Ways to diagnose if Google has penalised your URL

Sometimes, a website will suddenly drop out of the search engine SERPs, quickly and unexpectedly on any given day. If, after a routine check of any elements on your website that may have prohibited the crawling of your site, a review of any significant on-page changes or linking strategies that might have changed the way that the search engine views your website and a final check to see if there may be an overall algorithm change as witnessed by a significant change of rankings on the SERPs, you are still lost…The conclusion may be that your website has been penalised by the search engine.

There are a number of ways in which to diagnose whether your URL has in fact been penalised or simply lost out to competitors in the SERPs. They are listed below:

Search Engine Listings and Traffic Benefits from SEO

1. By performing a [site: URL.com] search in the search engine, you can verify whether the URL is still indexed by the search engine. If it is not, your site is most likely banned and you will need to remove any spam you have recently added, prior to requesting that your URL be re-indexed.

2. Check whether Google Webmaster Tools reports any problems and issues of which you should be aware.

3. Check whether the search engine has blacklisted your site as unsafe for browsing. You can do this on Google by typing in the following: http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=yoursiteurlhere.com

4. Check whether your website still ranks well for its domain name. If it does not, the chances are fairly high that your site has been penalised for some spammy activity. New websites may not always rank in the first position, but if an established site drops in ranking this is a strong signal of a penalty.

5. For duplicate content, check whether your URL can only be viewed by adding&filter=0 to the search URL, or by clicking on the ‘show omitted results’ link. You may have been penalised, yet not necessarily as a direct result of the content as Google does not penalise content.

6. If a search for a few relatively unique terms in the title tags of your pages does not show results within the first two pages of the search engines (10-20), this would be a fairly strong indication of a penalty.

Getting penalties lifted is a difficult and time-consuming task, so it would be best to avoid the headache. If an SEO agency gets one of its client’s sites penalised this is quite understandably a relationship destroyer and could even be an act that voids any previously established contracts. In any case, if an SEO agency penalises your site by the search engines through bad practice SEO, pack your bags and run, run as fast and as far as you can.

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