• Have you recently experienced a sudden drop in rankings, website traffic and sales?
  • Or has the drop been gradual and consistent over a few weeks or months?
  • Did you, perhaps unknowingly, engage in spammy keyword stuffing or link building practices?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may have been penalised by Google.

Confused about why you were penalised, or a bit at a loss for how to rectify the situation? Greenhouse Digital can help. Our team is intimately familiar with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can employ that knowledge to help you find infractions with your site or your SEO policies. We can also assist you in working with Google to have your penalty removed so that you can restore your Google rankings to what they used to be.

What Is a Google Penalty?

A Google penalty is what happens if and when you violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. These penalties can hinder your search engine rankings and undo a lot of the work that your SEO campaign did to make your brand more visible online. In the long run, a Google penalty can hurt your traffic numbers, brand visibility and online revenues.

Why Did I Get a Google Penalty?

Google penalties typically occur for one of two reasons.

The first is that Google manually reviews your site and your SEO strategies and determines that you are violating one or more of its Webmaster Guidelines. Engaging in black hat SEO tactics is one reason that Google might flag, review and issue a manual action against your website.

The second reason that Google penalties occur is as a result of algorithm updates. These algorithms are made up of around 200 major and up to 10,000 minor ranking signals and are updated around 300-400 times a year.

Here are some of the major updates till date

Panda/Farmer Update:

February 16, 2011

Panda/Farmer Update:

Panda/Farmer Update: Feb 2011 – Current:One of the most critical algorithm updates, Panda was aimed at websites with poor quality, keyword stuffed, non-unique or thin content that were previously able to rank highly by manipulating search engines. Affected up to 12% of search results globally when it first came out and has seen subsequent versions rolled out every few months to stay current.

Google ‘Top Heavy’ or ‘Ads above-the-fold’ update: Jan 2012 – Current:

January 17, 2012

Google ‘Top Heavy’ or ‘Ads above-the-fold’ update: Jan 2012 – Current:

Google ‘Top Heavy’ or ‘Ads above-the-fold’ update: Jan 2012 – Current: Targets websites with heavy use of ads on top or the first half of the page. The idea is to weed out sites that make people scroll down the page for useful content.

Penguin Update: April 2012 – Current: The

April 12, 2012

Penguin Update: April 2012 – Current: The

second major update after Panda, Penguin impacted a record number of search queries globally. This is aimed at penalising sites that practice or promote web spam by paying for links or using link networks purely for ranking manipulation purposes. Penguins updates still roll out every few months prompting website owners to be absolutely white-hat in their authority/link building efforts.

Emanuel/Pirate Update and EMD (Exact Match Domain) update: Aug 2012 – Current:

August 15, 2012

Emanuel/Pirate Update and EMD (Exact Match Domain) update: Aug 2012 – Current:

Emanuel/Pirate Update and EMD (Exact Match Domain) update: Aug 2012 – Current: Emanuel or Pirate update prevents websites with many DMCA copyright infringements to rank well. EMD update followed shortly which devalued having an exact match keyword in the domain for ranking (e.g. for a website selling ‘party games’, buying the domain alone will not be enough to rank).

Hummingbird: Sep 2013 – Current:

September 11, 2013

Hummingbird: Sep 2013 – Current:

This was a core update to Google’s entire search platform improving how they understand the meaning and intent of search queries. So not simply relying on exact keywords anymore but synonyms, semantics and context as well.

Mobile Friendly Update or ‘Mobilegeddon’: Apr 2015 – Current:

April 16, 2015

Mobile Friendly Update or ‘Mobilegeddon’: Apr 2015 – Current:

Aimed at rewarding sites that are ‘mobile friendly’ i.e. provide a dedicated user interface on mobile devices that’s optimal for use on a smaller screen. This also meant that great desktop rankings don’t automatically guarantee good mobile rankings.

RankBrain – Oct 2015:

October 11, 2017

RankBrain – Oct 2015:

 Google announced that they now use an Artificial Intelligence(AI) equipped machine learning system to power their search platform. This means better understanding of semantics and conceptual differences between terms (e.g. Jaguar the animal and Jaguar the car or Apple the fruit of the company). This is major as now RankBrain, along with Content and Links form the 3 most important ranking signals as announced by Google.


