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7 Reasons Why You Won’t Recover From A Google Penalty

Are you dealing with a Google penalty and you’ve done everything you can to recover but still no luck? Keep reading, because I’ll show you seven reasons why you are having troubles recovering your organic traffic. All Google penalties can be lifted, but depending on which one you’ve got, it can take up to several months to get your rankings back.

Technically speaking, a Google penalty is when you get a message in Google Webmaster Tools, informing you that something is wrong with your site, and you have to take action to remove the penalty. All the other “penalties” are filters applied by Google’s algorithms on your website. So when you lose traffic after a Penguin algorithm update, it doesn’t mean that you received a penalty, but filtered. For most users, it’s more common to go by the name of Google Penguin or Google Panda penalty, hence why they are also known like that.

How to identify what Google Penalty has affected your site

Unlike a manual Google penalty, when your site is affected by one of the numerous Google algorithm updates, you will not get a message in Google Webmaster Tools telling you that something has happened. To determine which update has affected your site, you can go to your Monitor Backlinks account and look on the Overview page. There, you’ll see notes for all the major updates Google has done in the last year.

By correlating the period when you’ve lost traffic with the date of the algorithm update that took place, you can determine what type of Google algorithm has affected your traffic.

In the case of the screenshot above, the Quality algorithm (AKA Phantom) has affected the organic traffic.


Once identified which update has caused the traffic drop, do whatever it’s needed to get rid of the penalty. These are some guides that should help you:

Let’s see the seven main reasons why your site has not recovered from the Google penalty, yet.

1. You haven’t cleaned up your link profile enough

Because backlinks are the most important ranking factor in Google, most of the penalties are caused by links problems. The only exceptions are Google Panda and Google Quality (Phantom), which focus more on content.

If your backlinks profile still has a lot of bad backlinks, you might not recover until you remove all of them, especially if you are dealing with Penguin. Creating a disavow report with the bad backlinks you couldn’t remove it’s highly recommended. The Penguin algorithm was built to decrease the value of sites that are trying to cheat the system.

To clean up your backlinks profile, you have to conduct a complete analysis of your existing backlinks and do your best to remove most of the bad links.

When Google’s John Mueller was asked if disavowing bad links is the same as removing links, he responded:

“From a theoretical point of view, using the disavow tool is enough but from a practical point of view it almost always makes sense to still delete those links as much as possible.”

2. Your disavow report is incomplete

If you are submitting a disavow report, you have to use the correct format and make sure to include all the bad backlinks. To easily create a report with all the bad links, you can use Monitor Backlinks disavow feature.

Google’s disavow tool will only work if you are following the correct format. Not disavowing all the bad backlinks can delay your recovery. If you are going to disavow a link, it’s best to disavow at domain level.

When submitting your report to Google disavow, make sure no errors are displayed.

3. You have to wait for another algorithm refresh

John Mueller, from Google, has confirmed in a Google Webmaster thread that to recover from a Penguin algorithm penalty, Google has to run the algorithm again. Here’s John Mueller response:

“Yes, assuming the issues are resolved in the meantime, with an update of our algorithm or its data, it will no longer be affecting your site.”

The bad news is that Penguin gets an update very rarely, and sometimes it can even take one year. This rule applies for every algorithm penalty, meaning that no matter what algorithm has decreased your traffic, you’ll have to wait for a new update to recover your rankings. The only thing you can do is have your website ready for when that will happen.

4. Your content is holding you back

Your website’s content is extremely important. If you have duplicate problems or very thin content, you were probably filtered by Google Panda, which is one of the worst penalties to have. Why? Because you have to revise the whole content on your website and make sure it follows Google’s guidelines. Your content has to be informative and give value to the readers.

The days when 500 words long articles were enough to rank high in Google are long gone, and webmasters have to adapt.

It’s also recommended to run a plagiarism checks and see if you have duplicate content issues. If you do, get rid of the duplicate paragraphs or content by removing or editing your existing articles.

5. Your don’t have enough good backlinks

Even if you’ve removed most of the bad backlinks and disavowed the ones you couldn’t delete, it doesn’t mean you will surely recover. If your website doesn’t have enough quality backlinks, you might never get back in the SERPS.

While doing your best to recover from your Google penalty, you should also spend time on building high-quality backlinks. Make sure your website is ready to rank high in Google and it has a good amount of links from authoritative sites.

6. Other problems might affect your site

When dealing with a Google penalty, it’s best to run a full analysis for your website and make sure everything that might cause issues is fixed. For example, make sure robots.txt is not blocking your site from being indexed and you don’t have any malware problems. There can also be on-page problems, like duplicate titles, duplicate meta descriptions and so on. There are numerous other little things that should be taken into consideration.

7. You haven’t submitted a reconsideration request

A manual Google penalty can only be revoked by submitting a reconsideration request. Once you’ve fixed the issues reported in your Google Webmaster Tools account, you have to send a reconsideration request. If you don’t submit this request, you’ll never recover.

For algorithm penalties, you don’t have to submit a reconsideration request.


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