Marketers will no longer be in the dark about manual webspam actions Google takes against their pages. The search engine recently announced a new feature for Webmaster Tools that details […]

Marketers will no longer be in the dark about manual webspam actions Google takes against their pages. The search engine recently announced a new feature for Webmaster Tools that details when the webspam team has manually punished a site for publishing spammy online content or bad links. When SEOs visit Webmaster Tools, they can click the “Manual Actions” button under “Search Traffic” to view reports from the Google team.

This direct feedback will help marketers closely monitor their web content to verify it’s within the search engine’s guidelines for white hat SEO practices.

More transparency around SEO penalties seems to be part of the search engine’s ongoing effort to provide more information about search rankings. Google’s own Matt Cutts has long been hinting that marketers will receive explicit updates when hit by manual actions. The Webmaster Central Blog post explains the Manual Actions feature is supplementary to the notifications the webspam team sends. It will allow SEOs to determine whether penalties affect the entire site, a “site-wide match,” or just a specific section, a “partial match.”

Manual Webspam Actions will allow SEOs to determine whether penalties affect the entire site, a “site-wide match,” or just a specific section, a “partial match.”

In addition to revealing the root of manual penalties, the feature streamlines the reconsideration process. It provides a direct link to “Request a Review” after amendments have been made to get all branded content aligned with Google’s Quality Guidelines.

How many penalties are manual? The new Manual Action function may not be quite as beneficial at second glance. Google reports that less than 2 percent of domains are manually removed from SERPs for violating spam guidelines. As Cutts said in a recent Webmaster Help Channel video, manual actions are separate from algorithmic punishments. Therefore, marketers will still need to troubleshoot to find the source of offending pages that are impacted by Panda, Penguin and other search technology.

The best way to avoid webspam issues in the first place is to follow white hat practices by publishing high-quality custom content and avoiding and deceptive SEO strategies.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.