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Ben Hollom - Marketing Director, M2 Bespoke

Ben Hollom – Marketing Director, M2 Bespoke

By Ben Hollom

The notion of Google´s manual penalty has been around for years but so far Google has never shed light on when and why it happens. The details are revealed as part of the search engine´s initiative ´How Search Works´, which aims to provide an insight into what Google essentially does and how the search process takes place.

In a bid to educate users and SEO marketers, Google revealed a chart that covers manual action as far back as 2004. The chart showed that manual action is usually taken in cases of spam, ranging from pure automatically generated senseless data to unnatural links. Although specific dates were not provided, the chart showed that manual penalties are quite numerous, amounting to as much as 553,994 in a month.

Currently, the biggest chunk of spam falls into the pure spam category, the chart showed. Google defines pure spam as ´aggressive techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping content from other websites, and/or repeated or egregious violations of Google´s Webmaster Guidelines´.

Another common reason for manual action is hacking, as sites that have been hacked and fail to provide the content they were originally ranked for, get a penalty from the search engine. Apparently, the problem that most often causes concern to SEO marketers – unnatural links – leads to a penalty in only rare instances, data suggested. However, this may be related to the fact that Google also takes automatic action against websites via the Panda algorithm which deals with unnatural links. In such cases, a penalty is automatically imposed, without having a notification sent.