The search giants are constantly innovating, updating, and improving algorithms to enhance the overall user experience. This was recently seen with Google’s update to Panda and Penguin entitled “The Quality Update”.

Alterations took place yet again a few months later with mobile updates the internet dubbed Mobilegeddon. Just a few month prior to that in February, Google release an unnamed update to its algorithms.

See a trend here? With Google constantly changing how the game works for businesses, many owners have resorted to bending the rules to gain leverage and achieve better rankings in the SERP’s. The updates to Panda and Penguin have actually penalized many websites for not strictly adhering to Google’s guidelines.

As organic search traffic drops like a lead balloon, many have begun to panic while an attempt is made to discover the root cause of the problem. Yes, you can hire an expensive SEO firm to come to your rescue, but it’s not always necessary (or fruitful). First, take stock of Google’s guidelines and SEO best practices. It’s shocking how many issues can be addressed with some simple clean up.

To save business owners loads of time, money, and stress, here is the information needed to determine if your site has been penalized, how to identify what type of penalty it is, and how you can recover from this digital blow.

Types of Penalties

There are two different types of penalties that a site is likely to incur. The first is a Manual Penalty. These are quite easy to determine as Google will actually leave a notification in the Search Console. This will let business owners know which pages on a site, or if the entire site, has a penalty. The notification will inform you of the exact issue and it may possibly provide an example of this issue as well.

This will undoubtedly affect a site by lowered rankings in SERP’s and possible removal from the index altogether. Unfortunately, these penalties are quite difficult and time consuming to correct. Google has, however, provided the tools to use and it is possible to reverse the penalty. Be patient with the process and your hard work will pay off.

The second type of penalty that a site might face is an Algorithmic penalty. Unfortunately, these are much harder to identify than Manual penalties because there will be no notification of this handicap. One of the first telltale signs of an algorithmic penalty is a drop in site traffic. This could occur for many reasons and is not a defining trait of this problem. For this reason, it is important to have an intimate understanding of your site’s traffic patterns and cycles.

Once the drop in traffic has been determined to not be related to a different source issue, it is time to check on the rankings of the site. If an algorithmic penalty has occurred, entire groups of terms and phrases will be affected. By utilizing the Google Search Console’s search queries report, individuals can assess and determine if any of the terms and words used to rank the site have dropped in stature.

If your site has seen a dramatic drop in traffic as well as a decreased position in the SERP’s, chances are you are suffering from an algorithmic penalty. But with all the alterations to the algorithms, the question becomes which aspect is harming the site?

Diagnosing the Algorithmic Cause

With all of the updates that Google makes to their algorithms, determining this can be quite the difficult task. There are roughly 500 updates each year, so finding the one that is damaging your site’s visibility can be like finding a needle in a haystack. If you don’t have Google Analytics that is.

Google Analytics is a massively powerful tool to assist in the pursuit of fantastic overall health of a website. There are various tools and applications to assist in determining which algorithm change has been detrimental to the site. One paid tool that is extremely useful and will save massive amounts of time is the Fruition Google Penalty Checker. Simply provide Fruition with your Google Analytics account information and you will receive back a detailed report of all of the penalties as well as a percentage indicating the odds that particular penalty is the one harming you.

This is no easy task to correct, but it is necessary for survival. If penalties are not dealt with in a reasonable amount of time, your company is sure to suffer financial loss from the decrease visibility and traffic. As difficult as this process may be, it is entirely possible to correct and regain position in the SERPs.

While it is never fun to get hit with one of these penalties from Google, it does happen to companies frequently. By learning to maneuver these scenarios now, you stand a much better chance of handling the situation with a level head if it ever arises again.

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