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Can “Soft Penalty” Be A Cause For Losing Search Rankings? : Answered


“Both of my websites have been hit by different updates, around 90% drops and are suffering from some type of flag that is suppressing our sites until the soft penalty is lifted.

Or… is there even a soft penalty?”

This is the question asked by an attendee of Google’s Office Hours Hangout. 

The term “soft penalty” has been floating around for quite some time now and with Google’s search ranking updates, webmasters whose websites have been assigned a “flag” would raise a genuine doubt about whether it could be a response to some sort of “sort penalty.”

What Was Google’s Response? 


However, the answer given by Google’s representative was no. They further clarified that the new updates rolled out on Search Central would not necessarily give a flag or a soft penalty unless they are completely off the guidelines. 

Moreover, it was explained that they are modifications to the ranking algorithms that present searchers with even higher quality and more pertinent results. 

Consider how you may make your site better overall, in terms of content and user experience, and you might be able to boost your rankings once more.

So How & When Can Rankings Drop If It’s Not A “Soft Penalty?”

Non-penalty ranking decreases can have a variety of causes, including the following:

  • Concerns with the content. Check out Google’s helpful content update to know more about this. 
  • Google has improved its understanding of search queries.
  • Quality problems
  • Simply put, a rival has superior material.

When a site loses rankings following an update to the core algorithm, Google first suggested that there is nothing to be fixed. They also suggested upgrading the content, both these responses are quite contradictory. 

However, what makes sense is that Google is paying attention to high-quality content and your website is losing its rankings. It’s best to first check and update relevant, meaningful and credible content on the website. 

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