It can happen to the best of webmasters and to those with the purest intentions. Google, sensing that something is not right with your site, places a penalty on it, bumping it down in the rankings and severely limiting the flow of traffic.

Removing these penalties is imperative but it isn’t always straightforward. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell what Google has penalized you for or what the process for getting the penalty removed is.

Fortunately, Google’s lead spam fighter Matt Cutts recently made the following YouTube video explaining how to get such penalties removed and made it clear how these penalties happen.

Manual vs. Algorithmic

According to Cutts, Google assigns penalties in two different ways, manual and algorithmic.

Manual penalties are applied directly by humans working for Google’s Web spam team. They receive spam reports or notice odd results appearing in Google and take action by hand. These penalties are something of a “time out” and cycle out after a certain period of time.

Algorithmic changes, on the other hand, are penalties that are applied by Google’s automated spam detection systems. Those remain in effect for as long as the site is engaging in the perceived spam-like behavior.

The distinction between the two different penalty types isn’t purely academic as how the penalty was applied not only changes how long it might last, but also how you go about getting it removed.

Getting Google Penalties Removed

As Cutts says in the video, algorithmic penalties are the easiest to remove as all you have to do is alter your site to remove whatever it is that Google detected as being spammy. For example, if you overused the same anchor text, simply making changes to the text or removing the links should correct the issue.

In short, algorithmic penalties should be removed shortly after the next Google crawl once the issue has been rectified.

Manual penalties, on the other hand, have to either be removed by a human from the Google spam team or be allowed to cycle off. The second option, however, likely isn’t practical as such penalties often last for 30 days or much longer depending on the suspected infraction.

So if a penalty was applied incorrectly or the issue that might have caused it has been rectified, it is important to request a reconsideration of your site, which can be done via Google Webmaster Tools. On Kitchen Stools Direct, our bar stool store we found that it helped a lot.

Bottom Line

The simple truth is that Google penalties can strike almost any webmaster at any time. Even those who are doing the best they can to play by the rules can make mistakes or get bad advice, leading to Google penalties.

As such, it is crucial that, if you are serious about SEO, that you participate in Google Webmaster Tools and stay alert as to what Googe is doing with your site and any potential issues it may have with it.

If you do that, you’ll likely be able to head off any penalties by fixing issues before they impact your site’s ranking. However, should a penalty strike, you’ll be able to respond quickly and resolve the matter before too much long-term damage is done.

While it may be a fairly simple process getting a Google penalty lifted, if you aren’t aware of it or why it was levied, you may not be able to respond timely and that, in turn, can have a very serious impact on your site’s traffic for a long time, even after the problems with Google have been sorted out.

This was a guest post by Lior who is the marketing advisor at Kitchen Stools Direct, a bar stools online store. Thanks Lior!