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Manual spam action applied, then No manual spam actions found

1:17 am on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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OK, so first I get a messsage in GWT stating that, "Google has applied a manual spam action."

Then, I clean up the issues, submit a Reconsideration Request, then get a response saying, "No manual spam actions found."

Note that it did not say, that the manual spam action was revoked, only that there was no spam action found.

Yet the original message stated quite clearly that there was a manual spam action applied, as opposed to an algorithmic thing.

So what gives?
1:16 pm on July 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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4:17 pm on July 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld.

Maybe it was revoked before Reconsideration request, or maybe the first message was a bug and should not have been sent. Or maybe the last message had incorrect text. I think you will not know either ways.

Has your traffic/rankings been affected either after the first message or after your cleanup?
5:35 pm on July 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Traffic dumped on the day Penguin 2.0 rolled out, May 22. So researched my links and found a bunch of spammy ones that were placed by an SEO guy I had hired years ago. So I started a link clean-up campaign in mid-June.

June 27th I received the "unnatural links" message, which also stated, "As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action." Traffic has not decreased any further since that message.

I completed the link clean-up and submitted a reconsideration request, as well as a disavow link submission which included the links I was unable to get removed. July 3rd I received the response from Google, saying, 'We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site's ranking in Google. There's no need to file a reconsideration request for your site..."

Traffic hasn't rebounded yet, but it's only been less than a week.

I wonder if I can use the reconsideration request from to ask for clarification?
5:52 pm on July 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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If you search this forum you will at least one other person had a similar issue. They submitted four reconsideration requests to remove the manual action only to be told that there was no manual penalty applied in response to their final reconsideration request.
5:58 pm on July 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately, your traffic may well not rebound, even if you've cleaned up the bad links. You're not going back to exactly the same "profile" you had before.
6:12 pm on July 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Thanks guys, that makes sense. I guess I'll just take the part about "No manual spam actions found" as my one bit of good news. :-/

Still, I would think that if I was algorithmically dinged for spammy links, removing and disavowing said spammy links should help me recover from that, at least to some degree. I understand I may not reach my previous levels, because perhaps I was receiving undue link-juice from spammy sites, and now that's gone. But still, I would think the algorithmic penalty would eventually be lifted. Or is the algorithm change not so much a "penalty", but just the discounting of those links, which is practically the same as removing / disavowing those links?
1:04 pm on July 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I have a site that fits this profile as well. I launched it October 2010. It did surprisingly well right off the bat but within 2 weeks all traffic dropped off a cliff. I believe it had a -50 penalty since no term appeared higher than page 5, including the search for just the domain name without the .com. I filed a reconsideration request and was told it did not meet Google's quality guidelines (the generic message). I tried numerous attempts to fix it and every year since I've filed another reconsideration request and got the same violates Google guidelines message.

On a whim, I tried another this year without making any major changes since the last and received the no manual penalty message within 2 days. I have seen little to no changes in terms of ranking or traffic... the site is effectively still dead to Google. The confirmation of no penalty was received over a month ago so I feel this is enough time to detect a difference.

My theory is this is possibly one or a combo of the following:

- The penalty expired
- The site has a permanent flag on it
- The site has to completely start over and start building authority again

I hope it does not have a permanent flag on it. I am tempted to just redirect the .com to the .net and see what happens. Anyone have any opinion on if this is a good idea and if so, do you recommend a 301 or just 404 the .com and bring it up on the .net.

3:27 pm on July 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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If you're going to change domains, you can redirect the human visitors, and tell the Googlebot to go away. If you just 301 the whole thing, the bad links just get moved to the new domain. If you just 404 the whole thing, human visitors can't find you.

So for normal URLs, .com 301 -> .net
For robots.txt, serve up Disallow: / on .com

If you're going to change domains, you would want to do at least some minimal link recovery work once you've done that.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 5:04 pm (utc) on Jul 12, 2013]