Google Increases Severe Manual Penalties


Google has announced that from now on it will take a less tolerant approach to webmasters who repeatedly violate their quality guidelines. This may see websites receive manual penalties of the worse kind – permanent removal from the Google index.

Google announced on September 18, 2015, via the official Google webmaster central blog, of changes to its treatment of repeated violations. You can read their full announcement here.

Google’s quality guidelines are now very comprehensive.They are designed to provide a more level playing field in search, which discourages aggressive digital marketing tactics and web spam. Websites that have had some SEO applied to them are often impacted to some extent by algorithmic penalties, such as Panda and Penguin, but these problems can usually be overcome.

If Google carries out a manual review of a website (something which would only normally happen if a website is reported for violating Google search result) and penalise a website, the webmaster will be informed and will have the opportunity to resolve problems and file a reconsideration request.

However, some webmasters are constantly trying to push the limits of what is acceptable, and will receive many manual penalties. Google’s announcement suggests that it will no longer tolerate repeat offenders. In their blog post they say that some websites violate Google’s quality guidelines repeatedly, even after successfully going through the reconsideration process.

Unnatural Links

Google provides one example of a violation – unnatural links. Google says that a webmaster who has received a Manual Action notification for selling links or placing other unnatural links may add the rel=”unfollow” tag to the links before filing a reconsideration request. After their penalty is removed, and they edit the links again so that they start to pass PageRank / link juice, they will be penalised for a second time.

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This is probably just a very simple example of when they Google take action. In reality, its team will most likely act on a very wide range of penalties, and not just a repeat of the same penalty type.

Google has not made any announcement regarding how many chances a website will be granted before being permanently banned, but it would not be surprising if they follow something along the lines of a “three strikes and you’re out” approach. They say in their blog that repeated violations will “make a successful reconsideration process more difficult to achieve”.

However, it would be within Google’s rights to take a zero tolerance approach to certain actions, such as hacking websites to manipulate PageRank. In fact, their final comment is that they strongly recommend webmasters to follow their guidelines (which you can read in here).

Google is making great efforts to eradicate web spam, and with more websites competing in search using aggressive marketing tactics to rise up the pecking order in the SERPs, the search giant is having to take more drastic action against repeat offenders.

We have seen many websites drop out of Google’s index completely in recent years. One of the most common reasons is blatant link selling – sites that are caught selling links may find that they are permanently removed from Google with no hope of returning to the index. This is good news for all white-hat SEOs who use marketing and outreach to improve their client’s online exposure.

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