Google Manual Actions And Honest SEO Mistakes

Google search attorney John Mueller answers the question about making honest SEO mistakes and whether websites get a penalty for accidentally breaking Google’s rules.

This is discussed in the latest issue of the Ask Googlebot YouTube series. Specifically, Mueller addressed the following question:

How does Google react to honest errors?

There is a lot of information about search engine optimization on the internet. It is not always up to date or necessarily correct.

People learning about SEO easily make mistakes that can cause the constantly watching eye of Google to pounce on a manual procedure and drop in rankings.

Mueller begins by explaining that he can only talk about Google’s webmaster guidelines and web spam policies. It’s easy for people to accidentally fall into bad practices because of well-meaning advice from a friend or seeing incorrect information online.

Google understands what goes wrong

No one is 100% perfect when it comes to SEO, Mueller said, and the algorithm is trying to understand that. If there is a problem while crawling your site, Googlebot will quarantine and ignore it.

Instead, Google will narrow its focus to the parts of your site where its SEO aligns with guidelines and policies.

This is a positive for amateur SEO professionals who are trying to rank their site, but don’t understand the intricacies. SEO is as much an art as it is a science, and Google understands that not everyone is a mixture of Van Gogh and Einstein.

What if there is a manual penalty?

While Google does its best to ignore minor issues with guidelines and policies, it can’t give everyone a free pass. If the problem is serious or getting worse over time, Google gives the site a manual action.

Every site needs to connect to Google Search Console for many reasons, including manual action detection. Manual action is a significant demotion or delisting resulting from serious violations against Google’s guidelines and policies.

Mueller says the manual measure is temporary. If the site fixes the issues associated with the manual action, it can then petition Google to request reconsideration. Google rechecks the site to make sure all issues are fixed and removes the manual action, restoring your ranking.

Mueller ends the video by saying the company is trying to handle errors carefully, and doesn’t have to affect Google’s search rankings forever.

Knowledge is power

The best way to prevent mistakes from happening is to understand what Google wants from the start. scan the Google Webmaster Guidelines before making changes to your site.

Featured image: Screenshot from, February 2022.

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