Google Penalty Basics, Part 1June 17, 2021
When it comes to the world of online marketing and SEO, Google is the overlord that all other entities look to. Their actions require responses from all SEO pros on the market, and one set of important actions here are Google penalties – and the way you can go about recovering from them if you receive them.
Another term for these penalties is “manual actions,” or specific steps Google will take that limit or even completely remove your site’s ability to be indexed and be part of searches. In part one of this two-part blog, we’ll look at the different types of manual actions, the history of these kinds of penalties in the past, and the most severe kind of penalty you can currently receive from Google.
Manual Action Types
Per John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst with Google, there are two broad types of manual actions:
- Complete and total removal of a given site from search and all indexing
- Partial removal from search queries
These manual actions are different in both scope and severity, with the former being by far the most severe and completely removing a site from search and indexing. Essentially, the site does not exist in Google’s eyes when this penalty is levied. More on this below.
In the old days when Google’s PageRank Toolbar used to be functional and regularly updated, it would be a great indicator of whether a site was at risk for penalties. Its bar-style meter would show a score from 1-10 indicating the level of PageRank it was currently at. The bar would show green in this scale, but could also turn a couple different colors to indicate a penalty:
- White bar: Being White Barred meant that the PageRank meter was showing a white bar. This meant that either your site lacked the requisite number of links to register any PageRank, or simply that your PageRank had been manually reset to zero by Google
- Grey bar: This was the worst sign you could get from PageRank, an indicator that your site had been completely banned from Google’s index and Google did not crawl or acknowledge your site at all. It also no longer showed your site’s results even if searches were done including the name of the site.
Severe Manual Penalty
Per Mueller, the primary reasons for the severe manual penalty that removes a site fully from Google are pretty basic. Websites that have been copied from elsewhere, or those that are simply scraped or spun content, will generally get this penalty.
If you’re able to clean your site up well, this penalty can be removed. This process will generally take several weeks at a minimum – even once you’ve fixed things, it will take Google some time to notice that your website is actually producing good content worthy of indexing.