7 Traffic-Crushing Google Penalties and How to fix Them

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No webmaster would like to be informed by Google of the penalization of their site!

7 are the Google penalties that crush the traffic of a website, but in this article, you will also find the solutions on how to solve them.

Today we will deal specifically with the actions, through which the search engine sanctions the sites responsible for the conduct in contrast with the guidelines, with reference first of all to the acquisition of backlinks or online spam activities.

Google updates could also affect the amount of traffic an online business has.

Over the years there have been many important and incisive updates of the algorithms, which have influenced SEO techniques.

However, the purpose of the search engine is to offer higher quality content to the users.

Note that Google makes one or more changes every 24 hours to provide better search results.

Some of these are not particularly impactful for the positioning of the site while others could be more significant over a year. (1*)


Have you experienced a drop in traffic in the last few months?


The worst thing that can happen to a webmaster is realizing that their site traffic “from today to tomorrow” has dropped without knowing why.

The sudden drop in organic visits can depend on several factors.

When you experience traffic crashes on your site, you’ve probably taken an action that Google severely punishes.

If the site seems to have been penalized only in part, or on some specific searches such as via mobile and not desktop, it could be that you missed some updates.

On the other hand, if the drop in traffic only affects a few pages or categories, you most likely should add or change something in the content.


Before you think about the worst, when you notice a sudden drop in traffic covering all traffic channels and areas of the site, it could be that you have not entered the Analytics code correctly.

In this case, the problem could be very simple to solve. It often happens that the “inconvenience” does not come from the site, but is present in the monitoring tool. (When the Google Analitycs code is not implemented correctly it processes incorrect data)

Another false alarm refers to websites that stay offline for too long due to poor hosting service.


Algorithmic penalties


Algorithmic penalties are the most difficult to identify because they are not notified.

In most cases, they are not those relevant penalties for the site, but they do involve some adjustments of the search results when updates are made to the Google algorithms.

Therefore algorithmic penalties are the least worrying.

They are performed by robots in a fully automatic way.

Whenever an algorithm change is made, your SEO practices may become out of date.

When this happens, your site may experience drops in organic traffic and SERP rankings.

However, you just need to understand what kind of update has been released and make the relevant changes. (2*)

SOURCE: Sistrix.com


Manual penalty


When a site is given a manual penalty, it runs the risk of being removed from search engine indexes.

This process is not performed by Google’s algorithms, but they are real people who manually perform this type of operation.

It is not a group of sites that are penalized by search results, but a specific site is removed for violations.


There is a division of Mountain View specialists who take care of examining the sites individually. When irregular behavior is detected, these manual penalties will be awarded.

Google uses this practice to combat spam, a widespread phenomenon on the web, and thus allow people to find the answers they want and legitimate sites to receive search traffic. (3*)

SOURCE: support.google.com


7 reasons why a site is heavily penalized by Google

Manual actions are activated under different circumstances, the most relevant are:

  1. Use of a free spam host.
  2. Cloaking: unauthorized redirection commands.
  3. Image cloaking
  4. Spam generated by users.
  5. Low-quality content
  6. Unnatural connections referring to your site or come from your site
  7. Hidden content and keyword filling.



1. Use of a free hosting service containing spam


I have already written in the previous articles on how it is essential to have a performing hosting.

The problem of free hosting is not just the fact of having a site that loads slowly, but you must also keep in mind that most of these contain spam.

The only way, which I currently know, to obtain a free but efficient hosting service, is through the Wealthy Affiliate platform. (Siterubix)

Another excellent hosting that will avoid sanctions by search engines is undoubtedly Siteground. (For a fee)

Other hosting services considered inexpensive are:

  • Dreamhost.

If you are creating a blog for the first time and you need both the host that the domain takes a look at the prices offered by NameCheap!


2. Cloaking – Redirect commands not allowed


Cloaking is a technique that does not comply with Google’s guidelines because it serves to make users believe they are clicking on something, while in reality they will be shown content other than what they are looking for.

Content masking is considered by Google to be a manipulative action and could penalize a site through a manual or algorithmic anti-spam action.

There is also the risk, on the part of those who adopt cloaking, that their site will be removed from the search engine index.

There are several cloaking techniques, such as those related to malware, often used by hackers to disguise a SPAM attack on a website.



