Google: Rich Results Manual Actions Can Lead To Removal Of Rich Results & Broader Spam Penalties

Nov 18, 2022 • 7:31 am | comments (2) by twitter mastodon | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Google's Danny Sullivan said that not only can a rich result manual action result in the removal of your rich results from displaying in Google Search but also it can lead to a wider "broader spam manual action that involves ranking."

Just for some history, in 2015 John Mueller of Google said a rich results manual action would only lead to a site's rich results being illegible (removed) from displaying in Google Search. He said it would not result in a site having a ranking decline because of a rich result manual action.

So this is a bit of a change in what the messaging is around this, or is it?

In 2015 John said "Rich snippet themselves don’t give you ranking boosts. So it would’t kind of make sense to demote a site in rankings if they are doing something wrong with rich snippets. So essentially we just turn off the rich snippets until we are sure that we can trust them."

And here is what Danny Sullivan said a few days ago on Twitter, "It's possible that a manual action involving structured data might simply remove eligibility to have that appear. But it is possible it could be seen as a broader spam manual action that involves ranking."

Danny then added "In general, it's probably useful to have a reset here. We don't say that structured data is a ranking factor, because it's designed primarily for rich snippets -- really a display thing, if content is deemed eligible for it to be supported. In contrast, we have a variety of *policies and* that can potentially involve ranking if violated. The help page is talking about those *policies* in the discussion about ranking."

So maybe it is not the rich results manual action causing the ranking decline but since the site did get a rich results manual action, then maybe it also got flagged for other policy violations resulting in a ranking decline?

Here is more of the context around this conversion:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Update: More from Danny Sullivan of Google on this that pretty much validates what I thought above:

Update 2: Google has updated the help doc to say right at the top what we explained above. Google wrote "If your page contains a structured data issue, it can result in a manual action. A structured data manual action means that a page loses eligibility for appearance as a rich result; it doesn't affect how the page ranks in Google web search." Lizzi from Google posted about this change on Mastodon - here is what it says now:

To be eligible for rich result appearance in Google Search results, structured data shouldn't violate the Content policies for Google Search (which include our spam policies). In addition, this page details the general guidelines that apply to all structured data: they must be followed in order to be eligible for appearance as a rich result in Google Search.

If your page contains a structured data issue, it can result in a manual action. A structured data manual action means that a page loses eligibility for appearance as a rich result; it doesn't affect how the page ranks in Google web search. To check if you have a manual action, open the Manual Actions report in Search Console.

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