SEO Glossary: Google Penalty

In a nutshell: What is a Google penalty?

If website operators violate the guidelines for webmasters (also known as Google Webmaster Guidelines), they will be penalized by Google. This takes place at various levels and results in individual pages or the entire domain losing ranking. In the worst case, there is a risk of deindexation.


What is a Google penalty?

Google penalties (also known as penalties) were once introduced to combat spam. They are used when website operators violate quality guidelines and, for example, inbound spam backlinks point to their own domain.


The aim of Google penalties is to present search engine visitors with the best possible search results in a high quality. If webmasters try to use manipulation to improve their ranking, they often lose out. This is because the Google algorithm automatically recognizes such irregularities.


If there is a serious or unsafe case, a manual Google penalty may also be imposed. In this case, a Google employee looks at a domain personally.


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What types of penalties are there?

A look at the Google penalty shows that a distinction is made between two types. Automatic and manual penalties. In addition, Google penalties occur on several levels depending on their severity. Small penalties can only affect one subpage, while large penalties affect an entire domain.


The two types of Google penalties are listed below:


  • Algorithmic penalty: The Google algorithm is an intelligent system and can automatically decide whether manipulation attempts have been made. The search engine reacts accordingly and initiates a penalty.
  • Manual penalty: If there is a major suspicion and a detailed visual inspection is required, Google employees are deployed. They take a closer look at the website in question and search for possible indications that the domain could be in breach of the Webmaster Guidelines.


Possible reasons for a Google penalty are listed below:


  • Backlinks were purchased
  • Too many unnatural links have been exchanged, making the link image look unnatural
  • Links were deliberately hidden
  • A domain has too many low-quality links (spam)
  • Too fast link growth
  • The proportion of links of different origins is too high
  • There is duplicate content on the page
  • The content is of inferior quality
  • Too much advertising
  • The domain is too slow or frequently unavailable
  • It becomes keyword stuffing is practiced
  • The site has fallen victim to hackers


On which levels does Google penalization take place?

All levels at which Google penalties occur are listed below:


  • Keyword level: The penalty only applies to individual keywords. Other keywords on the domain remain unaffected.
  • URL level: Individual URLs or directories are affected by the penalty
  • Host level: A single host (subdomain) is affected by the Google penalty
  • Domain level: The entire domain is affected by the penalty
  • Deindexing: If things get particularly tough and the spam measures are of a particularly high quality, complete deindexing may occur


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Conclusion: What is a Google penalty?

If SEOs adhere to Google's webmaster guidelines, basically nothing can happen. If, on the other hand, spam measures are used, this can quickly lead to a Google penalty. This takes place at various levels. In the worst case, it can also lead to complete deindexing.

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