Google Penalty and website hacking - Diagnosis and fixes

Guna Nadar

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Google Penalty is a common nightmare for anyone in the online publishing business.

Be it a blog or a product retailer, a Google Penalty will ensure that you aren’t in business anymore. It basically results in a drop in your website’s SERP ranking and when you aren’t showing up in the first couple of pages or search results, it means no one will be able to find your content. Now, with so many visitors across the globe, online businesses cannot afford even an hour of letdown. A lost audience can have drastic consequences in this age of cut-throat competition. However, keep calm and go through the rest of this blog!

Understanding a Google Penalty

Google Penalty occurs whenever a website has been completely or partially removed from the index searches and the search rankings have significantly dropped due to ‘algorithm spam’. With algorithm requirements getting stricter with updates like Penguin, the Webspam team is on its toes. Google Penalty is attached to websites and web pages that are found to have manipulated the use of specific keyword(s).

This might be reasoned either by a knowing risk taken by the website designer or as a result of hacking and other malicious software.

Identifying Google Penalty


Identifying Google Penalty

Whatever may be the reason, the first step after seeing a drop in SERP ranking is to identify a penalty. In some case it might just be a low traffic. In any case, sign into your GWT Account > Search Traffic > Manual Actions. If you see a message that “No manual Webspam action found”, you can be pretty sure that no algorithmic penalty has been applied to your website. In other case, the message will clearly state the type of penalty along with instructions to get rid of it.


Identifying Google Penalty

Another means to find whether your website has been penalized is to log into your Google Analytics and find out the exact date and time when the loss in organic traffic was experienced. Match this with any Google update that was done. If the answer is yes, your site would have been surely affected by the same.


Identifying Google Penalty

You can also identify a Google Penalty by simply putting in your domain name on Google Search and check whether your site is the first result for the query. If it isn’t appearing in the top results, there certainly has been a penalty involved. This is when you should be entering the title tag text and checks its ranking. If the results are still disappointing, there is something wrong.

Now will be the time when you ask, what kind of ranking drop you are encountering.

Websites gain SERP rank in several ways. It could either be a single keyword drop or a drop in the overall site rank. Google Analytics again would be an advisable tool to check the same. Some alternative tools are SEMRush, Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tool) and WordStream.

Hacked website?

The below message would mean that “Google has detected pages that seem to have been hacked by a third party. This type of pages will be henceforth categorized under ‘cloaking’ with a message “this site has been hacked” under the search result.

Hacked website


Why did this happen?

Websites can be hacked due to vulnerable security issues. The third party (hacker) will engage in modifying the site contents and existing files and this will make the website appear as “Spam” in the Google Index and thus a loss in ranking.

What to do?

The ideal step would be login to the Google Webmaster Tool and check the inbox. Google would have already provided a detailed instruction as to the specific files in the website that were found to be hacked. Use the Webmaster Tool further to investigate the hacking.

Login to GWT > Messages > Security Issues

  • Sites that have been affected by a malware will display the heading “Malware” and under it the categories of it. This would include actions like “Error template injection”, “Modified Server Configuration”, etc.
  • However, sites that have been hacked for the purpose of serving spam will display “Hacked” as the heading and category types include “Content Injection”, etc.
  • Lastly, websites displaying a “phishing notification” may not show any information in the security center. This is when the hacker would have created phishing pages to obtain financial details, login/password details, etc, often by showing itself as a trustworthy site.

In any form of hacking, it is important that you immediately take expert advice and get things fixed immediately. The longer the site remains hacked, the longer you lose your credibility. Also ensure that the existing loopholes are plugged and adequate security measures are taken. A second time loss in ranking would be more penalizing. After you have set things right, request Google to review your website and channel it back into the SERP competition.

Category :

Google

Tags :

Google Penalty Recovery,Website hacking,Google Pen

About Guna Nadar

Guna Nadar

Brief Info about Guna Nadar +

I mostly write technical aspects and not much into creative writing. For the past decade I worked along with top notch SEO & Internet Marketing professionals which naturally lured me into the world of Search Engines. When I am not writing I read from comics to philosophy.Antiques, Fishing, hunting are my passions. Currently I am working on Google Penalty protection and .... more info


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