Common Google Penalty and Their Fixes E-Commerce Site Owners Must Know

Navneet Singh, Founder

Ecommerce SEO

We’ve all heard of Google Penalty. But, things can get more complex when it comes to Google Penalty on an E-commerce site.  The first thing you need to understand is the difference between a Google Penalty in general and an e-commerce site Google Penalty. 

Primarily, there are no differences when it comes to the action taken against your website. However, there can be several differences in the context of the type of penalty involved. And this can have serious consequences for your business. The first thing you may think of doing is having a comparatively moderate Google Penguin algorithmic calculation of your rankings based on select keyword phrases. But, things can be wholly different if a site gets de-indexed for your brand name!

Google sends several types of difficult punishments if a website does not follow the quality guidelines. The trend will continue as Google is highly serious about giving its users the best experience. However, all the e-commerce sites will be functioning according to the guidelines and therefore they have a great possibility to be penalized when it comes to an eCommerce website.

There can be several types of Google penalties one may face. For example, Google algorithmic penalties, Google Penguin, Panda, and other kinds of penalties. We’ll describe them in this article. Here is the list of errors that e-commerce sites commonly make to incur a penalty.

Website owners may be facing great confusion with regards to Google Penalty on their site. Most of the misinformation is connected to fear, uncertainty, and doubt related to the Google Penalties. The commonest mistake is using an algorithm and penalty as synonyms.

You can find important updates for Penguin and Panda. They are algorithms and not penalties. Generally, the algorithms comprise a set of rules and calculations for delivering the desired outcomes.

At the end of the game, Google demotes the websites present weirdly in the search results because they do not meet the quality standards underlined in the Webmaster Guidelines.

How Does Google Do It?

  • Google also employs human reviewers to review and flag websites.

  • Several websites may slide through algorithms and may not meet Google’s quality standards.

You may find out several things about Google’s expectations over time. RankBrain and BERT are smarter algorithmic analyzers and diminish the need for human reviewers.

Things will go berserk if you are not on the right side of the algorithm. Moreover, they can amount to a penalty. The overall outcomes will lead to a loss of organic traffic.

It is important to understand the difference between having your website impacted by a manual penalty and triggering an algorithm.

This will let you know how to proceed to develop the right recovery strategy.

One of the important differences in dealing with a penalty triggered by an algorithmic event is not having a direct website interaction with Google.

On the other hand, a website getting penalized by Google receives a comprehensive manual action report through Google Search Console. You need to explain the origin of the problem and its solution while fixing violations and then send a Reconsideration Request.”

You don’t require filing a reconsideration request to escape the algorithmic smack-down.

We are going to focus on the manual penalties and recovery steps.

Here is the description of the manual Google penalties.

Cloaking and/or Sneaky Redirects

Cloaking shows different pages to users than the ones shown on Google. There may be several sneaky redirects sending users to another page than the ones shown on Google.

Learn about actions violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

You will find a penalty occurring in two ways:

  • Partial matches affecting the various parts of your site.

  • Site-wide matches affecting the entire website.


Reach out to Google Search Console > Crawl > Fetch as Google, and fetch pages from the related portions of the website.

Compare your web page content to the content which Google fetches.

Consider all variations between the two to give the right end.

Make sure that you check all redirects and remove the ones:

Sending the users to unwanted destinations.

Redirect conditionally (for example, redirect users coming from a special source).

Which are sneaky” in some way or the other.

Submit a reconsideration request after fixing these issues.

Use different types of redirects for creating CMS plugins. These may be located in the .htaccess file or may now be written in JavaScript.

Sneaky Mobile Redirects

Few or some of a website’s pages redirect mobile users for the content, not visible to Google’s crawlers. This is not an outright violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.

As you discover this, go for a manual action, which may involve URL removal from the search index.

The mobile version of a website displays the content a bit differently from the desktop version. Typically, most images may get modified for accommodating on a smaller screen.

There can be times when it is necessary to redirect mobile users from a URL to another to give a better user experience.

When the redirect sends a user to a page that is quite similar, it is best to get a redirect.

However, mobile users will redirect to a different type of content which creates a bad user experience and a penalty.

Why you need to be highly cautious about sneaky mobile redirects because they can be unintentional or happening without the webmaster’s knowledge. Generally, they may occur if:

  • The code creates redirection rules for mobile users.

  • A script or element on addition displays ads and redirects the mobile users.

  • Hackers may add elements or scripts redirecting the mobile’s users to a malicious link.


You might not be engaged directly in building sneaky redirects. Always ensure that you take care of the security issues report to understand why your website has been hacked. Carry out a comprehensive check on the various third-party elements and scripts on the web pages.

