Google penalties can be costly and distressing when trying to do SEO. Especially considering the fact that, in some cases, these penalties can suddenly cause dramatic drops in sites’ traffic without any warning. In fact, what website owners may not realize is that:

  • Google’s Webmaster Guidelines don’t specifically detail the types and nature of the penalties that can be imposed on sites (except for explaining that these penalties can be manual versus algorithmic).
  • It can take months or longer to come back from the more serious Google penalties.
  • If the right efforts are not put into fixing the issues that triggered the Google penalties, the impacts of these penalties can persist until the domain expires.

Taking a closer look at the nature of the Google penalties that can be imposed on websites, here we’ll point out some of the more common types of these penalties, as well as what can be done to recover from them.

If your website has been penalized by Google – or if you just want experienced help properly optimizing and maintaining your website, contact the professionals at Epic Web Results today. We have extensive experience developing customized, cost-effective Internet marketing solutions, and we are ready to help you.

An Overview of the More Common Types of Google Penalties

Here is an overview of some of the more common types of Google penalties that exist. This list has been compiled based on various statements made by key Google players over recent years (given that Google has never officially published a complete list of the penalties it may and/or does impose).

1 – The Domain Penalty

These types of Google penalties will impact an entire website, including all pages, images, posts and categories included on that website. What’s more is that this severe penalty will also usually:

  • Affect the keywords pertaining to the impacted pages/posts on a website
  • Set the website back in search engine results by some chosen number (for instance, a domain penalty can come with a “-x,” in which “x” is the number describing how far the site will drop in rankings; so, a domain penalty of “-40” would mean that the site will drop 40 places in search engine rankings).

Commonly imposed, these are some of the more serious types of Google penalties that can come affect sites.

2 – Keyword-Related Google Penalties

With keyword-related Google penalties, a website will be penalized for a specific keyword or keyword phrase because, for instance, the site is over-optimized for that target word and/or phrase. In fact, keyword-related Google penalties tend to come into play when sites:

  • Have certain keywords or keyword phrases stuffed into too many anchor text categories
  • Have an excessive number of keyword-related links (like links to/from the overused anchor text).

3 – The Directory Penalty

With a directory penalty, certain categories or areas of a website will be targets of the penalty (for various reasons, such as poor linking, duplicate content, etc.). When directory-related Google penalties are imposed, they can impact:

  • All subcategories in a given directory
  • Multiple directories or categories on a website at the same time.

Although this is one of the less commonly imposed Google penalties, it pops up every now and again and can be at least temporarily ruinous to substantial portions of websites.

4 – Page-Specific Google Penalties

As the name implies, these types of Google penalties will target a certain page (or few related pages) on websites when things like the following may be related to these pages:

  • Spam-like user comments on the page
  • Spam-like links posted in comments’ sections
  • Other linking or keyword issues that violate Google’s best practices.

With page-related Google penalties, it’s important to note that:

  • About Us and Company Overview pages tend to be the targets of such Google penalties.
  • These penalties can be imposed on one or more pages of websites at any given time.
  • Seeing sudden drops in certain pages’ rankings – while the rankings for other pages on the site may stay relatively the same or even increase – can indicate that this type of penalty has been imposed on a site.

5 – De-Listing Google Penalties

Also referred to as de-indexation, this type of Google penalty is among the worst that can impact websites, as it effectively results in sites being removed from search engine inquiry results. De-listing Google penalties are generally reserved for websites that have largely or completely violated Google’s Guidelines and best practices by doing things like, for instance, using Black Hat SEO and/or web design techniques.

When these types of comprehensive Google penalties have been handed down, a quick way to check if a particular website has been affected is to do the following:

  1. Go to a Google search page.
  2. Type in the query: “” (with “” being the URL of the particular site you are checking).
  3. Check the results. If the site you are checking does NOT appear in the results, it quite possibly has been the result of de-indexation.

6 – The “-X” Penalty

With these types of Google penalties, various elements of a website can be the subjects of penalties, with each of the penalties potentially even differing across these elements. In particular, the “-X” penalty can affect any of the following (or other) aspects of websites:

  • Keywords or keyword phrases, with the penalty potentially being “-A”
  • Pages, with the penalty potentially being “-B”
  • Categories or directories, with the penalty potentially being “-C.”

In these cases, A, B, and C would be different numbers by which the rankings for that element of the website would drop. So, if A is 20, then a website’s keywords associated with that penalty would drop in rankings by 20 spots.

7 – The “-950” Penalty

As one of the types of Google penalties that Matt Cutts has personally confirmed, the “-950” penalty essentially drops a website back 950 spots (or 9.5 pages in SERPs). This penalty may also be referred to as the “end of results” penalty because it:

  • Generally places a site at the “back” or “end” of results listings
  • Is usually reserved for sites that have continued to use Black Hat SEO tactics, bad linking strategies and other tactics that violate Google’s best practices
  • Is a severe penalty that is typically issued as a final warning before a de-listing/de-indexation penalty is imposed.

8 – Combo Google Penalties

Again, as the name implies, these types of penalties involve a combination of at least two or more other Google penalties, which means that:

  • Various types of Google penalties can end up affecting various parts of websites simultaneously.
  • Figuring out the specific nature of the penalties imposed can be that much more complicated and will likely require a close analysis of traffic for a site over the past few (or more) months.
  • The work to help a site recover can be just as in-depth and complicated, as it may necessitate the revision (or replacement) of multiple pages and/or sections of a website (in terms of content and/or design).

After Google Penalties: The Bottom Line

When it comes to Google penalties for websites, the bottom line is that:

  • There are a number of different types of Google penalties that can impact websites – and new penalties are regularly being developed and imposed to more effectively target sites that rely on Black Hat tactics.
  • Knowing when these penalties have been imposed can be complicated for website owners and can take a closer analysis of a website’s traffic history over recent months.
  • Coming back from Google penalties can take some in-depth work on a website.
  • To recover from Google penalties as quickly and effectively as possible, it’s best to contact experienced SEO professionals like those at Epic Web Results.

Effective Internet Marketing Solutions at Epic Web Results

Has your site been the subject of a Google penalty? Or are you looking to develop an optimized site right the first time? If so, it’s time to contact the professionals at Epic Web Results. Our skilled industry professionals are up to date with the latest advances in Internet marketing and SEO best practices, and we are highly adept at designing and maintaining optimized websites that will soar to the top of search engines.