What is a manual penalty?

A manual penalty is a type of punishment given to websites that are caught manipulating a search engine. Google regularly use manual actions to target websites that are caught using the following tactics:

  • Hacked site.
  • User-generated spam.
  • Spammy freehosts.
  • Spammy structured markup.
  • Unnatural links to your site.
  • Thin content with little or no added value.
  • Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects.
  • Unnatural links from your site.
  • Pure spam.
  • Cloaked images.
  • Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing.
penalty visible from ahrefs

How can I check for a manual penalty?

Checking for a manual penalty is easy, to get started you will need to open Google Search Console. Inside the Search Traffic > Manual Actions page you will find a notice on whether or not your page has a manual penalty.

If Google penalise your website and a long time passes, they remove the manual action notice. However, your site rankings will not return to normal until you fix your website.

Manual Penalty

How can I remove a manual penalty?

To remove a manual penalty, you will first need to fix whatever issue got you penalised. The most common form of punishment is related to link manipulation. Link penalties require a significant change in tactics.

Google expects you to demonstrate that you have achieved the following:

  1. Removed the offending issue, whether this is links, hacked content or malware on the website.
  2. Show that you have reformed and will not likely face this same issue in the future. You may need to stop using manipulative link building strategies.
Unnatural Links Warning in Google Search Console