Over the years Google has taken various steps to maintain the quality of the content which is being provided through its platform.

These actions taken by Google were targeted towards the removal of unethical SEO search engine optimization practices like sneaky redirects and duplicate content so that Google can provide its users which high-quality content. This is why every website owner has to follow a set of rules which are mentioned in Google Webmaster Guidelines. If those rules are broken they may face a penalty that can lower their website rankings and in some cases, the websites may even get entirely removed from the SERP’s. This Google penalty removal guide can assist webmasters in removing their Google penalty and restoring their rankings so that all their hard work does not go to waste.

Rank by focus Google penalty removal team helps creators remove the penalties and recover their pages to their former glory.

Types of Google Penalties

Google has come up with two different types of google penalties called manual actions and algorithmic penalties. These two penalties target websites breaking different kinds of rules e.g. manual action targets spam and low quality and Algorithmic penalty targets issues like link schemes and keyword stuffing.  

google penalty user generated content

Photo : Google Penalty Manual Actions – User Generated Spam Content

1)     Manual Actions: Google has hired reviewers who go through sites and search for any material which violates the Webmaster Guidelines. Various reasons manual google penalty actions can be applied on your website are:          

  • Cloaking
  •   Thin content
  •   User-Generated spam

Manual penalties are made to target any misleading or spammy material. These penalties are harder to remove if compared to algorithmic penalties. 

2)     Algorithmic penalties: Google has created ‘Google’s core algorithmic updates’ which include Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin, etc. These algorithmic updates are created to target websites violating specific kinds of Webmaster Guidelines. For example:

  • Penguin refers to the ‘Link Penalty’ which is created to target websites that are involved in creating link schemes and keyword stuffing.
  • Panda: refers to the ‘Content penalty’ which is created to search for low-quality content such as duplicates and content farming. Google releases new algorithm updates when they discover something which they don’t like. These updates are like warnings for webmasters. They warn and encourage webmasters to create quality content that meets the new requirements and standards of Google. 

How to find out if you have a Google penalty

google de index

One difference between the two penalties is that a website hit with a manual action penalty receives a report by Google. But, websites hit with algorithmic penalty find out about it after the damage is done. Some of the signs which a website may notice if they are hit with a Google penalty are:

Deindexation: This refers to a website being removed from the Google index. This means that the full website or a part of it ends up disappearing from the search engine. Spam and duplicate content are the most common reasons for websites being removed from the Google index. Webmasters must identify these issues that might get their sites to be deindexed because this can make all their hard work go to waste and sometimes webmasters are left with no choice rather than having to start from scratch. 

What to do until the penalty is removed?

The Google penalty removal process takes time, Thus It is advised to rely on traffic coming from other search engines and niche directories until a website is restored on the SERPS’s. It is good to interact with other content creators in the same niche through online forums so that they can help increase visibility by recommending the webmasters work to their followers. At Rank, by Focus we come up with a strategic plan and SEO audit to overcome the difficulties and get traffic to the page regardless.

Decreasing Traffic: If Google Analytics shows a drop in traffic it is usually a sign that a website has been affected by an algorithmic penalty update. In this case, it is best to learn about the new update and find out which part of the site is violating Google Webmaster guidelines. The best method of penalty recovery is to make sure a site is not violating any Google webmaster Guidelines by making necessary changes to it.

Webmasters can try to increase their traffic by using other means to generate traffic. These include social networks and subscription incentives. It is also beneficial to use other search engines for the time being to generate more traffic. 

 Decreasing Rankings: It is advised that content creators keep a check on their keywords in Google. If their keywords show any signs of receding in the SERP’s, then it is very likely that they have been hit with a penalty. Monitoring backlinks can be very helpful in tracking keywords. This can be done by clicking on the rank tracker tab and typing in the keywords that need to be tracked. By doing webmasters will be able to see the ranking position for each keyword they typed in. Also, a click on the history option can help see the keywords ranking trend on the SERP’s. The monitor backlinks account will also warn webmasters about their rankings. A great method to get a rough idea about rankings of any website is to check the summary section on top of the page. Any decrease in the ‘Keyword up’ and Increase in ‘Keyword Down’ statistics indicates a possibility of the Google penalty.

google algorithm penalty recovery

Penalty recovery will take various efforts and time, which is why Webmasters need to find other methods to boost rankings at that time. Social media channels like Instagram and Facebook can be used to promote any website until the penalty has been lifted as social media is a great method to reach millions of people from all over the globe. Engaging in meetups and events can also help get recognition and new opportunities for collaborations. Craigslist is also a good channel to increase a website’s visibility. 

