What you need to know about manual action in SEO and its consequences

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When it comes to natural referencing, it is essential to comply with the guidelines laid down by Google to avoid any penalties from the search engine.

these sanctions, we find themanual actionwhich consists of direct intervention by a Google employee to penalise a website not respecting the rules.

Manual action

What is a manual action in SEO?

A manual action is a penalty decided by a human operator at Google, following analysis of the optimisation practices of the site concerned.

The purpose of this analysis is to check whether the content proposed is legitimate and complies with current best practice. Unlike automatic penalties, which are implemented by the search engine's algorithms, themanual action requires direct action and decision-making by a Google employee.

The reasons for manual action 

There are several reasons why Google's teams may apply this type of penalty to a website:

    • Spamming techniques This includes Keyword Stuffing (abusive repetition of keywords) and artificial links to or from other websites.
    • Le cloaking This technique involves presenting different content to the user and the search engine, with the aim of manipulating the search results.
    • Le duplicate content Copy and paste: simply copying and pasting content from another website is prohibited by Google's rules.
    • Pages containing misleading information false promotions, incorrect contact details or other information misleading users.

      See also Olivier Andrieu's video here

How can you identify a manual action on your site?

If your site is subject to manual action, you will be notified via the Google Search Console. A notification will be sent to you, specifying the reasons for the action and the steps to be taken to resolve the problem and request a new examination.

Partial or complete action

There are two types of manual action that can be applied:

    • L'partial actionwhich only concerns part of the site (for example, certain pages with problems).
    • L'complete actionwhich affects the entire site and often leads to it being completely removed from search results.

Depending on the seriousness of the infringement, Google will apply one or other of these penalties.

How can I correct the problems and request a new examination?

Once the manual action has been identified and the problems concerned have been pinpointed, it is imperative to take the necessary steps to correct them. Here are a few tips to follow:

  1. Analyse in detail the reasons given by Google and check that you understand the points to be corrected.
  2. Ensure compliance all the pages concerned, modifying your content or your SEO techniques if necessary.
  3. Check that the modifications made comply with Google guidelines and are likely to solve the problems identified.
  4. Ask for a new review via Google Search Console, accompanied by a request for a detailed explanation of the actions taken to remedy the problems.

This process can take several weeks, so it's crucial to get started quickly after receiving the manual action notification.

The consequences of manual action

If your site is subject to manual action by Google, its SEO performance is likely to be severely affected. The penalty will impact the site's positioning in the search results, or even its presence on the search engine altogether.

What's more, even once the problem has been solved and the action lifted following a new review, the site's reputation with Internet users may have been damaged and it may take time for traffic to return to the initial level.

Conclusion: prevention rather than cure

To avoid suffering the consequences of manual action on your site, it is essential to comply with the Google guidelines and use ethical SEO techniques that respect the rules.

Adopt a long-term vision and work constantly on the quality of the content proposed and the quality of the content offered.user experience remains the best strategy for successful natural referencing without incurring the risk of penalties.

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