Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller answers a question about making honest mistakes in SEO and if websites get a penalty for accidentally breaking Google’s rules.
This is discussed in the latest installment of the Ask Googlebot Series on YouTube. Specifically, Mueller addresses the following question:
“How Google Reacts to Honest Mistakes”
There’s a lot of information about SEO on the Internet. It’s not always up to date or necessarily true.
People learning about SEO easily make mistakes that could lead to the ever-watching eye of Google swooping down with a manual action and rank drop.
Mueller begins by clarifying he can only speak about the Google webmaster guidelines and webspam 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 Mistakes Happen
Mueller said nobody is 100 percent perfect when it comes to SEO, and the algorithm tries to understand that. If there is an issue when crawling your site, Googlebot will isolate and ignore it.
Instead, Google will narrow its focus on the parts of your site where its SEO fits within the guidelines and policies.
This is a positive thing for amateur SEOs trying to rank their site, but don’t understand the intricacies. SEO is just as much art as it is science, and Google understands that not everyone is a mix of Van Gogh and Einstein.
What If There Is a Manual Penalty?
While Google does its best to ignore minor issues with the guidelines and policies, it can’t give everyone a free pass. If the problem is serious or gets worse over time, then Google gives the site a manual action.
Every website needs to be connected to Google Search Console for many reasons, including finding out about manual actions. A manual action is a significant rank drop or de-listing caused by serious infractions against Google’s guidelines and policies.
Mueller says a manual action is temporary. If the site fixes the issues associated with the manual action, then they can appeal to Google for a reconsideration request. Google rechecks the site to make sure all the issues are fixed and removes the manual action, leading to your rank being restored.
Mueller ends the video by saying the company tries to deal with mistakes thoughtfully, and they don’t have to impact your Google search rankings forever.
Knowledge is Power
The best way to keep mistakes from happening is understanding what Google wants from the beginning. Check out the Google webmaster guidelines before making changes to your site.
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, February 2022.