In the last couple of weeks we have seen a lot of Google algorithm updates. This has left a lot of people’s sites in trouble as traffic has dropped, but now you can use either of these Google Penalty checker tools to get an idea of whats wrong.

Historically Google have left a decent amount of time between updates so you can get a grip of what’s going on, but not this time.

5 updates in less than 2 weeks has created a huge amount of hysteria and fear amongst webmasters – something the web spam team are becoming an expert at.

So with all the mayhem the updates have caused, how are you meant to know where to start?

Identifying The Penalty

If you suspect your site was hit with a Google penalty after an update then you need to identify which algorithm change took your site out.

Once you know which penalty your site got slapped with it is a lot easier to analyse in detail and create a plan of action to recovery.

Unfortunately a lot of webmaster make assumptions at this stage and start fixing things that aren’t actually broken, often making things worse.

Accurately diagnosing which penalty is at play is essential to recovering your site and you can do that with a quick Google penalty check.

Where To Start With Google Penalty Checker Tools

The first thing you should do is see if your drop in rankings/traffic correlates with any new Google algorithm updates.

That will then give you your first lead to investigate.

SEOMoz Change History

SEOMoz maintain a very helpful page that lists all of the major updates, the date they happened along with some additional information about the update.

SEOMoz Google penalty check

This page gets updated quite regularly and is always a good point of reference.

If you are seeing strange movements in the SERPS and that page hasn’t being updated, then you should have a look at the MozCast for the day.

Mozcast is a great tool that represents the turbulence in rankings in weather terms. The higher the temperature, the more fluctuation the rankings have seen that day.

This is a good way to check if an update is rolling out at the current time.

Panguin Google Penalty Check Tool

The Panguin Google sandbox and penalty checker tool combines the data from the SEOMoz change history page with your Google Analytics graph.

It is great to quickly check if an update has affected your site.

There is no need to install anything, all you need to do is login with your Analytics account and grant the Panguin Tool access to the data.

As soon as you have done that and selected your website you can see this-

panguin google sandbox and penalty checker tool

The red lines are Panda related, blue lines are Penguin related and Orange lines are general updates to the algorithm.

What I really like about this is that when you mouse over each update you get a bit information about it as well as a link to get more information.

Next Steps

Once you have isolated the problem with a Google penalty checker tool, you can start to analyse the cause of the issue.

Remember that correlation of your search traffic dropping with an algorithm update doesn’t necessarily mean it is the update at fault, for example your site may have being hacked and hosting malware.

If a drop in your traffic does correlate with an algorithm change then that should point you in the right direction of what to look at first as a cause.

Many webmasters set off in the wrong direction from the get go, so make sure you take time to understand why the site dropped before taking any action.

If you think the penguin update is to blame then you need to do a link profile analysis, if you think its Panda then do a full on site audit looking for duplicate content and site structure.

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114 Responses

  1. 10.15.2012

    That's a cool extension, I hope they add support for Piwik. I stopped using Google Analytics on most of my projects as I don't want Google knowing everything about them, if you know what I mean! Thanks for another interesting article Matt anyway, superb stuff. :)

    • October 17th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      Drop them a mail – they have only just launched so should be open to adding new features!

    • October 18th, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      They will be adding support for Piwik in the future, I sent them an email and got a swift reply.

    • September 17th, 2014 at 1:42 am

      yea I use its free web stats. starting to really hate how much control google has got on information flow

  2. 10.16.2012

    Chartelligence doesn't seem to show old updates , its only showing updates after October. But this plugin is very useful while planing a link building strategy. The Panguin tool is truly amazing. I just realized one of my site is not hit by penguin or panda. What is this "Other" Mentioned in panguin tool? The description says a parked domain bug. WTH was that on April update?

    • October 17th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      You can create a custom layer with the old updates if you need to.

      I would have a search around for more data on the parked domain bug although I would expect that to totally wipe a site traffics if caught with it.

