A Google penalty is the result of a constantly changing algorithm utilized to crawl and inspect websites. You may no longer be listed in search results or the ranking for your targeted keywords has dropped dramatically. When your target audience can't find you, it affects revenue.
There are two main penalties. The first one is a manual action from Google’s spam team, and the second one is an algorithmic penalty.
1. Manual Action – handed down by a Google employee. They're most often given when your website is found to be doing something against Google's Terms of Service. This may include a virus infection, cloaking, redirects, or buying links.
2. Algorithmic Penalty – may impact websites that have thin or duplicate content, keyword-stuffed copy, slow loading times, or a lack of incoming links. With this kind of penalty, you will still be ranking in search, but probably much lower.
To ensure your site doesn't receive a Google penalty, make sure your site does not have:
- spyware, adware, or viruses
- hidden links or text
- cloaking (displaying a different version of a webpage to the search engine robots)
- deceptive redirects (when a visitor is automatically taken to another page without clicking anything)
- pages loaded with irrelevant keywords
- keyword stuffing
- a substantial amount of duplicate content
Getting rid of a Google penalty is doable. Numerous websites have recovered from all types of penalties.
The key to removing any Google penalty is to understand what caused it. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines can provide great guidance. Once you identify the reason for your penalty, you have to remove the backlinks that led to your rankings drop and disavow the ones you cannot remove. Download all of the backlinks from Google Webmaster Tools, and use an SEO tool to get more insights about your links.