See how different Google algorithm updates impact your site's search performance:
Every now and then, Google rolls out its search algo updates — Penguins, Pandas, mobile and local SEO updates, and what not. Some of these updates pass by without affecting your site, but some of them can push your Google rankings down. And you need to watch these updates closely — to quickly diagnose if your site got under a Google "penalty" and build a solid recovery plan.
You can get quick and easy help with Google penalty checker inside Rank Tracker!
Match changes in your organic traffic and rankings to the exact dates of Google algorithm updates right on your Rank Tracker's progress graph. This way you can see at a glance how different updates have impacted your site's performance.
Knowing which problems your site is suffering from right now is the key to building an effective SEO strategy for the future. So why go blind with Google penalties? Just launch your Rank Tracker tool and check your site for Google penalties in under two minutes!
1. Check for drops in traffic from Google
Note: If needed, you can disable displaying the updates on your project graph. Simply switch to Preferences > Events and disable the "Show search engine updates as events" checkbox. You can also add your own events manually: right-click on the Progress Graph and select Add event command from the menu.
2. Check for drops in Google rankings
If you already have ranking history in the project, you can find how keyword ranking fluctuations correspond to the dates of search algo updates. Go to the Ranking Progress tab > Rank Progress / Visibility, and see the Progress Graph. Any sharp change across all your keywords can be accounted for by some Google update.
Check your site for Google penalties with new Rank Tracker:
Over the decade, Google has improved its algorithms to serve better search services across its knowledge database (aka Knowledge Graph). The earliest Google updates aimed at fighting black-hat SEO tactics. Several subsequent algos adapted natural language processing to help machines guess human thinking. Most recent updates deal with speed and UX of the mobile-first world. Below are a few historical Google updates that have shaped today's SEO picture.
|Name of Google update||When introduced||What affected on websites|
|Panda Update||February 2011||Thin content|
|Top Heavy Update||January 2012||Websites with heavy ads|
|Penguin Update||April 2012||Spammy backlinks|
|Pirate Update||August 2012||Copyright infringement|
|Exact Match Domain Update||September 2012||EMDs with poor content|
|Payday Update||June 2013||Spammy Queries|
|Hummingbird Algorithm||September 2013||Google search relevance according to intent|
|Pigeon Update||July 2014||Improved local searches|
|Mobile Friendly Update||April 2015, May 2016 and onwards||Boosts mobile-friendly websites|
|RankBrain Algorithm||June 2016||Sorting search results|
|Possum||September 2016||Adds 3-Pack Local finder for Google Maps|
|Intrusive Interstitials Penalty||January 2017||Intrusive pop-up ads on mobile devices|
|Core Algo Updates||2017 - until now, several times a year||Improvements on existing algos|
|Fred||March 2017||Link quality and thin content for ads purposes|
|BERT||2019||Uses NLP for improved SERPs|
|Core Web Vitals||May 2020 (announced) - 2021||Improved page experience (load speed and mobile-friendliness)|
To get more information about Google changes, jump on our blog post and a cheat sheet about algo updates.
Before penalty analysis, make sure the traffic drop isn't caused by some other external factors.
1. Think of any technical changes on your site.
You should look at any changes made to the site in the last few weeks before the traffic drop and ensure that no technical issues crept in along with any updates (like changes to robots.txt files, or the site becoming very slow.) If you're lucky a simple technical fix will see traffic pick up over the next few weeks.
2. Check for warnings in your Webmaster Tools account.
Check Google Webmaster Tools. To see if your website has not suffered from a manual penalty, go to Google Search Console > Security & Manual Actions. A manual action is imposed by a human reviewer at Google if the website violates Webmaster guidelines. Typically, a manual action is issued for attempts to manipulate search indexing. Check out the Manual Actions Report, most probably showing the reason for the penalty, remove improper links or content, and request reviewing your website to lift the manual penalty.
3. Identify seasonal trends
Make sure the drop in traffic is not a repeated trend caused by seasonal changes in your market.
So, you've noticed a rapid traffic drop at the same time as a Google algorithm update happened. Here are the next steps for you to follow to make sure you were hit by this particular update and to build an effective penalty recovery strategy.
1. Hit by a Penguin algorithm update? Revise your backlink profile
Since 2016, Google Penguin has become part of the core algorithms, which require SEOs to stay vigilant for links quality. As Google Penguin algorithm combats spammy and low-quality backlinks, the first thing to do now is to analyze your site's backlinks, identifying any potentially spammy links and get them removed or disavowed.
SEO PowerSuite's Google penalty checker in SEO SpyGlass tool will analyze your links against a number of quality factors (the same as the ones used by Google) to let you spot all dangerous backlinks. Go to Backlinks profile > Penalty Risk module. Filter live dofollow links and sort them by the Penalty Risk factor.
Contact owners of the risky websites and ask them to remove bad backlinks. If that fails, you can disavow all the harmful links using SEO SpyGlass's inbuilt disavow file generator. Generate the file and submit it via the disavow tool in Google Search Console. To keep safe from Google Penguin, track your backlink profile regularly and build only high-quality links to your site.
2. Hit by a Panda algorithm update? Revise your content
Google Panda was created in order to tackle the problem of Content Farms (these are sites that churn out tons of low quality content in order to rank well in search results). It has also become part of the core algorithms since 2016. Panda update uses multiple factors to identify your site's quality, and two of them believed to be especially important are:
You can use SEO PowerSuite's Google penalty checker in combination with the WebSite Auditor tool to identify all the issues related to your content: duplicate titles and meta tags, thin content, keyword stuffing issues, etc. Use the tool to find duplicate issues site-wide or analyze on-page SEO for specific URLs. Edit your page in the Content Editor module to add on-page optimization changes and see your rankings grow.
Here are the tools you need to identify and
from any Google Penalty