How Long Does a Google Ranking Penalty Last?

One day your site is ranking for your competitive keywords and driving traffic to your pages.

But the next your site is nowhere to be found in the search results.

What most likely happened is the dreaded algorithm penalty.

Google strives to deliver the most relevant results for each search query. To achieve this objective, the ranking algorithms are constantly being updated to penalise spammy sites and reward high quality sites. So the days of writing optimised content and ranking it the following day with thousands of links are long gone. In fact, such practices will only get your site penalised thanks to the following two updates:

  • Panda: This is an update that targets thin content or pages that provide little value. Google has even previously stated that a few pages of poor quality content is enough to result in a ranking penalty. If you have any pages with duplicate content or little value, it is best to remove them altogether or rewrite them from scratch.
  • Penguin: It used to be that you could rank for competitive keywords by building tons of links to that page. But such practices are no longer effective as the Penguin update looks at sites that violate the quality guidelines. This includes buying things from spammy networks or using automated tools to build them en masse.

If your site has suffered a ranking penalty, it is likely due to either low quality content or having too many spammy links to your pages.

So what do you do?

The absolute worst thing that you could do is nothing as your site will remain penalised or worse, get banned from the search index. Here is what you should do to recover your rankings:

  • Remove low quality content: Content audits are particularly valuable as they can easily identify pages that have low quality or duplicate content. Then simply log into your content management system and remove those pages. Doing this will go a long way towards recovering your rankings.
  • Rewrite duplicate contact: Having duplicate content on your pages is a major no-no. Either remove these pages or completely rewrite them from scratch.
  • Create engaging content: There is no question about it. Google tends to reward high-quality content with higher rankings. Be sure to optimise your content but always focus on providing value to your visitors at all times.
  • Remove spammy links: Use a tool such as ahrefs to conduct a link audit and see the links that are pointing to your pages. Note down any links that are from spammy or questionable sources. Then either contact the webmasters directly or use the Disavow Tool to have a completely ignored.
  • Build quality links: If you want to rank higher for your words, you need to build links from quality sources that are relevant to your site. Guest posting on other sites is easily one of the most effective strategies that still work today. It requires a good deal of effort but it is well worth it.

Now that you made all these changes, the next step is to submit a reconsideration request which you can do by logging into your Google Search Console account. Someone from Google’s team will then take a look at your site and either approve or reject your request.

Keep in mind that even if your request is approved, it can still take months or even longer to recover your rankings back to where they were before. The key is to continue producing quality content and building quality links back to your site. Take these things will help to recover your search engine rankings.