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The reason I ask is because people speak on here of using the spam report at Google like someone is actually going to go tinker with the search results. Could that be, or do these reports go to help the next version of the algo, or both?
I know sometimes I have imaginary conversations in my mind about what the human editing component of the algo might be saying about certain things. But when would their input actually be felt, and how much input do they really have?
Wild speculation is appreciated.
If a site is somehow, err, linked, with these
spam-sites, that may affect the PR, it's unclear.
But that would count as algorithmic, not
hand-edited, even if the spam-blacklist
is in part hand-edited.
Also in some extremely rare cases Google BANS a website i.e. the website is completely removed from their index. This i think requires a manual intervention . Other penalties like using Rank Tracking softwares may also be detected automatically, after which they might decide what action to take. Most of these reports they might be getting automatically, and then, a human must be deciding what to do. Then there are some Rare cases where they come across something which cannot be detected automatically, in which case they would most probably hand edit the SERPS.
Most of the smaller offences are countered by giving smaller penalties which affects the ranking but the page remains in their index. Just my opinions.
I do think they try very hard not to hand edit. Hand manipulation is an absolute last resort, but sometimes you have to kill something quick and that means manually. They don't do it often but they do it. They have to be able to comply with laws, respond to media scandals, politicians and governments and court orders.
>>I wonder if any positive manual intervention goes on.
Sure. When the whole PR0 penalty first hit, a lot of innocent sites got caught up in the sweeps. GoogleGuy checked many sites individually and reported that many would be restored in the next update. I would call that a positive manual intervention. :)
That's prob one of the most asked questions here at WebmasterWorld so i'm pretty sure, you'll find a answer if you do a site search for how do i know + penalty [google.com].