Manual Penalty Actions Reported in Google Webmaster Tools

Editor’s note: As of May 2015, Google’s webmaster tools suite is called Google Search Console. 

Gone is the mystery of blackbox manual action penalties levied by Google against your site. Today Google announced a new section in Google Webmaster Tools called “Manual Actions.”

If you go to the Search Traffic navigation and click on “Manual Actions” you’ll see a listing of site-wide matches (spam found across a whole domain) and partial matches (spam flagged on “specific pages, sections or links”) of your site.

Here is this new WMT result being shown for a client of ours:

Google Webmaster Tools manual actions report
Manual Actions reported in Google Webmaster Tools for a Bruce Clay, Inc. client. The domain is reported next to the listed action and is obscured in this screenshot by a black bar. Click to enlarge.

In Google’s Webmaster Central blog post, the example screenshot shows a manual action listed as “User-generated spam. Pages from this site appear to contain spammy user-generated content.” There appear to be four types of reported webspam:

  1. User-generated spam (comment spam)
  2. Thin content
  3. Unnatural links
  4. Hidden text / keyword stuffing

If the user viewing the Google WMT report has administrative access (as opposed to viewable access only), a red “Request a Review” button is shown below the spam listing — a very handy means of submitting a reconsideration request. Here is another example of this new alert for a client of ours, this one with a review button:

manual action report with review button
A “Request a Review” button appears below the spam listing in the new Google WMT Manual Actions report if the user has administrative access. Click to enlarge.

“This new tab eliminates any confusion with clients that want to deny a Google Manual Penalty,” said Ty Carson, a lead SEO analyst here at BCI. “Knowing a site’s full history has always been important, and this new alert eliminates the uncertainty.”


There’s a new page on Manual Actions in Google Webmaster Support, and the Google Webmaster Help channel on YouTube was updated with 7 videos of Matt Cutts explaining the types of spam now reported and how to fix them. Click on the listing below to go to the video on YouTube.














Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay, Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger. Head over to her author page to connect on social.
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4 Replies to “Manual Penalty Actions Reported in Google Webmaster Tools”

Ty Carson

All Google WMT accounts should see a Manual Action tab. If the account is new in GWT, then it might take some time for Manual Actions to show up. Google did take the Manual Action down temporarily, but it should be back up.

Never knew that i should be aware of the possible penalty for web violations. Thanks for sharing! Will visit your blog more often.

Is this tool implemented on all Google Webmaster accounts, or is it coming in phases? If you don’t have this section I’m curious if it means there is just no issue, or it just hasn’t been rolled out universally yet?


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