As you all know, educated bunch that you are, when Google wants you to fix some webspam that’s within your control, they send you an email about manual webspam actions to take. Now though, Google is expanding upon that procedure and making it even easier to address manual webspam actions on your sites. As of this week, all you have to do is check Google Webmaster Tools, and if you have incurred a manual action, it’ll be right there waiting for you to fix. No waiting or digging necessary. This should help active SEO-ers out immensely, so let’s take a look at how it functions.
This comes straight from Matt Cutts, who has said that sites that have been affected will either have site-wide matches or partial matches in the manual action viewer in Google Webmaster Tools. Site-wide means the problem is site-wide (duh) and partial means that only a certain area of the site is affected. Here is a sample shot from Cutts that shows that this will look like:
According to Cutts, in the hypothetical image above, “the webmaster has a problem with other people leaving spam on mattcutts.com/forum/. By fixing this common issue, the webmaster can not only help restore his forum’s rankings on Google, but also improve the experience for his users. Clicking the ‘Learn more’ link will offer new resources for troubleshooting.”
Seems straight-forward enough, but you should still hope you never have to deal with a manual penalty action…and speaking of manual penalty actions…
MANUAL PENALTY ACTIONS
Let’s go over what will get you a manual penalty action real quick. Basically, a manual penalty action occurs after a Google employee reviews a website and decides that it violates one or more of Google’s stringent guidelines. To be clear, these are done manually by a human being, and are different than the penalties you can incur by getting caught by an algorithm like Penguin or Panda.
Matt Cutts also covered why they’re adding the tool to begin with, and it’s for a different reason than you may think at first. Its primary purpose isn’t to help you resolve manual penalty actions faster, that is just a pleasant side effect. The real point of this new part of Webmaster Tools is so that sites can see that they have NOT been hit with a manual penalty action. Apparently Google is hammered daily by people wondering if they’ve been hit with one, and now they can simply direct all of those people to Webmaster Tools. As Cutts puts it: “well under 2 percent of domains we’ve seen are manually removed for webspam,” and the new tool hopefully “reassures the vast majority of webmasters who have nothing to worry about.”
The tool was taken offline over the weekend. Google is apparently having problems with it, but look for it to go live sometime this week!