Getting Penalized by Google and How To Fix It

Did your site get penalized by Google? It can be frustrating to work on optimizing your web pages to rank for keywords and see no progress at all, or to see your search engine rankings suddenly drop. This happens sometimes on Google, and there is an explanation for it. It’s a Google penalty.

What is a Google penalty?

A Google penalty is a punishment Google gives to sites they feel do not meet certain quality standards. This can be a drop in rankings by 5, 30, or even a drop to the end of the listings for that keyword (more than 900 positions).

This can spell disaster for companies who run their business through their web sites. But it’s not quite the end of the world.

Google Penalty Types

There are various penalty types that have been found by several webmasters and SEOs. Through their experience, they have found the following types of penalties:

How to fix Google penalty

To begin with, Google penalizes web sites only because they have broken some of Google’s webmaster guidelines. The major ones in particular are listed at the bottom of that page, under “Quality guidelines – specific guidelines”. Any site that breaks any of these rules or a combination of them can see a Google penalty levied upon them.

The major penalties are for doing any of (or a combination of) the following:

  1. Using hidden text or hidden links that search engines can see but humans can’t
  2. Using cloaking to show different versions of a page to users and search engines
  3. Using redirects (such as with JavaScript) to deceive search engines by placing differing script-based text (which the engines can’t see) and noscript-based text (which humans usually don’t see)
  4. Sending automated queries to Google, such as with software intending to determine site ranking positions in the search results
  5. Keyword stuffing – filling a page with keywords that do not help visitors
  6. Duplicate content, either between pages on one domain or between pages across multiple domains/subdomains
  7. Having pages that will install malware or viruses to visitors to that page, or with phishing schemes
  8. Doorway pages – pages that are built purely for a specific keyword/keyword phrase intended only to rank and then link to another location, with no original quality content
  9. Posting affiliate links without providing any unique and relevant content (giving users a reason to visit the site before going to the affiliate link)

To fix this penalty, the first step is to remove any violation of Google’s rules. Sometimes that’s enough, and Google may notice it. You’ll be put back into a proper position on the search engine results pages. But Google is not always watching closely.

What if correcting fault does not remove Google penalty?

In the case you’ve fixed all the issues, time has passed and you’re still suffering the Google penalty, what do you do? The answer is to submit your site for a reconsideration request.

In this case, tell Google the specific issues you found and corrected, and then ask politely to have your penalty removed and your position restored. They will not respond directly, so you need to wait until someone has read your request. This can sometimes take a few weeks. To know if Google has seen and attended to your request, check inside your Webmaster Tools Messages for a message that says “We’ve processed your reconsideration request for X” where X is your site.

After they’ve reviewed your request, if they determine that you have in fact removed all the violating elements on your web site, then your penalty will be removed and you are back in business. If not, then you still may be in violation of some guidelines – be sure to look carefully through your site for issues and errors.

Once you’ve made sure your site is clean and not in violation of Google’s guidelines, you should not have to worry about penalties. Then it’s back to business for your site!

This guest post is by Eric Gesinski who does SEO and internet marketing at You can also write a guest article and share your favorite tips.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.