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Anyone who violates Google’s guidelines (Google Webmaster Guidelines) will be punished with a high probability. Google’s punishments are called penalties and usually include a loss of ranking of the site or in the worst case a complete removal from the index (deindexation). So how do you check if you website is penalized by Google? I will tell you how but first lets understand the penalty more. The goal is to maximize the user experience and remove pages with little added value without further ado. It follows that Google’s rules should be followed if you want to remain visible on the Internet.
What types of Google penalties are available for your website?
Penalties can, depending on the offence and severity of the punishment, have an effect on a keyword, a URL, a directory or even across pages. In addition, the penalties themselves can be divided into two categories: algorithmic and manual penalties. It follows from these terms that some punishments are carried out automatically and others manually, i.e. by auditors from Google’s own ranks.
Penalties at keyword level
If a penalty is imposed on a certain keyword (or keyword set), the affected domain loses a lot of visibility to this keyword. All other rankings remain unchanged.
Penalties at URL or directory level
Just as you can lose rankings for certain keywords, all rankings of a URL can also be reduced. This means that most of the rankings of a page are lost, not only the affected places (or keywords). Furthermore, an entire directory (or subfolders, e.g. www.website.com/seo) can lose its rankings if too many URLs contained violate the regulations.
The extreme case would be if rankings were reduced at various points on the website. This can be limited to a few rankings or, as we will see in the delisting, affect the entire site.
Delisting — When the website disappears from the Internet
If a page is removed from the Google index, it is not visible in any form. The page is no longer displayed anywhere on the search engine. You can check this with the so-called “site:” operator, with which you can search for certain websites in the Google search: site:youtube.com searches all entries and rankings of the domain.
What is an algorithmic penalty?
Because there are so many penalties to be given every day, no one can forgive such a task. The effort and costs would simply be too great and would bring even giants like Google to their knees. Fortunately, over time (see Panda and Penguin Update for example) programmers have implemented a system that detects misconduct and acts accordingly. The applied updates filter websites with certain properties and calculate the appropriate penalty in the event of a violation.
What is a manual penalty?
When Google employees actively intervene in the punishment of a page, it is called a manual penalty. These employees are usually from a search quality team or responsible for the area of web spam and check manually whether a page really has disregarded the webmaster guidelines. It often happens that a page is marked as “suspicious” by the algorithm. In these cases, even Google’s self-learning, advanced software cannot exactly decide whether a punishment is appropriate. The Google team is therefore dependent on the spam reportssubmitted by users, which are used to initiate manual checks. Sometimes it is also possible that the algorithm detects an error where none is present at all. Here, too, employees intervene and rectify unjustified penalties. Below we have listed some cases where Google employees are actively involved:
Spam in pure form (pure spam)
Hidden text and keyword spamming
Unnatural backlink structure
Unnatural outbound links (=links to other sites)
Spam created because of users
Pages with little (useful) content for users (thin content)
Automatically generated content
Copied contents aka duplicated content
Since the end of 2016, the Penguin Update has been a fixed component of the core algorithm responsible for the evaluation of websites. But not only Penguin or other major updates change the functionality of the algorithm, but also daily, smaller updates. These small modifications add up and can have the same effects as more well-known changes (like Fred or Hummingbird). So it was also after the conversion at the end of 2016, when from then on it was analyzed in real time (i.e. after each indexing or renewed crawling) whether links had increased disproportionately or came from dubious sources.
On the other hand, the change has also led to lighter penalties. Instead of throwing an entire website out of the index as before, only individual keyword rankings or URLs are punished by link spam. Thus the link was indirectly upgraded as a ranking factor.