If you have a website for your business or other endeavor and want to get the most traffic possible, you need to rank well on Google. Two-thirds of all internet searches occur on Google, meaning that the majority of all search traffic runs through that search engine. Why is Google so popular? Most people agree that it is the best. It can usually be counted upon to return relevant search results and the answers that a person is looking for. To ensure that they stay the best, Google releases several hundreds of updates every year to its search algorithm, as well as manually penalizing websites based on first-hand investigations. The final product of all this is search results with a minimum of spam. Unfortunately, good sites do suffer from time to time, but the good news is that you can take actions to help your site recover from a Google penalty:
1. Identify the Google Penalty
Scour the data available to you through Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and any other tools you might have such as a ranking tracker to see exactly what happened. Your traffic has dropped, but why? Was it a sudden drop, or a gradual decline?
2. What’s the Source of the Site Penalty
Check out major SEO blogs like Moz or SEO Roundtable to find out if there has been a major Google update or some type of penalty that has hit many other sites like yours. If lots of sites have been hit, you’re dealing with a Google algorithm update, but if it was just yours, you likely suffered some type of manual penalty and can skip to step 7.
3. Become an Expert About the Problems on Your Site
If indeed it was an update to Google’s algorithm, take the time to read everything you can about it. Google is cagey about releasing information, so they might announce a few details about an update without exactly explaining how to adapt to it. On the other hand, you can find a variety of opinions about a recent update in the various SEO blogs, not all of which are 100% accurate. Read as much as you can, and identify what seem to be the common denominators in the different observations.
4. Find Out What Others Have Done
Fortunately, the major Google updates fall into the categories of Panda — which penalizes websites with spammy or poor content and favors those with rich content — and Penguin — which penalizes sites that have low-quality or spammy backlinks pointing to them from other sites. Read case studies of how others have recovered from Google updates such as these, including The Holy Grail of Panda Recovery – A 1-Year Case Study and Recovering from an Over Optimization Penalty – A True Story.
5. Make a Plan
Once you have identified what you believe to be the problem, lay out a strategy you’re going to follow. Of course, you might discover new information as you work you way along, but it’s also important to stay focused on a plan of action so that you can complete what you intended to do and not get lost or sidetracked.
6. Use the Available Tools
Because you aren’t the first person to suffer from a Google algorithm update, you can take advantage of tools that have been developed to handle penalties, including:
- Open Site Explorer
- Majestic Site Explorer
- Delete Backlinks. com
Use these tools to get a picture of your link profile — a list of the links that are pointing to your site from other websites — so that you can identify those that are of low quality or are spammy and attempt to have them removed. Once you have cleaned up your link profile, you can probably recover from a Penguin penalty.
7. Reconsideration Request
You can directly send a reconsideration request to Google, but only if you have been given a manual penalty. Manual penalties can be found in Google Webmaster Tools. In most cases of a rankings drop it’s not a manual penalty, but it’s worth looking to see if this is what hit your site. If you did get a manual penalty, you can then submit a request for a Google employee to review your site and determine whether it still deserves to be penalized.
8. Get It Right
SEO is a constantly evolving world and you need to make sure you’re always on the ball. Make sure that you’re producing content and getting backlinks according to Google’s webmaster guidelines, utilizing social media to its fullest, etc. Read industry blogs and guides to stay up to date on what works the best and what’s on the horizon so that you’re better prepared for updates and can respond more quickly when they occur.
9. Talk to the Pro’s
There are people who do this for a living, so it’s a good idea to invest some money in consulting with an SEO expert who can possibly cut to the quick and spot your problem in a fraction of the time it would take you on your own. It’s impossible to guarantee results in the field of SEO, but you can improve your chances of success by getting help from a professional.
10. Watch the Pot Boil
Even if you do everything perfectly correct and address every issue that caused or contributed to your rankings crash, it might still take a while before you start to see results. Pay close attention to the progress and take action as necessary to help the process along. With hard work, insightful observation and adherence to proven principles, you can expect to see your site recover.