  3. 10.16.2012

    After searching thoroughly with daily traffic in panguin tool. Looks like site penalized by panda or parked domain bug. Penguin isn't the culprit , all I was doing was fixing spam links and anchors. What do you think about this report matt? Image

    • October 17th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      You got hit with a Panda update, a slight hit with Penguin (keyword specific drops perhaps) and then again on the next revision of Panda.

      • January 22nd, 2014 at 7:30 pm

        Looks like one of my sites got hit by Panda and Penguin. Oddly enough, I saw a recovery that coincided with Hummingbird – but the latest Penguin update in October erased my gains.

        The site is going on seven years old and needs a significant facelift I admit. The content is original and I didn’t aggressively backlink at all…

        Where would you start when hit with Panda and Penguin? Panda because it’s more on site and thus within my control to fix?


        • January 23rd, 2014 at 10:11 am


          I would resolve onsite problems first as this is often the most pain in the a*** task.

          Once resolved I would start working through the backlink profile and making a spreadsheet to track to all/work through it removing links where possible.

          Do you have any penalty messages in WMT?

  4. 10.16.2012

    Cool stuff about how to recover and analyze Google algorithm update.

    • October 17th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      I'm going to be covering the actual recovery process in more detail soon :)

      • Iain
        August 11th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

        I look forward to reading that when it comes out.

        And if it is out, not sure how I managed to miss it.

        • August 13th, 2013 at 3:51 pm

          It will be coming :) Its hard to put together because of so many variables but is a topic that needs covering (after the mega series at the start of Oct)

  5. Tomyches Martínez

    Cool post man, thanks for share such useful info, best :)

  6. 10.16.2012

    AWEOSME post, amazing blog.Thanks for all of these great guides.

  7. 11.30.2012

    Hi, Thanks for sharing such valuable information but could you please tell how to create & apply a list of Holidays in India?

    • November 30th, 2012 at 11:18 am


      Just create an account at Chartelligence and then you can create your own 'data layer' which you can share with others or keep private.

      Then add each holiday in India as a new 'event' on the 'data layer' you have created

  8. 2.7.2013

    Great info Matthew, thanks for the heads up on this.
    Nice to see such open sharing of tips, much appreciated.

  9. Vic Limbo

    Awesome post! I been wondering how to detect the cause of the Google update and it easily as doing these…

    Thanks Matt!

    • March 6th, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Vic,

      Correlation doesn’t mean causation. These tools do not 100% confirm that is the issue, but it does give you a path to begin investigating properly.

  10. Peter

    Excellently done Matthew ! All of your shares are of true value . You are a true professional my friend ! Thank you.

  11. Rob

    Thanks for this post Matthew – perfect timing! Have just been doing some analysis on the back of this.

    I have a question which is related to Google’s updates – I have 2 sites ranking for virtually the same keywords in the same niche – site 1 has dropped a couple of places due to the updates which I have now rectified. Site 2 I don’t need any more and it has less links but a dmoz entry. Do you think a permanent 301 from site 2 to site 1 will help the ranking for site 1 or are 301 redirects no longer a good seo idea?


    • March 14th, 2013 at 9:27 am


      Yes go ahead and do that you shouldn’t have any problem, and if you do – just remove the 301 and put it back to how it is now :)

  12. Great post Matthew,

    I actually use both of those tools along with a rank tracking software called Serp Alert Pro. If any of my sites rise or drop more then 5 positions in the search rankings, I get a little pop up message in red or green in the bottom right hand corner of my screen.

    It runs on autopilot so I never have to actively check my rankings. If I do lose more than 5 positions, I then use Chartelligence and Panguin tool to confirm if it is Panda or Penguin related. All of these tools together help me to keep a very watchful eye on my rankings and the algorithm updates.

    Unfortunately, Serp Alert Pro is currently not available but the developers are supposed to be releasing it again sometime in the future. Keep your eye open for it. I think that you will really like it.

    • March 27th, 2013 at 11:32 am

      Hi Fred,

      Thanks for the heads up.

      I’m actually not that a*** about rank checking and although I have daily checks in place I only ever look at them if there is a drop in traffic. I believe checking rankings is counterproductive and when drops (and increases) occur it is tempting to stray from your game plan so to speak.

