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How to Determine If You Were Hit By A Google Penalty Or An Algorithm Update

Matt Cutts | How To Determine If You've Been Hit By Google Penalty

In a recent video from Google Webmaster Help, Matt Cutts replied to the following question:

How can I tell if my site is affected by a particular algorithm?

If you’ve ever experienced the shear panic of losing search engine rankings in Google, you’re not the only one. If this has happened, you may begin to question if you’ve been hit by a Google penalty or an algorithmic update. What’s the difference?

Throughout the video, Matt Cutts first addresses manual actions. If your site’s ranking is impacted by a manual spam action, Google will notify you in the Message Center in Webmaster Tools.

How to check for a manual action in Google Webmaster tools?

  1. On the webmaster tools dashboard, click Search Traffic
  2. Click Manual Actions
  3. Review any manual actions that are listed

Types of Google Manual Actions | How To Determine If You've Been Hit By Google Penalty

If you have received a manual action, our team of SEO experts are happy to walk you through a plan to get issue resolved and more importantly, your website back in the rankings!

Algorithmic Penalties

Now onto algorithmic ‘penalties’, it’s not really classified as a penalty. Cutts states:

Really, the webspam team writes all sorts of code, but that goes into the holistic ranking that we do, and so if you’re affected by one algorithm, you call it a penalty, and if you’re affected by another algorithm, do you not call it a penalty, is a pretty tough call to make, especially when the webspam team is working on more and more general quality changes – not necessarily things specifically related to webspam – and sometimes general quality people work on things that are related to webspam, and so deciding which one to call which is kind of hard to do.”

The most common recent algorithm changes are Penguin and Panda. The Penguin algorithm is targeted towards webspam and the Panda algorithm is targeted towards quality content on the web. When Google thinks an algorithmic change will have a pretty big impact, they will try to give everyone a heads up.

How to Tell If You Were Hit With a Google Penalty

The best way to tell if you were hit by Panda or Penguin, is to check out your analytics. When viewing analytics you want to see if you had a major dive in traffic from Google on a specific day. Moz put together a great list of the major algorithmic changes that had the biggest impact on search, this may help determine which algorithm change you were affected by. Keep in mind, in 2012, Google rolled out 665 different changes to how they rank search results.

If you received a manual action or have been hit by a recent algorithm change, Teknicks SEO team will put together a plan of action. Whether it’s starting a link removal campaign or getting your website involved with an inbound marketing strategy, we’re here to help!

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