Several people try to exploit the search engines and get on top by finding a much easier path. This was a great issue for search engines because this stopped the best results from coming up in the search results. The spam websites would then come at the top. To combat this, Google modified the algorithms for better evaluation of websites. The spam websites and pages were controlled through manual action. Google just penalizes you by dropping your rank to zero with the help of manual actions. This is something that SEO service providers should fear and does not indulge in unethical practices.
What is meant by manual actions?
Manual action is a penalty given to websites by the search engines if they practice unethical methods of going up in the rank hierarchy which is against their policies and guidelines. The unethical practices are called as Black Hat SEO. There are a lot of reviewers that keep a track of the website’s activities and see if they are complying with Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines.
When you are penalized, there is a huge drop in your rankings. Your website or several pages may completely vanish from the search results. All the organic traffic that you derived will be gone too. The drop in the search rankings can occur overnight or in a few days.
How can you check manual action?
The notifications regarding the manual action are visible in the Google Search Console under the Manual Action Report. The report will include all the issues that Google has tracked from your websites. A list of troublesome pages will be provided to you well in advance. You can fill a reconsideration request by making modifications but if the search engine finds the website still faulty, your request will be rejected and you will be notified about it.
Different manual actions and how to fix them?
- Spams triggered through user action
According to the policies set up by the search engines, the users cannot bombard the site with self-promoting links and texts. If any website allows the inclusion of forums and comments on blogs that are generated by users then the site will receive a manual action for sure.
However, you can check your site for malicious content by using the ‘site:’ search query. If you find any kind of irrelevant content, you can simply delete it so that users will not have access to it. Further, make sure that the content created is safe to be used.
- Unnatural links
Some people try to use unethical and unlawful means to step up their rank in the search results through unusual links. If Google detects some unusual linking patterns that go against its guidelines then you are bound to receive a manual action. Such linking methods are applied to manipulate the page rankings. You should avoid including excessive link exchanges and purchasing links from PBNs.
This issue can be solved if you can identify the paid links. Use the rel=” sponsored” tag and affiliate your links using this feature. This will prevent you from becoming a part of manual actions.
- Quality of content
It is rightly said that content is king. If your content is not valuable to users, Google will not allow such content to be promoted. Any kind of website that harbours doorway pages or thin affiliate pages is not fit to be included in the search rankings. Moreover, low quality scraped content or guest posts and auto-generated content is also liable to come under the category of manual action.
You can fix this issue by reanalyzing these pages and make sure that they add some value to the user experience. Another alternative is that you can use robot.txt files to stop search engines from crawling through the pages that are not of much use to the users. It is also possible to eliminate these pages from the search results by applying a noindex tag upon them.
- Cloaking redirects
Cloaking is one of the worst techniques that anyone can apply to lure users to their page. It involves manipulating the code of a page. When this happens the visitors are landed on a page where they were not meant to be with the help of some sneaky redirects. The page that opens up is different from what was submitted to Google in the first place.
To fix this issue, you need to take help of Google Search Console’s URL inspection tool. This tool tells you how Google looks at the pages which are affected due to this malfunction. You will be required to fix the content and code of the page to remove the impact of any shady redirects on your page.
- Keyword stuffing
Excessive use of keywords is something that comes under the Black Hat SEO strategy. You are not allowed to use a keyword repetitively by adapting means like hiding it with an image or mixing the stuffed keyword with background by changing their font colour. This is something that will make you eligible for manual action.
To overcome this issue you need to check the CSS styling for keywords that have been used excessively. Along with CSS styling, do check for the HTML codes of the pages that have been affected with this.
- Mobile redirects
Sometimes website designers add some specific tools that are required for mobile users. In such cases, mobile users can also experience some sneaky redirects. A somewhat different version of a website created especially for mobile phones leads to this malfunctioning. People add a script or code that redirects mobile users to a different URL than what they searched for. Such scripts even force the users to open ads.
You should run a check for viruses and scan for malware. If you have not put these scripts or codes intentionally then it is important to run these checks to stay protected from manual action.
If you have been penalized then it is important to know that there is no particular duration about how much time will the website take to regain its rankings. There is no time frame about how much time it will take to redirect its traffic.
The best possible way to avoid or stay protected from manual actions is to do White Hat SEO. You can create a good user interface and publish content which is unique and genuine. Such content always attracts the links. It requires a lot of patience to improve and grow your website. You should use ethical ways to do so than to recover from a manual action.