On August 8th Google released a new webmaster tools feature that’s bound to clear up a lot of questions some of us SEO’s were having regarding our penalties. If you ever wondered if your website was manually penalized you can now find out just by navigating to the Manual Action section in GWT.

So right way, we went into our GWT accounts looking for examples of this new feature. If you waited until late in the day August 9th or for the weekend, you may be one of the few webmasters that actually didn’t have the tool yet. That was because on August 9th Google updated their release page with the following;

Unfortunately we’ve hit a snag during our feature deployment, so it will be another couple days before the feature is available to everyone. We will post another update once the feature is fully rolled out.

But as of 10:30 P, August Re-announced the feature and said;

“The feature is now fully rolled out.”

So what is this new feature Google was so excited to release, but also so important they had to make sure it was deployed with such perfection?

The purpose of this feature was to make many webmasters lives easier when it came to wondering if your website was manually penalized or not, and if it were, to help streamline your process and help you through recovery. Pretty awesome right?

To use this tool, sign into you Google Webmaster Tools account, go to the website you would like to check, click on “Site Traffic”, then “Manual Actions”. There you will either site nothing (meaning your website wasn’t manually penalized), or you see a message similar to what you see below.

But does this new release raise more questions?

If you do find that you were manually penalized, is Google giving you enough information to reverse the penalty?

According to Google, there are several reasons why your website could have been penalized. These reasons include hidden text, keyword stuffing, thin content, pure spam, unnatural links to your site, etc.

manualactionjameseo

In this example, you see Google has manually penalized a section if a website for unnatural links;

  1. What section or what is partial (section of website or for a portion of my terms)?
  2. Which links (are unnatural)?
  3. When did this happen (when did my site get penalized)?
  4. What exactly do I need to do in order to recover?

In many cases, you’ll find that your website wasn’t penalized (even though you thought it was).

no-penalty

  1. If I’m not manually penalized does that mean it drops in rankings are just algorithm penalties?
  2. If they are algorithm penalties do I still have to submit a reconsideration request?
  3. Are they going to come up with a feature t let me know if my site was penalized or just lost its ranking because factors that helped it rank before lost their value
  4. If penalized algorithmically, will disavowing links or making better content fix everything by the next refresh/update?

As you can see, there are still too many questions left unanswered. But, it is good to see Google becoming more transparent about penalties, and giving us easy access to identify what’s going on with our websites. Google even came out with a video recently discussing how they plan on letting us know which links are bad for us in the hopefully near future.

It appears Google is actually trying to help those they’ve hurt, proving that they don’t have anything against websites and SEO, but more about having something against techniques and black hat practices.

Do any of you guys have a website that was manually penalized? Did you already know your website was manually penalized prior to the release of this tool? Is Google providing enough information to help you recover now?

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