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It’s an awful feeling, isn’t it?
One day you close your laptop safe in the knowledge that your site is getting healthy amounts of search traffic.
Then, the next morning, you find out your site has been hit with a Google Penalty.
What was once a solid stream of targeted traffic is now nothing more than a trickle of slightly interested people.
But you can come back from this.
- The first step is to know which Google Penalty has stung you and why you’ve been penalised.
- The second step is to know how to monitor for future algorithm changes to make sure it doesn’t happen to you again.
These tools will allow you to see exactly which update is to blame, and how you can future-proof yourself against future penalties.
We ran these exact tests (to get case studies) on this site before we boosted search traffic 14x!
What Will I Learn?
Identify The Penalty Before You Make Any Changes
A lot of Webmasters start trying to change parts of their site before they’ve found out what’s caused the problem.
Not only is this a dumb move, it can also go on to make problems worse in the long run.
Instead of making an emotional decision you should take a step back, analyse the problem, and build a rehabilitation strategy that’s going to work for you site.
Stabbing in the dark and trying to fix something blindly isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Accurately diagnosing which penalty is at play is essential to recovering your site, and it can be done in less than five minutes using one of the SEO tools on this list.
If you’ve done any link building recently, I highly suggest you run them through this link building checklist to identify any hidden problems.
7 Google Penalty Checker Tools That Make Life Easy
This list isn’t ranked in any order from best to worst, however it is a little bit split.
Tools number one to four will allow you to see the penalty that hit your site.
And tools number five to seven will help you keep an eye on Google activity and protect your site against possibly upcoming algorithm changes & Google updates.
A change in the Google algorithm can have a negative impact on your site’s performance on Google search results that’s why it is crucial to get tools that help to take manual actions.
#1 – Moz Change History
You can also use this page to get further reading to help you understand how this problem might affect your site, or what could be coming in the future.
This page is updated immediately after a major change is reported so if you’ve seen a big drop-off in your results, there’s a good chance that it’s been featured here.
If you ever suspect you’ve been hit with a Google Penalty, I’d suggest you start with this tool.
#2 – Panguin Google Penalty Check Tool
The Panguin Tool from Barracuda has been around for a long time. It’s simple, easy to use, and provides a lot of quick information for you with great user experience.
All you have to do is sign in with your Google Analytics accounts and you’ll be able to instantly see a map of your traffic data and the exact moment a Google Update went live:
The vertical lines on the graph represent the different major algorithm updates to show you the impact they could have had on your traffic.
If you click on any of the lines it’ll give you a description of the update, why it happened and what it could mean for your site.
What I also like here is that it comes with this little dashboard of icons:
This allows you to switch on and off all of the different possible causes for your drop in traffic and see through a lot of the more confusing data.
In my opinion the Panguin Tool is the best Google penalty checker on the planet.
#3 – Rank Ranger
Rank Ranger combines elements of Moz’s Change History tool and their MozCast tool to bring you all the information on one screen.
It offers a deeper level of information for you about each individual update:
It’s also a little more black and white about what it considers to be an important change.
If the chart is in the green range you’re okay, once it’s red you’re in danger, and when it’s blue you don’t need to worry about anything at all.
It simplifies the information a little, while giving you a deeper insight into what might be happening.
A really cool alternative.
#4 – Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool
Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker is a little known, but powerful tool for pinpointing exactly what made a difference to your site.
In order to use it you’ll need a free account set up. But once you’re in you can get a wealth of data. The first data you’ll see is a plot graph of updates how they’ve impacted your site:
It really comes into it’s own when you scroll below the fold and look at the written data.
In the chart it will show you every recent Google algorithm update, and calculate the probability that it will have changed traffic to your site:
You’re even able to see the changes in traffic that it could bring you through different devices.
And, if you’d like, you can learn more about each of the changes in further detail.
#5 – SEMRush Sensor
SEMRush Sensor is by far the most comprehensive tool on this whole list.
While Panguin is still arguably my favourite, this comes in a close second.
Taking a slightly more ‘medical’ approach it shows you a pretty precise monitor of what Google has been doing the last few days:
But you can also look at the activity within individual niches too. Which is a truly extraordinary set of results to be giving away for free.
Drilling down into the tool further you can add your own site for analysis.
Then SEMRush Sensor will look at every page and keyword you rank for and spit back a bunch of data about your personal SERP volatility-
There are a bunch of other awesome features as well and this is a tool I’d highly recommend you keep an eye on going forward.
Check out my SEMRush review to get more detailed informations about this amazing tool.
#6 – Accuranker’s Google ‘Grump’ Rating
This is one of my favourite tools for monitoring what’s going on with Google’s Algorithms.
The Grump Rating shows you how active the Google Algorithms have been updating lately, and how likely a change is going to come today – or in the next few days – that will impact your SERP rankings.
