What is a Google Penalty?

A Google penalty is a kind of punishment that the search engine adopts against websites that show behaviour that is inconsistent with Google’s suggested guidelines. In addition to that, the negative impacts deriving from algorithmic updates are also considered penalties.

In general, penalties can be classified into two types: manual penalties and algorithmic penalties.

While the first type is the result of an action taken directly by a Google team following violations of the guidelines, the second is more than a real penalty, as a filter is applied following an algorithmic update that determines a downward calculation of the site.

Why are you penalized by Google?

Before listing some of the main causes of penalization, it should be noted that there are also different levels of penalization, such as domain, URL, keyword, etc.

Penalization at the keyword level is when one or a few keywords suddenly lose a significant position, while the others remain intact. The same concept of penalization occurs at the URL level.

When instead the entire domain loses positioning for a high number of keywords that is considered a global penalty.

It may even happen that a website is completely deleted from the Google index and in that case the entire content of a domain is no longer accessible from search results.

The most common causes of manual penalties are:

  • Hidden texts or keyword stuffing
  • Spam actions
  • Low value content
  • Paid links
  • Blog networks
  • Spam comments

In general, the duration of manual penalties depends on the severity of the violation of the guidelines, so it may last a month or much longer depending on the situation.

As previously mentioned, penalties as well as being the result of manual actions can also be due to algorithmic updates such as the famous Google Panda and Google Penguin (and more). The former penalizes spam sites with low quality content while the latter deals with unnatural links, spam and keyword stuffing.

The advice is to rely on SEO consultants who are able to suggest and put into practice the best actions to avoid incurring penalties that would compromise the positioning and traffic of your site with the resulting economic loss.