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Manual Penalty Confusion

 4:58 pm on Jun 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm posting this to let others know something that I was naive about regarding the July 2012 big WMT unnatural links warning and whether manual action was taken.

On July 23rd 2012 I received two messages in WMT saying in part:

"However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole."

I recall a lot of discussion at the time that these particular warnings were simply that... warnings, and that just like the message stated, no manual action was being taken. Therefore, while I worked to clean up my link profile over the next 10 months, I didn't file a reconsideration request because google had told me in this message that I didn't have a manual penalty against my site.

Finally about a month ago, I decided to send in a reconsideration request as a last resort, figuring that I would get the canned message back saying I didn't have a manual penalty. Instead I got this one:

"We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines. "

The messages on July 23rd are the only messages I ever received. They lulled me into not believing I had a manual link penalty, which I ended up finding out was incorrect.

I guess it's my fault for not assuming that I had a manual penalty. Now I know more of what I need to fix. But it sure would have been nice if the messaging was consistent from the start 11 months ago.



 3:28 pm on Jun 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

The original message says "we are taking very targeted action", which could mean that they took a manual action involving certain pages and/or keywords. But I agree that it isn't fully clear.


 5:50 pm on Jun 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

The "targeted action" messages started showing up about May 2012. Matt Cutts addressed them in a July 2012 blog post [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.in]. The WebmasterWorld discussion can be found at Matt Cutts Discusses The New Inbound Link Notifications [webmasterworld.com].


 6:59 pm on Jun 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

The targeted action emails started coming in mid July and Matt made mention of it a week later, which was the topic that you link to. If you read that thread and Matt's discussion of these 'targeted action' notifications, there's absolutely nothing that would lead a person to believe that a reconsideration request is a necessary step, or even that there was a penalty against the site to reconsider.

I was led to believe through all of the discussion that took place last July that it was simply a case that Google was going to ignore certain inbound links and that I should be careful in the future. It wasn't until I did what I believed to be an unnecessary reconsideration request 10 months later on a whim that I learned that I had an actual manual penalty for unnatural links. Sure wish I had those 10 months back.

Not saying it's Google's fault instead of mine... but relying on their messaging and the fairly universal interpretation of it wasn't wise on my part. If you recieved the 'targeted action' notification and haven't submitted a reconsideration request... you might give it a shot.


 8:36 pm on Jun 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

The targeted action emails started coming in mid July

I mis-spoke when I said May [webmasterworld.com], the first instance I can find was actually April [webmasterworld.com].

I make no recommendation as to whether a reconsideration request is neceesary or not. In this case we simply do not know if the "targeted action" message and the "still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines" response concern the same thing. Could there be another issue that might be a problem?

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