Google won’t always inform website owners that they have been penalised—particularly if the penalty is automated as a result of an algorithm update. As a result, it’s up to webmasters to review the Google Webmaster Guidelines or stay up to date with the latest rule changes and algorithm updates. Staying in compliance with these regulations should avoid any possibility of a penalty. You can notice a penalty, meanwhile, in the form of a sharp drop-off in traffic or a decline in your Google rank placement.

Identifying the reason for a Google penalty can be a frustrating process—made all the more frustrating by the fact that your traffic is suffering every day the penalty remains unresolved. That’s where Greenhouse Digital comes in. We make a point of knowing the Google Webmaster Guidelines intimately and familiarising ourselves with the changes that each new algorithm update brings. We can use this knowledge to find the flaw and fix it quickly, so you can get your Google penalty lifted sooner rather than later.

Think of it this way: looking for the root of a Google penalty on your own may feel a bit akin to driving in the dark with no headlights. Greenhouse Digital turns on the lights. We know where to check for possible notifications of a Google penalty, and we are aware where to look for Webmaster Guideline infractions if there is no notification to point us in the right direction.

Getting the Google Penalty Removed

Depending on the issue, here are some of the main steps involved in the investigation process of penalty removal and recovery:

  • Backlink Audit & Unnatural link evaluation
  • Link profile classification
  • Anchor text review
  • Content Audit
  • On-Page website audit – to check for hidden spam, cloaking
  • Content quality check – thin pages, plagiarism check, keyword stuffing

Once we’ve found the issue at hand, we will set about removing or disavowing low-quality links and fixing any other matters with your website that may be at odds with Google’s guidelines. Finally, we can submit a reconsideration request on your behalf, to ask Google to take another look at your site and your SEO techniques. If all goes well, your penalty will be removed, and you will be able to watch your Google rankings and traffic rise once more. From there, we can also put together an internal program for you/your team to follow you’re always in adherence of the quality guidelines.

WhatClients Say

We do not only provide SEO and Internet marketing services but we also offer a wide array of related services such as SEO friendly web design, pay per click, affiliate marketing, website audits, social media optimization, branding and several others.

  • “If I had to sum up Ankit in 3 words, they would be knowledgeable, reliable, and friendly. Ankit took care to understand our objectives and challenges at iiNet, and always put forward proactive creative and realistic recommendations. He was also exceptional at communicating performance on a regular basis - above and beyond what was expected.”

    Emily Grunberg
    Emily Grunberg
    Digital Marketing Manager, iiNet
  • “Ankit was our Lead SEO Consultant across Tier 1 accounts driving the strategy behind content, offsite and technical optimisations. 

Ankit's expertise and experience in organic search performance allowed him to identify what quick-wins can dramatically increase traffic as well as what activities are required to improve keyword rankings over the course of a campaign. 

Ankit lead a team of junior consultants and collaborated with client-side stakeholders to execute SEO strategies that are centered around driving a positive ROI - whether that be content expansions, technical optimisations or linkbuilding activities. 

Ankit's pragmatic and data-driven approach to SEO make him a highly sought-after professional, and I would have no hesitation recommending him for any digital marketing challenges.”

    David van Coller
    David van Coller
    Head of SEO, APD
  • “I worked closely with Ankit on several SEO projects together. He's always thoughtful in approaching his work, and reliable in completing it. Ankit has a thorough understanding of inbound, search engine marketing and I highly recommend him.”

    Kelly Morr
    Kelly Morr
    Content Strategist, 99designs
  • “I reached out to Ankit to get more traffic & leads for my Sydney based hypnotherapy business. He was structured and informative in his approach and helped me achieve and maintain first page rankings for the most profitable base of keywords in a competitive niche. His organic white-hat approach towards content & SEO puts him apart from other operators in this space. He also assisted me in redesigning the current website that appeals to potential clients with all search engine optimization principles built in ground-up. Ankit was a pleasure to work with and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him to anyone.”

    George Swan, Director
    George Swan, Director
    My Sydney Hypnotherapy

RequestA Free Quote

A Google penalty can hurt your reputation, your SEO, your branding efforts and your bottom line. Yet, many websites that get slapped with a penalty for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines never submit reconsideration requests. Don’t merely accept the consequences of a Google penalty—particularly if you simply need to remove a few faulty links or update a few policies to mesh with Google’s rules and algorithms.

Call Greenhouse Digital today to hire us for Google penalty removal services.

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