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Google Penalty – What to Do When Your Site Goes to Google Jail

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

Recently, Google placed a penalty on a client’s site. We were in the middle of a very large┬áSEO project when we discovered the very few pages already released into Google’s main index were being removed. Yikes! We were placed in Google Jail. What do we do now?

Google Jail for Google Penalty

Well, the answer isn’t simple. Google doesn’t provide a one-stop place that offers a handy list of a site’s┬ápenalties and possible resolutions. The process is lengthy, investigative and involves a lot of educated guess work. So, we followed this process with the help of a couple of savvy SEO colleagues and some very helpful posts at Search Engine Journal and Gabblet:

  1. Use the Google Penalty Checker Tool at SEO Moves to see if a Google penalty exists for the site. Any type of warning that comes back tells us a penalty applies. However, this tool doesn’t tell you anything about the penalty. On to the next step.
  2. Run the Bad Neighborhood tool to see if the site is linking to inappropriate content such as gambling or adult sites. The tool stopped after 4600 pages, but gave us some insight into a few issues that most likely haven’t caused the penalty, but we need to address at some point in time.
  3. Check the Google Webmaster Tools account for inbound links. Check for penalties on the sites with the largest number of links to see if any of them are penalized by Google. If so, the site could be guilty by association. In this case the largest number of links are coming from a “sister” site on the same IP block. That site has one or more Google penalties.
  4. Check for a Google penalty for the domain that owns the domain, if this condition exists. In this case, a large entity owns our client’s domain. That domain has severe penalties. Yikes again.
  5. Check this site for malware. We’re clear!
  6. Check the Google page rank – a gray bar is a bad sign. In this case, the site is new with no page rank expected. The home page is white, but the product pages are gray – definitely an indicator, although many new pages were recently added to this site, so this condition is expected.
  7. Check the link strategy. Using too many links with the same anchor text can trigger a Google audit. Our client’s linking is just fine.
  8. Does the site include content that is an exact duplicate on another site? If so, Google recently changed its algorithm to eliminate duplicate content. See Matt Cutt’s blog post, Algorithm Change Launched.

Herein lies our biggest issue. Duplicate content from a partner’s site makes up a large number of pages. We’re concentrating on creating unique content as soon as possible.

We’re creating a strategy to resolve some or all of these issues. The first task: create unique and valuable content for each of the product pages so we’re offering a unique and valuable experience for our client’s visitors. Of course, this task was already on our list of to-dos, but now we’re raising the priority. Our focus has been on the SEO for on-page elements such as titles, headings and also the meta descriptions. Now we’ll shift our focus to unique paragraphs.

Once many of our issues are resolved, we’ll submit a request for reconsideration to Google.

I hope this information is helpful! Is your site in Google jail for one or more Google penalties? If so, tell us about your experience and how you remedied the penalties.

9 Responses to Google Penalty – What to Do When Your Site Goes to Google Jail

  1. Melanie,

    Very helpful! I think I have some duplicate content to get rid of quickly!

    Thanks,
    Dave

  2. LaTasha says:

    When this happens you should get a new site in order to continue business.

    • Melanie Yunk says:

      Hi LaTasha,

      Thanks for your reply. In many cases, there’s no reason to start over. If you remedy the situation, Google will reconsider your site. It may take awhile, but they’ll crawl it again and hopefully let you back into the index. Your site isn’t actually shut down; sometimes only certain pages are removed from Google; sometimes the entire site is removed. Depends on the situation.

      In our client’s case, they were in a bad neighborhood, had lots of duplicate content and were owned by a site that had serious penalties. All those issues add up to creating a new site!

      Melanie

    • Kailee says:

      Wow! Great thiinkng! JK

  3. Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m looking to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    • Melanie Yunk says:

      Hello Jeffery,

      No problem getting off topic. I’m always happy to answer a question. We use WordPress for our blog. Funny, I thought our format was fairly typical for a WordPress blog. Anyway, it’s easy to use and the SEO plugin is perfect.

      Melanie

  4. simvastatin says:

    my site is under google penalties…for link scheme. now i try to recover my position in google search.

  5. Hi Melanie,

    Found your site through Michael’s post at http://www.seo-theory.com/2011/09/26/a-few-search-marketing-recommendations/.

    Glad I did as we have a slight issue at the moment that needs to be checked out!

    Cheers,

    Sean

    • Melanie Yunk says:

      Hello Sean,

      Thanks for stopping by! It’s always nice to hear that people like my hubby. Kent Yunk is a very talented man, if I do say so…. and it was very kind of Michael to mention him in his recommendations. Anyway, please let us know if we can help you with your site! 8*)

      Melanie

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