Google’s constant algorithm updates can put at risk of a penalty. Following the Google Quality Guidelines and keeping up to date with recommended changes can protect you from losing your audience.

What are the Google Algorithm Penalties?

Google Penguin

Penguin was launched in 2012 and cracked down on sites spamming search results by manipulating Google’s algorithm through links. Penguin used to have yearly updates but is now real time and can cause severe damage to a website.

Google Panda

The Panda update was released in 2013 with multiple updates over the years. This update filters and penalises websites with low quality content

Google Mobile Friendly Update

This update was launched in 2015 and boosted mobile friendly websites, websites which are not mobile friendly lost rankings in the mobile search engine. This was the start of Google’s separation on ranking for mobile and desktop websites.

Google Fred

Early in 2017 Fred was launched with minimal announcement – to this day people have different ideas of what the update targets. Apparently this update is enforcing the guidelines set by Google.

Google Top Heavy Update

This update came out in 2012 with some later updates. The algorithm downgrades websites that have poor layout and cram too many ads above the fold.

Google Pirate

The Pirate update was released in 2012 and is aimed at preventing sites with copyright infringements from ranking high in Google. Mainly triggered by reports submitted against offending websites.

Google Pigeon

The Pigeon update was released in 2014 and improved the algorithm for local SEO providing better results for searches.

Google EMD (Exact Match Domain)

In 2012 this update was released to stop spammers from ranking high with poor websites simply because the domain name contained certain keywords.

Google Hummingbird

The Hummingbird update was released in 2013, not necessarily a threat to websites as it aims to provide the user with a better search experience. This update improves the way Google interprets your search and finds the best content.

Google Payday

This update was released in 2013 to clean up the search results for spam like queries (e.g. payday loan).

What does a Penalty look like?

Each website will have different looking trends in traffic when hit by an algorithm penalty. Generally there will always be a decrease in organic traffic but unless segmented your analytics data may not look so severe, here is an example of a penalised website:


Once a penalty has been removed and depending on the next crawl Google makes, your traffic can return to normal (if not higher) levels:


If you suspect your website might be affected by a penalty or if you would like a complete inspection of your traffic – contact today. Please note: I will require access to Analytics and Search Console to provide accurate information.



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