50 Reasons Your Website Deserves to Be Penalized By Google

Google’s on an uncompromising mission. It wants to give its users access to accurate information, unique content and the finest writers. It continually tweaks and improves its algorithms so that the best of the web gets the exposure it deserves.

Unfortunately, there’s a flipside: a penalty. That’s the consequence of Google taking issue with something on your site. Sometimes a penalty is well deserved, but even if you know you’re in the wrong, you probably want to do something about it.

What Is a Google Penalty?

Google has been changing its ranking algorithms since December 2000. That’s when it released its toolbar extension. At the time, the toolbar update represented a sea change that would create the SEO industry as we know it. In fact, it was the first time PageRank was published in a meaningful or usable form.

Over the next decade-and-a-bit, Google continued to refine the quality of its search results. Over time, it begins to eliminate poor quality content and elevate the good stuff to the top of the SERPs. That’s where penalties – come in.

The Penguin update was rolled out in 2012. It hit more than 1 in 10 search results overnight, wiped some sites out of search entirely, pushed poor quality content off the map and forced optimizers to think much more carefully about their content strategy. Since then, SEO professionals have been very tuned in to Google’s plans, fearing the next update in case it results in a penalty for a site they’re working on.

Recognizing a Penalty

Penalties can be automatic or manual. With manual penalties, you’ll probably be told, but you may not always know you’ve been targeted if the cause is algorithmic. Those penalties may take even the most experienced SEO professionals by surprise.

For algorithmic penalties, here are some sure-fire clues.

  • Your website is not ranking well for your brand name any more. That’s a dead giveaway. Even if your site doesn’t rank for much else, it should at least do well on that one keyword.
  • Any page one positions you had are slipping back to page two or three without any action on your part.
  • PageRank for your site has inexplicably dropped from a respectable two or three to a big fat zero (or a measly PR of one).
  • The entire website has been removed from Google’s cached search results overnight.
  • Running a site search – site:yourdomain.com keyword – yields no results.
  • Your listing – when you eventually find it in Google – is for a page on your site other than the home page.

If you see one or more of these factors, you can be pretty sure that a penalty has affected your site.

Why Has Google Penalized My Site?

Google is continually tweaking and revising the way it indexes content.

While it does publish clues about its algorithm updates, it rarely comes clean about all of its reasons for changes. Fixing things can be tough.

To get you off on the right track, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for: 50 common reasons for Google taking issue with your site. While we’re not saying we know the definite reasons for a penalty, we do know that these factors all contribute.

