How to Recover from Google Penalties

Have you noticed that your website has lost some traffic? Or that you have been pushed to a back page of results? You may have been hit with a Google penalty or just impacted by an algorithm update. Either way, do not panic and start trying to fix it. It is important to discern if the sudden change was a penalty or just an algorithm update.

Algorithm or Manual Penalty

It is important to know the difference between the two types of penalties because they determine how to go about fixing the problem. Different penalty requires a different correction. The largest difference between an algorithm or a manual penalty is the ability to work with Google directly to remedy the problem. It is important to note that penalties can be applied partially (only impacting certain pages) or site-wide (affecting the whole site)

Animalistic Algorithms

The filters that Google has implemented to provide good results to their users are a set of rules and calculations to deliver their desired outcome. There have been a couple updates in algorithms that help define what is and is not a good website. Google filters for sites that they define as good quality. An update can cause your site’s traffic to drop and these updates are harder to notice as you do not get notified.

Manual Penalties

Think of these as getting punished by a foul play on the court, ice or pitch. These penalties are given when Google’s algorithm flags something on your site and Google decides to apply and manual penalty. These are easy to identify as you will receive a message within you Google Webmaster account. These are easier fixes with requirements to explain the violation and remedy through an online form.

How to fix it:

Manual Penalties

  1. Check your Webmaster account with Google
  2. If you see a notification about a penalty
  3. Follow the steps they provide you
  4. File the Reconsideration Request

Step by step how fix a Keyword Stuffed Penalty

If you think that Google has discovered your website is guilty of using hidden text or over stuffed your keywords try these steps:

  1. On your Webmaster account go to Google Search Console > Crawl > Fetch as Googleand look at the pages from the impacted sections of your website.
  2. Look for text that is the same (or similar) in colour to the main colour of the page and make them standout.
  3. Look for hidden text using CSS positioning or styling and either amend it or remove it
  4. If your keywords inhibit the flow of your site; remove them
  5. Edit duplicate or obviously repetitive words that lack context in paragraphs
  6. Remove tags and all texts with repeated words
  7. Submit a reconsideration form

Algorithmic Penalties

Google penalties may impact 5% of domain operators but of that percentage, 95% penalties are related to backlink usage. If you have checked your webmaster and still can not see why your site has lost traffic. It might be because one of the algorithms has penalized your site because of their content. There are two main updates that will impact your standing online:


This algorithm targets websites with poor quality content, duplicate content and anything that hinders user experience (too many ads or irrelevant content).


This algorithm focuses on backlinks, text distribution, targets sites with unnatural backlink profiles and over optimized anchor texts. Recovering from a Penguin penalty will require analysis on your website’s anchor text distribution.

You can see that both of these algorithms update frequently and their adaptation may cause your site to fall onto a back page. Here are a few steps to help you get back on page 1:

  1. Look to see which algorithmic penalty your site has by comparing the time of the drop to a timeline of algorithmic updates to see if you were affected. You can check this though: Google Algorithm Change History.
  2. Next, you will have to analyze your site’s backlinks to locate the ones that caused your rankings to drop.
  3. Once you have found these links, try and remove them and disavow the ones you can not delete.

Closing remarks

Just remember the Google crawlers are looking out for the best players and honest plays online. Just like in sports, the referees may make bad calls but you can always appeal the decision. If you run into any problems remember these steps and stay calm and optimize on.