In part one of this two-part blog, we went over some of the important factors in Google penalties. We discussed the two common types of manual actions Google might take, then dove into the most severe penalty (formerly called the “Gray Bar” penalty) and how you can recover from it.
Today, we’ll look at what’s previously been called the White Bar penalty – a less severe issue than the Gray Bar penalty, but still a serious event that should concern any internet marketing or SEO pro. We’ll also go over the process of regaining trust after you’ve recovered from a manual action.
The White Bar penalty, named for a previous term used when Google’s PageRank toolbar was still active, refers to when a site is penalized, but not completely removed from Google’s index or search results.
In the past, the white bar on your toolbar would have meant that the site was still indexed – but did not have a specific PageRank assigned to it. This led to the site losing rankings for major keyword phrases; not necessarily all rankings, but most of those in the important phrase areas. Furthermore, other SEO pros would treat you like a contagious disease once you got this penalty, generally removing links to white-barred sites almost immediately.
While there’s technically no white bar to show anymore, this penalty still exists and is still termed this way. Luckily, recovery from being White Barred is much easier than for the more severe Gray Bar penalty – per John Mueller, a high-level Google employee, many cases of White Bar penalties are just Google recrawling and reprocessing pages to understand the changes that have been made. Google takes reconsideration requests for this kind of thing regularly, and will quickly process these in most cases.
So, you’ve gone through the process of recovering from a manual action taken against your site. Will your site still be trusted moving forward?
From Google’s standpoint, the answer is yes. According to Mueller, the site’s algorithms are not capable of “holding a grudge” per se. Once a site has been cleaned up from a manual action, it will be treated as a totally legitimate site. Now, this doesn’t mean a site won’t suffer after a penalty – but in most cases, this is due to the underlying reasons for the penalty in the first place, such as poor content or poor link quality, rather than the actual penalty itself.