What is a Google penalty?
A Google penalty is when a member of the Google Web Spam Team basically decide that your site should not be ranking on Google for anymore due to breaking the Google search guidelines, or reasons such as your website containing malware, illegal content or anything else that they decide is not good for the users.
A reason to remain on your toes
Google strives to ensure that users are provided with an enhanced user experience. It wants to make it certain that no compromises on quality are made and the users get what they are looking for. For this purpose, it keeps tabs on websites to ensure that no wrong tactics are being employed to attract traffic. This is the purpose of a Google penalty. Google penalty refers to the beating that the ranking of your website takes due to the updates brought to the search algorithms or manual review of Google.
A dangerous position to be in
When a manual action is placed on your website, you receive a message from Google Search Console. This should alert you that you are in a problem and some quick measures need to be taken. Manual actions basically refer to the demotion or removal of web pages or sometimes even websites from the search result pages. These aren’t related to Google algorithms such as Penguin and Panda. Instead, this is a punishment that Google sends out manually to websites for their mistakes.
There are quite a few reasons which might put you on the receiving end of a manual Google penalty. Unnatural links to your site, a hacked site, poor quality content, spamming, user-generated spam, keyword stuffing and spamming of the site with free hosts are some of the reasons due to which you might find trouble knocking on your door.
When should you be worried?
You need to be apprehensive about the penalty if it has an impact on the traffic and ranking of your website. There are some manual actions which do not affect the traffic or ranking of your website to a large extent. They focus on the pages that you had ignored or were not important to you. In this situation, the simple approach would be to get rid of the pages which gave rise to the problem.
It is important to find out if the manual action has an effect on your website. For this, you can make use of Google Analytics. Take a close look at the organic traffic of your website since the action has been placed. If there is a drastic change, you need to take some quick measures.
What needs to be done?
The approach that you take to deal with the manual action depends on the reason which gave rise to the problem. For instance, let us take the example of unnatural links to your website. There are two types of penalties that can be given if you are found guilty of this. In one case, Google arrives at a conclusion that the links were not your doing. This would not have an impact on the ranking of your site and you would not have to suffer.
However, if you are found guilty of being involved in this situation, you would have to be worried about your ranking.