If your website hasn’t been hacked, discover the way in which the third-party elements and scripts lead to a problem.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Remove the third-party elements and scripts you cannot control.

  • Following this, check the way a site gets displayed on the mobile device or other emulators. It will help you understand if the link is not getting redirected.

  • If you identify a certain script or element you think is leading to a sneaky redirect, remove it from your site. If it’s an important script, you need to work on debugging the same, re-installing, and testing it.

Having Sneaky Redirects: Do the Necessary Edits for Compliance with Google Guidelines.

  • Confirm that you are complying with Google Guidelines, as you check your site on a mobile device or emulator.

  • To make the required edits, navigate to Google Search Console > Security & Manual Actions > Manual Actions. Then, request a Review. Be clear and honest about the fixes in your reconsideration request. Explain how the error occurred and the actions you have taken to avoid its recurrence.

  • Always be watchful about your Search Console account. This is where Google informs you that a site review has occurred. 

  • Assuming no more violations to the site guidelines, Google will revoke the manual action.

  • Make sure that you take the right action. Also, check the mobile versions of pages containing the code or script elements, which redirect mobile users in the URL Inspection Tool. It will help you to avoid a self-inflicted penalty.

Cloaked Images

Cloaking shows different content to users than what is shown to Google. For example, it involves serving images which:

  • Get obscured by another image.

  • Are different from the served image.

  • Redirect users away from the image.


  • You must show the right image to Google and the site users.

  • Check the plugins you want to install to ensure that they don’t create the image cloaking issue.

AMP Content Mismatch

AMP content is a web page with a different version. Both the versions must be the same, in the end. Whatever a user accomplishes on an AMP page should be possible on the canonical page and vice-versa.

The AMP pages get affected if the right manual action drops out of Google Search and the canonical version is shown in its place.


  1. Ensure that the AMP page is associated with the right canonical page.
  2. Also, verify the content of AMP and canonical pages is the same. Then, edit as required.
  3. Make sure that Google’s view of the page is just like the user’s view. One can accomplish this by using the URL Inspection Tool. It works for the canonical and AMP page versions. It’s not unusual that a mismatch may occur due to a robots.txt file that blocks the resources on one page or another.  The tool also exposes other issues.
  4. Getting the AMP and canonical pages in sync. Navigate to Google Search Console > Security & Manual Actions > Manual Actions, carry out the fixes, and then Request a Review.
  5. Check the Search Console account to understand if a site review has occurred.  If a site no longer violates the guidelines, a manual action may be revoked.

Make sure that always check the AMP & canonical page versions using the URL Inspection Tool and do not incur an avoidable penalty

Keyword stuffing or Hidden Text 

The heading says all about your page’s content. Google can find out if your website is using hidden text or resorting to keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing penalty may occur in two ways:

  1. Partial matches affecting parts of your site.
  2. Site-wide matches affecting the whole website.


  1. Navigate to Google Search Console > Crawl > Fetch as Google, and fetch pages from the unimpacted portions of your website.
  2. Always search for text having the same or similar color in the webpage’s body.
  3. Check the hidden text with CSS styling or positioning.
  4. Re-style the hidden text so that it can clearly see the human user.
  5. Remove the paragraphs having repeated words without context.
  6. Fix <title> tags and alt text comprising strings of repeated words.
  7. Get rid of keyword stuffing, if any.
  8. Also, submit the reconsideration request as you fix the issue.

Pure Spam

Spam is related to different types of penalties. And no one will ignore the penalty related to this.

Spam is reserved for websites that are actively engaged in offering the right combination of spammy techniques. Some of them are listed here:

They comprise some of the most prominent Webmaster Guidelines violations.

Penalties may occur in two forms:

  • Partial matches affecting portions of your site.

  • Site-wide matches affecting the whole website.


Website owners that have made the first offense must introspect comprehensively to comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

After a review, submit a Reconsideration Request to fix the issue.

If it’s your second offense, completely run down the thing and begin anew. Google won’t give you a chance if you haven’t complied with the rules.

Spammy Free Host

There’s nothing like “free hosting.” You may save your hosting fees upfront if you have reliability issues. Having spammy ads which you cannot control will be a problem.

Google threatens a manual action against the hosting services. You would not like to take a risk for the same.


  • Migrate to the “name brand” hosting.

Avoid “free hosting”. Spending a few dollars every year for reliable shared hosting will offer value.

Structured Data Issue

Without following the rich snippets guidelines, having markup content that is not visible to users or is irrelevantly placed on misleading content, you are likely to be penalized.

The penalty may occur in two forms:

  • Partial matches affecting some parts of your site.

  • Site-wide matches affecting your whole website.


Make sure that you update the existing markup while removing the markup violating Google’s rich snippets guidelines.

Also, make a Reconsideration Request as you make the changes.

