Google: If Content Isn't Changed, Manual Actions Won't Be Removed

May 16, 2014 • 8:25 am | comments (41) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Penalty CardsAn interesting Google Webmaster Help thread has a webmaster who has a manual action, he said he removed the content, and even left the page blank but the manual action won't go away.

Google's John Mueller explained why in an interesting way. He wrote:

If there's no content on these pages, there's nothing that users would be missing by lifting a manual action. If you'd like your reconsideration request to be processed, you really need to first have unique, compelling, and high-quality content of your own on these pages (not just rewritten, spun, autogenerated, or otherwise reused content).

You see, he said "if there's no content on these pages, there's nothing that users would be missing by lifting a manual action."

That is true, but if the manual action was for the content, then if it is gone - shouldn't it be removed. That is an assumption that here the penalty is for content.

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you all because the response was pretty interesting.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Gaurav Srivastava

05/16/2014 12:34 pm

It means, first need to change the whole content of page then submit reconsider request?


05/16/2014 01:26 pm


Todd Foster

05/16/2014 01:26 pm

I don't see why someone should HAVE to write a unique post. If they have removed the content, they have removed the problem.

Gaurav Srivastava

05/16/2014 01:28 pm

What if it is not Panda penalty, it is Penguin penalty??

Georgi Georgiev

05/16/2014 01:31 pm

Makes a bit of sense, especially if the manual action was done page-level, not site-level. However, if this is the case, then there is nothing stopping the person from creating other URLs with the same content. If, however, he removed the content and there was a site-level penalty because of that particular content, not lifting the penalty is, to say the least, strange.


05/16/2014 01:33 pm

I think it concerns only Panda penalty

Josh Zehtabchi

05/16/2014 01:37 pm

What about simply deleting the content and page URL and focus on a new URL with fresh content? I'm not sure if I fully follow the logic behind the initial question.

Marie Haynes

05/16/2014 01:41 pm

That really is an interesting comment from John. I took a look at the question and I think it's important to note that this was a webmaster who ran over 100 adult sites and all were given a pure spam penalty. So, just wiping the sites clean is not going to make Google want to reinclude them in the index.

Marie Haynes

05/16/2014 01:42 pm

This issue was for a manual spam action for "pure spam" which is a different thing entirely than Panda and Penguin which are algorithmic actions.

Michael Martinez

05/16/2014 02:04 pm

They don't HAVE to rely on Google for traffic, either. Playing in Google's index is a matter of choice for everyone, even though most Website owners never try to do anything to "optimize" for that.

Durant Imboden

05/16/2014 02:26 pm

An empty page? The guy isn't just a spammer, he's a smartass.

Ashutosh R

05/16/2014 02:34 pm

I think the webmaster might be a great player to make Google play likewise. :P Here it seems he left ample doubts for Google (to don't lift the penalty) by not adding the content which he would add on the page once manual penalty removed. :) Google has clearly said they will remove the manual penalties only if they are sure the said webmasters won't repeat the wrong.

F1 Steve

05/16/2014 02:36 pm

I have to say, I don't see why google should re include blank pages that he could simply refill with the same stuff once the penalty is lifted. If he made the effort to fill them with new stuff, sure why not? It would be less likely he would revert it after taking the time to build new content! People like this deserve to be punished and these are the cases they should go after and publishes, it would help their PR massively, punishing Joe plumber who once hired some guy who built some links to his very good local website? That doesn't help anyone the user or the owners, just AdWords!! Have a good weekend Durant, catch you next week same place?


05/16/2014 03:42 pm

btw, does he know about panda and penguin :P


05/16/2014 04:18 pm

No... its am important point. Google won't lift a penalty if you remove offending content. It is an escalation in their punishment champaign. Its a stupid policy because it just increases the value of content spinning which is also black hat. This is another example of how Google creates the black hat problem they are fighting against. If they would just reward good behavior instead of punishing bad then most blackhat tactics would become pointless to the blackhat community.