Through the use of particular scripts, it is possible to show search engines different content from what the site offers to the people who are carrying out that particular search.

This practice allows the site itself to obtain a better positioning on search engines.

Google penalizes cloaking because it is considered a violation of its guidelines.



SOURCE: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/guidelines/cloaking


How to solve cloaking problems

Go to Google Search Console and select: view like Google; then analyze the pages of your website affected by the problem!

Now you just need to do the following:

  1. Compare the content of your site with that viewed by a user with the content retrieved by Google.
  2. The 2 are likely not going to be the same, so make sure they have the same content.
  3. Check all redirects so that you can remove those that send users to an unexpected destination.


3. Cloaking (related to images)


The “crime” is always to show users content other than that shown by Google.

Sometimes it could be an involuntary action such as in the case of a malfunction of one of the installed plugins of the site.

However, it is often a premeditated image concealment technique.

Here are some examples:

  • Images obscured by another image.
  • Different images from the one served.
  • Redirect the user away from the image.



The images that users see are not those shown by search engines. There must be no hidden images to generate fraudulent clicks.


How to fix Cloaking (related to images)

To fix compromised images, you need to make sure that the image shown to Google is the same image that site users see.

If you have received a notification from the search engine, you must proceed with the reconsideration request after resolving the problem.


4. Spam generated by the user


User-generated spam is mainly spam present in forum threads.

Within them, it is possible to insert a link in the signature and other sections. Google sees this type of operation as an attempt to change the ranking and that is why it could give a penalty.

Another practice not well seen by search engines is spam comments and links in comments. Despite being present on the site, they are considered negative SEO attempts or other people’s link-building attempts.

There are several ways to prevent your site from receiving spam comments. The 3 that I think are the most effective are:

  1. Approve comments manually (each comment goes through a moderation)
  2. Install special plugins, such as Akismet.
  3. Blacklist the most common and inappropriate spam words. Also, you should keep adding any new spam words, you see in the future to this list.


Other techniques for preventing user-generated spam


5. Poor quality content


Content that is too short that does not give any value to those who search the Internet for an answer, can be penalized by Google.

Anyone who reads these poor-quality articles realizes it within seconds and looks elsewhere.

This causes a high bounce rate and, as a result, search engines damage the site’s ranking.

People who create shoddy texts are often aspiring bloggers or those who have recently launched into digital marketing.

Hence, they have little or no SEO knowledge and don’t even know that penalties exist.

But this is not always the case because even the most experienced webmasters are penalized.


Example of content lacking in quality

Google wants original content that offers value to users …

Now I’ll give you a trivial example:

If you write reviews to make money with affiliate links, you don’t have to copy the product description directly from Amazon, etc …

But you have to write down your opinions on the benefits, make comparisons with similar products, or make a personal judgment on whether you have tried that particular product.

Warning, don’t get me wrong!

I’m not telling you to never put a data sheet in a review, for example of TVs, PCs, smartphones, etc.

These technical data are very important for the reader who wants to make a purchase, but to capture his attention, you must know how to intrigue, attract and entice him to read your content.


Here is a video where the former Google Matt Cutts engineer makes examples of subtle content or “surface content” and what actions you need to undertake to correct it or remove it.

SOURCE: cultofweb.com


Other types of Scarce Content that may be subject to penalties

In addition to articles containing affiliate links that do not give any added value, there are others that risk being penalized:

  • Content copied from other sites.
  • Texts are translated from other languages and displayed in the same way on your website.
  • Content generated through RSS feeds (They are used to distribute the contents of a site simply and immediately.)
Feeds are automatically generated files from blogs (but not limited to) that can be automatically read by feed readers.
  • Doorway pages, which are pages that automatically redirect to another. They are specially created to be among the top search results and acquire clicks. However, once the visitor arrives on this page, the user is immediately taken to another page

If you have been penalized for poor content, to solve the problem you should rewrite it and insert original and useful content that makes your site interesting for visitors.

After that, request Google to review them again.



Relying on professional copywriters can be the ideal solution for your business.

However, it will not be easy to find the one that best suits your needs because every Freelance Copywriter has his way of writing, and then there is the most valid and the least.

Prices also change, usually, the best ones charge a minimum of $ 50 or more while if you want to save money you can pay much less but it will hardly be high-quality items.


