Google Penalty Recovery

Site traffic and sales being effected by a sudden drop in rankings?

This video created by boxChilli’s Operations Manager Matthew Atkinson runs through how to identify whether your site has suffered a penalty on Google due to falling foul of their best practice guidelines. How to fix a penalty once it has been confirmed and how to avoid getting another in the future. Made in conjunction with Christian Roberts of Tama Productions.

A Google penalty is the negative impact on a website’s search rankings based on updates to Google’s search algorithms and/or manual review. The penalty can be an unfortunate by-product of an algorithm update or an intentional penalization for various black-hat SEO techniques.

Penalties Broken Down

Manual review Algorithmic penalty / filtering
Penalty causes:Manual penalties are usually related to off-site over-optimization, i.e. aggressive link building campaignsAlgorithmic filtering usually takes place with on-site over-optimization.
Penalty symptoms:Ranking changes effect the whole site (though it can be also the sign of automatic one).Only a few of site keyword rankings were effected.
Penalty removal (after the penalty flag is cleared):A manual penalty might only be removed in slow steps.An algorithmic penalty is often removed automatically; it can also be removed with no apparent reason “except that a lot of time passed.”

  • Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (impacting around 3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (impacting around 0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0) on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 5 (AKA Penguin 2.1) on October 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 6 (AKA Penguin 3.0) on October 17, 2014 (impacting less than 1% English queries).

What can you do


Step 1: collecting backlink data – use your favourite backlink program but the best will be Webmaster Tools as these will be the links that Google sees.


Analytics SEO


Step 2: Put all links in to a spreadsheet


Visit all of the sites are they spammy? Do they appear in the Google index? Do they have duplicate anchor text? Do they all link to your home page? Were they all added at once?

Some guides recommend contacting the Webmaster but what happens if the Webmaster is un-contactable or the links have been added nefariously by a competitor? This is arguably a waste of time.

Add all of the links that you would like to be ignored by Google to a text document e.g and then it is on to the next step.




Type ‘disavow’ into Google. You will find the disavow tool as the top result. Choose the url of the site whose links you need to disavow. Google’s disavow tool is a fantastic way of improving the reputation of your site in the eyes of Google.


Webmaster Forum


These guys were very helpful. they took a look at the ranking behaviour of my site, identified a couple of example spammy links and link anchors and then advised on running through the links manually to create a list of definite spam that could then be disavowed. I kept them informed as the process was completed.




The process can take six weeks and you should then start to see improvements in rankings and traffic. i would recommend monitoring the backlink profile of your site incase a competitor is doing negative link building against your domain, a cheap and effective tactic. from the point that you found you had a Google penalty I would recommend changing the techniques used to gain links using white hat rather than black hat methods. Google will be able to see that the link building patterns have improved and also the diversification of anchors and the improvement in deep linking ratio.




Our clients have experienced only positive effects from using the techniques listed above. here are a couple of examples.


Example 1:

Dropped from 4100 organic visits 66% to 1400

7 months later site is now 100% higher at 2400 and climbing at 10% p/m


Example 2:

Dropped from 1700 organic visits to 700

7 months later site is now at 1473

Site stats hit by the latest Google update? We can help!

As Google’s algorithms get ever more sophisticated, many sites are finding their traffic drop off after each update. While this is intended to de­list spam sites and drop less useful content down the search rankings, it can also affect perfectly good, useful sites. Luckily, it’s entirely possible to accomplish a complete Google penalty recovery.

Why do sites incur a Google penalty?

Websites incur a penalty when search engine software determines that they have been previously ranked too highly.

Recent Google penalties have been handed out for:

  • low quality content

  • cloaking,
    i.e. serving different pages to Google than to users

  • aggressive and unnatural link building campaigns

  • buying or selling links

The first is obviously bad for the user. The last three make it hard for the search engine to serve appropriate results to the user, which is why they incur a Google penalty. Search engines value sites based on their incoming links: they argue that if people writing about ‘premier league football’ link to Wikipedia more than the FA (or visa versa) then that site is probably more valuable for searchers.

Why has the algorithm been updated again?

Search engines try to give their users the exact results they’re looking for, ideally in ad form. This clever searching is constantly being refined. Each new implementation is a new algorithm update. In the meantime, SEO experts are constantly figuring out ways to improve a page’s rank, either naturally or using the tricks that incur a Google penalty. Algorithm updates might affect your ranking, but they also de­list spam results.

How does Google penalty recovery work?

There are several steps to recovering from a Google penalty. First, you have to be sure that it is a Google penalty – if all your traffic comes from Bing, it won’t be. Second, it’s important to diagnose the reason for the drop. A sudden drop that coincides with a known algorithm update is fairly obvious, but uncovering other issues can be harder. Once the problem has been correctly assessed, an appropriate recovery strategy can be implemented.

This will often include one or more of:

  • updating site data aimed
    at search engine robots

  • improving content

  • requesting the removal of damaging links (Penguin)

  • assessing keyword use
    and linking strategies

It’s important to remember that search engines are entirely automatic, unfeeling robots. They may well penalise or de­list a site unjustly.

We can quickly identify the cause of any extreme drop in rankings and will then lay out a plan to recover the lost positions. The entire backlink profile will be analysed and disavowed. We will then monitor the backlinks on an ongoing basis and can fix any other outstanding SEO issues whilst waiting for the offending backlinks to be removed if necessary. Please call us today to discuss how we can help fix your site on 02392 822377

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