  1. Buying links. Some swear it doesn’t happen, but actual evidence is mixed. Buying links could certainly be seen as an attempt to manipulate PageRank, and therein lies the controversy. If you’ve been buying bad links (and lots of them), your actions could have caught up with you.
  2. Excessive reciprocal links. Swapping links was once an innocent marketing tactic until it started to be abused. If you’ve been exchanging lots of links with clients, it could be seen as a manipulation attempt.
  3. Duplicate content. Hopefully this one’s obvious: any duplicate content on your site makes it less useful in Google’s view, and that could result in a penalty. Make sure your content is unique and well-written; use tools like Copyscape and CopyGator too
  4. Overusing H1 tags. Correctly structuring content helps with SEO. The H1 tag helps Google to understand what the page is about. Excessive H1 tags could be seen as an attempt to pump Google’s listing with keywords.
  5. Internal 404s. Google wants to know that you tend to your content and weed out any errors and problems. If you’re delivering 404s inside your own website, it’s a sure fire signal that your users aren’t getting the information they ask for.
  6. Links from sites in another language. This one seems unfair, right? You’ve got a legitimate link from a client in another country, yet it’s technically counted against you. Well, Google’s reasoning is sound: users generally tend to prefer one language, so linking to sites in another language isn’t that useful for them.
  7. Keyword stuffed content. There are all kinds of weird and wonderful ‘rules’ about keyword density in content. The truth is that none of these rules are proven, and a very high keyword density is a flag for poorly written content. If Google detects a weirdly high number of keywords in a page, it may penalize you – rightly or wrongly.
  8. Footer links. Some web designers use footer links as a navigational aid; some try to manipulate PageRank by using the footer as a place to pass link juice unnaturally. There’s a short discussion about this on Moz.
  9. Missing sitemap data. Google uses the XML sitemap to parse your site’s structure and learn how it’s put together. Make sure your XML sitemap is available and up-to-date, and then submit it in your Webmaster Tools account.
  10. Hidden links. All of the links on your site should be visible and useful to users. Anything that’s hidden is considered suspicious. Never make a link the same color as the background of a page or button, even if you have an innocent reason.
  11. Broken external links. If you don’t keep links up-to-date, Google will assume you don’t care about the user experience and are happy to pack visitors off to various 404 error pages. Check links periodically and pull the duff ones.
  12. Scraped content. Sometimes website managers pull content from other sites in order to bulk our their own pages. Often, this is done with good intentions, and it may be an innocent error. But Google sees this as pointless duplication. Replace it with your own original content instead.
  13. Hidden content. Less ethical optimization tactics include disguising text on a page to manipulate the theme or keyword weighting. It goes without saying that this is a big no-no.
  14. Anchor text overuse. Once upon a time, SEO experts worked on linking certain keywords in order to reinforce their authority. Since the 2012 Penguin update, the over-use of anchor text linking is strongly discouraged. Switch out your forced, unnatural keyword links for honest links phrased in real English.
  15. Neglecting hreflang. Neglecting what now? ‘Hreflang’ is designed to notify Google that you have intentionally published duplicate content for different languages or localities. The jury’s out as to whether it really helps, but using it can’t hurt in the meantime.
  16. Website timing out or down. When a website goes down, everyone gets upset: the visitor, the webmaster and the search engine. If Google can’t find your site, it would rather de-index it rather than keep sending visitors to a dead end.
  17. Keyword domains. While domain names aren’t that risky in themselves, domain names with keywords in might be. Consider the anchor text linking issue: if we repeatedly link to that domain, Google might see that as anchor text manipulation. If you do use an exact match domain, make sure it has plenty of great content on it, otherwise Google will assume you’re trying to fool people into clicking.
  18. Rented links. Some experts still believe rented links are valid and useful for SEO. They pay for them on a monthly basis and change them around occasionally. However, we’d consider them paid links, and so would most of these experts on Quora.
  19. Using blog networks. As far as Google is concerned, any kind of network is a sign of potential SERP manipulation. Most blog networks have now shut down or given users the chance to delete all of these incoming links. You should too.
  20. Affiliate links all over the place. Google isn’t necessarily opposed to affiliate websites, but a high number of affiliate links is a red flag that the content may not be up to scratch. Although it’s possible to mask affiliate links with redirects, Google is wise to this tactic, so don’t rely on it.
  21. Site-wide links. We all need to link pages together, but Google is constantly scanning those links for unnatural patterns. A classic example is a web developer credit in the footer of a page. Don’t just nofollow: remove them entirely.
  22. Overusing meta keywords. Meta keywords have been a topic for debate for some time. They are way too easy to manipulate. Make sure you use no more than five per page.
  23. Slow speeds. If your site’s slow to load, your users will get frustrated. Many, many factors affect hosting speeds, so this is quite a tricky problem to assess and troubleshoot. Use a caching plugin or a CDN right away. You could also move your site to a data center closer to your most frequent visitors: that’s a little more involved.
  24. Spun content. Spinning is content theft. It could land you in hot water if the Google penalty doesn’t catch up with you first. Bought some super-cheap articles? Sometimes content is spun by the ‘writer’, so you may not even know about it. If the price was too good to be true, that’s a sign you may have bought spun articles.
  25. Comment spam. Most commenting systems have an automated spam detection system, but some comments still make it through. Keep a close eye on the comments you’re getting. Also, don’t let spam build up; if you don’t have time to moderate it, switch commenting off entirely.
