What Google’s Manual Action Penalties Mean for SEO

Webmasters are constantly hoping to avoid Google penalties, especially wide algorithm sweeps that are common and can damage organic search traffic. There can often be nothing more damaging to SEO or an internet marketing company than major Google penalties.

There are several other penalties Google can assess to help keep you in line with guidelines, however. One of the key ones is manual action, where Google personally reviews your website and may assign you penalties in several different areas. How does manual action work, and what are some of the most common examples? Let’s give it a look.

What is Manual Action?

Google employs teams to manually review individual websites for content and following of Webmaster Guidelines. If they find irregularities, they can assign your site a rank penalty – this is the most common type of Google penalty out there.

Google will send you a Manual Actions report if they’ve penalized your site in this manner. Once you’ve fixed the area(s) they’ve noted, you can request a review of your situation and get your rank back.

What are some of the most common manual actions taken against sites?


Most of the time, spam is coming from users rather than from you as a site host. Google doesn’t care, though – it’s your job to handle that end of things, and they might flag you for not cleaning up comments in blogs or forum pages. There are several basic anti-spam tools within WordPress and other processors, though some of this will have to be done manually for anything that gets through the filters.

Hacked Site

Once again, while this might not be your fault and you may have taken all the precautions you could, Google will put this on you. Luckily, they’ve also provided some guidelines for fixing things if you’ve been hacked.

Bad Content

Google doesn’t want to promote content that’s thin, auto-generated or duplicated from other sites (or your own), and you could get a manual action penalty for this. If this happens, you’ll need to eliminate redundancies and focus on being more creative and unique with your content.


Google doesn’t like sneaky redirects that try to fool them or customers, and they don’t like cloaking (where you show certain things to Google but certain other things to your site visitors). Sometimes you won’t know cloaking is happening on your site, but there are tools to check for it. You should also check your redirects and make sure they’re routing to proper and relevant locations.

Bad Links

Google will give out two kinds of “Unnatural Links” penalties: Links to your site, and links from your site. They don’t want people exchanging or buying links as a way to manipulate their ranking systems, and they don’t want spam or auto-generated links. They might be stringent in requiring you to clean up all your links before they’ll reconsider your request.

SEOWerkz is a premier SEO and internet marketing company, and our expert staff is standing by to answer any and all questions about Google penalties or any other segment of the industry.

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