How do you check if your website has a penguin penalty?

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How do you check if your website has a penguin penalty?

The Penguin algorithm was created to deal with web spam and it detects and reduces the rankings of websites related or linked to spammy websites. It is well known that Google gives websites Penguin penalties for having spammy and low quality backlinks. This would mean that you would rank badly on SERP. However, there seems to be no easy way to check whether your website is affected by the Penguin penalty. How do you check if your website has a Penguin penalty? Have you ever got a Penguin penalty?

In 2012, Google released the Disavow tool which allows you to remove the effects of spammy links. However, it is classed as an advanced tool because you could be potentially removing good quality links and people may be not wish to use it. Therefore, using it may also affect your website’s rankings in a negative way. Have you ever used the Disavow tool? Is it worth using if you have a Penguin penalty? Are there any alternative ways you could use to remove Penguin penalties?

My website lost some traffic recently and I would really like to know if this was due to a Penguin penalty or other reasons,

Thank you!


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The Penguin algorithm, simply put, evaluates the quality of the links.Those who engage in somewhat aggressive link building campaigns can end up suffering from a Penguin penalty. Unnatural link patterns can be discovered, and artificial links which are being used in the hope of manipulating search engine rankings can lead to this type of penalty. Generally speaking though avoiding such practices such as the use of automated tools for link building is the first step to avoid this penalty. If you suspect that you got a Penguin penalty you will probably notice the following things:

1. That a specific keyword, or a group of keywords have suffered from a sharp drop in rankings. Often the page will go from a high position to a very low one in the rankings.
2. The page that contains that particular keyword might be de-indexed, however the other pages on the site are indexed.
3. You may notice that you have a message regarding unnatural linking inside your Webmaster Tools. This is under "Search Queries" and "Manual Actions".
4. It could also be that certain pages on your site which are not supposed to be ranking are now showing up for the penalized terms.

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I have not experienced much of a drop in rankings for keywords although, I have experienced a drop in indexed links according to Google Webmaster Tools. Is there a way to check whether or not this was due to a specific keyword being de-indexed? Is there a way I can check which pages are being de-indexed?

There is nothing under "Search Queries" and "Manual Actions" so that’s good news. Can you explain number 4 a bit more?

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My website lost some traffic recently and I would really like to know if this was due to a Penguin penalty or other reasons

That's what Google's Webmaster Tools is for! They provide a Message Console which can alert you to any penalties your site may have received due to one of their Algorithms. You will need to add your site to it and verify your site. It might not show immediately and if the penalty has been applied before you've added you site to it you may have to wait a while for the message to appear.

Google also released a video a while back fronted by Matt Cutts back when Matt was the head of the web-spam team on how you can I tell if your site has been affected by a particular algorithm.

In response to your question have I ever used the Disavow tool, yes, I have, after I purchased some links from someone before and found them to all be very low quality. I simply added these to the Disavow tool. I never had a penalty but I figured that these links are pure black hat and low quality links that I'd rather add them to the Disavow tool before I got the penalty. Also look at it from the perspective of the web-spam team, by using it, it shows that you care about your site and looks to them like you're trying to do something about it. This will help come a manual review of your website by the web-spam team.

The other way you can find out is by using Google Analytics. There is a paid tool you can use called Fruition Google Penalty Checker which you allow access to your Analytics and it makes a graph of all the penalties (if any) so you can see from a percentage around that time the drop in traffic came in so you can see which penalty it's likely to be. There is aslo another tool which is free called Barracuda Panguin Tool which works almost the same way in that you give it access to your Analytics and it creates a pretty graph that shows the update dates and if they correlate.

Of course, if you don't have access to Analytics or WMT then you can still use a traffic estimator like SEMrush and see the drops in traffic and if they correlate with the month the traffic dropped to a penalty using their Google Algo Change History.

I hope that helps and good luck!

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Thank you for the information about Google Webmaster Tool that it can give you information about sanctions and penalties that your site has. I am wondering why Google is spending time for those violations because a spammy backlink means the site owner exerted effort and spent time to do that. Maybe what Google should focus on is the employment of bots to do those backlinks.

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