6. Unnatural links pointing to your site or from your site


Backlinks are very important because when other sites connect to ours, it is perceived by Google as a positive signal, thus contributing to the good positioning of the site.


When many people mention your article, it means you’ve piqued the interest of readers…


For example, if you have a lot of articles cited by authoritative sites, the search engine will identify them as valuable content and likely rank them higher.

Obtaining quality backlinks (naturally) is the result of constant work in creating unique and interesting content that, over time, has aroused curiosity and interest in your site.


Some bad practices allow you to get backlinks.

In this section, we will elaborate on what type of backlink could be harmful to your site and be subject to penalization by Google. The main ones are:


1) EXCESSIVE LINK EXCHANGE (“Link to me and I will link to you”) For example, let’s say you sell houses on your site and you have a resource page where you recommend loan or mortgage companies, real estate lawyers …

Let’s say that among these resources there is one or more that mention you on their site via a backlink.

As a result, anyone who clicks on it will be redirected to your site.

At first glance, it would not appear to be outside of Google’s guidelines and in fact, you may even get a higher ranking.

The problem is when you overdo it!

For example, if you turn to hundreds of auto sellers for link exchanges, the search engine may penalize you as this technique looks like a linking scheme.

Another very common practice is to exchange as many links as possible with the largest number of sites that are even slightly related to that particular sector.

As I’ve said in other SEO articles, both internal and external links need to be strictly relevant.

Try to think if a reader of your blog is reading for example an article on fishing and then clicks on a link that takes him to the best diets for weight loss.

It would make no sense and will likely leave that blog forever.


2) BACKLINK PURCHASE: in the Google guidelines we read that the purchase of backlinks involves penalties … However here there are many discrepancies because some webmasters argue that this operation can have positive implications for their website.


3) RECEIVE BACKLINK IN OTHER LANGUAGES: it would not make sense for a user to pass through the link in question from a site in one language to a site with another language. This negatively affects the browsing experience, which is why Google discourages this practice.


4) “TEMPORARY” LINKS: this involves renting services that refer to the desired site. Since these are commercial links, (an agreed amount must be paid regularly) they are certainly not natural in the eyes of Google.



If you contact a webmaster and ask him if he can insert a link from you within his site in exchange for money, it does not mean that your site is then linked by someone because it is interesting.

This is another case of unnatural linking!

However, not all of them are so obvious, as there are cases where you get links in exchange for a donation. In this circumstance, you can get a link to a well-positioned and probably authoritative page by paying a certain amount for charity. This is undoubtedly a paid and unnatural link.

Despite this there are favorable circumstances, for example, if you donate to some association, then it will thank you and probably will also link to your blog. (These links are fine.)

Remember not to apply too much with this technique (by donating to many places known to link to their sponsors) otherwise, you risk a penalty from Google for unnatural links.

The results of these bad practices can be very damaging to a website as they almost always lead to exclusion from the SERPs.



Excessive repetition of keywords in the anchor text of a backlink is strongly discouraged.

If you want to be 100% sure you won’t get penalties, make sure the anchor text is the same as the URL.



Contents participating in affiliate programs that are too scarce / photocopies of affiliate network sites are penalized by Google.



Some say yes, stating that it is a technique that can bring both short and long-term benefits:

Better positioning of your website on search engines, which leads to an immediate increase in traffic, as the readers of the blogs that link to you may click on the backlink, thus ending up on your site.

It can benefit your website’s reputation and trustworthiness by making more and more people click on your articles.

To obtain these benefits, the purchased links must be of quality and come from sufficiently authoritative and relevant websites.

In the opposite case, in addition to suffering a drop in positioning in the SERP, there is also the risk of receiving penalties from Google.



Pay close attention to sites that are considered spam, because if you get a link from them, you could end up on Google’s blacklist.

The same goes for links from dangerous and ethically incorrect sites that praise violence.




They are links for commercial use.

Google’s instructions for webmasters indicate that website content must be original and add value to users.

All this is mainly related to blogs that write reviews of products or services containing affiliate links: most of these just copy the description of what they are promoting directly from the affiliate network site.

By now, search engines have gotten smarter and they understand exactly if you have limited yourself to copying someone’s content or if you have added some relevant additional element instead.