  26. Black hat SEO advice. If you publish information about manipulating SERPs using black hat methods, expect to be penalized. Matt Cutts hinted at this in a video blog.
  27. Hacked content. If your site has been hacked, Google will quickly remove it from SERPs. Act quickly to contain hacking attempts and restore sites from backup if the worst does happen.
  28. Speedy link building. It’s natural to want your new site to rank quickly. Don’t overdo it. Lots of similar links pointing to the same place is a sign of automation. Don’t artificially bump your link velocity: make gradual changes over time.
  29. Spam reports. Google has published an online form for spam site reporting. Your site might have been submitted as a potential source of spam, genuinely or maliciously.
  30. Forum linking. We’ve all used forums awash with signature links. Sometimes there are so many, it can be hard to locate the actual posts. If you add a forum link, use good, natural linking techniques and consider making it a nofollow too.
  31. Hiding your sponsors. Having a sponsor is no bad thing. Plenty of sites wouldn’t exist without them. Don’t try to hide your sponsors, but follow the rules: nofollow sponsor links and make sure Google’s news bot doesn’t crawl pages where those links can be found.
  32. Robots.txt flaws. The robots.txt file should be used to tell search engines how to deal with your site. While there are legitimate reasons for excluding pages from robots.txt, do it sparingly: excessive blocking could be the cause of your penalty.
  33. Links to suspicious sites. Never associate yourself with a website that is doing something ethically or legally dubious. Hacking, porn and malware-ridden sites should be avoided. Also, try to remove links to other sites that have been penalized in the past, assuming you know about it.
  34. Landing pages. Businesses sometimes try to use multiple landing pages in order to improve their position in SERPs. Some companies also try to improve their position by creating lots of one-page websites optimized for a single keyword, then funneling users through to another site. Google considers this kind of thing to be bad practice.
  35. Over-optimization. Google doesn’t like to see too much of a good thing. An over-optimization penalty usually means you’ve gone a step too far in your bid to obsessively out-SEO everyone else in your industry. Cool it and publish some natural content before your rank suffers.
  36. Advertorials. The controversy around advertorial content was perhaps the most well-known of the pre-Penguin 2 debates. An advertorial is basically a page of content riddled with paid links, and often these pages were being used for aggressive manipulation of search results. The most famous example was Interflora: read about its penalty here.
  37. Too many outbound links. When linking to other websites, keep it natural. A high quantity of links is a sign that you’re swapping links with people for the sake of mutual SEO benefit.
  38. Redirection. If you’ve received a penalty on your site, using a 301 redirect could transfer the penalty to a new location. What’s more, the penalty could linger if you remove the redirect later. To be safe, don’t do it.
  39. Error codes. Aside from the obvious 404 error, there are a range of others that Google really hates to see. 302 (temporarily moved) isn’t ideal; if you really must redirect something, use 301. Also, if you see any 500 errors, deal with the root cause as soon as you can. Find invisible errors with this WebConfs HTTP Header Check tool.
  40. Duplicate metadata. Some blogging tools and CMS platforms make it all too easy to create duplicate metadata by accident. While metadata isn’t a cause for a penalty on its own, it can be a sign of a duplicate content issue on your site. In any case, it’s undesirable; try to deal with it.
  41. Malicious backlinks. Your site NEVER deserves this penalty – but it is something you should know about. If you’re really unlucky, an unethical competitor may try to shove your site down the SERPs by getting it penalized. The most common cause is a malicious backlink campaign.
  42. Targeted keywords. Google is waging war against some of the keywords most frequently appearing in spam sites. ‘Payday loans’ is a good example of a keyword that has already been targeted, although some people feel that it could do more. If you legitimately operate in an industry that’s rife with spam, expect to be caught in the crossfire.
  43. Smuggled links. Don’t be sneaky and put links into script files. Google is much better at analyzing scripts and picking out weird links that shouldn’t be there.
  44. Poor mobile websites. Google can normally detect a valid link between your mobile site and your website. If it’s poorly designed, it may not. Make sure the mobile site is sent to a device where the user agent is set to mobile. Matt Cutts also suggests using a separate subdomain.
  45. Few outbound links. Google wants to see content that references other content of a similar standard. If you don’t share the love, it might look like an attempt to attract traffic unnaturally.
  46. Domain has a bad rep. You may have innocently purchased a domain with a bad history, and that could cause you problems when you try to build a new site around it. Unfortunately this is often a dead end street; you may be best cutting your losses and buying another domain rather than throwing more money at the problem.
  47. Content theft. Even if you don’t steal content, someone else could steal yours. This is troublesome, since getting the content removed could involve filing multiple DMCA takedown notices or pursuing sites in court. If you’re penalized for this, try asking Google to remove the stolen content.
  48. Prominent ads. Advertising is OK when treated as a secondary concern. Ads should never dominate the page content or play second fiddle to an article or blog.
  49. Using a content farm. Over the two years since Panda was phased in, it has been considered poor form to buy content from a ‘farm’ (defined as “sites with shallow or low-quality content”). If your content is poorly researched, light on detail or exists mainly to fill up the page, employ a professional rewrite it.
  50. Beware of quick fixes. Don’t employ anyone that claims to have a magical, foolproof technique that will help to get your site to the top of the SERPs. The only way to rank well is to put in the groundwork over time.

