One of the top concerns that website owners have is getting penalized by Google. It’s an understandable concern given that Google dominates online searches on all devices.

There’s also the issue of algorithm updates. A new algorithm can change what is and isn’t acceptable in the eyes of the search engine. Web pages that once passed the Googlebot sniff test could suddenly be penalized based on the new signals.

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller reassured everyone in a recent hangout chat that web pages can bounce back and still rank after being hit by a penalty. But there are some stipulations.

Factors That Allow a Web Page to Rank After a Penalty

There are few reasons why Google doesn’t blacklist a website every time it’s penalized. For starters, some people are just unaware of all the rules of the web and Google guidelines. If violations do in fact occur, Google will typically let the webmaster know and allow them to correct the problem ASAP. The factors below can also come into play.

There Are Hundreds of Search Signals

As we’ve noted before Google uses hundreds of signals to assess and rank web pages. Some signals are stronger than others, but to say there are a lot of variables is an understatement. Google weighs all of these factors, the good and the bad, to decide which web pages deserve the top spot for a query.

The Web Pages May Still be Relevant

Just because a web page violates a Google guideline doesn’t mean it offers no value. If Google thinks a web page is still highly relevant and provides something of value it will still show up in the SERPs.

Each Search is a New Opportunity to Rank

A web page’s rank might take a hit for a penalty that affects only some types of searches or terms. It all depends on what rules the website broke and how many times they were broken.

The most challenging element of the factors above is they are always changing. You have to stay on top of all the algorithm changes, keep your content fresh, continue to discover new keywords and maintain your reputation online. All this while running a business.

Need help getting off Google’s penalty list? Want to avoid penalties before they happen? Get your FREE SEO Report from SearchRPM!

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By Michael Ramirez
SearchRPM Founder


Michael Ramirez is the Founder of SearchRPM, an Austin, TX based search marketing company that’s well-versed in Search Engine Optimization best practices. You can follow Michael Ramirez on Twitter @openmic0323 or on Google+ to see what he’s up to next.