Google Algorithm Updates
In February 2021, Google introduced 12 new manual action penalties that are unrelated to Google Search. Instead, this time they impact Google News and Google Discovery content.
The enforcement of new policies is probably due to the rise of fake news, manipulated content by political parties and violent acts that were sadly among trending news over the past 12 months.
However, Google doesn’t say if the content that received a manual action will be removed from the listing or demoted. All we know is that there are 12 new manual actions you should be aware of.
Let’s quickly review what is a manual action and then dive into Google’s 12 new manual penalties.
What Is A Manual Action?
A manual action is a penalty applied by a Google employee after they reviewed your website for violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
The results of a manual action can include:
- Drop in rankings
- Drop in number of indexed pages
- Drop of selected pages from Google search
- Deindexing of the whole website or part of it
If you need an authoritative reference, Search Engine Journal has a complete list of manual action penalties that Google applies to websites in search.
As we learned in February 2021, though, manual actions are no longer restricted to only content appearing in Google Search, but also in Google News and Google Discover.
What Are Google News and Google Discover?
Google News is Google’s news aggregator that gets content from websites that applied to appear as news providers.
Google Discover is a mobile feed that helps you discover (indeed) new content that you might be interested in. It’s based on Google’s Topic Layer in the Knowledge Graph to learn more about you and your interests.
Both News and Discover comes with their own policies (here and here) that webmasters must comply with in order for their content to remain in News and Discover.
Google Introduces 12 New Manual Actions for Google News and Google Discover
Google’s spokesperson Danny Sullivan said on Twitter that Google is already automatically preventing offending content from appearing in Google News and Google Discover, but that manual actions come to the rescue in all those cases the algorithm fails.
See the tweets below:
But if our systems weren't catching things for whatever reason, then we might take a manual action.
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) February 8, 2021
That still doesn’t say if the content receiving a manual action will be demoted or completely removed from News and Discover, but chances are, since it hadn’t to show up in the first place, it’s going to be removed.
Let’s see which new manual actions Google introduced for News and Discover.
1. Transparency (Google News)
Google may apply a manual action penalty if the site appearing in Google News doesn’t have clear information about who writes the articles, as well clear dates and bylines.
Also, Google may penalize for not having enough information about authors, publishers, companies and any publication that appears in Google News.
Contact information is a must as well. Omitting it is seen as a violation of Google’s policy.
2. Misleading Content (Google Discover)
Any empty promise made to the user in the headline or content is considered a violation.
3. Adult-themed Content (Google Discover)
Adult content is not allowed in Google Discover.
That includes explicit sexual material and acts, as well as nudity.
4. Dangerous Content (Google News + Discover)
Any content that could cause serious harm to people or animals is subject to manual action.
5. Harassing Content (Google News + Discover)
If your content contains threatening content, including bullying and harassment, it will be penalized.
That includes any content that will “sexualize someone in an unwanted way, expose private information of someone else that could be used to carry out threats”.
6. Hateful Content (Google News + Discover)
If your content incites hatred, Google will take action on it.
That also includes content that promotes hatred against people with any “characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization”.
7. Manipulated Media (Google News + Discover)
Media that are used to deceive, manipulate or mislead are subject to penalty.
Google includes media that “significantly undermine participation or trust in electoral or civic processes”.
8. Medical Content (Google News + Discover)
Google may take action on medical content that has commercial purposes.
“We also do not allow content from any site that contradicts or runs contrary to scientific or medical consensus and evidence-based best practices”, says Google.
9. Sexually Explicit Content (Google News + Discover)
Images or videos aimed at causing sexual arousal will get a penalty, getting potentially removed from the platform altogether.
10. Terrorist Content (Google News + Discover)
If your content promotes terrorist activities in any way, it’s subject to manual action.
11. Violence and Gore Content (Google News + Discover)
Google will penalize for content that incites to violence and celebrates it, including the sharing of explicitly graphic material.
“We also do not allow extremely graphic or violent materials for the sake of disgusting others”, says Google.
12. Vulgar Language and Profanity (Google News + Discover)
This penalty is for content that contains strong profanities and obscenities.
How to recover from these Manual Actions?
The best practice is to remove the content (we know, it’s a lot of work, but must be done) that violates Google’s policies and then submit a reconsideration request.
Google offers advice in the form of “Recommended actions” to webmasters directly in the Search Console Help page for manual actions. It’s worth linking again, here. We strongly encourage you to follow the recommended steps and any further directives Google gives you.
After that, it might take anywhere from days to weeks to recover, depending on when Google’s employees see and take action on the request.
The best way to avoid News and Discover manual actions for the time being is to abide strictly to Google’s policies for this type of content.
E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) has never been more important.
Google wants all content from News and Discovery to be trustworthy and come from authoritative, expert voices. It won’t accept anything inferior or misleading even in the slightest.
And we don’t need to tell you that even most of the content appearing in Google Search has to abide to E-A-T quality standards to be able to remain indexed and rank well.
Do you publish content on Google News and Google Discover? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.
Here’s to your success.