How to Deal With a Penalty

Figured out the cause for your penalty? You’re halfway to fixing it – if it’s fixable at all.

Every problem will require a slightly different solution, but here are some things you can try.

In a few cases, it’s better to abandon a site rather than fight a Google penalty: if your domain has been tarnished, there’s little you can do. But most penalties can be fixed with a little effort, some hard work and an ethical approach to rebuilding your site.

About the Author: Claire Broadley is a writer for an independent hosting ratings site WhoIsHostingThis.com.

  1. Interesting phrasing in nineteen. ;^)

  2. May want to check your facts in #19 “)

  3. I love 19, as it makes me feel better about when I do dumb shut like that. Thank you for that.

  4. Good list Claire. It’s nice to reaffirm my thoughts on a few of those as a relatively new person to the SEO game. Thanks!

    As Marty has kindly pointed out – take another read of number 19 and you’ll probably have a little giggle to yourself :)

  5. Hi all. Sincere apologies for the slip. Clearly my spellchecker isn’t as fussy as it could be! I’ve flagged it for correction.

  6. Hi there,

    Some of the my websites hit by Penguin 2.0 and I will planning to use disavow tool but i havent got any manual penalty message. Do I need to request a reconsideration ?

    Your help is much appreciated.
    Cheers,
    Kirti

  7. Fantastic list! I think most people in this space know most of these, but it’s incredible to see all these factors in one place.

  8. Thank You, Now i am making check list with using your 50 Reasons for protect my website.

  9. Claire Broadley Thank you. One of my site got banned for buying link from a prominent link-building service. I won’t mention their name. And Now trying to rank my http://www.9dollarlogo.com will all quality link and content.

    Thanks

  10. Excellent summary, I will recommend it to my contacts.

  11. If a website has a link from porn website which is probably activity of a rival. What would you suggest in that case? Specially when already contacted with that website owner to remove link. Putting it in a disavow, is really a solution?

    Please suggest.

    Thanks

  12. I’ve got to say, I’m more than a little disappointed in this article. There’s a clear line between being penalized and your site not being optimized, but that piece doesn’t reflect this.

    The advice at the end is also really poor. If you have received a manual penalty then link removal requests are an absolute *must* and not an optional extra after the disavow tool.

  13. Martin Gouldsbrough Jul 04, 2013 at 2:52 am

    Very good list, wouldn’t it be great if all websites took this on board though I’m sure Google would want to find something else to penalize. I’m a true believer that website content should be original and relevant.

  14. So you need to have an empty page with no links in order not to be penalized, and you will be in no 1 because all other websites will penalized

  15. My website rank well in 1st page, but every Wednesday it fall off to page 5, after one day it got back to 1st page. I’m not sure if it is being penalized by Google. Anyone experience the same thing?

    • Sites moving around in search results in just a normal part of the game. Don’t expect your site to ever get locked into one position, unless you are totally standing out above everyone else..

  16. Great article Claire. WIth regards to meta keywords, google ignores them completely, so don’t bother having them at all.

  17. Domain has a bad rep.? what that mean ?

  18. Hi,

    Please suggest me that how can i get rid from bad backlinks.

    Thanks

  19. Nice Article Claire.
    I agree with you .Shortcuts never last long.
    We should focus on brand Building and try to get Quality backlinks from High Quality Sites.

  20. “I agree with you .Shortcuts never last long.” Really seolinkbuilding…?

    Just wanted to overstress how important number 33 is. If you dont monitor guest contributors links you could be allowing authority to pass to sites you wouldnt want to promote.

    I recieved a guest post pitch for my motoring blog from a gmail, the message seemed well written and the title suggested for the article was great. But what i was sent was a document linking to a spam website that charged £1.53 per minute to call a free governement phone number. Shady tactics like this are used across the net all the time and bloggers should be made more aware of them. Needless to say i wouldnt post the article.

    • Hi Hayley

      I agree – guest blogging is a real danger zone, and I think some people are ploughing a lot of cash into it without really planning a strategy. Guest posts have to be accepted in terms of quality over quantity, and you make a great point about researching the source before approving the post.

  21. Hi Claire,

    Really Interesting points :) Thank You for sharing.

    Regard!
    Mark Nordlicht

  22. If you are interested in removing toxic links, this article from Distilled can be of help http://www.distilled.net/blog/seo/the-latest-5-tools-ive-added-to-my-seo-toolbox/

  23. Great list to note about the reason to penalize in Google. Can you share some information what is the best strategy (cost & time wise) to take if a site penalize entirely. To delete the site and start from scratch ?

    Thanks again in advance.

  24. I agree with most. People should really focus more on productivity than quick tricks.

  25. I didn’t know Google penalizes you for affiliate links. I guess they have to keep their crappy adsense going one way or another.

    Just one more reason not to rely on Google for you traffic.

