Google’s Matt Cutts: Determining If Your Site Ranking Is Result Of A Penalty Is “Tricky”

Matt Cutts screen shot March 2014Today’s video from Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts tackles the question, “How can you tell if your site is suffering from an algorithmic penalty, or you are simply being outgunned by better content?”

According to Cutts:

It’s kind of tricky because we have a large amount of algorithms that all interact, and whether you call something a penalty, or ranking change…any of those things can be really hard to draw a fine distinction between those different points.

If you’re wondering why your site’s ranking has dropped, Cutts suggests first going to  Webmaster Tools to see if you have a penalty notification, or if there are any crawl errors listed.

Cutts goes on to say his team doesn’t really think in terms of algorithmic penalties, working “more and more” on code that applies to general quality changes.

“We typically just think about it as the holistic ranking,” says Cutts, claiming Google rolled out somewhere around 665 algorithm changes affecting search results in 2012.

While Cutts claims it’s difficult to determine if a ranking is the result of a penalty or simply poor content, he says the good news is that rankings are algorithmic, making it possible for a site owner to change and modify their site so that it can be re-scored by Google, and re-indexed for a better ranking.