Google WMT : New “Manual Actions” Viewer

> indication of manual ranking penalties imposed to a site

In its constant fight against webspam, Google released a new feature in its Webmaster Tools platform : the “Manual Action” viewer is to be found under the Site Search section of WMT, and it “shows information about actions taken by the manual webspam team that directly affect that site’s ranking in Google’s web search results“.

This new tool is available since yesterday and is to help websmaters or webmarketers to know whether their website suffered a manual penalty for violation of Google’s quality guidelines – as opposed to an “algorithmic” penalty, when the webspam team makes a Penguin or Panda update that can also trigger a sudden drop of site visibility in SERPs. So yes, you site can be penalized even if you don’t have any manual action listed in WTM.

Matt Cutt explains* that the feature in question was build upon a popular request, and that it aims at reassuring the vast majority of site owners as well as offering a way to speed up the troubleshooting process for the few people who have webspam issues to address (only 2% of domains indexed by Google are concerned). Also note that if you’re part of this small fraction, you might have previously received a notification in WMT, therefore you should already be aware of the problem.

The “Manual Actions” viewer can display info for 2 types of penalties, sorry “actions” :

  • Site-wide matches > a sanction that concern the whole website.
  • Partial matches > a sanction that concerns only a specific (set of) page(s), section or link on your website.

WMT - Manual Actions viewer

For both types you’ll be provided a reason (ex. user-generated spam, unnatural inbound links…) and examples of affected URL – but only a few, so it’s your job to go investigate more to find all the other ones that pose a problem.

Once you’ve taken action and corrected any potential webspam for your site, the next step is to request reconsideration thanks to the Request A Review  button.

You may have noticed the efforts of the webspam team are particularly focused on link spam. Keep in mind that for unnatural inbound links issues you can use the WMT Disavow Tool : “If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site. You should still make every effort to clean up unnatural links pointing to your site. Simply disavowing them isn’t enough“. And remember : “don’t be evil” on SEO if you want to avoid ranking penalties… !

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* The original informative post from Google is available on their Webmaster Central Blog :
View manual webspam actions in Webmaster Tools.

And for more info about the anti-spam policy for Google SERPs I recommend reading the instructive “Fighting Spam” section on Google’s “Inside Search” website :
www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/fighting-spam

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PS – 2013.08.12 : Here’s the list of possible penalties the Manual Acton viewer can show :

  • Unnatural Links From Your Site (side-wide match)
  • User Generated Spam (partial match)
  • Unnatural Links To Your Site – Impacts Links (partial match)
  • Thin Content With Little or No Added Value (partial match)
  • Hacked Site (side-wide match)
  • Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing (side-wide match)
  • Spammy Freehosts (side-wide match)
  • Pure Spam (partial match)
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