  26. “Overusing meta keywords. Meta keywords have been a topic for debate for some time. They are way too easy to manipulate. Make sure you use no more than five per page.”

    Look, you seem to know a reasonable amount about SEO, but meta keywords haven’t meant anything for a very, very long time. Fill it up as much as you want and Google won’t even notice – they simply do not look at that area.

  27. This is one of the most extensive post on reasons for Google penalties. This is a must for every webmaster and blogger.

  28. I have been following this blog for a month or so now and this is by far one of the most comprehensive lists I have come across on Google penalties, very nice! I am fairly new to SEO and it is hard to figure Google out, it feels like what may be okay one day is not so much the next day.

    In regards to #20 on the list, it’s probably a good idea to build natural/organic traffic to your website (especially if it’s a newer website) without any monetization features, Google will flag it as a resource of a site instead of just an affiliate site.

    • Hi Jennifer

      I completely agree. Some of the clients I write for are completely changing the way they view their sites: they’re ditching the affiliate links and building authority sites instead. It’s a really interesting change. Thanks for your comment.

      • get article, I see your work around. I need an individual expert to help us fix our site. there are so many scammers and BS outfits out there that we are just wasting time and money and we are not getting things done.

        we went from page 1 position 1 for 8 years to page 3 mid level overnight.

        we need help. do you know anyone who you can refer us to. Please let me know. Joe Romano joe@generatorjoe.net

  29. Overused anchor text is big problem for people because they think it will help their SEO and the placement within content is always awkward.

    • Hi Joe. As a content writer, I completely agree. Clients often want these kinds of links embedding into articles, and it really does affect the flow and readability. It’s nice to see them being phased out (and it makes my job a lot easier too).

  30. Nice read and can’t beat that title, Claire! Too bad that content theft occurs quite frequently and although the culprits deserve penalization, they rarely seem to get it.

  31. Can i use outbound links to sumdomain of my website? Should i use nofollow in those links?

  32. It’s probably worth clarifying in 38 that you’re not saying don’t use 301 redirects, just not to do it to direct people to a new, non-penalized site. You do say in the next one that 301s are preferred, but it appears to conflict with 38.

    Great article!

  33. buying links for pagerank absolutely can get you banned from googles search results.

  34. i got my website relating to hanuman chalisa, penalized, only because of over optimization, after checking your guide, i have implemented the changes, feel free to check my website on my link, and if you have any advice i would appreciate it.

  35. I also got my website penalized by the Google algorithm. But wait all the such 50 reason would help me to find the real mistake that why Google has penalized my website.

    One of the mistake which was from my side was the robot.txt file was missing.

    But Now I will recover it very soon.

  36. Regarding point 43 about “Smuggled links”, it reminds me of a smuggler surreptitiously sailing his ship into a cove to bury a chest full of backlinks on the beach :)

  37. Hi,
    very nice article but i am completely disagree about point 21
    “Site-wide links. We all need to link pages together, but Google is constantly scanning those links for unnatural patterns. A classic example is a web developer credit in the footer of a page. Don’t just nofollow: remove them entirely.”

    Why remove entirely? I think nofollow can be enough, no?

    Every company in the world that manufactures a product it puts on its own brand, because this may not be valid for websites?

    Thanks, bye!

  38. Google says add fresh content all the time…. do it for readers they say not Google and maybe we will rank your site near the top. But…. if you sell products, just products what do you do, rewrite your descriptions over and over not really making the description any clearer or better just doing it so Google will see fresh content? This does not make sense and really isn’t for the readers at all its just so Google will not take away MORE traffic. They are making site owners jump through hoops for no reason and eventually Google will change their minds and say everything were doing now is wrong and we are just trying to advertise our business and now… you will get you penalized. What is and entrepreneur suppose to do? Why Google Why?

  39. Very well written ” to do ” list for avoiding a Google penalty, Claire.

    I think the key here, is not to overuse many of those points you have mentioned, and to totally avoid most of the remaining practices(more well known black hat tactics).

    That being said, I am still seeing a number of sites that rank very well for certain niches and are using the most obvious black hat methods.

    On the other side of the fence, the giant ‘ mega corp ‘ sites are dominating the search results for many search terms.

  40. Thank you for the insights. I have read about many of these independently, but this is the best collection I have seen. Truly some changes in the game lately, but this is a good collection of some of the pitfalls to avoid for certain!

