For long time there have been wrong assumptions on what constitutes a penalty in Google. Few years back Google has very less penalties but now we have lots of different type of penalties that Google can impose on a site to stop it from ranking. We have few of the penalties listed here
So what really constitutes a penalty and do you really have one?
Here is a simple checklist to see whether you have a penalty or not.
Your site has been ranking for a long time but suddenly almost all the major keywords disappeared and only you rank for obscure keywords – YES you have one
Your URL is removed from search results and you cannot find your site on top even searching for your unique domain name itself – Yes you have a penalty.
If there is a notification in webmaster tools that your site is violating guidelines and has been removed – Yes you have one.
One particular keyword has been ranking for a long time but suddenly it moves beyond rank 100. Yes you have link penalty.
Sitelinks to your disappear when it used to be there before and a search for yourdomain.com without www doesn’t bring up your site. But your site comes up when www is added to yourdomain.com. Yes you have a potential link buying / selling penalty.
If one keyword suddenly moves below 3 pages and never comes back even after 3 months. Yes it’s what we call -30 penalty check the SEO problems page in the above link.
Penalties are not something we need to be worried. Even the worst penalties can be removed by explaining to Google. If you have trouble with your site don’t hesitate to contact me and our team we will be ready to help you.