You can check this out across a range of devices and locations around the world. Giving you location specific insights for wherever you’re located.
The tool grades current Google activity at one of the following four levels:
It’s rare to see Google down at the chilled level, but I have known it drop to cautious from time to time.
You’re also able to go back and see what the activity has been like over the past few days, weeks, months or years and look for patterns in Google’s movements.
Or find where you site might have been slightly penalised in the past.
I’d recommend you check in with this tool at least once a week to keep yourself up to date with the current state of affairs and feel free to take a look at my full Accuranker review.
#7 – MozCast
If you prefer your data delivered to you in a more bite sized chunk, a good alternative to Accuranker is MozCast.
MozCast displays the current state of Google’s activity like a weather forecast, showing a daily weather report-
If the forecast is getting warmer and stormier you could be heading towards an algorithm update. And if it’s cool and clear skies, rankings will be staying where they are.
You don’t have the same level of flexibility you do with the Accurank tool, but it’s nice if you want a morning rankings report to see what’s happening on a general level.
What To Do Once You’ve Identified Your Penalty
Once you have isolated the problem with a Google penalty checker tool, you can start to analyse the cause of the issue.
Always check Google Search Console for error messages/problems first.
Remember that correlation of your search traffic dropping with an algorithm update doesn’t necessarily mean it is the update at fault!
For example your site may have been hacked and hosting malware.
If you notice that your traffic drop does correlate with an algorithm change, then that should point you in the right direction of what to look at first as a cause.
Usually, issues fall into 2 or 3 categories-
- Backlink Based – If you have a backlink based penalty that means that you’re having link building issue. To fix it you need to perform a backlink analysis thanks to a backlink audit. Link Building is for many considered as black hat SEO technic – even though, I believe that black hat/white hat SEO are stupid labels – you must be careful about how you build your backlinks to stay out of trouble.You must avoid excessive link schemes & spam links on your web page.
- Content Based – If you have a content penalty, follow this guide or this guide to perform a content audit. You can get a penalty if the algorithm detects low quality, duplicate content, keyword stuffing, anchor text or thin content.
- On Site Penalty – If you have an on site penalty that is not caused by thin content issues then use a tool like URLProfiler (see my full URL Profiler review) or Screaming Frog SEO Spider to analyse your site.
Once you identified the root cause and fixed the issue, submit a ‘reconsideration request‘ to let Google knows.
And remember, penalties can be avoided if you follow Google good practices and follow my 45+ steps SEO checklist.
Google Penalty Recovery Services
The easiest way to fix a Google penalty is to have someone else fix it for you.
My agency has a 100% recovery success rate like this site that went from penalty to 114 number 1 rankings.
We’ll also make sure that your website respects Google’s Webmaster Guidelines – with a clean link profile and high-quality content – so you don’t get other penalties.
Feeling brave? You can try to remove your penalty by yourself following my Google penalty recovery guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I check my penalty on Google?
To check your website penalty on Google, you can verify if you have been penalized by manual action from Google. If so, the website owner is notified through Google Webmaster Tools and receives a letter explaining the reason for the penalty.
But, if you have been hit by Google updates, another solution is to use a Google penalty checker tool which will give you a lot more visibility of what is happening with your website and accurately diagnose the problem.
With more and more Google updates like Google page experience, Google Penguin 4.0 and Google Panda (released to improve search quality), it’s crucial to keep checking for penalties and to follow best practices of specialists like Matt Cutts to avoid them.
How long does a Google penalty last?
The amount of time a penalty lasts depends on a few variables, including what the penalty is and the extent of the problems you have to fix. But to give you an idea, a manual penalty can last anywhere from 10 to 30 days, depending on how quickly you’re able to fix the issues while an algorithmic penalty can last anywhere from a month to a year.
Why is my website ranking dropping?
If you notice a drop in your website traffic and ranking on Google search results, you need to find the reason for this. Check thanks to a Google penalty checker tool if you have any manual action messages from Google.
If yes you have been hit with a penalty. If not, you need to run a site audit to figure out what the issue is.
But remember, being hit by an algo update would only impact your ranking on Google search engine and not on the other search engines.
Does my site have a penalty?
If you have experienced a sharp or even steady drop in search traffic then chances are you have been hit by a penalty.
This can be either a Google algorithm update or a manual penalty for something specific. If your site does have a penalty you need to act quickly to get it fixed.
How do I get rid of a Google penalty?
To remove a Google penalty, follow these 4 steps:
- Use Penalty Checker Tools to find out why you have been given the penalty.
- Once you understand why you got penalised, start working on fixing your website to adhere to Google’s guidelines.
- Submit a reconsideration request to Google.
- Put a plan in place to ensure that they do not reoccur.
If this is too much work for you, you can also use our Google penalty recovery service.