Durant Imboden

05/16/2014 05:34 pm

So you're saying that Google should lift a penalty if a site owner replaces a spam page with a blank page, and that publishing blank pages is "good behavior"? IMHO, Google and users would be better off if the penalty were left in place indefinitely. Google doesn't owe this guy a lesson in what useful content is, and searchers aren't going to be hurt if a spammer is the victim of his own hubris or self-imposed ignorance.


05/16/2014 05:48 pm

Reminds me of an Adwords account I was handed after the clients had got their account suspended. Googles ToS and Policy had changed, advertisers had to have certain verbiage on the landing pages to be able to run ad's on Google. The industry ToS had changed in Payday Loans, we were running ad's for Insurance. The PayDay sites had not been run in a year. They got suspended for the PayDay stuff even though the site had not run ad's for over a year. The Insurance was still in compliance but because the PayDay stuff was outdatred the whole account was suspended. Just because it isnt currently live and was at one time in the Google account it had to be rebuilt and updated for the suspension to be lifted... again, just because it was at one time in the account. Affiliates dont always have control over some of the sites they run ad's to, but the account could be lost if the Site Owner (merchant or publisher) didnt stay up to date. The content, verbiage had to be changed is my point. If we didnt have control over the old site we would have lost the account completely. Pretty twisted for Google to lay blame on an advertiser and not the publisher in this scenario. Rewarding quality or not counting the page at all if it isnt quality would be a much better option imho.


05/16/2014 06:32 pm

seroundtable had manual actions against it last year. So are you saying it should be punished indefinitely? Not every violation is spam... Removing the content in contention is remedy. For example in very large sites where Google may object to a part of a page you can have cases where removal of a part of a page could leave you with occasional blank pages. I understand your mentality of "screw them all and damn the circumstances", but that is what causes large scale collateral damage.

Barry Schwartz

05/16/2014 06:46 pm

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? :)


05/16/2014 06:59 pm

And to answer your question. My use of "good behavior" is that Google is spinning its wheels punishing the bad. Every black hat knows that Google penalties are far easier to weaponize than Google rewards. If google put more emphasis on things like "good standing with BBB" and "won these noteworthy awards" and "publicly traded with a favorable PE ratio", "years without a manual action" then you would WANT people to game those kinds of factors...they could be transparent with factors like that. Google is obviously going down a rabbit hole with it's "whack a mole" punishment strategy.


05/16/2014 07:12 pm

Its less than 10% of my business. While I want all revenue to grow I do get nervous when PPC and organic grow as a percentage of total.


05/16/2014 07:19 pm

*slap* no really... *slap*... :)

Marie Haynes

05/17/2014 02:49 pm

You can put whatever you want on your website. But Google has the right to decide whether or not they want to include it in their search engine results. Previously, this site was one that Google decided they did not want to show to searchers. In order to convince Google that the site really is worthy to be seen, the site owner now has to prove that it contains something of value. Changing it to a blank page did not accomplish that.

Jon Hogg

05/17/2014 08:12 pm

They should lift the penalty and let the algorithm take care of inclusion/exclusion naturally. That would make more sense


05/17/2014 10:56 pm

So, I guess we should all be considering changing content whenever there is a penalty. This reply from Google shows that penalties affect the content and not the manual action! Interesting revelation!I have shared this comment in - the content syndication and social marketing platform for Internet marketers, where this post was shared. Sunday - contributor


05/18/2014 12:03 am

i can confirm that works.


05/18/2014 12:09 am

irrelevent nonsense.

Terry Van Horne

05/18/2014 03:05 am

well it is not just about penalized content... how about a GoogleBot that still tries to index pages that have not existed for 10 years... I 404ed them three re-builds ago the extensions used on the site have changed four times from html, ASP parsing an .HTML, ASP and PHP. I think there are pages in the index that are some sort of token to something else and no matter what you do those pages never leave the index... I think they know a lot of content is being taken down...but will be re-purposed in the future I think they want to tag it when it does.

