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Manual Actions report

The Manual Actions report lists instances where a human reviewer has determined that pages on your site are not compliant with Google's webmaster quality guidelines. Google's algorithms can detect the vast majority of spam and demote it automatically; for the rest, we use human reviewers to manually review pages and flag them if they violate the guidelines. Flagged sites can be demoted or even removed entirely from Google search results. The Manual Actions page lists known issues on your site and provides information to help you address the problem. If your site’s ranking is affected by a manual spam action, we'll also notify you by email and in the message center.

 

Open the Manual Actions Report

 

Does Google take manual action on webspam?

Matt Cutts talks about manual action on webspam

 

 

If your site isn't appearing in search results, or isn't performing as well as it once did, we recommend checking the Manual Actions report and taking steps to address the problem. Once you're satisfied that your site follows the webmaster quality guidelines, you can request a review of your site directly from the Manual Actions report. Note that the web is an ever-changing ecosystem, and your site's performance in search almost certainly fluctuates over time. As a result, even if your reconsideration request is successful, your site may rank lower (or higher) than it used to.

Two types of actions are displayed on the Manual Actions page.

  • The Site-wide matches section lists actions that affect an entire site.
  • The Partial matches section lists actions that affect individual URLs or sections of a site. It's not uncommon for individual pages on a popular site to have manual actions, particularly if that site is a platform for other users or businesses to create and share content. If the issues appear to be isolated, only individual pages, sections, or incoming links will be affected, not the entire site.

Each section includes the following information:

  • Reason: The reasons for each action Google has applied.
  • Affects: The parts of the site affected by each manual action. Only the first 1,000 matches will be displayed.

About Google and spam

Ever since there have been search engines, there have been people dedicated to tricking their way to the top of the results page. This is bad for searchers because it means more relevant websites get buried under irrelevant results, and it’s bad for legitimate website owners because their sites become harder to find. For these reasons, we’ve been working since the earliest days of Google to fight spammers, helping people find the answers they’re looking for, and helping legitimate websites get traffic from search.

Google is constantly working to improve search. We take a data-driven approach and employ analysts, researchers, and statisticians to evaluate search quality on a full-time basis. Changes to our algorithms undergo extensive quality evaluation before being released. More information about our algorithm.

Our algorithms are extremely good at detecting spam, and in most cases we automatically discover it and remove it from our search results. However, to protect the quality of our index, we're also willing to take manual action to remove spam from our search results.

List of common manual actions

 

Hacked site

If you see this message on the Manual Actions or Security Issues page in Search Console, it means that Google has detected pages that appear to have been hacked by a third party. Often a hacker will upload files or modify existing files, which then appear as spam in our index. In many cases, this malicious content is hidden through a process called cloaking.

To protect users, your site's pages may be labeled as compromised or may not rank as highly in our search results.

Recommended actions

  1. For a comprehensive list of what you can do if your site was compromised, please refer to http://www.google.com/webmasters/hacked.
  2. Once you’re sure that your site is no longer compromised, request reconsideration of your site. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site no longer contains problematic content, we’ll remove the compromised warning from our search results.
User-generated spam
Matt Cutts explains the "User-Generated Spam" manual action

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected user-generated spam on your site. Typically, this kind of spam is found on forum pages, guestbook pages, or in user profiles.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.

Recommended actions

Review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines on user-generated spam, then follow these steps to identify and correct the violation(s) on your site:

  1. Users commonly add content to sites in forums, blog comments, and user profiles. Look for profiles with commercial usernames like “Discount Insurance” or posts with advertisements, off-topic links, or gibberish text.
  2. Identify pages on your site where users could have added content.
  3. Find spammy, unrelated content in these sections and remove it. Check these areas for the following:
    • Posts or profiles that look like advertisements
    • Posts or profiles with out-of-context or off-topic links
    • Posts or profiles with commercial usernames — names like “Discount Insurance,” that don’t sound like real human names — that link to unrelated sites
    • Posts or profiles that appear to be automatically generated, not written by a real user of your site
  4. Search your site for unexpected or spammy content on your site, using the site: operator in Google search along with commercial or adult keywords that are unrelated to your site’s topic. For example, searching for [site:example.com insurance] will return content from your site related to insurance.
  5. Remove any inappropriate content.
  6. Consider implementing measures to prevent user-generated spam.
  7. Once you’re sure that your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, request reconsideration of your site. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
Spammy freehosts

Google tries to be precise when taking manual action related to spam. However, if a significant fraction of the pages on sites hosted on a service are spammy, we may take manual action on the service as a whole.

