For many months now, Google has been rolling out algorithm updates known as “Panda” and “Penguin”.
Hence, many websites have suffered, even those considered authorities on the web. From their high perch in search results, some have fallen to the bottom. On the other hand, a few disappeared entirely.
But not only Google has been penalizing several sites, other leading search engines such as Bing and Yahoo have also been wiping off some portals from their indexes.
Now, this has many owners or developers wondering if SEO still works or if they have even applied the right strategies at all. In fact, a query on Google that starts with “SEO is…” produces the following results (see the next image).
But is SEO really any of these?
How about you, do you have a website? How do you know if you have been penalized?
Actually, there are no clear ways of telling whether the changes have affected your site or not.
Then again, you can presume that worst and run a search to assess your ranking. Has it dropped? If you page rank has decreased considerably, you can inspect your search-related traffic. Has it dwindled too? It indicates that your website may just have suffered a penalty. Alternatively, you can watch for other signs using these following tips.
How To Check For Website Penalties
1. Look Into Google Webmaster Tools
Assuming you have set it up for your site, log on to your account after the initial assessment (which you have performed). You need to do this to determine if you have received a note, which explains the reason(s) for the punishment. This is mostly the case, whenever a website gets a manual or automatic penalty.
While the though of receiving a notice from Google may seem foreboding, it can be reassuring to some extent, particularly if you look at it in a good light – you have the chance to revamp your site.
2. Read SEO News For Updates
Now, you have to know that such notices (mentioned above) only come after your website received a sanction based on certain criteria, usually defined guidelines. But what if you page rank’s dip is only due to updates in ranking algorithms, how do you if this is exactly the cause?
If reality, several sites have gone through this circumstances – their standing has gone down because of reprioritisation. If fact, plenty of leading websites have lost their top position overnight, making them lose widespread traffic too.
You can find out if this is the reason for your drop in SERPs by browsing SEO news sites and checking for any update or discussion on possible rollouts.
Assess The Penalty’s Extent
While you are looking into your webmaster tools account and reading technology news, you may want to ask yourself these questions too.
3. Has My Traffic Decreased For Particular Keywords?
You can determine if the damage is site-wide or minor by measuring your website’s traffic reate. If it is the latter, the percentage lost if relatively small. But if it is the former, the number of users viewing your pages has declined greatly because you are not ranking for all your targeted search terms anymore.
4. IS My Site Still In Search Engine Indexes?
Perhaps, the biggest indication of a penalty is complete removal from Google’s (and other search engine) index. Then again, this is a rather extreme measure and only carried out for severe cases.
You can see this for yourself by entering your domain name (yoursite.com) or URL ) in search engines. If you do not come up with results, there is a likely of removal from the indexes.
On the other hand, there are more reasons for falling behind after having ranked well the past few months – your site is new (at least 2-6 months) or you have begun a fresh link-building campaign.
5. What Is My Current PageRank?
The term refers to your site’s relevance and popularity. If you domain has been online for several months already (at least 8 months or more) and indexed already, it may have a PR of 1 or more. But if it 0, it may indicate a penalty.
Then again, the cause for your website’s PR 0 may be its recent development and design. If this is the case, you have nothing to worry about; you just need to practice effective SEO strategies to give it a higher pagerank.
6. Compare To Some Search Engine’s Terms Of Service (TOS)
You may not know it but the cause for disappearing from Google or Yahoo’s index or not ranking in search results could be breaching their guidelines. Now, your site’s methods might show more signs.
You can determine if you are actually violating any regulation by reviewing your website against the TOS of top search engine like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Alternatively, you can evaluate your site using the guide list on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog as reference. If consists of assessment queries like the following:
“Would you trust the information presented in this article?”
“Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?”
“Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommended?”
“Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?”
Judging from the insights here, you can see that search engine optimization or ranking in search engines require hard work, dedication, and plenty of assessment. If you want to build credibility for your website, you need to earn it by following guidelines and keeping up with the changes.
Hence, it is important to keep yourself updated on the Web’s latest to help your site
climb to the top.