      Sounds like you have a pretty good system in place!

  13. Cory Habner

    Matt, loving your info bro!

    A quick question about architecting sites in a similar way since you mention Panda related to site structure in your last sentence.

    If I copy the files of a site and take its structure, and basically mimic its design on another domain, but provide 100% new and unique content, titles, meta desc., but keep all of the same pictures, is that a safe or unsafe method in your opinion?

    • April 25th, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Hi Cory,

      Cheers man :)

      Yeah that would be fine – heck you could even use the same content but that does introduce an element of risk.

  14. Arup Ghosh

    Nice plug in decreased my head ache a lot.

  15. 5.20.2013

    Great content Matthew, I’ve been using the ChartIntelligence extension for chrome, it definitely comes in handy. Thanks for the informative post!

    • May 21st, 2013 at 7:18 am

      Took me a while to figure out how to use it first tine round ^^

  16. Diego

    It would be great to have a full tutorial full of details of how to recover from Penguin , It would be a killer one.

    ; )

  17. Hey Matthew,

    Thanks for recommending this. I was searching for a piece of software that would do just that for quite some time now. I’ve just started with this entire Internet marketing thing and I’m getting my hands dirty.

    Well timed article!


    • September 11th, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Kudos – getting your hands dirty is the best way to learn =D

  18. 10.23.2013

    Very nice post Matt. However, not useful for me. I never got penalised with any of my sites and I developed over 500 websites in 10 years.

    • October 23rd, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Then your missing a huge part of an important skillset!

  19. Daniel

    Really nice article. I’v just been hit by a penalty and used some of this info to investigate.

    When it came to researching my link profile I didn’t want to have to pay for a subscription to all the link services but a couple of fiverr gigs came in handy.. e.g.

  20. 12.5.2013

    Hi Matt

    Another good tool for checking the impact of Penguin, Panda etc updates is


  21. Naeem Malik

    Really good stuff to grab; that too free. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Just picked this article up from an email you sent me… perfect timing as well. Nice information, well laid out, I’ll be referring some of my SEO clients to it for future reference so thanks.

  23. 2.12.2014

    I didn’t know about the Panguin tool by Moz!

    As for the backlink analysis article referred to in this post, it would be nice if you could add update the post with how you can track multiple keywords rather than just one. I know I was able to figure it out and used your template as the basis for a larger backlink monitoring dashboard for a client, but I doubt all SEOs are Excel savvy.

  24. 2.12.2014

    Hello, thanks for sharing such an awesome post please tell me a tool which detect the cause of the google update .

    • February 13th, 2014 at 9:06 am

      There is no such thing. Use this post to find possible leads to investigate and take it from there.

  25. Amit

    Well, nice post for sure helping people to make sure if their websites have assigned with a penalty.

  26. 7.10.2014

    Hii Matt thanks for the great Info .
    Is there any free tool through which we can get list of all the backlinks of site ?
    I have tried moz open site explorer, seo spy glass tool and alexa pro account but not getting full backlinks list . Even all are showing different backlinks :(

  27. Sharjeel Malik

    My post are indexed by google but visitors on my site has decreased from 800 to 50.What can be problem with site and my site is 20 day old.

    • August 17th, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      Have you identified the drop in traffic from Google?

  28. 8.27.2014

    Hi Matthew, You shared an really useful information for checking website penalty stats. This resource will be the very effective piece for checking my site appearance. Many thanks for sharing this post with us.

  29. 9.9.2014

    Thanks for the handy info Matt. The Panguin tool opened my eyes a bit with my traffic stats.

    FYI Chartelligence is no more.

  30. 9.11.2014

    Chartelligence link is broken Matthew. :(

    Anyways I had days when traffic was going down and I was worried maybe I was doing something wrong and the recent update cause this but I continued to work on my site and traffic from search engines is up again.

    • September 11th, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Yeah they canned it I think =/

      Thats great to hear you managed to push through and build traffic – keep up the good fight!

