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Beware of a Google Penalty: What to Do When Mass Manual Actions are on the Rise

Does the month of May mean manual actions?

Yesterday morning, Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz reported an alarmingly high number of Google penalty distributions to various websites. The manual actions were distributed to websites showing “thin content with little or no added value.”

He reports that Google has appeared to have targeted a content network and “slapped” many of the participating sites with Google penalties.

Schwartz also cites a large thread from Black Hat World (BHW) featuring a lengthy discussion between forum users who had been affected by the Google penalties. Many BHW users are baffled by the manual actions’ reasoning of “thin” content, some stating that their website content is composed solely of “unique” and “hand written” articles.

But that’s not the only strange occurrence. Some commenters on Search Engine Roundtable and Black Hat World have stated that, although they have been hit with a Google penalty, they have not seen a decrease in rankings. Schwartz, at the end of the blog, speculates if this is some kind of “manual action bug.”

With so much unsure as to why these Google penalties happened, how can you ensure the safety of your website?

A Google penalty, warning that the website's content is thin, with little to no added value.

Is Your Website in Danger of a Google Penalty?

First things first: Let’s assess the takeaway information from Barry Schwartz’s article.

  1. A reaffirmation of quality content.

If you’ve been reading our blog, this news should be no big surprise. Since the Panda update, Google has shown an increasing interest in rewarding sites who have something useful to say while punishing sites that do not with Google penalty distributions. This latest attack on “thin content” with “no added value” is the latest group of casualties in Google’s ongoing war for a better user experience.

  1. A warning against content networks, private blog networks, article farms, etc.

An SEO definition of content networks: Content networks are syndicated networks of websites containing content and advertising for the purpose of generating leads. Google has taken action against content and private blog networks (PBNs) in the past, but this is the first evidence of a follow-up effort we’ve seen in many months.

With these in mind, it’s easy to see whether your site is in danger of a Google penalty or not. Simply ask yourself: 1) “Is my website’s content useful to my readers and customers?” and 2) “Am I using a content network?”

We’re guessing you’ll be able to tell the answers to these pretty quickly. Now the question is: Where do you go from here? And how can you avoid Google penalties?

Scared of Google Penalties? Use Proven SEO Practices!

Maybe all this talk of “black hat” and “manual action” is making your head spin. Maybe you’re just the average business owner, trying to run his online site the best he can. Well, even if you don’t know much about SEO, you can still avoid getting hit with a Google penalty.

Now more than ever is the time to beef up your content or get led to the slaughter. The great Google machine is hungry; anything less than quality content has a high chance to be penalized. Just take it from one commenter who states, “if you do ANYTHING to manipulate [Google’s crawlers], Google will hunt you down.”

Hunting down great content, however, can be harder than it looks. But if you’re already getting SEO services from your SEO company, then you know where you can get quality content written for your website. They can even help you recover from Google penalty surprises like the ones seen over the weekend.

We at SEO Inc. know the proven practices to not only help you recover from Google penalties but also avoid them altogether. Whether your website suffers from an algorithm change or a hard-hitting Google penalty, we’ll work with you to make sure you get right back to business.

Worried over the recent manual action scare? Need to make sure your site doesn’t have a Google penalty, or need a solution if you did get one? We’re only a call away.

About Eric Seal

Eric SealEric has written copy for hundreds of blog posts, press releases, and website pages across a wide range of industries, from upscale luggage vendors and industrial warehouse equipment to luxury international hotels. His ability to write engaging content while maintaining a client’s brand and voice has made him a valuable member of the SEO Inc. team. Eric holds a BA in Literature and Writing from Cal State University San Marcos.