ROARlocal Ecommerce Agency

What Exactly Is A Google Penalty? (and how to tell if you have one)

What Is A Google Penalty?
What Is A Google Penalty?

One of our new SEO clients asked me today if they had a Google penalty.

Then he asked me, “Neil, what exactly is a Google penalty?”

It’s a great question, as Google has made a very weird system where they penalise websites but offer no way of knowing what to do to fix them.

All the terrified business owners know is that “something is wrong”.


It’s a loaded word “penalise”. It means you have done something wrong, and you’ve been punished by Google.

Certainly many websites that had crappy content on them, and who engaged in dodgy link building by employing cheap SEO “experts” on platforms such as elance or fiverr to spam links for them, have now paid the price for their short-sightedness.

But in my experience, many, many websites that think they have a Google penalty, actually don’t.

It’s just that the SEO they are doing is bad.

In the latest Google update to its search algorithm, we saw all our clients websites rank higher after the update.

Whilst many of their competitors dropped in the rankings (we monitor competitors as well as our clients).

This looks great for us of course, and our clients get a massive kick out of this as well as more money in the bank from their improved ranking.

But let’s think about this from the competitor’s point of view, who had dropped in the rankings… They may well ask if they have a Google penalty and that is why they are dropping. In my opinion it’s better to think of other sites doing better than you.

It’s less of a penalty for them and more of other sites (our clients) being rewarded for good SEO.

This, I think, gives a better framework from within which to attack your competitors ranking and get back to No 1.

So do you have a Google penalty?

Probably not.

If you’re still indexed and still showing up then definitely not.

It’s more likely that your competitors are simply doing good SEO and being justly rewarded for it.

If you want to see the results of good SEO then:

Click here for an SEO case study

Click here for how we do SEO at ROARlocal

If you want your own website to rank well on Google then get in touch here


P.S Here’s what Matt Cutts (head of web spam at Google) has to say about the NEXT update:


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