How to avoid Google penalties (and how to recover if your website has been penalized)

If you used spam methods to promote your website, Google will penalize your site. It can be very difficult to recover from a website penalty. This article shows you how to avoid Google penalties. You’ll also learn how to recover from a Google penalty.

How to avoid Google penalties

Important: avoid things that Google doesn’t like

Google will penalize your website if you did something that Google does not like.

Google says that you should avoid automatically generated content. You should not participate in link schemes, you shouldn’t create pages with little or no original content. Do not cloak your web pages and avoid sneaky redirects, hidden text or links, doorway pages and scraped content.

It’s also not good if your website consists of affiliate links without without adding sufficient value. You also shouldn’t load your web pages with irrelevant keywords and you should not use rich snippet markup that is not related to the page. Of course, creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware can also lead to a penalty.

A penalty is not the same as a filter

Before you start, you have to find out if Google really penalized your website. A penalty is a manual action from Google. Log in to Google Search Console to find out if your website has been penalized. If there isn’t a message in GSC, your website hasn’t been penalized.

If you see a massive ranking drop although your website hasn’t been penalized, your website might have been hit by a ranking filter. Google’s ranking algorithm contains sub-algorithms such as the Panda algorithm. If Google finds that a website has a low quality, they downrank that website.

According to Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines, websites should have expertise, authoritativeness and trust (EAT).

Google won’t notify your if your website has been affected by a filter. You have to monitor your rankings to find out if your rankings have dropped or not. The Ranking Monitor in SEOprofiler marks dates with confirmed Google algorithm updates so that you can compare ranking changes with the update dates:

Google updates history

In this example, the rankings of the website were not affected by Google’s last three updates. The competitor website might have been hit.

There are two types of manual penalties

There are site-wide penalties that affect the entire website, and there are partial penalties that only apply to a section of a website. If you have received a manual penalty, the notification in your Google Search Console account will inform you about the reason for the penalty.

Usually, it’s one of the following: Hacked site, user-generated spam, spammy freehosts, spammy structured markup, unnatural links to your site, thin content with little or no added value, cloaking and/or sneaky redirects, unnatural links from your site, pure spam, cloaked images, hidden text and/or keyword stuffing.

Further information about the different penalty types can be found here.

How to recover from a Google penalty

If your website has been penalized by Google, you should remove all elements that led to the penalty. The bottom of this page shows fixes for common manual actions.

Today, most manual penalties are for unnatural links. This happens when you are buying links or when you are creating link schemes on a large scale. Remove these unnatural links to recover your rankings. The Link Disinfection tool in SEOprofiler can help you to do that:

Link disinfection

How to improve your rankings after a Google filter

If your website rankings have dropped because of an algorithmic filter, you have to improve the quality of your web pages. It is also important to make sure that your web pages do not contain technical errors that keep search engine crawlers away. These technical errors can happen after a website redesign, after installing a new plugin, etc.

The website audit tool in SEOprofiler finds these technical errors on your web pages and it also shows you how to remove these errors. It is much easier to get high rankings with error-free web pages.

The Top 10 Optimizer tool, the readability-checker and the other optimization tools in SEOprofiler help you to improve the quality of your web pages. High-quality pages get better rankings than low-quality pages.


Do not spam! Don’t use automated tools or shady schemes to get backlinks. Google’s recent updates rewarded high-quality sites, i.e. this wasn’t a ranking drop for low-quality sites, but a ranking boost for high-quality sites. Spam-websites will get a penalty, high-quality websites will be rewarded.

The tools in SEOprofiler help you to create high-quality website with website optimization methods that are spam-free. You can create your free account here:

Optimize your website now

Tom Cassy

Tom Cassy is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at “”.