All You Need to Know to Avoid a Google Penalty

SEO experts work hard to get their websites to rank on the first page of Google. But some use shortcuts that don’t comply with Google’s requirements, causing their websites to be detected for poor quality and ultimately get penalised – this is known as a Google penalty. This can result in their websites disappointingly dropping to the bottom rankings. 

However, this issue is solvable. Today, we reveal everything you need to know about Google penalties, including the reasons and factors that can cause a drop in a website’s ranking. 

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Google Penalty: Definition and Types

A Google penalty refers to the punishment Google imposes on websites it deems to be harmful or of low quality for users. Google, therefore, downranks those sites from the first page of the search results to the bottom rankings. In order to check whether your website is likely to get downranked by a Google penalty, you use the Webmaster Tools, then look at the Rank Tracker. This tool shows detailed information on any poor-quality keywords on your website that may lead to a Google penalty.

There are 2 types of search engine penalty imposed by Google:

Algorithmic Penalty 

This penalty occurs right when Google updates its algorithm and detects that a website doesn’t comply with the requirements, so the website is automatically downranked.

Manual Penalty

Users can also report websites that aren’t following Google’s regulations. Therefore, when Google receives a report, that website will be notified of the reason for the Google penalty before being downranked. This enables the site to improve in order to be ranked once again.

Reasons a Website Is Downranked

It should be noted that recovering from a Google penalty is not easy. According to recent data from Seroundtable in 2023, over 53% of banned websites may not be able to rank again, or it may take another year to rank. Hence, it’s important to know the root cause of the downranking and urgently fix any problems to sustain your website ranking as long as possible.

Use of poor-quality backlinks

A backlink refers to how another website links to yours. It is considered an indicator that your website is trustworthy and meets the needs of most internet users. The more backlinks a website receives, the higher chance that site will rank on Google’s first page. As a result, some people focus on the quantity of their backlinks rather than the quality. Low quality backlinks come from websites that are irrelevant to yours or harmful, such as porn and gambling websites. When Google detects poor-quality backlinks, it may also consider your website to be poor-quality and penalise your site by downranking it.

Solution: We recommend you first check your backlink profile to see which websites you have received backlinks from. Then, you should disallow the links or inform Google that those links are not from websites you expect to link to your website as they are poor-quality or have a hidden purpose. After that, wait for Google to fact-check and then discard those links. 

Providing poor quality content or plagiarising content

The content on your website also matters. If Google detects that your content is not beneficial for readers or that it is plagiarised from other websites, Google may consider your website to be poor quality.

Solution: If the articles on your website are not of high quality, you remove them. Then, you should have a skilled content writer improve your content according to the E-E-A-T Guidelines, writing content using relevant keywords so that Google can detect your site to be good quality and increase your website’s ranking.

Excessive use of repetitive keywords

When too many unnecessary keywords are input into an article, Google may detect it. Google considers a website with excessive use of repetitive keywords as poor quality and penalises that website by downranking it.

Solution: Keywords should only make up 2-5% of the total words in your content, so you should adjust your content accordingly. It’s also wise to check the flow of your content and the language used to ensure the keywords are used as naturally as possible. 

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Websites that have been hacked

If your website has been hacked before, it is a key indicator for Google that it is poor quality and insecure. Therefore, your website will receive a Google penalty, and your ranking will drop.

Solution: Website owners should strengthen their website’s security system by setting strong passwords and not using the same password for other accounts. Also, your domain security should be regularly checked. Therefore it’s worth selecting a website host with a malware scanner service to increase your website’s security.

Spam comments

Google often downranks websites because of spam comments. To explain more – if you keep receiving comments containing other irrelevant website links, Google will detect it and downrank your website. 

Solution: To avoid spam comments of this nature, website owners should install the ‘Disable Comments” plugin to help detect spam comments. Or, if you detect spam comments yourself, you can inform Google so that you can fix the issue before Google downranks your website.

Websites that are not mobile-friendly

Nowadays, users mainly access websites via mobile phones. Therefore, a website that isn’t mobile-friendly or doesn’t allow effective access for mobile users can be deemed by Google to be of poor quality, negatively impacting its ranking. 

Solution: Check your website’s mobile compatibility performance via the Google Search Console. This will allow you to improve the UX/UI of your website to meet the needs of users across all platforms.



As you can see, a Google Penalty can seriously impact a business, reducing brand awareness and sales. It means that when your target group searches for keywords related to your products and services, they won’t be shown your website, which allows your competitors to replace you in the customer’s mind.

If your website has suffered a Google penalty, contact Primal Digital Agency. Our experts are ready and waiting to optimise your website and return it to the first search results page. Get in touch today.