Every month Google will make a number of changes, both major and minor, on its search results ranking algorithm to stay relevant for search queries. Since the release of Google’s major update called Panda in 2011, most of the websites and blogs were affected significantly. Some webmasters were benefited from the update, receiving record-high traffic and ad revenue. On the other side of the coin, many site owners and bloggers were hit badly, experiencing a drastic drop in web traffic up to 80%.
During that period of time, discussions about Google Panda were popping up all over the webmasters’ communities including forums and blogs, discussing the solutions to the impact of Panda. Well, whether or not you are victim of Panda, do make sure your web content is original, unique and no duplicate content. Additionally you must avoid dirty tricks that may violate Google’s quality guidelines such as keyword stuffing, paid links, cloaking, etc.
Check If You’ve Received Warning Message in Google Webmaster Tools
One of the easiest ways to know if your site has been penalized by Google is to login to Google Webmaster Tools and check for warning messages. If there is no penalty notice from Google informing you that they have penalized your site due to violation of their quality guidelines, then this is a good sign you’d like to see.
Check What Day Did Your Traffic Drop
If you do not receive any penalty notice from Google, then your site might have been hit by Google Panda/Penguin updates. Login to Google Analytics and check if the date of your traffic drop is around the release date of Google Panda/Penguin. If yes, most likely the drop is due to the changes of Google’s search results ranking algorithm. Now you have to find out what the update is all about and make sure your site does not violate Google quality guidelines.
Check If You Lose Organic Rankings of Your Target Keywords
This is another way to confirm the presence of a penalty. If your site is penalized, most of your target keywords will lose their organic rankings on search results. Example, if you used to have target keyword “SEO infographics” listed on the first page of search results, and now it drops to page 3 or 4. It’s not a good sign, your site might have been flagged by Google.
Ask Your SEO Company (If You Have One)
If you hire a SEO firm helping you to boost your site/page ranking on Google search results, ask them to explain the tactics and strategies they’ve been using, and why not, ask them to check if your site has been penalized. Remember it’s your responsibility to ensure that your SEO firm stays away from any potential violations of Google’s website quality guidelines, building an ethical and long-term SEO strategy.
I hope you’ll find above useful. In the event that you’ve identified your site gets penalized and you’ve taken necessary corrective actions, it’s time to contact Google telling them what you think may have happened and what you’ve done by filing a reconsideration request.
Here’s a video from Google that talks about reconsideration request.