  41. Point 29. Is it possible to know if someone, what ever be the reason, has falsely reported a link as spam! Some of my pages have literally vanished from google search pages. Not even in first 10 pages. These pages were on 1st or 2nd pages when I searched in the beginning. Or may be google sends the pages back, once it gets old.
    Please advice.

  42. Yeah it sounds like you’ve triggered something. You must realize that Google is constantly re-working it’s results to provide the best experience for its users. So if you were on page one for a while, be thankful. But if your content gets outdated or no longer becomes relevant than it should be removed. And of course, if you were doing some spammy SEO then you may have triggered a reason to have your content removed…

  43. Hi, i went through your post and find it quite useful as my site is also suffering from Penguin and Panda update and i tried many ways to get back, but none of them seems to be working. Any Idea please let me know.

    Thanks In advance

  44. many thanks for the list,

    my site penalized due 2 , 3 of the above reasons , i tried to figure out , hope to improve my site ..

    again i thank you for the good explanation .

  45. SO what should we do . Make websites For bots or Humans?

  46. Thanks Claire. This list is very helpful for new website creators like me. May I please ask you a question? I’m not sure if you’re aware that Google only allow a maximum of 3 ads in one webpage. Is it legal for me to post more ads from different company on the same page that already has 3 Google ads? I just want to make sure I won’t get penalty from Google for doing this. Thanks advance for your advice.

  47. Whatever happened to Google just ignoring bad links? Why do they now have to hurt us? Now we have this whole crazy thing called “Negative SEO” where everybody is scared to offend their competitors in the fear they might buy them a bulk package of nasty links. Suddenly SEO companies are making even more money, cause now they are charging their clients to build links and to remove links simultaneously. Wow! Why should I get hurt by something a competitor can do to me? Yes, I know this happens all the time in the “real world”, but Google can easily prevent this by simply discounting bad links instead of punishing the site they point to!!!

  48. Great article but i would like to differ with the point 17 Keyword domains. I see all the EMD ranking high on search engines. I can give you thousand examples for this. Google it seems does not have a standard way of assessing the websites so that webmaster remain confused.

    • I totally agree with you Dan about the confusion that arises in a webmaster’s mind but i would say that it is all about being natural to whatever topic you are writing about, either your Domain has a keyword in its name or not.Anyways this article deserves to be bookmarked & shared with all the webmasters.

  49. francis gwapo Nov 05, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Thiis is plain stupidity. With the money google generated, They should fire the people behind these algorithms. They can hire better people. Google is deteriorating with these stupid ideas of their engineers. Innocent lives are affected with these stupid people. Google should be transparent with their penalties. They rather shut up and let the people decide which search engine to use. I have stopped using google services on my websites. Its time for google to rest

  50. I just noticed in Google Webmaster Tools that the number of 404 errors that my sites get has gone up x10 since mid November.
    I have absolutely no idea what caused this and I can’t seem to solve the problem by looking at GWT either:/
    If there’s anyone here that’s an expert and that would be willing to help me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

  51. two weeks ago my website was in the page one of google but currently drop out to nowhere. it’s penalized?

  52. My website as well. All my ranking keywords have been dropped all the way to the last page. I don’t even know what is causing it.

  53. I was originally given a Google penalty to my backlinks. I fixed the issue. Now the message came again 6 months later. Can old backlinks now become penalized again? Or are these new links affecting this decision by Google?

    If you can provide documentation including from Matt Cutts, that would be great! We feel this SEO company is hurting us and giving us this run around!

  54. When a website goes down, everyone is like what to do this article is great resource to learn how not get de indexed in search engines

  55. Recently my niche site got hit with one reason that was i had forgotten to cloak the affiliate link after 1 month of the niche site it got hit and it now nowhere in the first 500 results

    What a lame stupid mistake i made :( sadly i learned from it at least

  56. Hi I really liked your article. It’s very valuable information.
    I just have a question: can my website be hit by Google if I do too many updates on it?
    I know as a fact that it’s essential to update the news, write articles in the blog etc. but someone told me that if you do some kind of updates too often, Google can think it is spam. Is it true? If it’s true what kind of updates should be avoided? (Changing titles and metadescriptions? Restructurin the categories of the site?)

    Many thanks!

  57. (Just a cliarification on my comment : I’m asking about the frequency of the updates. Would it be wise to avoid making some changes too often ? Thanks!

  58. I love Lisa’s last question. I actually exactly just googled, “will Google penalize me for changing the titles of past articles on my website?” which brought me to this here article.

    My focus, as of the last couple days, has been to improve the optimization of articles on my site. I have taken 3 steps:

    1) I have dummed down my url’s to better align with likely search terms.

