The most recent push by Google affected website pages that bring little or no value to the user, usually due to poor or thin content.
Simply log in to your Webmaster tools account and there will be a message waiting for you if you were affected by the update. Go to the left navigation menu, under ‘Search Traffic’ there is a ‘Manual Actions’ tab. Selecting this tab will take you to a page that will provide details about your thin content manual action.
Google is focusing more and more on the user experience in order to provide the most relevant results to users. Websites that have little or no content value are paying the price. We must emphasize the word ‘value’, because creating content simply for content’s sake or no end goal in mind results in low-value content that users will not be able to identify with or want to read. Sites that are still entrenched in practices that may have been successful 2-3 years ago, but have not adapted to Google’s ever-changing website guidelines, are starting to see the results of their lack of evolution. Hence, the reason why Google assessed a manual action for thin content.
What Kind of Content could have Gotten You in Trouble?
First things first, make sure you read up on Google’s guidelines, HERE.
Identifying the content that got hit by the latest Google update is the first step to getting your website penalty cleaned up. Tools such as Fruition’s free Google Penalty Checker can help you get a good idea of those pages that need to be addressed.
Once these pages have been identified, now you must work to address the content on the affected pages, either by re-writing content or redirecting/removing the page. In your evaluation, ask yourself ‘what will my user gain by reading this page?’ ‘What is my goal for this page?’ If you can provide a clear answer, work next to create an outline and then new content for the page. If you can’t come up with a clear goal, it may be best to redirect the page, or remove the page completely. During this clean-up process, make sure to document and track all of your efforts clearly in a shareable document. List those pages that you have identified as being affected, and what steps were taken to increase the value of each page.
Once the clean up has completed, it is time to submit a reconsideration request. It is important that your reconsideration request is well thought out and authentic. There is a real person on the other side of that email that holds your organic traffic in the palm of their hands. Be real, admit shortcomings, list those steps taken to improve the site and most important, be honest. If you previously participated in SEO efforts that were in the ‘gray area’ according to current Google best practices, don’t be afraid to admit your faults along with the steps you have made to clean up the value of your website.
Lastly, remember to stay patient. While the Google team responds to reconsideration request within 2 to 3 weeks, occasionally it could take them up to 6 weeks to review your documents. If you haven’t heard back several weeks after you submitted the reconsideration request, it could mean that your site is still in violation of the webmaster guidelines.
It’s important that you address Manual Actions as soon as possible as they do have an expiration date. The manual action can expire as early as a month after it’s been issued or could take up to a couple of years. While there is no noticeable pattern, Google’s Matt Cutts explains in a video that the length of a manual action correlates with how sever the problem is.
If you need further assistance removing a Google penalty or your manual action alert, Fruition is here to help! Call us at 303-395-1880 or message us.
Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.
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