WHY THIS GUIDE?

Few things put a site owner or an SEO on edge more than the appearance of a Google penalty.

In recent years there has been a regular rollout of major algorithm updates and changes. With the Panda update in 2011, Penguin in 2012, and Hummingbird in 2013, and almost constant smaller updates and data refreshes, it’s difficult to keep up with them all.

Future updates are going to be just as stressful for those who aren’t following these trends, cutting corners with their link-building, and not keeping on top of their link profile by being aware who links to them.

We wanted to make an in-depth guide to Google penalties, what they are, how to avoid them, how to protect yourself from all future changes and mostly how to rectify the situation if your site is penalised.

You want to get your rankings back? Follow our advice and you will.

WHO IS THIS GUIDE FOR?

You might be a business owner with an online store, an employee working in the internet marketing department of a FTSE 100, or a freelance SEO whose client has just been hit. Whatever your reason for being here, it’s likely that you have a big problem to solve.

Sales used to be arriving through the search engines, and maybe that revenue source has completely dried up. It’s a scary situation to be in, but all is not lost. There is always something to be done, and no domain is ever completely burnt.

Any site can clean up its act, and when it does, it will generally be in a much better position than one that’s brand new.

If you haven’t been hit yet by a Google penalty, you’re lucky to have found this while you have! Bookmark it, downloaded, print it out, internalise the information contained in this guide and use it to protect your business (or your job!) for many years to come.

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE?

If you know nothing about SEO or Google’s misleadingly-fluffily named updates, don’t worry. By the end of this guide you’ll know more about recovering from a penalty than the guy you considered hiring to do it for you. We’re going to walk you through every little step, from identifying the penalty, to figuring out where it came from, from discovering the root cause, to fixing the problem, and finally, to recovering your much needed search engine rankings.

You might only need one chapter. It’s a reference guide, not a novel, so read through the descriptions below and navigate to the one you need.

HOW TO IDENTIFY A GOOGLE PENALTY

 The first step, before you do anything is to find out exactly where you stand. Have your sales or traffic dropped suddenly, and you’re looking for reasons why? Or do you know for sure that your search rankings have dropped because you’ve been diligently tracking your keyword rankings?

If you’re not completely on top of your website metrics already, it’s time to get some clarity. You might be in panic mode, but try to step outside of that state for the moment.

It’s never too early to get on top of your data, and it’s never been easier.

HOW TO KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR DATA

For most people it’s not feasible to search through 50 pages of Google every day to see where you rank for the keywords you’re targeting. Fortunately, tracking your search visibility doesn’t have to be time consuming.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Of all the software in your SEO arsenal, Google Analytics is going to be the foundation and the tool that you will refer to most. It’s free, feature-packed, and provides the backbone data for many of the other SEO tools.

Click here to view an in-depth guide on setting up Google Analytics.

Google no longer provides the specific keywords that people are finding your site through, but you can still see at a glance the general health and historic changes to your organic search traffic.