Ever since search engines came about in the ’90s, many started attempting to manipulate them to find shortcuts to the very top of the ranking. This became a major issue for search engines who aimed to offer users the best results, but spam sites usually ended up coming out on top.

Due to this, Google has made changes to its algorithm so that it can properly test websites for dubious techniques and quickly spot spam. And in order to discourage these websites from degrading the users’ experience, Google has begun punishing spammy sites with manual actions.

If the site contains a manual action, some or all of the pages on the website won’t be displayed in Google search results.

A Simple Understanding of Manual Action

Manual action takes place when site owners don’t follow the webmaster guidelines, and as a result, human reviewers working in the respective department on Google penalize your page or site or take any legal action against your website.

Most of the manual actions aim to eliminate the manipulation of Google’s search index. Most of the issues listed would lead to pages or sites being ranked lower or removed from search results altogether.

To assess if a website merits a penalty, Google recruits a huge number of human reviewers to verify if the web pages conform with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Once you collect a sanction from Google, pages that are impacted or even the whole site will suffer a significant decline in rankings or will be entirely excluded from the search engine results. Organic traffic vanishes as well. The drop is instant and could happen in a matter of days or even quicker at times.

How Do You Check for a Manual Action on Your Website?

If you receive a manual action, you will be informed by Google via the Google Search Console’s Manual Action Report. You’ll witness a message like this: 

The report displays the nature of issues Google detected on your site and the number of pages that were impacted. If you’ve sent a request for reassessment, you will also be informed here if your request has been denied by Google.

Types of Manual Action

Below is the list of Manual Actions penalized by Google and the ways to fix them.

User-Generated Spam

Websites that accept user-generated material, such as forums and blog comments, can get this manual action if visitors flood the page with self-promoting text and links to irrelevant and spam websites.

How to Fix?

Use the “site:” search query to scan and remove malicious material from visitors of your website. Sample: [site:https://changeschooling.com viagra]. It is therefore easier to prevent this by ensuring that all user content is monitored before it is authorized.

Spammy Free Host

Choosing free hosting platforms is a smart way to save expenses, but it could contribute to manual action. If you use free hosting, you and lots of other sites share the identical server. Even if the site is spotless, spammers who share servers with you can influence the server overall, and Google could send a manual action to all domains on that server.

How to Fix?

Contact the technical assistance team of the hosting firm you are using to notify them of the latest manual actions. If there is no progress, it’s recommended to switch to a stable hosting service.

Structured Data Issue

Google will determine if the deployment of structured data is contradictory to the Structured Data Guidelines.

How to Fix?

Update the current structured data specification on your website and follow the instructions You might use Google’s Structured Data Testing framework to prevent errors.

Unnatural Links to Your Site

Getting this manual action indicates Google has found an abnormal behavior linking to your webpage that aims to leverage search rankings. Acts such as buying links from PBNs and extreme amounts of link exchanges will lead to penalties.

How to Fix?

Head to the Google Search Console’s link analysis to look for ties that Google might find problematic. Prepare a text file and utilize the disavow tool.

Unnatural Links from Your Site

If there is an excessive trend of outbound links from your web pages, it could give Google the suspicion that you are selling links or engaging in link schemes.

How to Fix?

Identify links that are compensated or affiliated by using the rel=”sponsored” suffix.

Thin Content

Google has rigid standards when it comes to the quality of your articles. As per Google, descriptions of posts with thin content are:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Thin affiliate pages
  • Scraped content
  • Low-quality guest posts
  • Doorway pages

How to Fix?

Review the concerned pages and try to improve them wherever possible. In addition, you can prevent Google from crawling through the robots.txt file or putting a noindex tag to exclude it from the search engines.

Cloaking and/or Sneaky Redirects

Cloaking is the practice of customizing a page’s code to display users a page separate from what was posted to Google while deceptive redirects draw customers to a page they never intended to go through.

How to Fix?

Use the Google Search Console’s URL Inspection tool to examine how Google views the web pages that are affected. Fix the codes and contents of the pages and erase any sketchy redirects.

Pure Spam

Google could find pages of the website that specifically use spam tactics.

How to Fix?

Make sure that the pages on the website conform with the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Cloaked Images

Just as cloaking, Google uses a manual action for cloaked images when the image is crawled from a page, but is displayed differently to visitors.

How to Fix?

Ensure the website shows precisely the same pictures to visitors as those displayed in the Google search results.

Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing

Overly repeating the keyword that you are targeting on a single page and/or concealing it by shading it with a picture or rendering the text color white so that it mixes with the background is a black SEO hat tactic.

How to Fix?

Check the HTML codes of the concerned pages as well as the CSS style for encrypted text and the unnecessary reuse of keywords/phrases in meta tag descriptions.

AMP Content Mismatch

An Accelerated Mobile Page (or AMP, for short) is a lighter version of the website for mobile devices. The content of the AMP variant of the website should carry the same content.

How to Fix?

Ensure the AMP page is canonized on the right web page. AMP content discrepancy manual action will not seriously impact your search engine rankings, but Google will withdraw the AMP iteration for smartphone search results and display the original article instead.

Sneaky Mobile Redirects

Mobile users can sometimes see a different edition of a web page as it‘s a unique feature for cellphone users. However, there are occasions where smartphone users are routed to a separate URL by either a code or a script that requires them to open an ad.

How to Fix?

If you receive this manual action and you’ve not deliberately put it there, check if your website has been compromised or if it’s a result of some sort of a malware.

The Next Step After Fixing Manual Actions

You can make a request for a review to Google in the Manual Action Report after you make sure that you’ve resolved the bugs that triggered the penalty.

In writing a submission for reconsideration, be as thorough as possible on how you corrected the mistake. If your domain has been compromised, please ensure that you let Google know everything on it.

Irrespective of the severity of the problems, the appeal for review can take a few days or weeks. Google will contact you by email if the analysis is complete and you will be told if the update has been approved or declined.

Keep These In Mind While Fixing Manual Actions

Fix All Issues Before Submitting for Review

Since getting a manual action results in the loss of traffic, some webmasters tend to submit partial fixes to begin the review and recover their traffic as soon as possible. It’s best to carry a higher level of patience and make sure the website is free of any problems that have resulted in the action.

Make the Pages Accessible

Ensure that the web pages that are impacted by the manual action are not prevented from crawling by robots.txt.

Do Not Keep Sending Review Requests

Repeatedly submitting reconsideration requests won’t make the approval process any smoother and could only result in Google treating you as a spammer.

How Long Does It Take for My Website to Recover?

You can’t predict how long it’ll take for your website to regain the previous rankings and the entire traffic. It can depend on the severity of the punishment. If it’s only a few pages on the website, it could take a couple of weeks or a month. It can take several months, or worse, years, if the entire website is affected. 

Once you’ve fixed a manual action, Google does not offer you a timeline of recovery. What you should note is that anytime a page or the site is penalized by Google, it begins to lose the authority. You’re going to need to start fresh, and have to work your way up the ladder.

How Do You Avoid Manual Actions?

It’s quite straightforward, do White Hat SEO. It’s the best way to perform SEO with no exceptions at all. Build a detailed optimization strategy for your websites. Ensure you have a strong user interface and user experience, refine your mobile experience, and post excellent content that draws links. There are more than 200 ranking variables to contend with, so you must be consistent in your efforts to optimize your website.

You’ll need a whole new level of patience, but constantly refining the website in the best direction is 100 percent better than attempting to escape from a manual action.

For more informative blogs, Check out Change Schooling!

About the author 

Niranjan patel

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