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Referencing: here’s how to know if your site has an algorithmic penalty

It is not clear whether his site is currently penalized by Google’s algorithm. Matt Cutts gives some tips in a video, which I explain and complete with my own tips …

Can we speak of “algorithmic penalty”?

He first explains that the term penalty is not really appropriate. I agree that it would be better to use the term “penalty” when it comes from a human appraiser (we call it “manual penalties” and Google calls them “manual actions”).

Concretely, Google’s algorithm is a stack of very many layers, some depending on others. One could also say that:

There is not a single Google algorithm but many algorithms, a stack of layersCLICK TO TWEET

In this regard, do not miss mylist of the main algorithms in progress

There is probably no site on the web that is not concerned by one of these algorithms. Should we call it “hit by an algorithmic penalty”? Remember that most of these Google Algo modules are more concerned with measuring the quality of the content or better understanding it; rare are the portions of the algo that seek to penalize a site. But there are cases where one of the algorithms actually aims to reduce the visibility of sites (or pages) concerned: we could then consider that the site is affected negatively by this algo.

In practice, it’s really hard to know if a site is actually penalized by the Google algorithm (SEO).

Tips from Matt Cutts to identify a Google SEO problem

Here are Matts Cutts’ tips on this:

  • go to Google Search Console ( GSC ) to see if you do not have a manual penalty on your site
  • always in GSC , check the list of crawl errors
  • if nothing matches, you may have an algorithmic problem.
    • Find out if your traffic decline is an official date for a major Google update. Knowing that there is an average of about 2 updates daily (665 in 2012), it is rare that Google communicates on it.
    • Improve your site and wait for it to be seen again by the algorithm

Obviously, you will find that this is not enough to solve your problem … You would probably prefer that Google list in GSC algorithms that “penalize” your site, but even if it was feasible, Google would not, otherwise it would help too much spammers.

The video :

My tips for studying if your site is “penalized” by the Google algorithm

Read the details below but do not miss the opposite folder:how to win every Google update!

Google SEO problem

First, you have to confirm that you have a sudden drop in your Google SEO:

The most reliable indicator for identifying a decline in SEO is not the analysis of positioning but that of traffic.

  • You need to have access to your audience measurement tool (eg Google Analytics). You must first have validated that it was installed correctly, that the tracking code works well everywhere.
  • Find the date from which traffic dropped. Define a period after the fall and compare to a previous comparable period (for example the same days of the previous week).
  • Check that your problem is actually about SEO by comparing the drop in traffic (visits for example) for SEO to that obtained for other media ( direct traffic , AdWords, referring sites, other marketing campaigns).
  • Check that your problem is only for Google by comparing the change in the number of visits Google generates in SEO to Bing or other engines. You may have made an error that affects all the engines ( blocking the crawl , blocking the indexing , bad configuration of cloaking …)

If the traffic decline occurred on a date that does not favor comparative analysis, confirm with a positioning analysis.

  • Here too, of course, it is necessary to have set up a tracking of the positioning, which implies the choice of a reliable tool and a list of keywords.
  • Launch your tool and look for the type of keywords that your placement has dropped as well as the main pages that have lost visibility Google.

Here is a real example of a fall on the occasion of Google Pingouin 4 released on 22/05/2013:

On this curve showing visits from Google only in SEO, we can see a significant drop on the day of the official release of Penguin 4, which confirms that it is an “algorithmic penalty” related to this version of Penguin.

Problem with a specific Google algorithm (SEO)

Then you have to estimate if the problem comes from a particular algorithm, and if so which one:

  • Look in Google Search Console if you have a manual penalty. You should have received a message. If the date is about, that’s probably the reason. If manual action refers to artificial backlinks, follow my advice
  • Watch if the fall took place on an official date of an update of Panda . Unfortunately since Panda is integrated in the main algo, Google no longer communicates date …
  • Otherwise, it may concern Penguin . But here there are no more official dates …
  • Otherwise, this may be another official Google update . Search the WRI Records according to the date or ask in the forum.
If you can not do it alone: contact me for an audit sanuklistens.com

Technical problem of the site degrading the Google referencing

If nothing seems to match, it could be a technical problem (or several):

  • See all Google Search Console topics listing crawl issues
  • Study your sitemaps to identify indexing issues
  • Check if you do not have internal or external duplicate content issues
  • Do an SEO technical audit of your site using a tool
Do not waste time, test my tool! RM Tech free audit

Acquire help

If you can not find anything … it’s that the problem is harder to pin down! Here’s what you have to do:

  • ask for help in the forum WebRankInfo by exposing the problem in the forum ”  SEO problems specific to your sites “
  • do a free audit of your site with my RM Tech tool
  • ask me for a quote for SEO consulting

Keep in mind that a good SEO on Google has become very complex. I have listed here some elements that could help you know if your site is penalized , but it is not exhaustive …

Good luck !

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