It’s always nice to know when bad things are happening – especially when it comes to your website. In the past, however, it wasn’t always apparent if a search engine like Google took some sort of punitive action against your site for something you did. Back then, if you engaged in a practice that was considered shady (essentially, a violation of Google’s quality guidelines related to deceptive or manipulative behavior), your site might be manually removed from search engine results. Google would typically send you an e-mail to let you know what they’d done, but if you didn’t see the e-mail, you’d be left in the dark. Suddenly, the site traffic dried up and the site owners were left scratching their heads. What went wrong? What’d we do? What now?
Fortunately, this kind of confusion is now a thing of the past. Google has released an update to Webmaster Tools that lets site owners know whether or not a manual action has been applied to their site. So, if you’re engaging in webspam activities, you can check the “Manual Actions” viewer under the “Search Traffic” menu in Webmaster Tools and find out how Google feels about it.
So, what kind of activities will get you manually removed from search engine results and lead to a note from Google in the Manual Actions section of Webmaster Tools? An excellent question!
What Google considers a violation of their quality guidelines is a short list of activities or tricks meant to deceive Google and/or your site visitors. This includes using auto-generated content on your site (not human-generated, weird as that may sound), participating in link schemes that manipulate PageRank, cloaking, setting up tricky redirects, hiding text on your pages, keyword stuffing, installing viruses or other malware on your site, and stealing content from other websites (a big no-no). Each of these activities, depending on the severity of the issue, can get your site tossed from Google’s search engine results page and leave you sidelined until you manage to redeem your site. In other words, it’s not a good idea to set out with deceptive, manipulative, malicious behavior in mind. The Google algorithm is sharp enough that it can catch these types of behavior and effectively shut down the site. Lights out!
In all seriousness, fewer than 2% of all domains in Google’s massive index have been manually removed due to webspam activity, so nobody we know is going to see much in the Manual Actions viewer at Google Webmaster Tools, but it may help some site owners and webmasters sleep better at night knowing that they can check their status from time to time.
If you don’t already have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can click here to set one up and begin to get detailed reports about your site visibility, links, and any problems Google may be having with your pages.
This article is brought to you by Rank Fuse Interactive, which serves both businesses and agencies alike as a provider of search engine marketing (SEM) programs, including search engine optimization (SEO), paid search advertising (PPC), social media marketing, content marketing, mobile web marketing, and search-friendly web design.