A penalty from Google is every webmaster’s worst nightmare. But even if you get one, all is not lost. In simple terms, a penalty is a “punishment” manually imposed on a website by Google’s webspam team. This generally happens when the website violates Google’s quality guidelines. This penalty results in a dramatic drop in rankings and organic traffic loss. It’s worth mentioning the negative effect of Google’s algorithm updates must not be mistaken for a penalty. Google does not use the term “penalties” in its documentation. Instead, it calls them manual actions and algorithmic actions.
If your organic
A Google update resulted in an algorithmic action demoting your website. Google has systems that can detect spam at the “crawling” stage. As a result, a large number of pages considered spammy won’t even make it to Google’s index. As explained by Google, these AI-aided automated executive data systems provide 99% protection against spam. You should also note that don’t only demote low-quality or spammy websites; they also promote high-quality sites. So even if there’s nothing “wrong” with your website, you can find other sites outranking you after the next core update. Whenever Google rolls out a new spam update, it’s basically targeting the same issues. The core updates address the relevance and quality of content. Also, you should note that manual actions can cover different Google products. But if you somehow get a manual action related to Google Discover, your regular rankings should not be affected.
Manual actions come
Into play for the remaining 1%. Google has a vast army of human reviewers who can impose manual actions on websites. In 2020, they sent 2.9 million messages to TWD Directory site owners in Search Console related to manual webspam actions. With such a message, you know the problem and can address it directly. But diagnosing the effect of an algorithmic adjustment is much more challenging, as you will get zero notifications from Google.
The best way to identify an algorithmic action is to look at your Google organic traffic and see if you have a drop that coincides with a known or suspected algorithm update. You can search through webmaster forums or Twitter to see if other webmasters are facing similar issues. Google Search Central Help Community, for example, is an excellent place to start.