Many webmasters succumb to the rich snippet spam while trying to follow the guidelines.

Thin Content- Little or No Added Value

Low-quality or shallow pages can give rise to such a penalty. It may be the outcome of:

  • Spun content/auto-generated.

  • Thin affiliate pages with:
    -OEM descriptions
    -No added value
    -No unique information.

  • Low-quality (often guest) blog posts.

  • Doorway Pages.

This is another penalty that comes in two forms:

  • Partial matches affecting parts of the site.

  • Site-wide matches affecting the whole website.


  1. Spot and get rid of auto-generated or spun content.
  2. Identify the affiliate pages which do not offer an added value or something less than what the manufacturer or a retailer offers. Put your act together to remove those pages.
  3. Use Duplicate Content Detection Software for identifying content you find at other places on the web. All you need to do is replace or remove the content.
  4. Identify content having a low word count and at the right place. You will find the pages which are useful and informative.
  5. Also, identify and get rid of the doorway pages

Submit a Reconsideration Request as you fix these issues. Invest time and resources for creating unique and useful content.

Unnatural Links From Your Site

Google loves to bust the webmasters for selling the links.

In Google’s language, these links are “unnatural, deceptive, artificial, or manipulative outbound links.”

You can get a penalty in different forms:

  • There can be portion matches not impacting your site.

  • There can be site-wide matches affecting your entire website.


Modify the links as you add a rel=”nofollow” attribute. It will help you to pass through PageRank.

After removing the non-compliant links, submit the Reconsideration Request.

Clean up the links in a subtle way. Google has handled hundreds of thousands of such penalties. You won’t get any of them.

User-Generated Spam

Do you realize that users may be fed up with daily spam emails that promise you cheap SEO and page-one results? Hiring SEOs who resort to black hat techniques can give rise to this issue.

You may not get link building issues occurring in the following:

  • Forums

  • Comments

  • Guestbook pages. 

  • And user profiles. 

The penalty may occur in two forms:

  • Partial matches affecting parts of your site.

  • Site-wide matches impacting your entire website.


  1. Identify the pages for users to leave comments.
  2. Look for spam:
    • Advertisements may be present in the form of comments.
    • Comments may include irrelevant links.
    • You may get spam usernames such as “cheap leather jackets.”
    • Auto-generated, generic, and off-topic comments.
  3. Get rid of all of the spammy and wrong content.
  4. Stay away from non-moderated content that appears on your website.

Request a review – If you’ve cleaned your site and it does not violate any longer.

Google has given guidelines for user-generated spam. You do not want unoptimized and user-generated content appearing on your website.

There may be a lot of rules. But, just if you wait, you may get much more!

In February 2021, Google will require taking care of a dozen penalties related to complying with Google News and Google Discover guidelines. They are as follows:

Different Types of Google Penalties?

Unfortunately, you may have several issues other than just Penguin, Panda, and manual spam actions. On a stricter note, Panda and Penguin are not actually penalties. Instead, they are algorithmic updates. You may have understood more about the various Google Penalties.  

How Can You Check if There is a Google Manual Action Against Your E-commerce Site?

In the end, Google considered it a great idea to display notifications of the manual actions in the Google Webmaster Tools section. It did not just resort to sending a message in Webmaster Tools. They want to inform the Google Webmaster clearly rather than not telling them at all! It was introduced in August 2013 and it is evolving to give you better and better usage with higher convenience and clarity for the functionality.

How Can You Identify Manual Action Because of Your Backlinks?

Learn about the ways where a partial and a site-wide match will help you to manipulate links that Penguin finds out. You must carry out functions for giving manual action.

The Google Webmaster Tools can reveal that you have achieved a manual action!

The Google Penguin Algorithm

Google has now discussed manual action, which is unlike the Penguin algorithm. Penguin will go for an automated process which forms the most important part of a search algorithm. Moreover, the algorithm will target sites that manipulate the links (as it is an important part of the Google algorithm).

Few Things may Need More Attention and Action

If you are wondering how SEO should be done, the most important thing is to understand that it wouldn’t work in the right way for the old e-commerce website attached to it having a high proportion of black hat SEO!

Several online brands want to make money in this way. It will lead them to find cheap traffic while investing so much money. You need to take into account all the manipulative practices which the online SEO community is offering. This is one of the highly popular topics which is presently becoming highly mundane.

Potential Future Risk

The Google Penguin algorithm is getting increasingly sophisticated (due to the crow-source data from the Disavow file). It also takes care of the ever-growing risk an e-commerce site domain history needs to match with.

Getting SEO on your E-commerce website is important. Only eCommerce SEO Experts can help you with the same after considering all the aspects. Always ensure to carry out a little research on this. You can find various things which are associated with special circumstances. 

