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5 Tools to Help You Identify a Google Slap

Find out whether your website (or someone else’s) has been affected by a Google algorithm change or penalty using these five tools.

Whether you are a business owner, blogger, or marketing professional, there will come a time where you will wonder whether your website or someone else’s has been affected by a Google penalty, algorithm change, or other Google action that is hurting your search traffic . Fortunately, there are several ways you can find out. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can determine if your website (or someone else’s) has been Google slapped.

Google Webmaster Tools

As a website owner, one of the best things you can do is to monitor your website’s health in Google search is to install Google Webmaster Tools. If you already use Google Analytics, it’s a quick process – simply sign in with your Google account, add your website to Google Webmaster Tools, and use your Google Analytics code to verify site ownership.

google-webmaster-tools-verification

There are several other options to verify site ownership as well that don’t involve adding new code to your website, including signing in to one of over 40 domain name providers. Once you’ve done this, you will receive notifications from Google if your website has been dinged in search results. These include:

  • Malware Notifications – If Google suspects your website has been hacked or infected by malware, they will tag your site in search results as compromised. This will significantly lower the number of visitors you receive from search results. Once you have cleaned your website, you can request Google review it through Google Webmaster Tools again to remove the message in search results.
  • Manual Action Penalty Notifications – If Google suspects your website has unnatural links, user-generated spam, cloaking, or other items against Google Webmaster rules, you may receive manual penalty that negatively affects your ranking in search. Once you have cleaned your website, you can request Google review it through Google Webmaster Tools to lift the penalty.

Aside from notifications, you can also check for crawl errors and other issues that might affect how your website is displayed in search results. With regular monitoring of your website in Google Webmaster Tools, you can ensure it has the best health in Google possible.

Google Analytics

Google Webmaster Tools unfortunately does not notify you of all penalties and algorithmic changes that might affect your website in search results. Another way to check if there might be a problem is through your Google Analytics. In particular, keep an eye on changes to your organic search traffic by looking under Acquisition > Keywords > Organic. Do a quick year over year comparison of your organic search visitors to see if the numbers are going up or down.

google-analytics-organic-traffic

This can be a good indicator if you have a problem. If you do notice a decline in organic search traffic, first think about any changes you made to your website around the time the traffic decline occurs. If you redesigned your website, you might not have properly redirected pages that were ranking well, or you might have left out some important keyword-optimized title tags on your top ranking pages.

If this is not the case, then you might want to see if a major Google algorithm change is the culprit. You can use Moz’s handy Google Algorithm Change History to match up a drop in organic search traffic with a particular update.

Google Penalty Checker

Looking for an easier way to spot potential Google algorithm changes and penalties that might have affected your website? Then try Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool. This tool connects to your Google Analytics and is free for up to two websites with unlimited traffic. You can also pay for a monthly subscription of $48 to check up to five websites or get custom pricing for unlimited website monitoring.

Once you’ve connected your websites, Google Penalty Checker will analyze your data against Google’s algorithm changes and updates to see which ones have affected your website in a positive or negative way. You’ll see a quick chart showing the latest updates and how they have affected your site.

google-penalty-checker-1

You’ll then get a list by date of penalties, whether you’ve been affected, and a link to more details about the particular update.

google-penalty-checker-2

This tool can help take out the guessing about when your traffic dropped an whether a penalty might have been involved as well as point you in the right direction of how to start solving the problem.

SEMrush

Now, let’s turn the tables. Let’s say that you want to check whether another website has been affected by a Google algorithm or penalty. You may want to do this to qualify a particular link building opportunity or convince a potential client that they need some help with their SEO. One tool to use is SEMrush. It will show a graph of most website’s organic search engine traffic over a period of the last 30 days, year, two years, or all time.

semrush-se-traffic

This is a quick way to see approximately how much organic search traffic a website is receiving. If you notice a sharp drop in search traffic, you can try to match it up to Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History to see if a particular algorithm or penalty has hit them. You can also use this to determine if a website has recovered from a Google slap or is still suffering the consequences.

CognitiveSEO

Last, but not least, if you are trying to recover from a Google slap based on unnatural links, or trying to help a client recover, then a good link analysis tool will be in order. CognitiveSEO, for example, can filter out your unnatural links using their inBound Analysis tool – and even help you quickly create a disavow file to submit to Google!

halifax-cognitiveseo-unnatural-link-detection

At $99 per month (with a 14 day free trial), it’s a great deal for quick identification and resolution of unnatural links. You can also look into Link Detox Pro, but it comes with a heftier price tag of €149 per month.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are several helpful tools that can help you identify Google algorithm and penalty issues in both your websites and others’. What tools do you use? Please share in the comments!

  • http://www.utargeting.co.uk/ Piperis F

    As a small agency, we already use a couple of these tools – and they have been really useful. But without articles like this one, I wouldn’t have found any. The fruition tool looks interesting and I will definitely be looking into that one. None of our clients have had penalties so far, but we take on so many new ones that we will need these tools in place!

  • http://www.northsideseo.com/ Anthony D. Nelson

    If using the SEMrush technique, I’d recommend using this tool: http://feinternational.com/website-penalty-indicator

    It takes the SEMrush data and overlays the major Algo updates on the timeline. Great for quick insights when you can’t get your hands on the actual data, like Google Analytics.

  • fwtistika

    i found the Google Penalty checker tool really helpful! i was looking for a tool like that but i haven’t found anything. thanks sharing it

    • Krudo

      As usual in the web, this tool is advertised as free, but only if you pay become useful.

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  • http://www.linkaudit.co.uk The Link Auditors

    Good post! I have many customers phoning me up thinking that they have been hit with a Google penalty, when they haven’t. These tools can save time and effort when detecting what is wrong with your site before taking action, or the wrong action

  • http://keepupwiththeweb.com Sherryl Perry

    Kristi,

    I’ve been using Fruition’s Penalty Checker Tool since June 2013 but they’re
    blocking the last three months of data now. My only option appears to be to
    upgrade and the smallest plan option is for 2 websites for $20 month. I’m
    disappointed that they didn’t grandfather the free plan for those of us who had
    already signed up.

  • Mahesh Gupta

    Nice analysis and post .. i always use Google Webmaster ! its free and genuine!!!

    Thanks

  • Porga Croaticus

    I tried “Google Penalty Checker” on travel related website, but data presentation is a bit problematic. No difference with paid or organic searches. Also, seasonal summer traffic is bigger on travel related website. So not much use of it.

  • http://www.darylcygler.com/ Daryl Cygler

    Kristi,
    True to form short, succinct and totally on topic. Bang.
    I think you have nailed it, the only other tool i use to help with understanding the SEO landscape is http://www.jellyfish.co.uk/seo-tools/google-penalty-checker. They pull in historical SEO visibility from the Searchmetrics api. So between Fruition, SEMRush and the jellyfish tool it is all there. Cross reference all 3 tools and you get a really good understanding of what has been going with your site. It is all about gathering enough historical data to be able to make an informed decision.