Google Webmaster Tools Adds Manual Actions Viewer to Show When Your Site is Penalized

For some time now, Google has been sending notifications to site owners about manual webspam actions. But now site owners can now check Google Webmaster Tools at any time to see if they've incurred a manual action, Google has announced.

In the announcement, Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts said sites that have been affected will have site-wide matches or partial matches in the manual action viewer in Webmaster Tools. A partial match means the action only affected a certain area of the site.

Google Manual Actions

Cutts explained that in the hypothetical example in the image above, "the webmaster has a problem with other people leaving spam on mattcutts.com/forum/. By fixing this common issue, the webmaster can not only help restore his forum's rankings on Google, but also improve the experience for his users. Clicking the ‘Learn more' link will offer new resources for troubleshooting."

Manual actions are penalties that occur after a Google employee reviews a website and determines that it violates Google's guidelines. These are different than sites that are affected by algorithmic updates, such as Penguin or Panda.

Here's a 2012 Cutts video talking a little more about manual webspam actions, and when a removal versus a demotion can happen:

Cutts said in the announcement that "well under 2 percent of domains we've seen are manually removed for webspam," and that Google hopes the manual action viewer in Webmaster tools "reassures the vast majority of webmasters who have nothing to worry about."

But just how big is 2 percent? Last year at SES San Francisco, Cutts reported Google had seen 30 trillion URLs (not domains, mind you, but that's still massive).

So while 2 percent may not be huge in the big scheme of things, a lot of sites are potentially affected every month by these manual actions. Cutts said Google hopes the new feature will assist those who "have real webspam issues to address" and will help speed up the troubleshooting process.

If you've been affected by a manual action and have identified the problem, Cutts said to correct your misdoings by reviewing Google's quality guidelines, and then requesting reconsideration.

For more tips on this process, check out how to request reconsideration and tactics for what to do after your penalty has been lifted.

UPDATE: Google posted the following message on August 9: "Unfortunately we've hit a snag during our feature deployment, so it will be another couple days before the feature is available to everyone. We will post another update once the feature is fully rolled out."

About the author

Jessica Lee is a marketer specializing in web content strategy and B2B/B2C writing. Since 2005, Jessica has been in the business of content and communications, with the past several years focused on the web marketing space.

Prior to launching her consulting business, bizbuzzcontent, Jessica was responsible for content strategy, development and marketing for Bruce Clay Inc. – a global SEO firm, where she served small businesses and Fortune 500 clients. Jessica's background also includes positions in traditional marketing, communications, broadcasting and publishing.

Jessica has a bachelor's in communications and public relations from San Diego State University. She also contributed to the book “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” 2nd edition.