Google’s manual penalties differ from algorithmic updates such as Panda for content or Penguin for links. Those updates can also be perceived as penalties since sites also tend to lose their organic search visibility as a result. However, Google manual penalties are triggered by a manual change to your site. They’re done by Google’s reviewers, who will assess your site following Google’s quality guidelines.
If the reviewers find that your site is not following Google’s quality guidelines, you’ll receive a manual action notice in the relevant site’s Google Search Console, explaining how the site is not compliant with the guidelines and whether this is happening in certain pages or at a site level.
Manual penalties are usually sent for the following actions:
The “thin content pages” penalty is one of the most common content-related penalties, shown usually for sites with:
If your site suffers from this or another type of content quality penalty, the initial step is to find your poor-quality pages. Then you need to decide whether to improve their content so those page start featuring specifically relevant and unique text content that delivers value to the user or to prevent their getting indexed by 301-redirecting or canonicalizing the poor-quality pages to better content page versions or noindexing the weak pages with a meta robots noindex, follow tag.
In the case of the link-related penalties, some of the unnatural links that can cause trouble are:
Ideally, you should work on a day-to-day basis to avoid suffering a penalty. In the case of the link-related ones, you should prune your bad links by using various link resources. Categorize and analyze them in order to identify those that are very low-quality and/or following an unnatural pattern.
Only eliminate unnatural links that are really hurting your site. Although certain tools can help with this process, to avoid further errors, it is critical to understand that this process shouldn’t be completely automated.
One of the most common issues in the link-pruning process is finding that certain links cannot be removed from the sites where they have been placed. In this case, you can use Google’s own disavow tool, which can be found in the Search Console.
After you take these actions to make sure your site’s page content and links now comply with Google’s quality standard, you should then submit a reconsideration request, for which you are reminded to:
If you want more details about Google’s manual penalties, read Search Engine Land’s own Google Penalties Guide.
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