What is a Google penalty?

Google owes their position as the world’s top search engine (89% market share) to a history of delivering the most relevant and useful search results.

Their motivation to serve the best results is reflected in constant tweaking of the algorithm which controls which websites are prominently positioned, and which ones aren’t.

The algorithm is highly sophisticated, with over 200 different ranking factors. In recent years algorithmic and manual penalties have been issued to websites who Google deem to have been partaking in manipulative practices. These penalties reduce the prominence of these sites in search results, sometimes removing them from the index altogether.


There are three Google penalties that are most common within SEO, all geared at targeting over-optimization and manipulation of the SERPs.

When struck by a penalty a website will be demoted in search results, often resulting in a loss of traffic, leads and sales.

There are ways of removing Google penalties and recovering lost rankings and visibility. The process and approach to penalty removal or recovery depends on the type of penalty incurred.