?

    One thing I did notice in doing a Site:search is different results when doing http://www.durabakdepot.com and durabakdepot.com. Could that be causing these issues?

    Help is greatly appreciated. I just don’t know where to turn to next. HELP…

    Thank you

  2. says

    Really helpful:)
    i was wondering because i’ve lost my blog organic traffic and rank of my top posts gradually after google penguin 2.
    Google also has not showed any manual penalty.so what should do now in order to get my organic traffic back.

  3. Aidan says

    Google is a real pain as of lately, but i agree about trying to keep up with their strategies and stuff like that because walking on egg shells is not nice at all.

  4. says

    My store was really growing. Now, it is so slow and some of my items are very low in rankings. The only thing that I think I may have done to make Google mad is add my store to a few small free Search Engines. Up to that time things were selling. I did it the first of this year. Should I write Google? Thanks so much.

  5. says

    Actually I don’t really like Google anymore. After they closed down RSS Reader, changed the format of Gmail, I believe they are closing and doing everything they can to make it harder for marketers to use their services.

    They changed their algorithm 100 times a year, average once every 3 days just to make sure the real marketers are harder to rank. Many spammers successfully spam the rankings and Google never do much about it.

    End of the day, it’s all about money.

  6. Neill says

    I have an affiliate site that got slammed by G over a year ago, but thankfully it still does OK on Bing & Yahoo and a few other SEs. Also I have a number of videos on YT that funnel traffic to that site. I’d post the URL but we have to assume that big brother is watching.

  7. says

    Really great post Olivia. I’ve often wondered what I should do if I did not find my site via the 5 giveaway’s you mentioned in this post. Thankfully my sites are fully listed…but will have your information in case things change. As most marketers know by now – things change astonishing fast in the SEO field.

  8. says

    I’ve been struggling with Google off and on now for months. None of my sites come up using ( “site:www.mydomain.com”)

    I am trying to go through them now to see how to help them. It is so irritating to try and keep up, especially when I’m not that good at SEO to begin with.

    • says

      Are you sure (your quilts site shows 64 pages indexed)?

      There’s a world of difference between not ranking highly, and actually being removed from Google’s index.

      Not ranking well can simply mean you’re being beaten by other sites that Google thinks are better. Not showing up using a site: search (when you used to show up) means you have been removed from the index completely. That only happens if you’ve done something pretty serious wrong to offend Google. (Or possibly done something to a break a site so they can’t crawl it anymore)

      So just to be sure – are you using the site: search without the quotes? And, you are changing mydomain.com for your own domain names, right..?

    • says

      Martin. I’m not really sure. Other than the time it was hacked, I don’t know that I’ve done anything to tick of Google. I’ve tried the search with and without the quotes but yet, Google shows it under my webmaster tools and also on analytics.

      I absolutely have no idea on what to do to fix things.


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