    IE- I revised, “/articles/sun-devil-stadium-latest-developments-for-renovations-to-be-announced-this-week” to read, “/articles/new-sun-devil-stadium/.”

    2) I have changed titles of my articles to be more keyword friendly.

    IE- I revised an articles titled, “ADD YOUR COMMENTS: Thank You Sun Devil Football Facebook Page for Fans to Speak Their Minds” to read, “Thank You Sun Devil Football Facebook Page: Add Your Own Comments.” (I made sure my keywords, “Thank You Sun Devil Football Facebook Page,” were now at the front of the article title.)

    3) I have looked for opportunities within my copy to include my keywords. I am certainly not going over-the-top with keyword density. But I find there’s a few additional instances where I can plug in my exact keywords without taking away from the readability or value of my article.

    I hoping for anyone’s feed back on these steps I have been taking, and like Lisa asked, is it bad when Google notices a lot of these revisions within a short period. (I do about 20 articles at a time).

    THANK YOU SO MUCH my fellow optimizing comrades!!

  59. Epic article – with all the bad advice that’s going around these days on what you should be doing with SEO , it’s good to get a comprehensive list of what not to do…SO it the end , just focus on writing great content and you should start seeing the google love flow to you..Well at least that’s what I tell myself

  60. One of my site has been penalized by google, but my site has not been deindex in google search. all my keywords rankings dropped from rank 1 to not in top 100 but the branding name of my site still on rank 1. I would like to ask if my site really penalized and how to recover it?

  61. This is a very handy reference, and I hope you keep it updated to benefit of those of us who care about honest Google traffic. The tip on avoiding black hat SEO discussions is worth its weight in gold. I did not know that advertorials and other forms of paid content can be penalized. SEO has certainly come a long way from metatags.

  62. Website Content is the main reason for penalized by Google. First of all update fresh content in all pages.

  63. Very useful information.please advice how to recover back

  64. Hello everyone,
    A client’s website was removed from Google’s index (penalized) and was not showing anywhere on Google, even if you do a search on site:yourdomain.com

    Here is what we have done to recover it:
    1. We have made sure there was no excessive duplicate content
    2. We have made sure the keywords and meta titles were not repeated on pages
    3. We have made sure the website has no malware codes injected (virus scan)
    4. We have created a Webmaster Tools for that domain name
    5. We have recreated the sitemap file
    6. We have submitted the website + sitemap file to Google via the Webmasters Tools
    7. Monitoring the Webmasters Tools for errors and suggestions
    8. Fixed errors showing on Webmaster Tools
    9. Monitoring for errors
    10. Waiting
    11. Waiting
    12. Did a search on site:ourdomain.com and it showed up :-)
    13. Did a search on keywords+metal titles and it showed up :-)

    Please remember that this cannot be fixed overnight, it really does take time. Can be weeks or months, but your domain will be indexed again.

    There are of course other ways to recover but this has always worked for us just fine.

    All the best.

    Regards,

    Shakib
    http://www.topithost.com

  65. Thanks for the list! Does the penalty also happen if a large sites are pulling your twitter feed along with the first sentence of specific articles and you can find them in searches for your articles?

  66. Thanks for this great useful information. Seems to me, that google is making sure to keep every site below them when it comes to s.e.o. Like really. Some of those penalties don’t make any since.(You penalize me if someone steals my content.) But I do understand them trying to cut down duplicated content and malicious sites, but these penalties will definitely affect the average webmaster and even the best webmasters. It’s weird to me how google wants to penalize us for using quick fixes and how we build links, but those quick fix sites rank high on google search engines.

  67. tada!

    the most important SEO info for 2014!

    br
    S

  68. Kiss metrics side use to marketing guides . thank for your side .

  69. Building Backlinks is a very Important Part for every new Website or Blog as it will help you in Improving Google Search Rankings as well Alexa Ranking

  70. Thanks for sharing good article. My website got penalised by google and there is drop in 90% of viewers. I was going through the article and found that there are 7 line items is where I am suspecting that they would have brought down my website rankings. Now I know what it is, but it may take time for me to implement and correct it. Thanks

  71. That is good list. I didn’t know all the reasons. Good to know.

  72. It’s 2014 now, Article is stile useful for new webmasters like me :) Thank you KISSmetrc for shearing such useful content!

