Manual penalty

A direct action taken by a search engine against a website that violates its guidelines.


A Manual penalty is an action taken by search engine evaluators against a website that has been reviewed and found to violate the search engine’s webmaster guidelines. Unlike algorithmic penalties, which are automated and based on changes in the search engine's algorithms, manual penalties are the result of human review and direct intervention. This can result in a website being demoted in search rankings or removed from search results entirely, severely impacting its visibility.

Usage and Context

Manual penalties are often the result of engaging in practices that manipulate search rankings, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, or participating in link schemes. Website owners usually become aware of a manual penalty when they notice a sudden drop in traffic or when they receive a notification in their search engine webmaster tools account. Recovering from a manual penalty involves identifying and correcting the violations, then submitting a reconsideration request to the search engine. The process emphasizes the importance of adhering to ethical SEO practices.


  1. What causes a manual penalty?

    • A manual penalty can be caused by egregious violations of a search engine’s guidelines, such as using manipulative SEO techniques or having spammy content.
  2. How do I know if my website has received a manual penalty?

    • You will likely receive a notification via your webmaster tools account (such as Google Search Console) and may notice a significant drop in search traffic and rankings.
  3. Can a manual penalty be removed?

    • Yes, after correcting the issues that caused the penalty, you can submit a reconsideration request to the search engine. If approved, the penalty will be lifted.
  4. How long does it take to recover from a manual penalty?

    • Recovery time varies widely and can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the issues and the speed of your response.
  5. Are algorithmic penalties and manual penalties the same?

    • No, algorithmic penalties are automated and occur due to changes in search engine algorithms, whereas manual penalties are the result of direct human action against a site.


Manual penalties highlight the critical importance of adhering to search engine guidelines and the dangers of trying to manipulate search rankings. They serve as a reminder that employing ethical SEO practices is not only beneficial for search engine visibility but also critical for maintaining the integrity and reputation of a website. The recovery process, while possible, can be time-consuming and challenging, underlining the value of prevention and the need for a long-term, quality-focused SEO strategy.

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