Manual Actions

Manual actions have been a feature in the Google Search Console since August 2008. They are used to inform website operators about manual actions that have been taken because of Google Webmaster Guidelines violations committed against their website.

Manual actions in the GWT[edit]

With this service, you can check if your website is the subject of “manual actions.” To this end, go to the Google Webmaster Tools and switch to the menu item “Searches” and under that to “manual actions.” If a manual action is present, it will appear in this area.

This is an especially important part of the Google Webmaster Tools because Google has been taking manual action to remove webspam from the SERPs for some time now. Matt Cutts explains more on that in this YouTube video. If a website is subject to a penalty, you can find out exactly what the problem is. Having resolved the error, you can inform Google of such with the “Request a review” button. If Google finds upon re-examination that the policy violations have been eliminated, and depending on the severity of the penalty, one’s earlier ranking in SERPs or at least an improved position can be achieved.

Types of manual actions[edit]

Google describes[1] Below are nine different types of manual actions as examples:

  • Unnatural links to the site
  • Unnatural links from your own website
  • Hacked site
  • Low-quality content with little or no added value
  • Pure spam
  • User-generated spam
  • Cloaking or misdirecting redirects
  • Hidden text and keyword stuffing
  • Free spam hosts

What to do if manual actions have been undertaken[edit]

If a manual action was imposed on a website, the site operator should invest any time needed and eliminate the faults in question. Penalties are often levied for unnatural link building, such as excessive setting of keyword links, link chaos, use of article directories, and of course the purchase or rental of links. Firstly, possible causes must be identified.

Unfortunately, Google does not specify the exact links in question. Therefore, all links should be verified closely with regard to their regulatory compliance and removed as needed. Some links may likely get degraded that were not actually subject of the action. This link degradation should be documented in writing in order be able to provide proof to Google employees in terms of what measures have been taken.

Subsequently, re-examination may be requested. In this context, it should be explained what measures you have taken to comply with the regulations. The cancellation of manual spam action may then be requested.


  1. manual actions in Google Help. Google support. Accessed on 03/31/2014