10 Ways to Diagnose a Google Penalty

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An interesting thread on WebmasterWorld forums discusses ways to diagnose a possible Google penalty. If you suspect your site / URL is being filtered out / penalized (e.g. you have lost some Google rankings), try doing the following:

  1. Dig your internal traffic analytics for traffic drops or bad trends;
  2. Perform [site:yoursite.com] search in Google to see if Google reports same number of indexed URLs;
  3. Check if Google Webmaster Tools report any problems;
  4. Take a look if Google toolbar PR has changed (graybar PR might be a signal of penalty);
  5. Check your site ranking for a “domain-name” search (without the TLD).
  6. If such a query puts you in the fifties, it’s almost (!) guaranteed to be a penalty.

  7. Check if Google has blacklisted your site as unsafe for browsing (type http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=mysite.com with your domain at the end).
  8. Check the source code for any injected links to obvious “bad neighborhood” sites;
  9. Check your other sites. In some cases Google seems to devalue the WHOIS domain owner and this results in a simultaneous ranking drop in several sites under the same domain account.
  10. Copy a long phrase from your page and search Google for the exact match – make sure this very page (not the home page, not other sites scraping yours) is ranked #1;
  11. Check if your URL can only be seen by adding &filter=0 to the search URL – or clicking on the “show omitted results” link (this means you were hit by the duplicate content penalty);
  12. Any other? Please share your way to diagnose a penalty.

Further reading on dealing with penalties:

And here’s a quick video featuring Google search quality team members explaining how to deal with the penalty without going into extremes

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Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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