Been penalized by Google lately? Site rankings drop dramatically or traffic numbers down?
Google has been known to apply a variety of filters or penalties to web sites that do not follow their Terms of Service. However, don’t fret. If you manage to correct all errors, you could be forgiven and filters will be removed (even with no reconsideration request in Google Webmaster Tools).
One problem is that many site owners are not aware that they have been penalized. They could be unaware of the duplicate content penalty, bad neighborhood problems, packed SEO, or over-optimization. Most times these issues are invisible even to a seasoned SEO.
Here are a few flags to consider if you see some adverse rankings and traffic patterns happening to your web site.
1. Sudden Loss Rankings This is a penalty that could be applied to the whole site. It could be that the problem is with external backlinks, could apply to the entire site or one or a few pages. If to the entire site it may have to do with backlinks and if internal pages more than likely is an internal issue.
2. General Query Differences Some webmasters notice site rankings in Google.com search vs. a separate Google.com database. This is not confirmed but highly speculated.
3. Your domain is not #1 for [yourdomain.com] search. Note that this can be a sign of some issue only for established sites – new sites can be found nowhere for the domains search naturally.
4. [site:yourdomain.com] returns 0 results (again, for established, prior indexed sites). This flag is the most dangerous one: it might mean some dramatic error on your side (you might have mixed something up with Robots.txt, robots meta tags or redirects) or you might have done something really bad. In this case, reconsideration request is your only hope, I am afraid.
5. Don’t Jump the Gun Even for older, well-established sites all of these things can happen temporarily without any penalty being involved. People should make sure that radical changes stick before hitting the panic button. Normal churn usually clears up within 2-3 days, although on some rare occasions it can last 1-2 weeks (Google often rolls back the index when churn lasts that long). If you see no improvement after 3-4 weeks, you’ve probably been penalized.
A ton of errors and issues with your web site can be seen early and addressed in Google Webmaster Tools. The account is free, and by submitting sitemaps and understanding how Google views and crawls your site, you can avoid or catch major headaches early with your site. If you need help getting an account set-up and your account sitemap submitted please contact TM.
Thanks to Ann Smarty at Search Engine Journal for the insight on these tips.