Suffering a Google penalty is one of the worst things that can happen to your site, and is a nightmare of any SEO manager. There are many reasons why this can occur, and with each Google update, there is a new one. Yes, if you do everything in a 100% white-hat way, you are probably safe.
But, to make sure, you need some third-party apps, and in this article, we will present you with the best google sandbox and penalty checker tools that will help your SEO in this, and in years to come. We will also tell you more about Google penalties, which will help you understand the whole problem much better. Stay tuned to find out more!
What Is A Google Penalty And Why Do You Get It?
A Google penalty is significant traffic drop your website suffers after Google updates its search algorithms, or upon a manual site review. The extent of the penalty varies, and in worst cases, your site can get completely blocked by Google.
In essence, that is almost equal to getting deleted from the Internet, as most people use only Google to browse the web. But, they can always reach your site by typing in the URL or IP address.
The primary reason why people suffer from Google penalties is using shady techniques when doing SEO. Only purebred White hat SEO will guarantee success in the long run, as it mostly revolves around building quality content and optimizing your site to the fullest.
Algorithm Changes And Manual Penalties
Penalties come in two major groups – those triggered by a Google algorithm update, and those manually issued by a Google employee.
The first kind is trickier, as you will have to roll up your sleeves and dig deep into your website to find out what and where went wrong. As for the manual penalties – they are easier to fix because most of the time you get a list of issues telling you exactly why your site got hit.
Official Google Algorithm Updates
(these updates were public, announced by Google; but there are many other “phantom” updates that just suddenly go live, without any warnings)
Panda Google update first happened in 2011 and was all about the content. It hit sites that had copy/paste content from other sites (plagiarism), as well as poor quality content whose only purpose was to show in the results, without bringing any value to visitors.
After this update, you had to put up quality articles on your blog, and not just write them poorly for the sake of ranking. No more content farms, ad-spamming, or user spam.
Penguin algorithm update directly hit sites that blatant black hat SEO techniques boosted. After this, spamming backlinks is no longer a viable option. Link building is still a valuable SEO technique, but only if it makes sense, and if it’s done at a moderate pace, primarily towards websites in a similar business space.
Penguin made all those shady PBNs a surplus. It also hit keyword stuffing hard, so no more hidden or transparent text with repetitive keywords in it.
Mobile browsing will be the thing in 2019, and in years to come. For that reason, Google released Mobilegeddon update, which favors websites who perform well on smaller screens, and slower networks.
Yes, this only affects mobile, not desktop users. But because mobile Internet browsing already overtook desktop, you better be focusing on optimizing your website for the new trend, unless you want to miss out to your competition.
These penalties happen outside of the algorithm changes and are a result of manual action. Your site can get manually penalized for a number of different reasons, but it is usually because of Black Hat or security risks.
The good news is that Google Search Console displays a notification whenever you get a manual penalty, telling you exactly how to reverse the damage and get your traffic back up.
Because of this, manual penalties are usually much simpler to remove with some Google penalty checker tools than those caused by algorithm updates.
What to do if you get penalized?
If you find yourself penalized, you should immediately start fixing the issues using some Google penalty checker tools. Usually, you either have backlinks, content, or on-site based penalties.
Optimize your site, update content, and remove any spammy links. The good news is that once you fix the issues, the penalty should go away automatically if it was set by the algorithm.
As for the manual penalties, once you clean your site, go ahead and opt for a Reconsideration Request from the Google Search Console. Just make sure to document all the content upgrades, removed links, and on-page SEO changes you have made, and then send the list to the Google team. It will make the restore process much faster.
8 Best Google Penalty Checker Tools To Identifying the Google Penalty
1. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is the most essential tool that you should be using, probably every single day, at least if your business depends on your website.
It will give you so much information about how your website functions, the number of visitors it has, trends, but also errors and ways to fix them. You will also see linking data, but also security issues and mobile performance of your site.
As for the Google penalties, Search Console will display any manual penalties your site suffered, by displaying a notification. Unfortunately, you won’t see any penalties that are the results of algorithm changes.
However, because Google Search Console offers so many useful tools in one place, and is completely free, we had to include it in this list, as it’s a must-use app.
Example of a Manual Action in webmaster tools:
You can get either:
- Unnatural links to your site – impacts links
- Or Thin content with little or no added value (zombie pages)
Also, another thing that may cause a traffic drop is keyword cannibalization.
2. MOZ Algorithm Change History
MOZ is one of the most famous websites dedicated to SEO, with tons of useful information. A plethora of different tools that will help you increase website traffic. One of those tools is Algorithm Change History.
This tool lists all Google updates, both confirmed and unconfirmed, giving you the dates, and detailed information. If your site takes a traffic hit, you should immediately visit Algorithm Change History. Also, see if an update came out at the time the traffic drop happened.
If it did, you should read the info about the update. It will tell you what steps you can take in order to reverse the damage.
Addition: MozCast SEO Weather Report
An SEO weather report, MozCast gives you valuable algorithm information in a fun and easy to understand way. It shows how Google algorithms changed over the past 24 hours and display information like a weather forecast.
