How I recovered my website from Google penalty

There were good old days when searching for "mittalpatel" or "mittal patel" on Google would show up my site on first rank. But gone are days as my laziness refrained me from regular posting and my site lost top rankings.

Moreover, I found that my site was penalized for some reasons and it was not ranking at all for the keywords it was coming up on first page. For keyword "mittalpatel" my site was on first position for many years and suddenly it slipped to last page, 174th position! For keyword "mittal patel" my site was on first page but I was shocked to find that my site wasn't even considered for this keyword anymore. I checked 20 pages and didn't find ranking of in the search engine results for "mittal patel". Bad bad bad!

This was clear case of Google penalty. Not sure Panda or Penguin or both but site was penalized definitely. Since quite a long I haven't paid good attention on my site and hence I was punished. I wanted to get back the top ranking for some of the keywords so I started making changes on the site. And in my efforts I got following findings:

The issue: Duplicate content

The first thing came to my mind was content duplication. I knew that my site was crawled in so many ways and it must have increased duplication of the content. For example, the site was multilingual and it had hindi and gujarati versions too. Therefore, and were created and crawled too. All the content was same except some labels which were in hindi or gujarati. Later on I found out that as my site is hosted on hostgator, it created other URLs like and Those URLs were also crawled and showing up in search results! This must have taken as duplication of content and to get back ranking this duplication had to be removed.

Solution 1: Use Canonical URL to avoid duplication

To remove content duplication on site, first of all, I installed nodewords module of Drupal to generate Canonical URLs so that it would prevent duplication of URLs to some extent.

For example, the URL and has exact same content. After setting up canonical URLs, both the pages were set to same canonical URL so when next time Google crawls it will replace the URL with Read more about canonical URL here.

Solution 2: Remove Indexed URLs using Google Webmaster

Then, I submitted requests in Google Webmaster to remove indexed URLs containing duplicate content. I requested to remove all the links of /gu/, /hi/ and /~mittalpa/. Google was quick to do it and after submitting the request, within 24 hours all the unnecessary URLs were removed. Quite a relief!

Preventive action: Robots.txt update

Removing the indexed URL wasn't enough as Google could find the URLs and crawl them again. To prevent Google from crawling those URLs again, I put those to Disallow crawling in robots.txt. Now, those URLs wouldn't be crawled by any search engine again.

Another issue & fix: Backlink removal

Then I saw that I was getting thousands of back links from my another website as I had put "Developed by Mittal Patel" in footer. So there were thousands of backlinks with same anchor text pointing to homepage of my site. I updated the footer of and except homepage made all the links to my site "nofollow" links. Within few days I started seeing number of back links reducing in Google Webmaster.

Doing the needful: New blogs posting

As I wasn’t regular in posting blogs the content of the site wasn’t updated for long. To get some fresh content on site I posted some new blogs. Also, I made sure that it was original blogs created by me and not copied content from any other sites.

After applying all above changes and waiting for couple of months I could see my efforts being paid off. Now, the site is coming up again on first page for many keywords and my new blogs are being crawled within 6-8 hours of posting. There isn't much rise in the traffic of the site yet as still no new blogs are being posted on regular interval but that's not search engine's problem. I am happy with the rankings now. :-)

P.S.: I am neither SEO guru nor professional SEO. Therefore the steps mentioned above might not be used as sure shot recovery for Google penalty. I have shared what I tried and what worked for my site to get ranking back in Google.

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