For example, you could add a touch of originality to your review with a price and benefits comparison …

Always express your personal opinion and don’t overdo it with affiliate links in an article!


A reminder from Google about eligible links and spam link updates


What to do in case of unnatural links coming from your site

When you get a warning that there are unnatural links on your site, your best bet is to either remove them completely or make the links in question “no follow”.

Another effective way is to redirect them to an intermediate URL that is blocked in your site’s Robots.txt file with the disallow command.


The best solution for unnatural links pointing to your site

In this case, you must eliminate all low-quality links by contacting the owners of the sites linking to yours to ask them to remove that particular link or add the “no follow” attribute.

For links that cannot be deleted, use the Disavow tool.

It is a tool that communicates to search engines that you have not been able to delete certain links and directly ask that these are not considered.)

You can now submit the reconsideration request.



This is a section of the Google Search Console designed to allow webmasters to intervene on toxic, dangerous, and spam links that could ruin the ranking of the site that receives them.

Through this tool, it is possible to ask Google not to take into account specific links reported so that they do not affect the authority of the site while maintaining its positioning in Google search results.


7. Hidden content and keyword stuffing

SOURCE: Searchenginejournal.com/


Hidden text is not visible to the user, but it is another technique targeted by Google’s search engine algorithms.

For example, it involves putting white text on a white background, burying the text in the source code.

This way you can add important keywords to the site, but Google’s guidelines don’t accept this method, because the user can’t read the related text. (But the search engine can!)

Now the techniques that were once used, to obtain an increase in search engine rankings, Google no longer accepts them as it aims to improve the user experience more and more.


Keyword stuffing is a strategy designed to reach the search engine algorithm and not the user.

The reader soon realizes that the same word has been repeated too many times and is certainly not a pleasant reading experience.

When you write content, don’t force the insertion of keywords, but rather put some synonym and write thinking that your words must answer the questions that users ask themselves about Google.


How to fix a site, that has been flagged for keyword stuffing and hidden content


For keyword stuffing, check which articles have been reported by Google and delete any content that appears to be keyword-filled or spam.


For hidden content, here, the solution isn’t always that simple, as you may need to access your website’s source code to find blocks of text that have been added in secret places.

Sometimes it happens that the sites are hacked and as a result, hidden text is added maliciously.


How to find out if a site has been penalized

If the site has suffered a penalty, the owner or manager receives a message in the Google Search Console in the manual actions section.

If, on the other hand, you do not receive any notification but you suspect that your site has been penalized, to find out you must search Search Console…

In case you don’t find previously ranked URLs among the results in the SERP, this is a clue.

Or you can do a Google search by entering the address of your site preceded by “SITE:”.

If no results are displayed, you will have confirmation that the site has been removed from the search engine index.


How to resolve Google sanctions on a general level

Whatever the penalty fear not, because even the most serious cases are not definitive.

For this reason, Google offers Search Console, a tool created specifically to help all webmasters solve the problems that afflict the site and put into practice the cleaning interventions, finally asking to reconsider everything.

I remind you that manual penalties can therefore be temporary and require in broad terms only a good job of correction to remove them completely, thus recovering lost positions and traffic.

Now, having seen the already long article, I summarize everything in short and simple concepts but keep in mind that you will have to dedicate time and effort to read and understand the reason for the sanction.

Once the causes are understood, it is necessary to understand whether to intervene on the entire site or only on suspicious contents.

Conversely, penalties resulting from algorithm changes are more difficult to identify, because no notification is received.

So if one day you notice that your site is losing positions on search engines, you have to correlate the period in which the traffic loss began with the date of the algorithm update.

The only solution, therefore, is to consult the Google algorithm update history. (4*, 5*)


How long does it take to get out of Google sanctions once they are resolved?

It depends, on average it can take up to 6 months to remove a penalty, such as an unnatural link.

In order not to extend the procedure further, resolve the penalties as soon as possible and send your reconsideration requests to Google immediately afterward.


How to avoid Google sanctions

The way to avoid being penalized is simple, I will list the main points below:

And last but not least, keep your site safe and remember to back it up (or make sure your hosting service does it every day for you) so you don’t lose your work.

Now that you know Google’s 7 penalties that reduce website traffic and know how to fix them, work hard every day to reach a wider audience that is in line with your content!

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