There are two kinds of Google penalties: manual and automatic. We describe
below the differences between the two and what you can do if this happens to you.
In general, you should be able to realize it if you’re hit with a manual Google penalty. Someone at Google has removed your website from its search results, and they usually notify you about it. You’ll receive a warning saying something like:
Dear site owner or webmaster:
Google has detected user-generated spam on your site. Typically, this kind of spam is found on forum pages, guestbook pages, or in user profiles.
As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to your site.
Unfortunately, the note doesn’t exactly say what you did wrong. It’s like being pulled over by a cop and getting a ticket because something’s wrong with your car. And then they leave it up to you to figure out what it is.
Once you make your improvements, you then submit a reconsideration request to Google. Google reviews your website to see that it’s no longer in violation of their webmaster guidelines, and this can take several weeks.
Google updates its search algorithm regularly. There are about 500 changes to the algorithm every year, and some of the updates have really disruptive consequences. The automatic penalty refers to the event when your ranking drastically dips after an update. This penalty may also be applied if your website no longer complies with Google’s quality guidelines.
With an automatic penalty, you usually won’t get any sort of notification. You’ll just notice that your traffic has dropped significantly. Your ranking now has you back in page 4 rather than in page 1.
There are numerous possible reasons why an update would suddenly penalize your website. You may be using “black hat tactics”, or there may be something wrong with your links. You may be inadvertently overusing keywords, your content may not be original, or there may be too much spam on your comments section.
A site audit is a comprehensive inspection of your website, which checks its features to see how they impact your rankings on search engines. For the most part, the priority has always been about making sure that your website complies with all the guidelines set by Google.
A site audit looks over your entire website with a magnifying glass. Simply put, if Google sees something wrong with your website, then a site audit can help you identify the fatal flaw (or flaws) that resulted in a penalty.
Finding the problem on your own will take up too much of your time, and you may not even find what you’re looking for. That’s why you need a professional site audit. Before you can make corrections, you first need to determine what the problem is and that’s what a professional site audit does.