What is Google Penalty in SEO

Chintan is an SEO Analyst who has completed Bachelor of Engineering degree in Information Technology. He got inclined towards SEO while doing marketing internships and creating his YouTube channel in college. He likes to follow news related to Consumer Electronics and Indian Startup Ecosystem.

What is Google Penalty in SEO

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    For most of the websites, traffic contribution from the organic channel is the highest. Conversion rate from the organic channel is also the highest. This increases the dependency of business on Google. Just an improvement in Google ranking for a few keywords can increase the number of leads and thus can help improve the revenue. To achieve better and faster results from the organic channel, some SEO practitioners might manipulate the search index by either over-optimising their website or by employing some black-hat SEO practices. And guess what Google does to them? A penalty which devalues their site on Google.

    What is Google Penalty?

    You should not get confused between Google algorithm updates and Google Penalty. Google penalty is a manual action taken by Google if your website violates the google webmaster guidelines, whereas an algorithm update affects the Google search results.

    List of Google Penalty or Manual action by Google

    User-generated spam

    This manual penalty is not because of the site owner trying to violate webmaster guidelines but due to some malicious visitors or users who are trying to spam the website either through irrelevant links or content. Websites which accept user-generated content are more vulnerable to be hit by this penalty. Listed below are few examples of spammy content that website visitors generate:

    • Comment spam on the blog.
    • A spammy account on free hosts.
    • Spamming forum threads with content which appear like an advertisement.
    • Posts/Profiles which seem to be auto-generated

    It is necessary to monitor your website for the above spam that the malicious visitors may intend to create. Here are a few tips to avoid being hit by this penalty.

    • Turning off comments for individual posts.
    • Profile and comments moderation before it goes live.
    • Integration of anti-spam tools like captcha.
    • Usage of a no-follow attribute for user-generated links
    • Blacklisting profiles with repetitive spamming attempts

    If this penalty hits you, you should identify all the spammy content on your website and remove it. Once you are sure that the website is spam-free, you can submit a reconsideration request with the help of Google Search Console.

    Spammy hosting service

    This google penalty is due to your hosting provider getting spammed through the creation of websites which majorly violates the webmaster guidelines. This is a common problem for free hosting provider services. If you have availed a free hosting service and Google discovers that a significant amount of websites hosted using this service provider are spammy, then a manual action can be taken against the service provider. This will result in a manual penalty for all the hosted websites. It is necessary to ensure to use trusted hosting service provider for hosting your website. Also, if you get hit by this penalty, it is recommended that you change the hosting service provider.

    Structured data issue

    This Google penalty will occur if the website has a mismatch in the content served and the structured markup that has been used. Also, if your website violates the structured data guidelines of Google, your website will receive this penalty. Ensure that you follow the structured data markup guidelines and test the markup using the structured data testing tool before going live with the code changes.

    Unnatural links to your website

    To outrank competitors, some SEO practitioner’s resort to building links at scale, building manipulative links or participating in link-exchanges. For Google, this is an attempt to manipulate their search results. Therefore, it classifies such activity as unnatural. Some of the things that you should ensure to avoid this penalty are as below:

    • Do not get into link-exchange schemes.
    • Avoid linking at scale using the exact keyword-rich anchor text.
    • Monitor the external links through the search console and try to remove any spammy link discovered or disavow them.
    • Avoid multiple guest posts using the exact keyword-rich anchor text.
    • A good ratio of the no-follow and do-follow links.

    Unnatural links from your website

    This penalty occurs when we have an unnatural outbound link profile. It is similar to the above penalty, and the only difference is that this penalty is for outgoing links whereas the above one is for links built for our website on other domains. You should avoid linking to irrelevant domains, participating in an excessive link exchange, buying and selling of links.

    Thin Content

    It is necessary to ensure that the content on your website provides value to the visitors and is not spammy. If Google detects multiple occurrences of low-quality pages on your website, you will receive a content penalty. Some examples of thin content are as below:

    • Automatically generated content
    • Affiliate pages created just for promoting affiliate links
    • Scraped content or low-quality guest blog posts

    A content audit periodically to eliminate low quality and thin content from the website can help you keep the penalty away.


    If your website provides different content to users and search engines, then your website can receive this penalty. Google recommends showing the same content to both users and Google bots. Here’s a video which explains what is cloaking along with a few examples.

    YouTube video

    To check how the Google bot is viewing your page, use the URL Inspection Tool and ensure that the content is similar to what is seen by a human user.


    Being hit by a Google manual penalty will devalue your website in Google search and will also have an impact on the organic traffic and thus the revenue. Hence it becomes essential to ensure that your website does not violate the webmaster guidelines. However, if you get hit by a penalty, you should not panic as you can troubleshoot the particular issue and submit a reconsideration request to Google through the search console. If you are finding it difficult to recover from the penalty, then we would like to help you out with our Google penalty recovery services.

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    4 thoughts on “What is Google Penalty in SEO”

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      nolle prosequi

      thanks for this useful and good info i read this blog and i get alot information from it so keep it up.

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