Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your site has been penalized, especially if you haven’t been notified of a manual penalty through Google Search Console.
Here is typically what you might expect to see in your Google Analytics if you’ve been penalized by Google:
What happens is you’ll probably see an initial drop, followed by a sequence of bigger drops. If you’ve been seeing this pattern with your site, you need to check out the following quickstep methods to find out if your site is in a penalty or not.
Is your site still indexed in Google?
To check, enter the following search string – site:your domain name. If your site is still indexed in Google, you’ll see the home page right at the top. If your site has been de-indexed, here’s what you’ll see:
If your site is still in Google’s index and appears at the top, move on to the next check. Enter your site’s brand name or keywords that it should be raniking for into Google. The top listing should be your home page. For example, the home page of seosocialgeek.com should be ranking for the term seo social geek.
The home page should ideally be ranking at the top of on page 1. However, if you have a very competive keyword in your domain name or are using an exact match domain, you might find your name on the second page of search results. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
If a site displays an inner page URL instead of the home page in the search results, this indicates that the site is under penalty. However, some sites that are in penalty might not display an inner page URL where the home page or other URL should be ranking. It all depends on the severity of the penalty.
If your site is stuck at a particular position in Google, and won’t go further up the rankings no matter what you do, you may well be in a penalty.
Google Panda is the hardest of all algorithm updates to identify whether your site has been affected by a penalty. The problem is, Panda is not a penalty as such. It is a content filter that lowers the ranking of low quality content. This means that you could have high quality links to your site and high SEO metrics, but still be under a Panda penalty without knowing it.
The majority of people that have websites under this penalty are not even aware that they’ve been penalized. is an algorithm update that penalizes sites with low quality content. The most common types of content that cause problems with Google Panda are duplicate content and thin content pages.
One common issue that causes duplicate content within WordPress sites is the indexing of autogenerated pages like tags, categories, author archives and date archives. This duplication can cause a Panda penalty.
The Yoast plugin solves the problem of duplicate content in the WordPress system by adding a noindex tag site wide to all tags, categories, author archives and date archives. However, you’ll have to configure the plugin after you’ve installed it.
Here’s how to fix the duplicate content problem in WordPress:
- Login to the WordPress Dashboard
- If you don’t have the Yoast plugin installed, add it by going to Plugins ->Add New.
- Install and activate the plugin.
- Once the plugin is activated, click on the Yoast SEO icon in the left panel.
- Go to Search Console -> Taxonomies
- Set the Categories and Tags options to No and click the Save Changes button at the bottom.
Next, go to the Archives tab. Disable Author Archives and Date Archives and click the Save Changes button at the bottom.
With this plugin and these settings in place, you can be sure that when Google has recrawled the posts and pages, it will update its search engine results. The application of this plugin alone can get your site out of the Panda penalty if that is the only issue that is attracting a Panda penalty.