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What Is a Google Manual Penalty?


Previously we looked at blogging sites being affected by a Google Manual Penalty for disobeying the guidelines put out by Google regarding links in blogs where people were receiving free gifts and products in exchange for favourable reviews and links to the brand’s site. A Google Manual Penalty is issued following a warning from Google about low quality spammy links. The most common for receiving a manual penalty action, is the presence of  unnatural links.


These can be site wide match which can often stop an entire site being indexed by Google – meaning that even terms relating to your brand will not display your website. Partial match is aimed at specific links, pages or sections of a site.


What Can Cause a Google Manual Penalty?


There are a whole host of factors that lead to a Google Manual Penalty, most commonly this is because of unnatural links. These are broken down into three categories:


  • Unnatural Links to your site: Impact links – this is a message issued when it’s acknowledged that some links to your site may not be in your control. This is often considered the best of a bad bunch when it comes to a Google Manual Penalty because any action is taken against the specific inbound links and only devaluing them, without affecting overall rankings or indexing within Google.
  • Unnatural Links to your site – this is more problematic, as the manual penalty has been given to your site not just the incoming links. This often results in drops in keyword rankings or even pages not being indexed at all by Google. Looking through your Analytics you can pinpoint when this happened, then do backlink analysis and either remove or disavow spammy or low quality links.
  • Unnatural Links from your site – this is when Google discovers unnatural links from your site which breach guidelines. So for example a paid outbound link without being marked as sponsored, or links that have no relevance. In these situations, then you are responsible for your own fate as you can conform to the Google guidelines and have control over your own links.


Other Reasons For Receiving a Google Manual Penalty


There are a number of other reasons you can receive a Google Manual Penalty some of these include:


  • Thin content – Google expects and wants pages to have unique and useful content. Pages without this will not rank highly due to them being perceived as not giving value to the user.
  • Having a Hacked site – any form of malicious activity on your website is going to detract from the users experience as they don’t see what they are expecting to see. Google doesn’t want these results being manual-action-penaltyindexed and as such issues a penalty, once control has been regained and you can then resubmit.
  • Pure spam – this is using a variety of techniques to breach the guidelines – content copied from another site, automatically generating content, giving different content on a page to what is mentioned on a search engine. The way to recover this is to assess your site and ensure you aren’t breaking the rules.
  • User Generated Spam – this often found in comments sections, or on forums. It is a common form spammy link building, and something that Google cracks down on, therefore if there are a lot of fake comments designed to create spammy links, then the hosting site is punished, as they take the stance that webmasters should have a strong sense of control over what appears on their site.
  • Cloaking – this is when someone manipulates search results to show a different page to the search engine than to the user. This can also be done by redirecting the landing page to a different page after a short delay.
  • Keyword stuffing – overuse of keywords with little relevance to the content is one way of trying to boost rankings unnaturally that is punishable with a manual penalty
  • Hidden text – an older method of gaining rankings, is to hide text within code which breaches guidelines




Recovering From a Google Manual Penalty


Recovering from a Google Manual Penalty  is something that is done on a case by case basis. The best thing to do when creating a website, or adding content is to adhere to Google’s guidelines in order to avoid running the risk of being penalised.


If you have suffered a loss in rankings due to a Manual Penalty, then we can help you! We have a wealth of experience with SEO and can help recover from these penalties. Get in touch with us today if you’re worried about having received a penalty, or want expert help and advice on creating the right content for your site to be found and rank well!