3 Google SEO Penalties to Learn From

Being hit with a Google penalty isn’t the sweetest thing that can happen to your web business or for anyone else’s. It often comes as a shock and it takes time for someone to recover from it.

And to add insult to the injury the SEO firm who you trusted with loads of money and hours of time spent in discussions and report-reading just cheated you out of your stable source of income.

In this post I am going to cover three things on penalties

  1. What are the different Google penalties
  2. What causes these Google penalties?
  3. Examples of sites faced with penalties and how they recovered

As promised here’s a rundown on penalties:

What are the different Google penalties?


  • Google Panda penalty

Starting in 2011, Google started penalizing sites based on how good or bad their content was. Content farms that copy pasted articles in the thousands from other sites, auto generated scraper sites and sites with poor grammar and diction were the first casualties.

The rankings continued to drop for them and even now do.

If traffic drops and goes to normal again on your site as you add new content with an overall reduction in traffic that can be attributed to Google Panda.

It affects the entire site in question and doesn’t spare if the site is a mix of bad and great content. The sitewide penalty can only be lifted following a complete content overhaul. The right step to take is to revisit all articles, delete the ones you can’t save and update other articles to include more content. Correct grammar if you can or hire a proofreader worth his salt.

As newer iterations of Panda came sites with poorly spun content started getting penalized and also the ones that didn’t offer any insights to the reader but consisted entirely of regurgitated posts.


  • Google Penguin penalty

If Panda targeted sites with poor content, Google Penguin’s focus was on eliminating all such sites from the index who engaged in link spam. Practices like buying links or using softwares like GSA to build thousands of automated links at the click of a button came to end. If rankings drop for certain posts on your site without any specific reason and stay there it’s due to Penguin in action. Say a post ranking for a keyword on the first page goes to page 100 overnight. That’s certainly due to Penguin.


  • Manual Penalties

Manual penalties are awarded by Googlers reviewing your site, finding it unfit to be on the index due to manipulative linking practices and hammering it down.

If you engage in buying or selling links, use link cloaking on your site and use excessive redirects you’re inviting trouble.

Manual penalties can be either sitewide or affect a couple of pages depending on how severe the malpractices are.


eCommerce site penalty lifted in 3 weeks

This is another anonymous case study of an eCommerce site. The client approached NewMediaGuru for support from penalty recovery. For penalty removal, they tried to spot all the bad backlinks to the site.

All the links that were identified from multiple sources were grouped as under.

  1. Widget Links
  2. Low quality directories
  3. Sitewide links
  4. Hidden Text Links
  5. Footer links
  6. Advertisement link without nofollow attribution
  7. Widget Links
  8. Duplicate content URLs
  9. Low Domain authority websites
  10. Paid links
  11. Redirect URLs
  12. 403, 404, 522, 524, Account suspended, the domain name expired, fatal error, server error, server down, serve issue etc.


They felt that the links in these categories were what that sparked the penalty.

The disavow request file contained entire details of what they did, who they approached and how they approached people for removing bad links.

All these links were then manually scrutinized to see which ones were really bad and needed removing or disavowal.  Here’s the full case study.


Client site gets penalized

One of the sites Jay Stockwell of AssociatePrograms worked with was penalized. To see what caused the penalty they went to their Webmaster tools and downloaded the links.

They found that lots of links were coming to the site in question from. There’s no other way to remove these links other than manually entering the login details and deleting the links.



But article directories were only part of the problem. They had more than 20000 inbound links and sorting them was becoming a major problem. They used a service called LinkDelete that not only analyzed the backlinks but helped remove them.

LinkDelete uses a 25 point checklist to determine if a link is bad or not and not just a few metrics here and there.


They received the above list of links and then Jay deleted a couple of links he didn’t want removed and submitted the rest for removal.


About 4 weeks later they had the penalty lifted.


Weddingdress.com penalty

In this post CognitiveSEO details how WeddingDress and few others lost their rankings when Penguin 3.0 came around.

Wedding Dress Trend is a site about discounted wedding dresses and wedding accessories from China. More than two thirds of the links built to the site are spammy.



This site was established in October 2013 and by November 2013 had an extremely disproportionate relation between the number of links and the number of referring domains. This suggests that mass and automated link building tools were employed to get it going.

No surprise that it got penalized.



If you’re not careful with your content or link building strategies Google won’t have problem doling out penalties to your site. The algorithm is getting smarter with each passing day and thanks to the disavow system they have hundreds of thousands of spam link profiles already in their index.

This means ranking with spam is even harder today and it’s easier than ever to get your site penalized.

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