How to Deal with a Google Manual Penalty and What to Do Once It’s Been Removed!

May 1, 2013   //   by Sandy Pardal   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  10 Comments

serp-penaltyGoogle search penalties have become so frequent, right? The worst part about such penalties is that your site can face the heat even if it has a single page of spam. I’m sure you heard about the manual penalty levied on Mozilla. After Google detected user-generated spam, they sent Chris More (Web Production Manager at Mozilla) a notice about the manual penalty.

There are several cases like these.

It’s not just small business websites or blogs that face manual penalties from time to time. Even big brands around the globe are hit with manual penalties by Google. Though you make every effort (most importantly after Google’s Panda and Penguin release), manual penalties are sometime unavoidable. Many times, you won’t even be able to know why you got into trouble.

Google search penalties can be broadly categorized into –

  • Manual Penalties
  • Algorithmic Penalties

However, in both the cases you are sure to lose keyword rankings for some or all of your site’s content, which had good rankings earlier.

You may be ready to deal with a manual penalty by Google when you know the reasons (i.e. you get a notice). But what to do when you don’t have the slightest idea as to why your website was penalized?

It happens many times.

This is what you should do when you have no idea what’s gone wrong with your website or blog – go to Google’s Webmaster Central help forum.

If you are not sure what might have gone wrong with your website, the first thing to do is to figure out why you’re in trouble. According to Matt Cutts (the head of web spam team at Google), Google’s webmaster help forum has plenty of experts who will provide you adequate help. You can submit your site there are post your questions or ask for recommendations.

Many times, the answers that you get on the forum will be excellent, golden pieces of advice. However, sometimes these volunteers might not be able to cite the exact reasons as to why a site was penalized.

Though this is an excellent web forum to seek help, you should also keep your eyes and ears open before arriving at a decision.

Filing a reconsideration request is yet another way of collecting more details of the manual penalty imposed by Google. If you are not satisfied with what you are advised on Google’s Webmaster Central help forum, you can file a reconsideration request so Google itself can provide you more details. If you know the problems already, you can fix the issues first and then file a reconsideration request to get your site back into the Google search results.

After the Manual Penalty is Removed …
Since you already faced a manual penalty, you wouldn’t want to get into the same trouble again. Therefore, it’s important to take a microscopic look at your website and take the safer route.

Once the penalty has been removed, it’s high time to get the basic issues with your SEO fixed as quickly as possible. For example, your website’s internal architecture should be in order. The source code must also be clean. Duplicate or low quality content should be removed, even if it’s in the least quantity.

At the same time, you should quickly launch a link building campaign in order to generate top quality backlinks for your site.

Even if you were able to recover from a Google manual penalty first time, it may not be the same with a second penalty. Worse still, you may not be able to get rid of a second Google manual penalty at all!

Here is a short video where Matt Cutts talks about manual penalties vs algo updates.

Please feel free to share your opinions.

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Sandy Pardal

An avid blogger, Sandy Pardal leads the team of creative people at WebStartToday, which is a free web builder. Online marketing comes to him as a deep passion. He likes to experiment with websites, track their performances and share his insights with readers.

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  • Keith says:

    I, unfortunately, faced a manual penalty on my raw food site, which I believe was the result of outsourcing some article spinning. They submitted crap, and A LOT of it. I submitted some links (a massive amount) to the disavow tool.. and I submitted for approval and they sent a general response with a decline. I really need to get on it because I had 10x the traffic before that!

    • I really think that disavow links is the better solution to get rid of low quality links.
      Fortunately this never happened with me because I am really cautious about my link building strategy. I try to do it as natural as possible.
      Nice post by the way.

  • Lee Keadle says:

    Does Google always send notices to the website owner if they get penalized? I never received an official notice, yet I have many indications that my site is currently being penalized for some reason (loss of traffic, severe drop in SERPS).

    • Priveyo says:

      @Lee Keadle, a SERP drop doesn’t mean you are being penalize by Google. Sometimes maybe there are improvements on the competitor side. One way to distinguish penalty vs. loosing rankings is to identify if the effect is site wide. I mean does all of your keywords disappeared on the SERPs? if it does then it’s a penalty. But if some of your keywords are still there then your loosing rankings. Identify weak pages and improve it or delete it, a weak page can affect your other page performance. That’s the effect of the Panda update. Page relevance and website theming play a big role nowadays.

  • Eddie Gear says:

    While its good to clean up the web of SPAM, I believe Google is also making things really difficult for bloggers big and small to get their content found on the web. Google really needs to come up with a more robust strategy and also with a system that will help businesses recover from penalties.

  • Greg

    I’ve written a few posts on this subject myself. Google is definitely tightening the noose on spammers, but so much so that their algorithm seems to be very sensitive. So much so that it seems to be adopting a policy of penalise now, ask questions later for websites that have nothing but honest intentions.

  • Kamil says:

    Just prevent pissing Google off in the first place.

  • Carl

    I doubt that difference can be though, but more often I see quality websites banned for no reason or just because something tricky factor doesn’t meet Google guidelines. However, I am quite happy that Google started publishing videos on official channel and nearly on daily basis publish new article at Webmaster Central blog.

  • We need to start following more of the videos and blog post by Matt Cutts so we can stay on top of their changes and rules.

    Sometimes you can tick Google off and not even know your doing it. But knowing what they like and why they like it can go a long way in keeping out of the Google Penalty box.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Troy says:

    Thanks for outlining what’s going on here. I haven’t had any issues with this, but I always appreciate a heads-up post on what the latest ways you can get yourself in trouble are. It seems this time maybe Google is taking a bit too heavy-handed of an approach?