4 Actions Google penalty removal methods

google disavow tool

Let’s talk about the 4 actions that can be taken to remove any penalty.

1) Edit all websites to follow all Google’s Guidelines: The best method to remove and avoid Google’s penalty is to keep track of Google’s Guidelines. It is crucial to make sure that there is no google penalty violation site wide. Rank by focus are experts that are well versed in all Google guideline and makes sure their customer’s site complies with all of them. We avoid all common SEO mistakes. It is also beneficial to go through SEO search engine optimization news and blogs to be up to date on all the new trends and rules regarding Google Guidelines. Reading case studies will also help understand any mistakes that content creators make which leads them to be penalized.

2)  Make use of the Disavow tool: Google has come out with various helpful tools like a disavow tool to help its users and webmasters. Thus, link penalties can be easily avoided by getting rid of the backlinks causing that penalty. This can be done by submitting a disavow file of toxic links to Google’s Disavow Links tool so that Google can devalue those backlinks as a method for google penalty removal method. 

3) Submit a reconsideration request: After making sure that the website is following all of Google’s guidelines. It’s recommended to submit a reconsideration request so that Google can recheck the website and start the penalty removal process. To do so, webmasters have to write down the detail of all the actions they took to meet the Google penalty removal guidelines and upload that document. Google will go through their website and make sure they have successfully removed all the issues and start the process of Google penalty removal for their site.

4) Improve content quality: Users click on every page hoping to get high-quality answers to their queries. Google wants all site owners to make sure they provide users with content that meets their standards. The medic update of 2018 made by Google made it even clearer that they expect site owners to work harder on providing expert content. Thus webmasters must make sure that no user leaves their site with a bad experience if they aim to avoid being penalized.

How to remove manual penalties

google thin content algorithm penalty

Let’s focus on the methods of removing specific kinds of manual penalty:

1) Thin Content: This refers to irrelevant and useless content. Sites with duplicate or auto-generated content may face manual penalties. The Google manual penalty for deindexation of useless pages e.g. a page dedicated to providing information on top salons in an area without giving any address or specific details about how to contact those salons or what services they provide. This will not meet Google standards as it is not providing enough information to users. That’s why we stress the importance to hire a great website designer. The manual penalty for thin content is deindexation of these sites. A simple method to remove this penalty and recover any site is to:

  • Rather than starting again, recycling old material by rewriting it and making it more detailed and helpful for users can be a great way to not let previous hard work go to waste.
  • Find scraped content and get rid of it. It is advised for webmasters to get a writer to help them come out with helpful information.
  • Find pages with simple lists and rewrite them into useful tutorials and guides so that the site is providing searchers with the answers to all their queries regarding any topic.

People do not want to waste their time trying to get answers regarding the same topic on different sites. E.g. if a webmaster has a page regarding top places to visit in new york on their site, then their article should also provide the relevant information about those places like the address, open and closing timings, etc. If they just provide the names of the places then that would be considered as thin content and leave a bad impression on users.

2)Cloaking and redirects: It is a violation of Google’s rules if a webmaster shows the user’s one thing and Google another. This is called cloaking and it can result in manual penalties. These penalties can be removed by the use of a URL inspection tool. This tool helps webmasters see information through the eyes of Google and users. This makes it easy to identify the differences and correct the issue. After correcting all the issues it is advised to submit a reconsideration request to Google to speed up the Google penalty removal process.

