For quite some time now, Google has been sending out notifications to webmasters with ‘unnatural link warnings’, that often are attached to a manually applied penalty. But now site owners can view these notifications from within Google Webmaster Tools to see if they’ve received a manual action against their site.
These warnings are broken down into site-wide and partial matches. These actions, as their names infer, can affect your entire site or just certain sections of the site. In the following screenshot taken from Google’s announcement, Matt Cutts uses this example to demonstrate sections of a site that are penalized, and which sections should receive attention in cleaning up spam. In doing so, not only will it improve the experience for your users on your site, it can help restore his forum’s rankings.
This next screenshot applies to a partial match penalty on links pointing to a site. They acknowledge that sometimes these links are unwanted and out of the control of the site owners. The wording in this message might indicate that they are just devaluing the links pointing to your site. This is also backed up with this entry in webmaster support from Google. Notice the blurb “If you don’t control the links pointing to your site, no action is required on your part.”
Google has documented the manual actions they take in their help center. Here is a good list to read over.
Google Manual Actions
- Manual Actions
- Hacked site
- Cloaking and sneaky redirects
- User-generated spam
- Unnatural links to your site
- Unnatural links to your site – impacts links
- Unnatural links from your site
- Pure spam
- Spammy freehosts
- Thin content with little or no added value
- Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing
Matt Cutts also gives some advice on what links you should remove, if you get a warning that affects your rankings.