After all the ‘Panda’s and ‘Penguin’s, many websites have suffered ranking drop in their search ranking. The question is, “Is the site penalized?”, or it’s simply because old backlinks got devalued and hence ranking dropped?
In today’s post, I’ll show you a way to find out the answer.
Before I continue, it is important for newbie to know Google’s penalty for link building. If you are not sure, read this post.
Basically, what happen is if you want to rank ‘yourdomain.com/article1.htm’ for the search term ‘yeast infection cure’ and you build tons of backlinks and get caught, Google will impose a limit to ‘yourdomain.com/article1.htm’ for this search term. It could be -40, -50 or -100. Say if it’s -100, it means the best position this url can attain is position 101.
Imagine a case where you rank #3 in a search term and suddenly, your ranking drop flat. 2 things could have happened.
1) Google updated its algorithm and many of your previous backlinks were either de-indexed or discounted. Since the total value of your backlinks dropped, your ranking dropped.
2) Your site triggered Google’s manual review and the reviewer team decided that most of the backlinks are junk (and more importantly, your site is a junk site that doesn’t add much value to its users). Hence the Google team imposed a penalty on this url. In this case, your position may drop from #3 to #103, for example, because of a -100 penalty.
If the rank drop is due to scenario 1, it’s simple. Just build more quality backlinks. There is no need to remove old backlinks because Google has in a way removed those links, by either de-indexing or discounting them.
If the rank drop is due to scenario 2, then you will have to clean up all your backlinks and write to Google for a re-evaluation.
Now, how do you know if you are in scenario 1 or 2?
There isn’t an official way to find out. Here is my ‘speculated’ way.
If you want to find out if ‘yourdomain.com/article1.htm’ has been penalized for the search term ‘yeast infection cure’, do a google search for
site:yourdomain.com yeast infection cure
What you are doing is searching within ‘yourdomain.com’ for the webpage that best matches ‘yeast infection cure’.
Assuming yourdomain.com/article1.htm is well optimized (both onpage and offpage) for this search term, yourdomain.com/article1.htm should rank top.
If you can’t find yourdomain.com/article1.htm at the top or among the top, but found it on the last page or perhaps page 5 or page 11, then something is wrong. There is a high chance that this url has been penalized.
What happen is Google uses a similar algorithm to return results for internal search. Hence if a url is penalized, the penalty will be shown in the internal search as well.