New Google Manual Link Penalty Messaging

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New Google Manual Link Penalty Messaging

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It appears as though Google has been improving its process around assessing manual link penalties and relevant messaging. Google’s default manual link penalty message reads something like this: 

Traditional Google Manual Link Penalty

If you’ve paid for or acquired links through any unnatural form of link building, it should be incumbent upon you to have to clean up your mess.  And good on Google for holding you accountable! But there are plenty of Websites that receive manual link penalties without intentionally violating Google’s guidelines.  Sometimes Websites, for whatever reason, naturally acquire links that look spammy. Additionally, not everyone who gets penalized has the acumen to know how to fix the problematic links. Not that I’m complaining–it’s good business for me.

Over the weekend, I was reviewing the Google Webmaster Tools account for a Website that had received a manual link penalty the week prior and noticed that the language in the messaging had changed.

New Manual Link Penalty

It appears as though the Google spam team is becoming more diplomatic in how it assesses unnatural links and this might be a positive sign of things to come in the future.

If you’ve seen any new manual penalty language of any kind, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

About Author


is a Digital marketing veteran located in the Twin Cities area.


Cory H

March 24, 2014at 9:31 am

Got 2 notices for sites I’d placed MBG articles on, but a few sites escaped the alert. Perhaps those other sites will be flagged later.

There is a pretty nifty WordPress plugin for nofollowing all external site links that helped me clean up one (old/neglected) site pretty quickly. It’s the case of “every” link losing value though, but if it helps me get back up, then so be it.

The most important aspect of the whole notices, however, was that none of the links on the 2 sites were “paid for” or did any compensation take place. They were all guest posts that received (my) editorial review before I published them. Hardly a “fair” slap by Google (aka Scraper extraordinaire, do as I say not as I do, etc).


March 24, 2014at 9:34 am

Cory, thanks for the feedback. It’s definitely not been fun for the guest blogging community–especially when you can’t control how the sites you write for link to you.

Kurt Steinbrueck

March 25, 2014at 7:57 am

Hi Adam,

Thanks for the great posts. The manual action message you highlighted here is actually not new. I worked with a website that received the same message back in August, 2013. I believe the difference in the messages has to do with whether the penalty is a site-wide penalty or a partial match penalty only affecting some pages and/or keywords as they take actions on the links.


March 25, 2014at 10:26 am

Thanks for the comment Kurt. The manual penalty notification that we received changed over the weekend to the softer messaging. I think Google’s definitely getting better in how it assesses a violation.


June 1, 2014at 5:35 pm

Thanks for the article, Adam! I was working on a client who received a penalty from Google in the past. I’ve been working on getting the penalty lifted and have sent reconsideration requests twice and got rejected twice. Today, I updated the disavow links and I was about to send a reconsideration request but when I checked out the manual actions in the webmasters tool, the “unnatural blah blah” message disappeared and it now says “No manual webspam actions found”. Does this mean that the penalty was already lifted? I’m confused. Thanks for your help in advance.


June 5, 2014at 6:42 am

Hi Peachy,

I’ve seen some cases where Google doesn’t notify the Webmaster of a penalty removal. However, keep your eye on Webmaster Tools. I’ve seen sites where the message has gone away, get hit again a month or so later. Also, check your rankings and traffic. If it looks like it’s improved, that should also be a sign of a penalty removal. You might not get back to where you were pre-penalty, but you should see improvement.


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