Having your site penalized by Google can be one of the biggest problems for your site in its efforts to be seen in the SERP’s – exposure in the world’s most popular search engine is a must.
Recent discussion from Google users has centered around ways in which webmasters can tell whether their site is being penalized by Google.
To help you discover if Google is penalizing your site, here are some of the comments and suggestions to come out of the discussion:
“Google says that if you search on your domain name and it doesn’t appear at or near the top of the results, it’s a sign of a penalty. On sites penalized for selling links, the internal pages will all show gray bar in the Toolbar PageRank meter, which will often be reflected in poorer rankings sitewide.”
“Occasionally they do notify, but I think for real simple stuff like hidden text. I have never heard of a letter to anyone for selling links or other more complicated issues.”
“Past performance is also not indicative of future returns. Things do age, become less relevant as time passes and trends change, new sites are put up every day, link graphs are constantly being updated, old stuff starts to fail. One of the most annoying thing to me is when someone says that they’ve always been #1 or #2 for the last 3 years, didn’t change a thing, and the site has always had 350 keyword stuffed navigation links stuck at the bottom of every page so that can’t be the problem. While their site has been sitting there collecting dust Google has updated its ranking methods a few thousand times and 10′s of millions of new sites, billions of new pages, have been introduced.”
“If aboutus.org outranks you for your domain name, you’ve got problems and it probably has something to do with links, how you manipulated them, got them, or distributed them.”
If you would like to read more of the discussion around this topic, then check out the Google Groups thread here.
In the end, it can be hard to determine whether your site has been penalized. Google are very unlikely to ever send you a nice little letter informing you of the penalties, instead you just need to keep on top of your site and use some the suggestions above. Good luck!