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It’s an awful feeling, isn’t it?
One day you close your laptop safe in the knowledge that your site is getting healthy amounts of search traffic.
Then, the next morning, you find out your site has been hit with a Google Penalty.
What was once a solid stream of targeted traffic is now nothing more than a trickle of slightly interested people.
But you can come back from this.
- The first step is to know which Google Penalty has stung you and why you’ve been penalised.
- The second step is to know how to monitor for future algorithm changes to make sure it doesn’t happen to you again.
These tools will allow you to see exactly which update is to blame, and how you can future-proof yourself against future penalties.
We ran these exact tests on this site before we boosted search traffic 14x!
What Will I Learn?
Identify The Penalty Before You Make Any Changes
A lot of Webmasters start trying to change parts of their site before they’ve found out what’s caused the problem.
Not only is this a dumb move, it can also go on to make problems worse in the long run.
Instead of making an emotional decision you should take a step back, analyse the problem, and build a rehabilitation strategy that’s going to work for you site.
Stabbing in the dark and trying to fix something blindly isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Accurately diagnosing which penalty is at play is essential to recovering your site, and it can be done in less than five minutes using one of the tools on this list.
7 Google Penalty Checker Tools That Make Life Easy
This list isn’t ranked in any order from best to worst, however it is a little bit split.
Tools number one to four will allow you to see the penalty that hit your site.
And tools number five to seven will help you keep an eye on Google activity and protect your site against possibly upcoming Google updates.
#1 – Moz Change History
Moz maintain a very helpful page that lists all of the major updates, the date they happened and additional information about the update.
You can also use this page to get further reading to help you understand how this problem might affect your site, or what could be coming in the future.
This page is updated immediately after a major change is reported so if you’ve seen a big drop-off in your results, there’s a good chance that it’s been featured here.
If you ever suspect you’ve been hit with a Google Penalty, I’d suggest you start with this tool.
#2 – Panguin Google Penalty Check Tool
The Panguin Tool from Barracuda has been around for a long time. It’s simple, easy to use and provides a lot of quick information for you.
All you have to do is sign in with your Google Analytics accounts and you’ll be able to instantly see a map of your traffic and the exact moment a Google Update went live:
The vertical lines on the graph represent the different major algorithm updates to show you the impact they could have had on your traffic.
If you click on any of the lines it’ll give you a description of the update, why it happened and what it could mean for your site.
What I also like here is that it comes with this little dashboard of icons:
This allows you to switch on and off all of the different possible causes for your drop in traffic and see through a lot of the more confusing data.
In my opinion the Panguin Tool is the best Google penalty checker on the planet.
#3 – Rank Ranger
Rank Ranger combines elements of Moz’s Change History tool and their MozCast tool to bring you all the information on one screen.
It offers a deeper level of information for you about each individual update:
It’s also a little more black and white about what it considers to be an important change.
If the chart is in the green range you’re okay, once it’s red you’re in danger, and when it’s blue you don’t need to worry about anything at all.
It simplifies the information a little, while giving you a deeper insight into what might be happening.
A really cool alternative.
#4 – Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool
Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker is a little known, but powerful tool for pinpointing exactly what made a difference to your site.
In order to use it you’ll need a free account set up. But once you’re in you can get a wealth of data. The first data you’ll see is a plot graph of updates how they’ve impacted your site:
It really comes into it’s own when you scroll below the fold and look at the written data.
In the chart it will show you every recent Google algorithm update, and calculate the probability that it will have changed traffic to your site:
You’re even able to see the changes in traffic that it could bring you through different devices.
And, if you’d like, you can learn more about each of the changes in further detail.
#5 – SEMRush Sensor
SEMRush Sensor is by far the most comprehensive tool on this whole list.
While Panguin is still arguably my favourite, this comes in a close second.
Taking a slightly more ‘medical’ approach SEMRush show you a pretty precise monitor of what Google has been doing the last few days:
But you can also look at the activity within individual niches too. Which is a truly extraordinary set of results to be giving away for free.
Drilling down into the tool further you can add your own site for analysis.
Then SEMRush Sensor will look at every page and keyword you rank for and spit back a bunch of data about your personal SERP volatility-
There are a bunch of other awesome features as well and this is a tool I’d highly recommend you keep an eye on going forward.
#6 – Accuranker’s Google ‘Grump’ Rating
This is one of my favourite tools for monitoring what’s going on with Google’s Algorithms.
The Grump Rating shows you how active the Google Algorithms have been updating lately, and how likely a change is going to come today – or in the next few days – that will impact your SERP rankings.
You can check this out across a range of devices and locations around the world. Giving you location specific insights for wherever you’re located.
The tool grades current Google activity at one of the following four levels:
It’s rare to see Google down at the chilled level, but I have known it drop to cautious from time to time.
You’re also able to go back and see what the activity has been like over the past few days, weeks, months or years and look for patterns in Google’s movements.
Or find where you site might have been slightly penalised in the past.
I’d recommend you check in with this tool at least once a week to keep yourself up to date with the current state of affairs.
#7 – MozCast
If you prefer your data delivered to you in a more bite sized chunk, a good alternative to Accuranker is MozCast.
MozCast displays the current state of Google’s activity like a weather forecast, showing a daily weather report-
If the forecast is getting warmer and stormier you could be heading towards an algorithm update. And if it’s cool and clear skies, rankings will be staying where they are.
You don’t have the same level of flexibility you do with the Accurank tool, but it’s nice if you want a morning rankings report to see what’s happening on a general level.
What To Do Once You’ve Identified Your Penalty
Once you have isolated the problem with a Google penalty checker tool, you can start to analyse the cause of the issue.
Always check Google Search Console for error messages/problems first.
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 been 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.
Usually issues fall into 2 or 3 categories-
- Backlink Based – If you have a backlink based penalty then you need to perform a backlink audit.
- Content Based – If you have a content based penalty, follow this guide or this guide to perform a content audit.
- On Site Penalty – If you have an on site penalty that is not caused by content then use a tools like URLProfiler or Screaming Frog to analyse your site.
Google Penalty Recovery Services
The easiest way to fix a Google penalty is to have someone else fix it for you.
My agency has a 100% recovery success rate like this site that went from penalty to 114 number 1 rankings.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I check my penalty on Google?
To check your penalty on Google you see if you have any manual action messages from Google and also use a Google penalty checker tool which will give you a lot more visibility of what is happening with your website and accurately diagnose the problem.
How long does a Google penalty last?
The amount of time a penalty lasts for depends on a few variables, including what the penalty is and the extent of the problems you have to fix. It could take a few weeks or up to a year.
Why is my website ranking dropping?
If you notice a drop in your website rankings you need to find the reason for this. Check if you have any manual action messages from Google.
If yes you have been hit with a penalty. If no, you need to run a site audit to figure out what the issue is.
Does my site have a penalty?
If you have experienced a sharp or even steady drop in search traffic then chances are you have been hit by a penalty.
This can be either a Google algorithm update or a manual penalty for something specific. If your site does have a penalty you need to act quickly to get it fixed.
How do I remove a penalty from Google?
To remove a Google penalty, you need to find out why you have been given the penalty. Once you understand the problems you can fix them and put a plan in place to ensure that they do not reoccur.