Recommended actions

  1. Get tips for preventing and identifying abuse of your service.
  2. Remove any existing spammy accounts from your service.
  3. Once you're satisfied that your site follows Google's Webmaster Guidelines, submit a reconsideration request.
  4. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
Spammy structured markup

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected that some of the markup on your pages may be using techniques that are outside our Rich snippets guidelines, for example: marking up content that is invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content, or other manipulative behavior.

As a result, Google has applied a manual action to the affected portions of your site, which may affect how your site is displayed in search results. Actions that affect how your whole site is displayed are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect how only part of your site is displayed are listed under Partial matches.

Recommended actions

  1. Make sure that the markup on your site meets Google's Rich snippets guidelines if you would like it featured in Google’s search results. This might involve updating existing markup or removing any markup that violates the guidelines.
  2. Once you've made these changes, submit a reconsideration request. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our Rich snippet guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
Unnatural links to your site
Matt Cutts and Alex explain the "Unnatural links to your site" manual action

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing to your site. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to your site.

Recommended actions

First, review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines on linking.

Next, follow the steps below to identify and correct the violation(s):

  1. Download a list of links to your site from Search Console. You can download your links arranged either by hostname (Links to Your Site > Who links the most > Download more sample links) or in chronological order (Links to Your Site > Who links the most > Download latest links).
  2. Check this list for any links that violate our guidelines on linking. If the list is large, start by looking at the sites that link to you the most, or links that were created recently (in the last few months).
  3. For any links that violate our guidelines, contact the webmaster of that site and ask that they either remove the links or prevent them from passing PageRank, such as by adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute.
  4. Use the Disavow links tool in Search Console to disavow any links you were unable to get removed.

Once you’ve removed or disavowed the artificial links, request reconsideration of your site. Including documentation about the links you’ve had removed, and an explanation of any links you were unable to remove, will help us process your request. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.

Thin content with little or no added value
Matt Cutts explains the "Thin Content with little or no added value" manual action.

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected low-quality pages or shallow pages on your site.

Here are a few common examples of pages that often have thin content with little or no added value:

  • Automatically generated content
  • Thin affiliate pages
  • Content from other sources. For example: Scraped content or low-quality guest blog posts
  • Doorway pages

These techniques don’t provide users with substantially unique or valuable content, and are in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.

Recommended actions

First, review the following sections of our Webmaster Guidelines:

Next, follow the steps below to identify and correct the violation(s) on your site:

  1. Check for content on your site that duplicates content found elsewhere.
  2. Check for thin content pages with affiliate links on your site.
  3. Check for doorway pages or auto-generated content on your site.
  4. If your site contains any of these types of content, think about whether your site provides significant added value for your users. This article about building high-quality sites can offer you more guidance.
    Tip: Consider asking friends or family — real people not affiliated with your site — to use or critique your site to get ideas for improving it.
  5. Improve your website so that it provides significant value for your users.

Once you’re sure that your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, request reconsideration of your site. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.

Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects
Matt Cutts explains cloaking

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that your site may be showing different pages to users than are shown to Google, or redirecting users to a different page than Google saw. Cloaking and sneaky redirects are a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.

Recommended actions

First, review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines on cloaking and sneaky redirects.

Next, follow the steps below to identify and correct the violation(s) on your site:

  1. Use the Fetch as Google tool in Search Console to fetch pages from the affected area of your site.
  2. Compare the content fetched by Google to the content seen by a human user (you!) when visiting the site.
  3. If the content differs, identify and remove the part of your site that’s serving different content to Google and users. This will require looking through your site’s code on the server.
  4. Check for URLs on your site that redirect users to somewhere other than where they expected to go.
  5. Check for URLs on your site that redirect conditionally, for example by only redirecting users coming from Google search, or only users coming from a particular range of IP addresses.
  6. If your site redirects users in any of these ways, identify and remove the part of your site that generates these redirects. This will require looking through your site’s code on the server.
    Tip: These types of redirects are often written in JavaScript, or in your .htaccess file. You might also check your content management system and any plugins.

