Every Google Manual Action Impacts Your Site Or Pages On Your Site

Sep 11, 2013 • 9:19 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Webmaster ToolsFor some reason, I was under the impression that there was one manual action that Google sends out to some webmasters that is a warning of something that looks spammy but no negative manual action was taken on the site.

I was wrong.

Former Googler, who worked in the manual actions team, Kaspar Szymanski, posted on Google+ that any web spam related manual action always impacts part of all of the site in a negative way.

Kaspar said:

To be absolutely clear: some WMT messages can be just warnings as for instance you've got a ton of 404's my friend, everything ok with your site?. These are generally technical escalations. However when it comes to web spam related messages, they specify that some manual action (not an algorithmic recalculation) has been taken, all of them. The impact of that manual action can be imminent or not, that depends on a number of factors though.

I tried to look back at an example of a manual action notification that I thought did not impact the site, but maybe it had to do the the granular penalties we've seen?

Kaspar's advice:

It is very important to take such warnings seriously. They are not sent likely and should be considered a wake up call. If received first thing to do is to take a long, hard look at the site's backlink profile and compare it against Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Please don't ignore Webmaster Tools Messages!

Forum discussion at Google+.

Previous story: Give Examples: Is Google Lying To Us?


Marie Haynes

09/11/2013 04:39 pm

I can understand why people are confused. Here is the message you get if you have a partial action on your site: "Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing to pages on this site. Some links may be outside of the webmaster’s control, so for this incident we are taking targeted action on the unnatural links instead of on the site’s ranking as a whole. " It makes it sound like you don't need to do anything because Google is already discounting the links. But, IMO, if you get one of these messages you are lucky because it gives you great incentive to clean up your site. In doing so, you can hopefully avoid algorithmic issues with your links such as Penguin. I have found that every site that has one of these messages has to do immense work to get rid of the warning message. It's definitely not the case that you've just got a few unnatural links and Google is discounting them and you don't need to do anything on your part.

josh bachynski (SEO)

09/11/2013 04:47 pm

Hey Marie I have to respectfully disagree :-) If the action is just on links, then there is nothing to do. They have already ignored the links in question. DIGGING INTO YOUR LINKS AND DISAVOWING SOME WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT YOU ARE DOING WILL MUCH MORE LIKELY HURT YOUR RANKINGS - sorry not yelling at ya but many, many people come to me AFTER they have already shot their backlink profile in the foot :-) There are MUCH better ways to spend your SEO time, like making your site better and improving usage

Marie Haynes

09/11/2013 05:07 pm

I hear what you're saying Josh. But, do we know if these bad links are being discounted in regards to Penguin? I think they still could hurt your site. I think that Penguin has to do with the overall trust level that Google places on your links. I could be wrong, but I think that sitting there with a partial manual action cannot be good. And if I understand Barry's article correctly, he is saying that this former Google employee is saying that any manual action impacts the site negatively.

josh bachynski (SEO)

09/11/2013 05:13 pm

I take a slightly different approach. Yes if you lose some links your site's ranking is impacted. Doesn't mean there is anyway to fix it. Doesn't mean there is an action on the site. They explicitly say there is not. And doing risky things (like disavowing links) based only on suspicion penguin MIGHT work that way, is a risky plan at best ;p when we know disavowal risks further impacting your site's rankings too. ;p

John E Lincoln

09/11/2013 06:05 pm

Josh, I know you have been saying this but I feel like you jumped the gun just a little. Google is taking action on the links, but they also want you to block those. I've done a lot of disavows at this point, when you block the bad links and then do a reinclusion traffic goes up and the penalty goes away. Google has all of this double talk. I really think Jon Mueller got caught in a corner with that question and now is just sticking to his answer. So I dont think you need to do anything, but the best approach is still to deal with the notification. I got one removed "action vs links" for a client the other day and rankings went up. So much grey area and double talk... Anyways, I respect what you do so dont take this comment the wrong way. @johnelincoln


09/11/2013 07:39 pm

Long hard what?

Ashish Yadav

09/12/2013 08:08 am

What your opinion about these kinds of manual action msg? Hacked site "Some pages on this site may have been hacked by a third party to display spammy content or links. You should take immediate action to clean your site and fix any security vulnerabilities. "

sunil kumar

09/12/2013 11:06 am

Google is always cleaver than you :-)


09/12/2013 11:19 am

John- We received a manual penalty about 3 months ago for our site www.livingincomfort.com. We've been working to clean it up since then but have not been able to get the penalty removed and it's literally killing us - any suggestions on what we can do at this point? Thanks

Yogita Aggarwal

09/12/2013 11:25 am

Hey.. Did anyone notice the major ranking changes? One of my work related website's keyword are now below 50 drastically. Till 3 pm IST it was fine but suddenly after some time the site disappeared from Google top 5 pages. Note - We did not receive Webmaster Tools Messages! Help ! Help ! Help

Pradeep Kumar

09/12/2013 11:53 am

thanks for this information Barry but if Google webmaster not send any msg and our site keywords ranking has been drop then what should we do? anyone can tell me how to improve or recover keywords ranking?

Gracious Store

09/16/2013 04:28 am

Thanks for this, though I always check my GWT every week to see if Google has some message there for me

Konstantyn Makarov

09/17/2013 09:07 am

How many reconsideration requests have you sent? Did they send examples of bad links back?


12/16/2013 10:29 pm

FYI, I think any manual action kills the site. We had a domain level penalty on http://www.hgh.com, and after about 3 months we got it removed. We had no actions on our site, and our rankings and traffic jumped. About 2 days later, they gave us this manual action warning and our traffic went back down to where it was with the full penalty: Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing to pages on this site. Some links may be outside of the webmaster’s control, so for this incident we are taking targeted action on the unnatural links instead of on the site’s ranking as a whole. Google is terrible at communication - they literally have the power to cripple any company to death. Federal action needs to be taken against them to prevent this.

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