You will need an E-commerce SEO expert with a good deal of experience for carrying out a forensic link analysis of a domain. It will help you to find out about the risks involved in due course of time. Make sure that you implement all the recommendations given by an expert. Ultimately, you will require talking to companies and people that help others to successfully remove a penalty.

Checking the Backlink Anchor Text 

Long before Penguin 1.0, I stated the different dangers and the ways in which SEO companies destroy your link profile, you would also require understanding how you can find out the bad backlinks. This is going to take a lot of time. However, you will also analyze the link’s anchor text.

Warning SEO History Lesson

For many years, Google’s algorithm can be manipulated or flawed quite easily. It seems that the anchor text of a backlink is used to punch power into the target of the link. This will help the target link to go up the rankings). But, it is not the only metric. But, it can trick several black hat SEOs into understanding how link spams works. People who want to rank for blue widgets should only load links comprising the exact anchor text having the blue widgets on the site/page that you must rank for.

A domain can receive a manual action for various manipulative links and much more than Penguin. But, it is quite rare as Google hardly cares to inform the webmasters, who do not come to understand its various signs.

If a domain is at a risk, you need to understand it closely. There can be a percentage of anchor text fixes that you require. It is important to get a greater percentage of commercial anchor text. Moreover, you will have good chances that the commercial anchor text links are manipulative and you will need to carry a comprehensive forensic link audit.

Should You Remove Bad Links From Your Link Profile, Even if You Haven’t Got An Algorithmic Penguin Issue?

It is necessary to understand that the e-commerce website stakeholders go for the right action rather than waiting for bad things to happen to them. Penguin can highlight a problem which you need to take care of. But, it is better to be proactive.

In the past few years, you will find several brand names having issues due to algorithmic Penguin as well as the manual spam actions, especially due to their links. If your website has a bad link profile, it will trigger a particular Penguin update during a day and this is the thing you’ll notice!

The Next Step on Why You Might Have A Problem?

Getting a Buy-in

Though there is no easy way out, you need to get a deeper insight into manual action and Google Penguin to ensure that your website is on the safer side.

Things to Consider?

Firstly, learn about what is the amount of money you need to make from Google organically. It will be difficult for you to understand about getting a comprehensive risk analysis?


Most importantly, you need to look at the data.

And you will also be hearing about the same in the analytics.

Always take into account the analytics before you proceed further:

  • You need to create the filter for Google organic as the source or medium.

  • Also, use the data offering value for a couple of years.

  • It is imperative to find out about the landing pages that help you get higher traffic or revenue. Unfortunately, if you do not have the keyword data, it implies that it will be hard to take care of with a specific keyword or a common manual action.

You need to receive the best insight about the right action using:

  • Analytics

  • E-commerce sales data

  • And backlink profile data 

This data would provide you with the best answer about what kind of action you need to take.

Things You Need to Do Further

An important question is concerned with the remedial action you need to take. For example, whether you should 

  • Ignore the links

  • Remove the links

  • Disavow links

  • And request a reconsideration.

You require getting some help at this point. You need to get the right recommendation from a good PAYG consultancy or a person specialized in Google algorithmic issues or link penalty removal.

Few Scenarios:

Q. If a domain has the right SEO work done in its past, it would lead to a lowering of the rankings.

A. The Google Webmaster tools want you to carry out a manual action listing. Not having the same, you will not be able to know the week where you found a lowered traffic or compared it with Google updates.

Q. The manual notification about the links in Google Webmaster Tools does not provide any real impact.

A. You may not have received a manual action, but you would find an impact on traffic and revenue. But, if you haven’t encountered any problem as yet, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the coming time. It is because though you are ranking for [blue widgets] anymore, you still would be ranking for various different phrases, long-tail traffic, and terms similar to [blue widgets]. A site gets a great advantage because of the manipulative links. 

Typically, the low-quality ‘bad links’ (from low authority websites) will prove harmful to a site. Additionally, you also may also get a partial match manual action or have a site-wide manual action. Thus, you need to ensure that you take the right action!

Q. Website getting hit by Penguin

A. It’s not important to get a manual notification. Penguin will hold back the bad backlinks until you take the right action about them. Conduct a comprehensive manual forensic link analysis and then a link removal program or a disavow file upload.

Q. Having a website issue

A. Every e-commerce website has a different problem. However, some of the typical e-commerce website problems can be a greater cause of concern than the others. 


Having a top-notch e-commerce website will give you the right benefit if SEO is done. And the SEO must be done in compliance with Google guidelines. If you are practicing black hat techniques, you run the risk of getting hit by a penalty. We’ve given you an account of the basic penalties. If you want to learn more and get more information or help to recover from a Google penalty, reach out to an expert at Visibility Gurus.