You will see sunny days, but also storm clouds and pouring rain, depending on the search engine mood. Higher temperatures and meaner clouds mean rough Google mood. If you notice a traffic drop, visit MozCast, and you will see right away if something big is happening in the Google world.
3. Fruition Google Penalty Checker
This freemium tool breaks down traffic information, giving you fine detail and insights that will decipher if traffic drops are caused by penalties.
The fruition team uses their own proprietary algorithms, in-house math, and even insiders to determine what causes traffic spikes and drops. The tool shows useful graphs, that will tell you how different updates affected your site traffic over the past three months, and all that at a glimpse of an eye.
The tool is aimed at already established websites, as it needs data from at least six months of Google Analytics and 5000+ monthly visits, to work. You can connect up to two domains, but you can always unlock additional features by deciding to go premium, which is necessary for bigger agencies. Fruition is very easy to set up, and it is ready in minutes.
4. SEMRush (Sensor)
SEMRush is one of the most advanced SEO tools currently available and is a must-have for any SEO agency that takes its work seriously. Although quite expensive, the abundance of information this software provides makes it well worth the investment.
SEMRush has a lot to tell you about Google Penalties too, through their free tool called Sensor. There, you will find a lot of useful information regarding algorithm updates, but also websites in different categories.
The sensor will tell you if any particular niche got hit hard by the latest update, but also show you SERP volatility over the last month. You can also browse the winners and losers tab, which will give you insights telling you what you can improve on your own site.
SEMRush Sensor provides a lot of useful information in one place – your job is only to figure out how to make it work on your site.
5. Panguin Penalty Checker Tool by Barracuda Digital
This tool is similar to Fruition, as it also uses Google Analytics, trying to give you an idea if your site got hit by a Google update. What’s great about Panguin is that it shows all the statistics visually, and you can clearly see any issues, as soon as you look at the colorful graphs.
This simple tool is completely free and is worth trying out, as it can give you some valuable info about potential hits your site suffered. It can be a very useful Google penalty checker tool.
It also provides Google algorithm timeline:
6. Rank Ranger Rank Risk Index
RankRanger is somewhat similar to MOZ Update History service, as it gives you all the necessary information regarding each Google update, public or phantom. Everything it shows is color-coded, making it easy to understand and address issues.
Blue means you are completely safe, green tells you that you are ok but you can improve things, and red means – well you are in the danger zone, and you better fix things up quickly. The tool is also free, making it a great option for everyone.
7. Fe international Website Penalty Indicator
This simple to use the tool only requires you to enter your domain, and it will do its magic, no signups. You will immediately see your past years of traffic, visually combined with major updates.
If your site took a hit, you will notice the drop on the graph.
You can also zoom at a particular point of the graph, uncovering even more information. Fe international is based on MOZ and SemRush data, which means it is trustworthy. A very easy to use tool that doesn’t provide too much detail, but it does more than enough to find itself on this list.
Fe International Website Penalty Indicator in action:
8. CognitiveSEO Signals – Google Algorithm Changes
The last penalty checker tool on our list is CognitiveSEO. It offers Google Algorithm changes and signals as an option and is quite a useful tool to check if anything is changing in the industry.
CognitiveSEO is monitoring over 100.000 keywords for both mobile, desktop, and local rankings. You can select different options to check the top 10, 20, or 50 results and also check the top 3, 5, or 10 positions on the first page. Another great thing about this tool is that you can check for Google algorithm changes by location.
It’s Better To Be Safe Than Sorry
Although you should take action immediately after noticing traffic drops in order to prevent any further damage, it is a much better idea not to get penalized in the first place.
Once you do fix the issues that caused the penalty, you will not get back to the top of the search rankings automatically. Your site will have to go through that painfully long ranking process all over again, which may take for months. Meanwhile, it will experience less traffic than it deserves, which will result in fewer customers.
All that time will be essentially wasted. For that reason, it is a much better idea to start working on quality SEO, right from the get-go. Yes, it will cost you time and money at first, but it will save you so much more in the long run.
Fully understanding Google is impossible, and that’s a good thing. If it only had a set of never changing public rules, people would misuse it hard, which would result in tonnes of irrelevant search results, and the biggest search engine would become worthless.
People still try to play Google into showing things on the first page that don’t deserve to be there. But at least now, with frequent algorithm changes, all those efforts are short-lived.
As for the Google penalties – if you do things the right way, you should be safe, if not, you are going to need some good Google penalty checker tools. Google is not malicious, they are issuing penalties to protect the ordinary user who just wants to get quality content, fast.
If you build your website in good faith, you should never suffer any penalties. Just don’t try to trick Google into showing you higher than you actually deserve, and you should be fine.
But, accidents do sometimes happen, primarily because you missed something along the way. While it’s usually straightforward to get rid of a manual penalty, fixing algorithm update hits is much more difficult. It requires time, effort, a deep knowledge of SEO, and it is best for you to leave it to the professional SEO Company.