SEO Glossary: Google Penalty - Everything you need to know!

Table of contents


In a nutshell, what is a Google penalty?

If website operators violate the guidelines for webmasters (also known as Google Webmaster Guidelines), this results in a Google penalty. It takes place on different levels and has the consequence that individual pages or the entire domain lose ranking. In the worst case, there is a threat of deindexation.

What is a Google penalty?

Google penalties were once introduced to fight spam. They are used when website operators violate quality guidelines and, for example, incoming spam backlinks point to their own domain.

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

If there is a serious or unsafe case, it can also lead to a manual Google penalty. In this case, a Google employee looks at a domain personally.

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What are the types of penalties?

A look at the Google penalty shows that a distinction is made between two types. The automatic and manual punishment. Furthermore, depending on the severity, Google penalties take place on several levels. Thus, small punishments can affect only one subpage, while large punishments affect a complete domain.

Below are the two Google penalty types:


  • Algorithmic penalty: The Google algorithm is an intelligent system and can automatically decide whether manipulation attempts are present. Accordingly, the search engine reacts and initiates a penalty.
  • Manual penalty: If there is a greater suspicion and a detailed visual inspection is required, Google employees come into action. They take a closer look at the website in question and look for possible indications that the domain might violate the webmaster guidelines.


Below are possible reasons for a Google penalty:


  • Backlinks were purchased
  • Too many unnatural links were 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 percentage of links from 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 operated
  • The site has fallen victim to hackers


At what levels does Google penalization take place?

Below are all the levels where Google penalties occur:


  • 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 complete domain is affected by the penalty
  • Deindexing: If it comes particularly hard and the spam measures are of particularly high quality, a complete deindexing can occur


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Conclusion on the subject of Google punishment

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

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