Penalty Removal – why has my organic traffic dropped?

Posted on:30 April 2016By:Jon Sharman

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Are you suffering from a Google Penalty?

Many people come looking for an SEO agency when they are unable to understand why their organic traffic levels are no longer what they used to be. No matter how hard they look they can’t quite figure out why a previously good performing channel has either nose-dived or has slowly declined (without any obvious on-site activity that may have caused it).

Obviously any drop in traffic can be very costly in financial terms, especially for e-commerce sites, so getting to the bottom of the issue should be a priority.

Do you have a penalty?

As part of our service we initially provide a top level review of your site performance which always looks to uncover the existence of a Google manual penalty or quantify if your site has been affected by search engine algorithmic changes. In both cases action can be taken to address the situation and get things moving in the right direction again.

Understanding why you may have been penalised is a key factor in deciding what you need to do to get back on track. There are many reasons why you can suffer at the hands of a penalty.

Outdated or unscrupulous campaigns

If your site has previously employed the services of others to help rank for keywords, this is usually the best place to start. Agencies or internal experts may have previously been involved in link schemes or employing linking practices that are now considered black-hat.

Purchasing link packages that delivered very quick results, along with spamming techniques were often effective in the short term but have since lead to ranking penalties being incurred

Ill-conceived fad campaigns

There was a time when article marketing websites were all the rage (and the way to go if you wanted to generate links). However, Google soon realised that rather than filling the web with useful content instead it stuffed it full of low quality articles with anchor text links that weren’t always relevant, therefore defeating the object. Google quickly backtracked on this practice, giving it the thumbs down.

Devalued content

When it comes to penalties, it isn’t solely about links. As Google has evolved, so has the way in which it perceives your content. Where previously it may have rated your content in certain areas, changes to its algorithms (via Panda) may mean they now see it in a different light and feel it is thin or lacking in relevance.

The road to recovery

Recovering from a penalty (manual or algorithmic) is definitely possible but there is no magic switch to flick to turn it off and return things to the way they were. Time, knowledge, experience and a great deal of effort are required to get things on the road to recovery. Recovering from a penalty can be costly but ultimately it is an expense worth paying as the income tap will be turned back on.

What we would do – in a nutshell

In order to address a link penalty we would:

  • Conduct a full review of your link profile

Using a number of sources, we would collate all your backlinks and sift them into the good, the bad and the non-descript.

  • Request removal of offending links

Where possible we would contact sites to request removal of links that we deem as undesirable.

  • Disavow links that can’t be removed

From what is left we would disavow the links that we cannot manually remove.

  • Submit a reconsideration request on your behalf (if required)

If a manual penalty exists we would contact Google on your behalf requesting that they revisit your websites and remove the associated penalty.


The time it takes to remove a penalty depends mainly on the size of your link profile and what level of work is required.

In terms of addressing a content based penalty (where an algorithm change has devalued your content in its eyes), we would work with you to identify the best way to improve your content value and if there are any ways in which to improve how existing content is presented.

No quick fix

Please be aware that recovery from any penalty is rarely instant but recovery should occur over a period of months. The result is unlikely to leave you ranking exactly where you were before you were penalised as previous techniques may have artificially inflated your relevance for certain terms. However, it will give you the level of visibility that Google truly believes you deserve rather than one that is in many cases significantly dampened down.

Need help?

If you feel that your organic traffic isn't hitting the levels it used to and you want to know if you are being held back by a penalty or recent changes to Google's algorithm, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for one our free appraisals. In many ways you have nothing to lose.

Take a look at Number1’s approach to SEO

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