Google: A Webmaster Tools Notification = Manual Action

Jun 6, 2012 • 9:21 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Webmaster Tools Notification - ManualYesterday in the SMX Advanced You&A with Matt Cutts, we learned a lot of new things but one of the biggest items that stood out to me was that of how we can know if a penalty was manual vs automated.

Google's Matt Cutts made it crystal clear last night. If you get those Google Webmaster Tools notifications or messages, that means you have been hit by a manual penalty done by a person at Google after reviewing your site by hand.

Got that?

Getting one of those messages will not tell you if you were hit by an algorithmic penalty, although that would be nice. It only tells you if you were hit by a penalty done by a Googler after inspecting your site and classifying as not complying with Google's webmaster guidelines.

Matt said that 99% of people who are hit with a manual penalty will receive the message now. Compared to several months ago where they did not send out these messages to even close to 99%.

So if you get a message, you need to make an "earnest effort" to clean up the site and then submit a reconsideration request

Personally, I alway thought it was a mixture of automated and manual messages in webmaster tools. I was wrong and this is good to know.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Pankaj Dhingra

06/06/2012 01:38 pm



06/06/2012 02:30 pm

Well, SEO guys must know the penalty nature. Because sooner or later the dirty tricks they used, will be caught and penalized. They have to know what to expect and what to do after. Like relations between criminals and the law )

obvious man

06/06/2012 04:46 pm

More smoke blowing up our rears. Read many people that have those notices and rankings are unchanged months later. Half of what Cutts says is really good info, the other half is FUD talk and one day people will figure it out.

Tad Chef

06/06/2012 09:29 pm

Matt Cutts later clarified that there is "the manual webspam team" that reviews sites. It must be huge to check out the 700k sites notified in January/February alone.


06/06/2012 09:58 pm His update now confuses me ... was the "unnatural link warning" manual or automated?


06/07/2012 02:51 am

I have to say I am very suspicious of this claim. There are reports that hundreds of thousands of webmasters got hit with these messages with in a month. For a company that likes to preach that it does everything algorithmically (is that a word?) That is a lot of people doing stuff manually!


06/07/2012 05:09 am

It's possible to file for reconsideration when you get sent one of these letters. The manual webspam team will take a while to look at your site on top of others, but it's a good bid for getting back into the rankings.


06/07/2012 05:20 am

I don't think every notification from webmaster tools could be considered as a manual action. There are notifications like "Possible outages", "Big traffic change for top URL" and so. But any notification regarding links could be a manual action

Russ Offord

06/07/2012 03:57 pm

Barry, you said: "Matt Cutts made it crystal clear last night. If you get those [GWT messages], that means you have been hit by a manual penalty..." I'm not sure this statement is accurate/true. I have seen a website receive a GWT message regarding unnatural links (well before Penguin hit) and they did not end up receiving any (noticeable) penalty yet... no massive traffic losses, no large ranking drops out of the ordinary. Perhaps the GWT message could sometimes just be a warning of imminent danger of being hit by a penalty, but does not necessarily mean that you HAVE received a penalty. Barry, in your real time coverage of the SMX conference you show that Matt Cutts said this: "...typically if you get a notification you will see a downgrade in rankings." I post this to show that Matt said 'typically'... perhaps meaning not 'always'. Your thoughts? Sincerely, Russ Offord

Barry Schwartz

06/07/2012 04:38 pm

Live blogging is not word for word. Google never says 100% on anything, it is just the way they talk.

Russ Offord

06/07/2012 05:22 pm

right, but... I was referring to your statement in this blog post saying "Google's Matt Cutts made it crystal clear last night. If you get those Google Webmaster Tools notifications or messages, that means you have been hit by a manual penalty" ... I'm objecting to that statement in particular and using the other live blog as supporting evidence.

Barry Schwartz

06/07/2012 05:56 pm

No, he made it crystal clear. Also see


06/07/2012 06:36 pm

couldn't agree more.

Russ Offord

06/07/2012 07:20 pm

Perhaps we are talking apples/oranges here. I guess I am just complaining about your post title, then... "Google: A Webmaster Tools Notification = Manual Action". The 3% 'unnatural link warning' messages of the 700,000 sent means that the messages don't ALWAYS = Manual Action (aka Penalty)... maybe you can can say 'almost always = manual action' then, if you feel 3% is 'almost always' haha ;)

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