Once you’re sure that your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, request reconsideration of your site. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.

Unnatural links from your site
Matt Cutts and Sandy discuss the "Unnatural links from your site" manual action.

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.

Recommended actions

First, review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines on linking.

Next, follow the steps below to identify and correct the violation(s) on your site:

  1. Identify any links on your site that were paid for or that appear to violate our linking guidelines, such as excessive link exchanges.
  2. Either remove these links, or change them so that they no longer pass PageRank, for example by adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute or by redirecting them through a page blocked by robots.txt.

Once you’re sure that your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, request reconsideration of your site. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.

Pure spam
Matt Cutts explains what it means if your site has a manual action labeled as "Pure spam" and what you can do to fix it.

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected that some of your pages may be using techniques that are outside our Webmaster Guidelines. The site appears to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping content from other websites, and/or other repeated or egregious violations of Google’s quality guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.

Recommended actions

  1. Update your site so that it meets Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
  2. Once you’re sure that your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, request reconsideration of your site. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
Cloaked images

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that some of your site’s images may be displaying differently on Google’s search results pages than they are when viewed on your site. Cloaking is the practice of presenting different content to human users than to search engines. Cloaking is considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it provides our users with different results than they expected. Cloaking images can provide a bad user experience for Google image search results, as obscured images and mismatched thumbnails do not present the user with the image that they are searching for.

As a result, Google has applied a manual action to the affected portions of your site, which will affect how your site’s images are displayed in Google. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site are listed under Partial matches.

Examples of cloaked images

Here are some examples of image cloaking behavior:

  • Serving images to Google that are obscured by another image, for example: a block of text.
  • Serving images to Google that are different than the image served to a page visitor.
  • Redirecting users away from the image on the site when the user clicks "view image" in Google search results.

Recommended actions

  1. Ensure that your site displays exactly the same images to users on your site and in Google search results. Some cloaking behavior can be caused by “anti-hotlinking” tools; look through your site’s server code and examine any plugins you have installed on your site to see if this is the case.
  2. When you’re sure that your site’s images are exactly the same whether viewed directly on your site or from Google search results, request reconsideration of your site.
  3. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account; we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine that your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.
Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing
Matt Cutts and Nelson explain what it means if your site has a manual action labeled as "Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing" and what you can do to fix it.

If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that some of your pages may contain hidden text or keyword stuffing, techniques that are outside our Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.

Recommended actions

First, review Google’s Webmaster Guidelines on hidden text and keyword stuffing.

Next, follow the steps below to identify and correct the violation(s) on your site:

  1. Use the Fetch as Google tool in Search Console to check for content that’s visible to our crawler but isn’t visible to a human user (you!) when visiting the site.
  2. Check for text that’s the same, or similar, color as the background of the webpage.
    Tip: You can often reveal such text by selecting all the text on the page, e.g. by pressing Ctrl + A or Command-A.
  3. Check for any text hidden using CSS styling or positioning, as described in our guidelines.
  4. Remove or re-style any such text so that it’s equally discoverable by search engine crawlers and by human users.
  5. Check for lists or paragraphs of repeated words without any context.
  6. Check <title> tags and alt text for strings of repeated words.
  7. Remove any such words or other instances of keyword stuffing.

 

Once you’re sure your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, request reconsideration of your site. After you’ve submitted a reconsideration request, be patient and watch for a message in your Search Console account — we’ll let you know when we’ve reviewed your site. If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.

 

What's the difference between the Manual Actions report and the Security Issues report

There is some conceptual overlap between the Manual Actions report and the Security Issues report, so it is useful to know the difference between them:

The Manual Actions report lists manually detected issues with a page or site that are mostly attempts to manipulate our search index, but are not necessarily dangerous for users. Most issues reported here will result in pages or site being ranked lower or omitted from search results without any visual indication to the user.

The Security Issues report lists indications that your site was hacked, or behavior on your site that could potentially harm a visitor or their computer: for example, phishing attacks or installing malware or unwanted software on the user's computer. These pages can appear with a warning label in search results, or a browser can display an interstitial warning page when a user tries to visit them.

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