Google Penalty: How Your Small Business Can Recover

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: April 23rd, 2018 | Updated: July 26th, 2022

When you think of search engines, the first thing that immediately comes to mind is Google. It is synonymous with the internet, and the word itself has become a verb.

Today, instead of people saying “search for local businesses,” they say “Google local businesses.” The search engine king has dominated the World Wide Web, ruling over all that is accessible over the Internet. As the reigning monarch of search engines, Google has created a set of guidelines for every webmaster to follow — or else suffer the consequences of a penalty.

What is a Google penalty?

Over the last two decades, Google has been working hard to refine its core. Its algorithm began detecting and eliminating poor content, while elevating quality pages to the top of search engine results.

In 2012, Google rolled out one of its major algorithm changes — the Penguin update. According to Search Engine Land, the update flagged sites that “deemed to be spamming its search results.” It hit more than 1 in 10 search results overnight, wiping a few websites out of search entirely. It also blasted poor-quality content off the radar, forcing search engine optimizers to be more careful and strategic with their content marketing schemes.

Since then, Google was steadfast in releasing algorithm changes that continue to challenge the online marketing industry.

Why should you care?

Statistics show that 71 percent of small businesses have a website, with 73 percent being mobile-friendly or responsive. Additionally, a staggering 92 percent of small businesses without sites claim that they will have one by the end of 2018. These numbers prove just how significant an online presence is in the marketing industry.

If you are a small business owner, you already know the importance of developing a website. It is the online storefront of your business — an incredibly useful tool that, when done correctly, reaches beyond the local market and magnifies traffic and sales.

In aspiration of beating hundreds and thousands of online competitors, you begin investing in digital marketing strategies that catapult you on Google’s coveted first page — where every business owner wants to be. However, meeting Google’s guidelines play a crucial role in favor of your website. The main objective of Google is to give its users access to relevant, accurate, and unique information. That is why it continuously modifies its algorithms so that each website gets the exposure it rightfully deserves.

However, your primary concern is you can be penalized. If you use “illegal” or Black Hat SEO tactics to top search engine page results (SERPs), you risk getting Google penalties that impact your business. With that said, it is crucial for every SEO professional to evolve, adapt, and remain alert for Google’s plans. If not, your website may obtain a penalty that heavily impacts its traffic, sales, and overall visibility.

How do you recognize a Google penalty?

From Google’s point of view, any website that attempts to manipulate the search results is not only harming Google, but also its users, too. Google penalties are either automatic or manual. While manual penalties involve a warning, automatic penalties just happen. So, how do you know if you had been automatically penalized? Here are some clues, according to KissMetrics:

  • Poor ranks. Is your website failing to rank even for your own brand name? How about when you use your primary keywords?
  • Slipping into the back pages. Did your web page suddenly appear on the second or third page when it was initially in the top five of the SERPs?
  • Not on Google cached results. Was your entire website removed from Google’s cached search results overnight?
  • Cannot be found: Does running a site search ( keyword) show your website?
  • Wrong listing. When you find your Google listing, was it for your homepage or another page on your site? (It should be your homepage).

If you run a few tests and notice one or more of these factors, the chances are that a penalty has affected your site.

How do you recover from a Google penalty?

The first step to recovering from a penalty is to know the cause. You must analyze your website’s links and identify all the ones that are causing your rankings to drop.

Depending on the cause of penalty, solutions may vary. But here are some of the quick fixes you can try:

  • Remove bad backlinks. Poor-quality backlinks can hurt your rankings in many ways, which is why it’s important to get rid of them. If you don’t know where to start, read this article about How to Spring Clean Your Bad Backlinks.
  • Use Google’s Disavow Tool. There is a way to ask Google to disregard troublesome links that are harming your website. Just keep in mind that the Google Disavow Tool is an advanced feature that must be used with caution.

In cases when the domain is tarnished, there is very little you can do to salvage or rehabilitate your website.

Can I submit a consideration request?

Once you successfully clean your backlinks, you can submit a reconsideration request. You must provide accurate information regarding the cleanup process, which should include one or more of the following:

  • An excel file of all the bad links your removed
  • Details of your malware cleanup activities
  • A list of spam comments that you deleted on your website
  • A thorough explanation of how will prevent the same issue from recurring

After submitting your request, you should receive confirmation from Google. If you had correctly diagnosed and resolve the cause, you should get another notification saying that the penalty has been lifted.


Google acts much like a legislator in the digital world. Its penalties serve as rules and regulation to maintain order, as well as implement fair punishment or praise to websites residing in its community. Without proper guidelines, tactics like Black Hat SEO will continue to reign, and search engine users (which include YOU), will not get the results they seek when using Google.

Are you in need SEO services?

Just because your rank is dropping does not automatically mean that you are dealing with a Google penalty. Remember that your competition is getting tougher by the day, and like you, they are doing their best to climb the ranks of Google. You may think that you have a Google penalty, when in fact, you just need to improve your search engine optimization methods. This is where PrimeView comes in. For effective SEO strategies, call us at 480-970-4688 or complete our online form.