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google penalty diagnosis

If your site has experienced a sudden decrease in organic traffic or you begin to see your targeted keyword rankings fall from Google’s front page results, your site may be experiencing the effects of a Google Penalty.

While there are a variety of Google search engine penalties that may be causing the problem, the Penguin Algorithm is one of the most common causes. Since April 2012, Google’s Penguin algorithm has been working to help clean up some of the most common “over-optimization”, low-quality link building and spamming techniques from across the web.

If you notice a sudden drop off in your site’s organic traffic, don’t panic. Keeping an eye out for the warning signs of a Penguin Penalty can help you quickly diagnose and fix the problem.  With rumors circulating that Google will now be updating the Penguin algorithm on a continuous, rolling basis, it’s now more important than ever to consistently monitor your site for signs of a Penguin Penatly.

Conducting a Google Penguin Penalty Diagnosis

1. Check for Google Manual Actions

manual penguin penalty from google webmaster tools
If  your site is showing signs of a Penguin Penalty, the first course of action you should take is to login to your Google Webmaster Tools account. Within the Webmaster Tools platform, check if your site has any manual action notifications as a result of potentially spammy inbound links to your site. If you do have one of these manual action notifications, it is crucial that you take immediate action to remedy the problem and file a reconsideration request.

A manual action notification means that a Google employee manually identified links to your site that may be associated with spam content.  Even if your site isn’t receiving a manual action notification it may still be affected by the Penguin algorithm so you may want to consider running a quality link assessment on your site.

2. Penguin Penalty and Your Site’s Analytics

Another way to diagnose a potential Penguin Penalty is to check your site’s analytical data. Using an organic research data analysis tool, like SEMrush, will help you track your keyword position changes as well as chart your organic traffic over time.

Tools like algoroo.com and mozcast.com monitor daily changes.

Tools like algoroo.com and mozcast.com monitor daily changes.

If you notice that your site’s organic traffic levels suddenly drop after a certain date, check to see if the drop date corresponds with a recorded algorithm update. If the drop in traffic matches up with a Penguin update, chances are that your site is reaping from the effects of a Penguin Penalty.

3. Assess Your Link Building History

Since 2012, SEOs have seen a major shift in the way that a site can earn backlinks. In the past, it was common practice to spread as many inbound links as possible across the web and several SEOs and webmasters used this tactic to gain a quick boost in their site’s search engine rankings.

However, all this changed when Google unleashed their Penguin algorithm. Nowadays, Google aims to severely punish sites who are breaking ‘The Golden Rules of Link Building.’ If your site has an SEO strategy in place, it is important that you know what link building tactics will both help and harm your website.

4. Checking Your Site’s Backlink Profile

The most effective way to assess your website’s backlink profile is by using Google Webmaster Tools. Google’s ‘Links to Your Site’ page will list all the inbound links that search engine bots discover throughout the web. This feature provides information about the most common link sources and what pages on your site are being linked to.

Conducting a comprehensive link audit is the first step to diagnosing or even avoiding a future penalty. Consider using a variety of link analysis tools from across the web to gather more information about your site’s backlinks from across the web.

Open Site Explorer backlink anchor text analysis by moz.com.

As you make your way through the list of links to your site, visit a few along the way – specifically those that appear to be linking to your site more often than others. Keep an eye out for some of the most common sure ways to get a penguin penalty including:

  • Keyword heavy anchor text
  • Links that come from Spam sites
  • Unnatural links to your site

As a rule of thumb, making sure that the inbound links to your site are naturally earned and are in-line with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines will help you keep your site penalty free.

The Road to Penguin Penalty Recovery

If you have determined that your site’s performance is suffering as the result of a Penguin Penalty, take immediate action is crucial to help keep your website’s SEO performance up to par. Bringing your case to the SEO experts at Eyeflow Internet Marketing can help your site recover faster than ever. Our dedicated staff lives and breathes SEO, committing themselves to repairing your site with their comprehensive manual link analysis and disavowing all unnatural, malicious links to your site in the process. However, our work doesn’t end there. After your site has removed all bad links, we help provide your site with the roadmap to Penguin Penalty recovery, constantly monitoring your site for signs of success and help prevent future penalties. Don’t allow your site to fall victim to a Penguin Penalty, contact Eyeflow today and let us help your site regain and build momentum towards its search engine success.

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Cory is the Director of Content Development at Eyeflow. He graduated with a degree in Multimedia from Point Park University, where he held focus in print writing and online content. When not at work, Cory spends his time conquering Pittsburgh's hills on his bike, tackling DIY projects and crafting creative recipes.

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