WMT’s New Manual Penalty Action Confusion – Solved

As most people have seen today Google are starting to be transparent with the way they report manual actions to website owners so they can clearly see at any stage whether the site has had a manual intervention from Google. This is being done via a new Webmaster Tools section called Manual Actions.

For many people in SEO this is excellent news. We know from experience that there are some occasions where manual penalties were placed on sites that did not receive a message in Webmaster Tools.

They are only discovered once a reconsideration request is filed and a response of “Site violates Google’s quality guidelines” is received; despite no communication to that end historically for the site. This is in theory no longer an issue as a simple check in Webmaster Tools will tell us exactly what is going on.

All Good News Then? No, there is some Confusion

There is an issue though. We have been looking at a mass of data today and of those accounts we have been able to view some we know are under a manual penalty, some we know are now fully recovered and we noticed something.

Some of those clients that have been successfully revoked from the manual penalty still have a partial match penalty listed in the Manual Actions tab. Despite receiving a message like this through WMT previously:manual penalty action

But while that message still exists we still see this message within the new manual action section:

image2

From the same client, you can see they still have a partial match penalty listed that could be causing issues.

Another interesting finding by the guys at Hitreach are these kind of ‘actions’, reporting potential hacks on specific pages within the new portal. Does this mean that WMT messages is now a place only for marketing messaging and new feature info while the important stuff is siphoned into the new section? Time will tell…

manual message

The reality

We have seen this has started a bit of a stir on Twitter so we wanted to clear this issue up…

The important message here is: ‘Do not worry, it is not a standard penalty.’

If you remember back to last year when Google sent out Webmaster Tools Messages to sites warning them of unnatural link we were told that many were just that, warnings, and they were not penalties that directly affected the site there and then. It was more around making the webmaster aware that there was some low value (manipulative) stuff in their profile they should look to remove. If you read the message itself, “we are taking targeted action on the unnatural links instead on the site’s rankings as a whole”. This is the key part and why you should not worry so much.

So in a nut shell, yes you could classify this new message as a manual penalty, however they will not be affecting your site in a huge way, only devaluing a few links pointing to your site. It is there as a warning only.

Of course given the fact that Penguin is smarter than ever and that a new wave of manual penalties could be on their way you should still look to clean your profile up just to make sure there are no unnatural links that can continue to do harm in the future.

Have you seen anything interesting from your own investigations today? If so please share them….

  • hitreach

    I think what’s worth noting about ours is the only URL flagged by the partial match isn’t even a page, it’s just a directory with 2 subfolders containing images (http://hitreach.co.uk/wp-content/gallery/)
    We did get hacked about a year ago which is originally why I thought the message might have been there as an accident from still being active despite being revoked but seeing as the URL in question isn’t, and didn’t, contain a page or file it make me wonder if this is a bug rather than real.

    • http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/ zazzlemedia

      hitreach It does seem very buggy. There have also been reports of No Follow links being reported as unnatural links…

    • AdamJamesMason

      hitreach This wouldn’t surprise me. The data Google has in Webmaster Tools seems to be very fresh yet they do seem to keep hold of the old data. Maybe its the same case with this. I assume you’ve requested a review to get the warning removed?

      • hitreach

        AdamJamesMason Yeah we did that this morning so will post an update here if we get a reply.