  31. 10.18.2014

    Hi Matt! My site was penalised just recently (Panda 4.1).
    Let’s say if I fixed everything, how long should I wait for my recovery?
    Does Panda/Penguin “refresh” quickly? Thanks in advance.

  32. Paul

    The Chrome plugin seems to have disappeared from the Chrome Web Store. The link in the article shows an error.

    Anyone have any alternatives to Chartelligence? Sounded like a good tool.

  33. Pete Bournemouth

    Just got a couple of clients with penalties so wanted to say thank you for this article as it’s going to prove to be very useful!

  34. Suresh Kumar

    Am confused, please send me a direct link to check my website status for these updates or penalities by Google.
    Last week when i checked my site domain authority and page authority on moz, that shown me DA 18, and PA 24 with www, and wothout www DA 18, PA 31.
    Spam score without www is Zero. But with www it secured 4/17 .
    So please kindly suggest me and guide me if you have time.

    Suresh Kumar

    • July 29th, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Or instead of me doing all of the work, you could read the post and do it yourself?

  35. 9.23.2015

    Wonderful post Matthew, i use each day panguin tool and it save me a lot of time.

  36. Thanks Matthew, your article just helped me discovered how and when some of my clients lost trafiic.

    Thanks again for sharing such awesome stuff.

  37. 11.12.2015

    Great tool Panguin. I have a site that is about 5-6 years old and used scraped content plus original work. It dipped in the rankings initially so I left it alone and got on with other projects. Using the Panguin tool I can see that over the last 2 years it has been getting more visits after each update. I’m impressed. Maybe I should do a bit of housework on it and liven things up a bit.

  38. Great tips, I have another one that I learned, a while ago, not sure if you write about, if you search your in google, should be first, if you search domain com without the . you should be in the first 3 pages of google, if you are not, add the site to webmaster tool, and 99.99% of the time, you will see that you have some kind of penalty.

    I use everyday on 100 of domains that I get submitted, look simple but work.

    • January 15th, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Sounds like a strange tip haha – how would you do it for a domain?

      • January 16th, 2016 at 9:54 am

        I never used yet on but I buy expired domains all the times, but just expired on in auction, and I check it all the time, if doent show up for domain com, net etc with space, is penalized. I dont buy them.

        Try buy one put on the google webmaster tool, 99% of the time will tell you that is penalized

  39. electric gate guy

    Great post Matthew. Not sure how I missed this first time round.

    Thanks again for sharing

  40. Somil Bhargava

    Great tool Penguin. I have a site that is about 5-6 years old and used scraped content plus original work.

  41. 8.6.2016

    your article just helped me discovered how and when some of my clients lost trafiic.

  42. 8.25.2016

    Thanks .matthew

    These tools help us a lot to recover a any website of google penalty. I am following your all techniques and read your every article and this is the reason i am deliver good result. Thanks Man again.

    • September 5th, 2016 at 9:18 am

      No problem Sanjeev, thanks for your continued support!

  43. 11.3.2016

    Matthew Woodward thanks for sharing this informative article. After the updating of Panda and Penguin SEO become harder. Now people are using proper ways to do SEO and avoid these updates. These 2 tools are complete packages to conquer Google update

  44. 11.6.2016

    Thanks Mr Matthew.. you help beginner like me to learn how to check

  45. 1.5.2017

    your article just helped me discovered how and when some of my clients lost trafiic. Mantap

  46. 2.22.2017

    Ok thanks bro for share this article, your article is nice.

    Bro answer please my ask!
    Google Penalty to site use ads pop up?

    • February 25th, 2017 at 7:19 am

      No popup ads are ok, but not interstitial on mobile

  47. satta matka

    An Amazing Post I seen and very happy to read that nice and usefull content thanks for share.

  48. Lagu Baru Terlengkap

    Hi! I’m new to your site, thanks for the effort! :D

  49. kelly grace

    I am getting really amazed while read your post. Thanks for sharing this good informations. It surely helpful to prevent my website from scam.

  50. 4.11.2017

    Good articles.! Thanks for sharing nice inforamtion.

  51. Ed Kramer

    This is a great article. Thank you.

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