Check Search Engine Penalty
Why check for penalty
As I wrote a hub about getting backlinks, someone commented that when he exchanged links with a few sites, his ranking in SERPS dropped. My reply was that he might have exchanged links with a site that was penalized by search engines. It was then that I thought about writing a hub about checking a penalized site so that it will be a bit easier for you to choose sites for exchanging links. This article is mainly about penalization by Google as other search engines are not known to apply much penalties but the same applies to other search engines other than the page rank(its not that they don't maintain PR of a site, they do so secretly).
This hub will also help you check if your own site or blog is penalized. So here are a few ways to check if your or someone else's website/blog is penalized.
Zero Page Rank
The site is up for 8 months or more and still have a Page Rank(PR) 0. If you see a good looking website with a zero PR, check how long it has been up and if it has been up for a long time then there is a big chance that this site is penalized by Google.
Few Indexed Pages
Google has indexed very fewpages of that site. Example the site has 400 pages and Google has 70 or so in its index.
To check the indexed pages, go to www.google.com and in the search bar write "site:www.example.com" without quotes. Don't forget to replace example with site's url.
Site not shown in SERPS
Site is indexed but is no where to be seen in SERPS(Search Engine Result Pages). Search some main keywords for that site and see if it can be found anywhere in the first 10 pages or so and if it is not there then it is penalized.
What to do if your site is penalized?
If your site is penalized by Google then you don't have much chances of penalty getting removed whatever you do unless Google itself realizes that Penalty should be removed. Still if you want to try, just write to Google from your Google Webmasters account. They(Google) want you to confess all your wrong-doings in front of the Google priest. Once you do that, you will be told to wait for a few weeks and even after 6 months you won't get a reply. By confessing I mean tell them anything you might possibly have done wrong like hiring a SEO specialist whose tactics must have gone wrong. Don't get very hopeful as Google won't reply. Just be patient and try to optimize your site for other big search engines like Yahoo and Bing.