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Penalties, Updates and Reinclusion

Time remaining/total 3h 0m 4.6 / 5


Time required: 5m
Lesson URL:
Teacher: Tom Capper

It’s in Google’s interests to maintain the highest possible quality of search results. Its regularly updated search algorithm is designed to ensure that the most useful results are returned every time, and its Webmaster Guidelines describe the kind of content that it considers worthy and unworthy of ranking. In addition, Google sometimes manually penalizes sites that it considers manipulative or low quality.

The best way to approach penalties and algorithm updates is to avoid having to worry about them – Google has historically always caught up with techniques used to manipulate or cheat its results, and the only future-proof way to ensure that your site ranks well is to produce the kind of site that Google wants to rank well. If you’re worried that in the past this is not how your site has been run, some of the recovery techniques discussed in this module are worth considering as a precautionary measure. For example, many businesses now choose to actively monitor and clean their backlinks on a regular basis – regardless of whether they have already received a manual penalty.

However, if you are suffering from a manual penalty or a drop in traffic following an algorithm update, there are steps you can take to diagnose and fix the issue and, in some circumstances, regain lost rankings. The necessary steps depend on the nature of the issue, and we’ll outline the different types of manual and algorithmic action that Google can take in the next section.

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between a penalty and an algorithm update
  • Identify whether a drop in site traffic could be the result of a penalty or algorithm update
  • Understand the implications of a manual penalty
  • Efficiently clean up a site’s backlinks to minimize the chance of a manual action or to overcome existing manual action
  • Submit reconsideration requests with the greatest chance of success

Understanding the differences: penalties, filters, updates and manual action

Time required: 15m

Pandas and Penguins: The Google algorithm over time

Time required: 25m

Diagnosing and addressing traffic drops

Time required: 35m

Manual actions and reconsideration requests

Time required: 20m

Link cleanup and disavowal

Time required: 35m

Curated resources

Time required: 45m

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