Manual Action

What is Manual Action?

Manual action is an enforcement process used by Google as a last resort when it finds that a website violates the Google Search Essentials. These violations include engaging in unethical SEO practices or hosting content that contains malicious code.

When Google finds a website guilty of one or more of these violations, it may issue a manual action penalty against it. That can severely reduce its visibility in Google search results. These penalties can be applied manually or automatically. However, manual action penalties are usually more severe than automated ones.

Simply put -- when your website has violated Google's guidelines, the Google search quality team takes action against your website. This can range from reducing the visibility of your content in the search engine results page (SERP) to even completely removing all your content from their index.

Why It Matters

Manual actions prevent websites from manipulating search engine rankings using unethical tactics. This ensures that only legitimate websites appear at the top of the (SERP) when people perform searches.

Manual action can have a major impact on your business. People will less likely to find and visit your website through search engines. This can lead to reduced traffic and sales, meaning it’s important to ensure you don’t get caught up in a manual action situation.

Signs of a Manual Action Penalty

  • If you receive an email from Google Search Console notifying you that they have detected something wrong with your website’s content or links
  • If you notice that your website’s traffic suddenly drops off and all the pages are ranking lower than usual in the SERPs

How To Avoid Manual Action

Manual action penalties from Google or other search engines can be detrimental to businesses that rely on organic traffic from these sources. Fortunately, here are key tips for avoiding manual action penalties on your site:

  • Keep your content fresh and up-to-date.
  • Make sure your links are relevant and authoritative. Linking out to low-quality websites can get you penalized by Google. 
  • Prevent user-generated spam on your website and platform. Inform site and mobile users that your service does not allow spam. 
  • Do not engage in shady SEO tactics like keyword stuffing or link spamming.
  • Follow all local regulations for online advertising and data privacy.
  • Avoid using malicious code on your website and structured data that falls outside Google's quality guidelines.

How To Lift a Manual Penalty

Here are steps you can take to lift the penalty and get back on track:

Step 1: Analyzing the penalties

You can do this by going into the Manual Actions report section on Google Search Console. You'll be able to check for any messages about specific violations or unnatural links. Once you've identified the problem, it's time to resolve it.

Step 2: Removing unnatural links

To remove these links, start by finding out who owns them and then contact them directly to ask them to take down the link(s). If they don't respond or comply, then use the Disavow Tool in Search Console to disavow those links so that Google's search algorithm ignores them.

Step 3: Reconsideration request

Once all your unnatural links have been removed and/or disavowed, it's time to submit a Reconsideration Request in Search Console. This is where you explain exactly what actions have been taken and why those actions were necessary.

Note: Be sure to be thorough and include any relevant evidence so that your request will be accepted quickly.

Don't worry if you face a manual penalty; just remember these steps, and your website will be up and running soon!