  73. Thank you Claire very nice read.

    3 weeks ago I noticed I had the same page title for all my pages (each test had the same generic title for the last 2 years a very silly costly mistake) so I changed my page titles to reflect the content. Now after the change google have knocked me way back on the search – currently my search traffic is down over 70% for the month and dropping. I thought my change would push me up even more but the reverse has happened. Can you give me any advice? Can I contact google directly or is that pointless :) Or do I have to wait – each day I wait I get less and less search traffic.

  74. My site is suffering from some kind of penalty but i can’t able to figure out what it is. But after reading your article, i can figure out, what is the cause. Thanks for sharing such valuable source with us.

  75. I need to find an expert to go through my site and fix what needs to be fixed. we have been fixing everything we can but we just don’t know enough about it to make it right.
    I am looking to hire some, preferably and individual to work on my site. any recommendations appreciated. Joe

  76. I believe should have read this before building websites, lost two new websites due to bad links…Can u tell something about ‘pure spam’ which de-indexed one of my websites although i have original and unique contents on my website.

  77. Thanks for sharing such a valuable information. Since yesterday after reading about MyBlogGuest penalty, I was wondering what was the major factor which resulted into this disaster, but after reading your post came to know about many reasons which can cause penalty.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  78. Excellent post, I learned lot from this blog. Thanks…

  79. Thanks admin this is must read aeticle for the newbies to understand google and blogging

  80. Oh course! It ALL revolves around content … enough said! :)

  81. Really you have knowledge in depth … Very helpfuls tips

  82. There is a lot of misleading and faulty information in this article including signs of penalty. Those could be “signs” can be signs of many other things including just competition, other sites getting penalties so you lose link value, negative SEO etc.

    Be careful following this list for analyzing your site for penalties. We do this every day in site audits and the misinformation here could cause you to make faulty conclusions or implement poor strategies that could kill your site or make a non-issue into an issue.

    PS the duplicate content FILTER is not a penalty. It may feel like one, but it is still a filter.

  83. Nice info. Thanks for information

  84. Thanks for sharing this post. There are a lot of new things that one can learn from this post.

  85. Love most these posts but this one is complete BS. Penalised for too few, or too many outbound links? Please.

  86. Like what happen to my blog now. Before 4/4/2014 my visitor around 100-150 now it just 40. I think it because my blog age, my blog age is around 2 weeks and i hope it because of that

  87. Hello Admin,
    Thanks for sharing this post. Can you tell me, how to know about another site is penalized by Google or not?

    • Ashutosh, there are a number of variables that have to be looked at. Do you have a specific site that you think was penalized?

  88. Great article, I would say the majority of these points are true, but I disagree with few of them. I don’t want to go into details as I see others have done that already.

    If you want my opinion, I think you have done this on purpose to generate more comments, after all you are writing this to improve your site’s SEO campaign, no? ;) for that I must say well done :)

    • Abdullah, thanks for the positive feedback. That wasn’t the case at all, however, that could be a great strategy ;)

      What were the points you disagreed with. Would love to hear them!

  89. ROGER STAPLETON Apr 13, 2014 at 12:26 am

    The almighty Google speaks and we all have to change the planet’s websites. The question should be why do we need optimization at all? Surely, the object of Google is to rank the best sites on top? Surely, their superior algorithm can identify the best websites whether they are optimized or not?

    Unfortunately, this is not the case and you do need to optimize otherwise each search result would just show a Wikipedia listing at the top spot. Ranking even your own brand is difficult. You will frequently have to buy that keyword through Google to prove that your website ranks well for it then over time your brand/company will also naturally rank well. Remember folks: Only the paid links make Google money and if you could find everything in the natural links then their whole search project would be unviable.

    • Roger, you bring up some great points. I think a great multi-pronged approach is best. Thanks for the feedback :)

  90. I appreciate this article very much. It’s really hard to build links but I guess doing it manually and ethically is better and safer than making instant links that you would regret forever. Thanks for posting this article. Can you post an article or direct me to a link that would give me the best advices on how to get high PR and established links? I’ve tried searching and it’s weird since some high ranking articles are not too useful. I’m asking this since I find this article really informative. Thanks

  91. Really nice post spent many hours on it :)

  92. Is it possible to recover from penalty? I am getting hit every time..panda,penguin you name it and i got hit…

    and its difficult to check all the 50 reasons mentioned above.

  93. Really nice post spent many hours on it :)

  94. A sudden big drop in traffic a few days ago got me to here. After reading, I am still a little puzzled about why I was being penalized. Would you help me to take a look a advise me? I have keep in mind to keep content as relevant as possible to users and that’s why all the more I am puzzled.

  95. really informative post.. thanks for sharing.

  96. Very useful information.please advice how to recover back??

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