Steps to help your website after a Google penalty.
I'll go over a few ways to figure out if your website has been hit by a Google penalty. No two websites are created equal, so even if you think your website hasn't been hit, I would recommend talking to someone who knows a lot about SEO.
1. Google Search Console
Log into your Google search console and you will see something labeled “Search Traffic” and it should be a tab. Click the tab and then go to “Manual Actions.” Here you will be able to find out if Google told you directly that you had a penalty. If they didn't, there are a few other ways to check, keep reading
2. What does your backlink profile look like?
You can go back into your Google search console and click “Download your latest link report.” This should give you a pretty extensive report on what backlinks have been built for your website. If you see a ton of low quality and spammy backlinks, you could be getting a link related penalty from Google. You'll need to begin removing these links with the disavow tool immediately.
NOTE: Using the disavow tool doesn't actually remove the links. It's more of a tool to suggest to Google that the link isn't something you placed. It's up to Googles discretion whether they take the links out of your ranking factors or let them stay.
Go through all of your links and pull out the ones that you would think are low quality and possibly hurting your website. Add all the links to .txt file for your records. After you have a large list of what you consider "bad neighbors" to link to, send it to an SEO expert to see what their opinion is. After the SEO person gets back to you, you may need to run your .txt file through the disavow tool in the Google search console.
3. Check Your Content
If you have duplicate content from doing a copy/paste job from a different website or you just happen to write something similar to a different site, you could be getting a penalty from Google. A duplicate content penalty is tough to find, but you can run your content through paid services like copyscape to see if you have content that is already online.
NOTE: You won't actually hurt the rankings of your other pages because of a penalty. But the page with the content will be extremely difficult to get indexed. This is more of a "Google slap on the wrist" lol
The only downside of running your pages through copyscape is that each page will cost you some money to check. You might be able to find a different service that does multiple pages for the same price, but I haven't found any good ones that I could list here
4. Check The Algorithm Changes
Google tends to tweak it's algorithm a few times a year and not tell us. Well, a bit more than a few lol, it's over 400 times a year Now most of the algorithm changes are small and barely do anything, but there are the big ones like the panda and penguin updates which moved the rankings around a lot.
A lot of my clients that come to me are suffering from at least one penalty that they don't know of, and I help them fix it. But you should treat your website as it's own business and run it professionally so that you don't incur a penalty the next time Google does a big change to it's algorithm.
I would also recommend that you get into social media marketing as well as paid advertising using Googles PPC (pay per click) platform called Adwords. Generate multiple traffic streams
If you take everything I said to heart, you will lift any penalties and increase your rankings over time, which increases your businesses worth and also increases it's profits