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As Google tightens its guidelines in an attempt to eliminate Web spam, more and more websites are getting slapped with manual actions and penalties. How do I know? Our Blue Corona content and blog posts on Google penalty recovery bring in more website traffic for us than any of our other content.
And understandably so. The longer you wait to take action against a Google penalty, the more organic traffic, leads, and sales you lose to your guideline-abiding competitors. So when business owners call us for penalty recovery services, they always want to know, “how long does it take to recover from a Google penalty?”
Unfortunately, Google penalty recovery appears to be case specific and completely inconsistent. For example, at Blue Corona, we recovered from our penalty in less than a month:
Big brands like Interflora and Rap Genius have been known to recover quite quickly. Interflora was back on just 11 days after Google hit it, and Rap Genius only 10 days.
These results definitely aren’t typical, though. In fact, there was a lot of backlash in the SEO community when Google lifted Rap Genius’ penalty so quickly.
“Would any other webmaster with such a penalty be able to get back so soon? Doubtful,” Search Engine Land reporter Barry Schwartz said.
Understanding What Penalty You Got Hit With
Manual Penalty Recovery
When you notice a big dip in your traffic, the first thing I would do is perform a search for your brand name and see if your site comes up. If it doesn’t, it’s likely you’ve been completely removed from Google’s index for a manual penalty. If you use Google Webmaster Tools, Google will notify you if you have a manual penalty.
For manual penalties, it’s a matter of how fast you can clean up the offending problem (whether that be removing spammy links, reducing duplicate content, or fixing any keyword stuff issues), submit a reconsideration request, and get that reconsideration request accepted.
Most people have found that getting a reconsideration request accepted on the first try isn’t as easy as saying you’re sorry and you’ll make sure to follow the Google’s guidelines in the future. What I’m saying is, it’s hard to tell how many requests you’ll have to submit and how long it will take for Google to finally accept them.
Algorithm Penalty Recovery
It’s also possible that you’ve been hit with an algorithmic penalty. According to Moz, each year Google changes its search algorithm 500-600 times. Some of these updates are minor, while some of them impact search results (and your site’s rankings) more significantly.
If your site was impacted by a Google algorithm update, you may still find your website when you search for your company name and even for some generic keyword searches, but you’ll probably find that your overall rankings and traffic from your most competitive keywords are down. I’d check Moz’s Google algorithm change history to see if there’s been a recent update.
Don’t panic—but there are stories of companies getting hit with early updates like Penguin and Panda not recovering even two years after the update. This makes sense if you think about it. If you achieved all your rankings from an SEO practice that’s no longer ethical, you’re going to have to clean up your SEO while also working to get rankings the hard way—through good old content marketing. And I can tell you from experience that it can take about six months to see results from this.
Of course it’s possible that your site was impacted by both a manual penalty and an algorithm update. In this case, you can add the expected time for getting your reconsideration request accepted to how long it will take you to earn rankings the white hat way.
How Long After a Penalty Can You Expect to Get Your Rankings Back?
Across the Web, I’ve seen fast penalty recovery for big brands like Interflora and Rap Genius, and poor mom-and-pop shop’s that haven’t even recovered two years post-Penguin. I will say that somewhere between three and four months seems average for most penalties, but it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all scenario.
In October 2013, Search Engine Round Table surveyed webmasters asking if a manual action removal impacts Google rankings. According to the results:
- 53 percent said their rankings never improved once the manual action was lifted, even after a year
- 14 percent said their rankings improved in a month
- 12 percent said their rankings improved in days
- 8 percent said their rankings improved in three months
- 7 percent said their rankings improved in six months
- And another 7 percent said their rankings improved in a year
You’ll see the largest percentage of people said their rankings never improved. The article reports that “Because those links that once counted, no longer do and thus the rankings will not return until you garner new, quality links.”
Need Google Penalty Recovery Services?
Because there’s no consistent formula for Google penalty recovery, be wary of companies that promise you results in a certain amount of time.
At Blue Corona, we understand that losing your Google rankings means losing traffic, leads, and sales for your business. That’s why we offer Google penalty recovery services to help get you back in Google’s good graces as fast as possible. Our team of SEO experts will help you quickly and accurately diagnose the problem and come up with a plan to recover your lost rankings, leads, and sales.
Contact us today and we’ll analyze why your rankings have gone down and what to do to recover them.
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About The Author:
Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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