Do search engine penalties expire?
The short answer is “yes” and “no”. I know, confusing right?
Search engine penalties can expire after a certain time period.
However, a search engine penalty expiring depends upon many factors.
The following factors can determine whether or not search engine penalties expire:
- Whether corrective action has been taken to remedy penalty
- Whether the website is deleted or domain name expires
- If the website continues to garner additional penalties
- If no corrective action is taken or performed to the website
And this leads us to discussing one of my current customers and their search engine penalty saga.
I had an interesting conversation recently pertaining to search engine penalties and how long they stay intact with a website.
This particular customer had long discovered a few intriguing details about their website and previous SEO efforts.
To their dismay, this customer suffered severe search engine penalties due to deceptive SEO tactics.
To the customer’s defense, their previous SEO relationship with another agency, that shall go unnamed, started out with the implementation and execution of white-hat SEO strategies.
Unfortunately, the SEO agency underestimated the SEO effort to get the customer’s website ranked in terms of labor and time.
So to cut their loss and to get the client ranked on page one, the SEO agency doubled-down their efforts and launched a stealth black-hat SEO campaign.
Soon the customer was ranking on page one of Google for multiple words and began invoicing the customer.
And as any customer would, when ranking for multiple money keywords or keyword phrases and receiving mounds of web traffic, they reviewed the word done and paid the invoices.
Everything was going well until the customer’s website took a major dip in website traffic as well as search impressions and clicks.
And when the customer reached out to the SEO agency, they were no where to be found.
Matter of fact, the SEO agency has been out of business for a few months, yet they were steady sending invoices to the customer to be paid.
And here is where I and Kickstart Commerce enter as they customer had us to perform an SEO audit of their website.
At first glance of the SEO audit, I thought the customer was trying to pull the wool over my eyes due to the shear volume of spammy links, keyword stuffing and the duplicate content.
But the reality is that this customer really didn’t understand what was going on behind the scenes.
In fact, the SEO agency was running white-hat and black-hat SEO strategies, yet only reporting the white-hat SEO effort to the customer.
So the customer was duped into thinking that the reported white-hat SEO strategies, as detailed on their invoice, were responsible for the page one search rankings and substantial amount of traffic to their website.
But this was far from the truth.
My guess is that the SEO agency was tired and frustrated with the fact that they had not be able to rank this customer’s website, due to the competitive nature of their industry, after over a year of SEO labor.
So to make back their loss of time in money in a short period of time, they choose black-hat SEO and upsold additional services once ranked on page one, knowing they would soon be out of business and leaving the client with a ticking time bomb of a website.
The bomb eventually went boom, and has nearly destroyed this customer’s business in terms of the percentage of online business they lost because of such deceptive SEO.
It’s been 6 months or so since the customer partnered with Kickstart Commerce. The good news about our partnership is that their website is no longer penalized.
We contacted webmasters for link removal as well as disavowed a few hundred thousand links, and cleaned up their entire website of keyword stuffing and duplicate content.
As we did this, I taught the customer how to perform their own SEO evaluation and how to create a write content for customers first and search engines last. As I cleaned up their website, they were busy generating content.
And their hard work is now paying off. I understand that not everyone’s story ends like this customer where they were only manually penalized for 8 months or so.
Sometimes manual and algorithmic penalties can last years while I’ve also seen some a short as weeks.
But it all depends upon how fast the website owner takes corrective action, and that the action taken adheres to search engine ranking policy and guidelines.
Using the right tools, such as Google Web Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs.com, and OpenSiteExplorer.org, it is very easy to monitor and gauge exactly what type of work is being performed by your chosen SEO professional or agency.
But in short, whether manual or algorithmic search engine penalties are still intact or have been removed depends upon how well you maintain and optimize your website to adhere to search engine policies and guidelines.
The quicker you catch the penalty and take corrective action, the better off and more likely the penalty will only subside for a short time period and only minimally impact your search rankings and website traffic.