Terry Van Horne

05/18/2014 03:15 am

Utter have clearly not clue one what you are talking about. If you have a manual penalty the first thing you do is evaluate the content the links are pointing at. If the content is not worth the effort you 410 the pages to break those links... I have done this to a whole site where we broke all the links and the www canonical to the homepage. We had the manual removed immediately. We fixed the home page by setting the new default in GWT. I should go back and ask the client if they have started getting rankings back

Terry Van Horne

05/18/2014 03:20 am

but he did not remove the content as far as Google is concerned because he did not 404/410 the page so it sends a 200 response code it's a HTML page and therefore content...clearly you have no clue what you are talking about

Terry Van Horne

05/18/2014 03:25 am

so you pay to get into BBB so in that case I'd rather just give my $'s to Google...not a BS legalized extortion ring that badgers people into joining to get rid of BS complaints...go cry somewhere else and leave us to finding a real solution instead of pointing fingers at bad bad Google and adding to the blackhat FUD

Soni Sharma

05/18/2014 08:34 am

he was trying to be smart.... :)

Jitendra Vaswani

05/19/2014 05:58 am

He is kickass spammer :P


05/19/2014 01:25 pm

This makes sense to me. By the sounds of it, the site went from having poor quality content to no content at all. Why would Google want to lift a manual action (that we assume is content based) if the site has has nothing to offer a user?


05/19/2014 01:53 pm

If there are links to them on another website, this will happen as long as the links exist. Google is just checking to see if a page now exists there and is entirely normal.


05/19/2014 04:48 pm

Your definition of remove content is simply different than mine.


05/19/2014 04:49 pm

But Google is " a BS legalized extortion ring that badgers people into joining to get rid of BS complaints".


05/19/2014 04:55 pm

Your opinions... the article is contrary to what you are saying... and what you have done in the past may not work now or in the future.


05/21/2014 09:30 am

First it depends on the type of penalty. It's not as simple as you put it. Bottom line is no matter how you identify the specific page with the manual action you really only have 2 options. 1) the above mentioned and I agree that would work but it is the easy way out and when Google comes looking for the page... Not there so overall no improvement to the site. 2) update the page and this time think one thing only... User experience, now you're site has a net improvement. I love reading how everyone gets so frustrated with Google. Just make you site relevant and informative. We all have seen sites that give you what you're looking for. This isn't rocket science. I tell my clients to think of there site as a novel or magazine. Would people want to read it? Do you think you have a possible best seller? If not then don't expect to see results. The web is no different than anything else we consume. If you don't like the book analogy then use a restaurant. Do you give good service, value, unique foods, has it been done before? If it has been done before then do it better, faster and with a unique flavor. Don't hate Google cause they try to automate what an editor or food critic does. The system will never be perfect as long as a computer tries to act like a human. Trends change to fast for Google to adapt! Anyone agree?

Terry Van Horne

05/21/2014 04:45 pm

Actually it doesn't matter the penalty because shit content is shit content and if it is useless I don't care how good the UX it still is shit! It is not going to ferment and suddenly be awesome. I have been doing forensic SEO for over a decade and have never seen a case where all the problems don't start with the content or the programming of the content and the fact it must manufacture links to rank because it's shit and no one in their right mind would link to it "because it is good for their users".


05/25/2014 04:28 am

How does it not matter the type of penalty?? . You can have awesome content and some idiot gives you a sitewide link on garbage site with 10k pages in a blog network. Bam manual action unnatural links. Your page drops 30 pages in Google. Of course it matters. Please tell me you in your forensic SEO you have done a Penguin recovery? If you have you would never say it doesn't matter about the nature of the "penalty", algo bound or not. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say that I don't understand your comments and you meant something else. No worries.

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