3) Keyword stuffing and hidden text: Google condemns the usage of black hat practices like hidden text which is a method of showing text in a way that is unreadable. Keyword stuffing refers to when website owners load a page with excess keywords to rank high. These practices increase the rankings of the pages unnaturally. This keeps Google from providing helpful content as it shows users irrelevant results that are not related to their query. This penalty can be removed by getting rid of irrelevant and repeated keywords from a website.

4)  Unnatural links to the site: Google condemns the use of unnatural links to increase backlinks ( Off Page SEO strategy ). Hiring a link seller for link building purposes who sends non- social links to a webmasters site to unfairly boost their rankings is against the Google Webmasters Guideline. This is because, when Google spots someone using unnatural backlinks, they de-rank their website in the SERP’s. Cleaning up a websites backlinks profile is the first step to fix this issue. Start by checking context, domains, and anchor text to find bad links. Next, request webmasters to get those bad links removed. ‘Monitor Backlinks’ can also be used to search for all links leading to a website. Then, make a ‘ready-made disavow file’ and upload it to Google. First, webmasters need to login to their account and click on the links tab. Then, they need to check the list of backlinks to find toxic links. If any link is low quality then they will see an orange triangle right beside it. It also helps spot anchor text that may be spammy. Then, they can disavow the toxic links by clicking on the disavow button on top of the page and request a reconsideration request to speed up the penalty removal process.

5)  Pure spam: Websites created to spam are referred to as pure spam. These websites are filled with irrelevant low-value content. Google strongly dislikes pure spam as it violates their rule of providing high-quality content. Sites performing it are completely deindexed from the web and it is extremely challenging to get this penalty removed. It is important to keep checking for these issues as it is possible to be penalized mistakenly by a google reviewer. It is possible to lift this penalty by cleaning the site and removing any scraped and auto-generated information. 

6) Sneaky Redirects / AMP content mismatch: Google disapproves of the act of showing different content to desktop users if compared with mobile users. This manual action can get a site deindexed. The penalty removal for this manual action is to simply make sure that a site format stays the same for all users. Also, make sure to focus on AMP content and its markup.

7) User-Generated Spam: User-generated spam is usually found on forums where users can write and post anything they want without any editorial which means that the information can be false or inappropriate. This manual penalty aims to encourage site owners to make sure that users do not leave low-quality information on their site. The penalty removal process for this is to enforce an editorial review on websites so that every comment is scanned before being posted. This will help ensure that a site is not filled with any bad links or useless content. 

How we removed a client's Google penalty by cleaning their links

We came across a client with a damaged SEO strategy. The client’s website had been penalized because of unnatural incoming links. The website that was penalized was new which made us suspect that the client must have bought link packages from a link seller. This was confirmed by the client who agreed to have bought a big amount of backlinks for a cheap price. They did so because they wanted to speed up the success of their new website and boost their rankings.

Analyzing the problem 

To fix the issue we started by accessing the client’s Google webmaster tools and Google Analytics accounts. The Google Webmaster tools showed ‘unnatural links’ manual actions in the client’s dashboard. The manual action penalty was caught early which is why Google analytics did not show any drop in traffic. We also used various other tools to identify other faulty backlinks. Our findings showed low-value backlinks filled with toxic and spammy links. 

Resolving the issue

We had to work hard on getting our clients penalty lifted. First, we put together an excel spreadsheet with all the toxic backlinks. Then we sent emails to webmasters to request them to remove the toxic backlinks. Some webmasters failed to reply to us which is why we had to send Google a disavow file and request them to devalue the backlinks. After making sure that our client’s website is following all the Google webmaster guidelines we sent Google a reconsideration request telling them about all our efforts. We were successful in the penalty removal for our clients.


 The Google penalty removal process can be easy. Site owners must act fast to fix it and make sure that their website is following all the Google guidelines so that they can get back to working on increasing their rankings and traffic. As soon a site has been hit with a penalty, necessary steps need to be taken with the purpose to recover it. Start by studying any last changes made to the site to identify what might have caused the site to receive the penalty. It is also advised to focus on other actions like backlink profile changes or link building methods that may have created the issue. We learn from our mistakes, So, In case of a website receiving a penalty, it is advised for its owners to not be demotivated and instead, work on removing it so that they never receive it again.

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