How to Know the Difference Between an Automated Penalty & a Hand Edit

Some of Google's algorithms give sites a +30 type penalty which prevent the site from ranking better than #31. When Google hand penalizes sites it also tends to look the exact same way, with one exception.

When a site is hand edited typically it won't even rank for its brand name related keywords. Assuming your site has at least a few links, I believe most of the automated penalties still allow to rank for mydomain. Although, over time, I suspect Google may change this, as editing out sites for their own brands hurts Google's relevancy.

Published: September 6, 2007 by Aaron Wall in google


Brian Gilley
September 6, 2007 - 3:27am

Hey Aaron,
I believe we have a hand edit on I had someone at Google check out the site many months back to make sure all was ok since at one time back in '05 I used Link Vault for a month on the site. At the time I did not care about getting clients and didn;t care if the site ranked or not.

Now I do care and that was back in August '05!! First, because of LV, the site was hosed completely in Google not even showing for a simple domain name search. Now we don't rank in Google for anything until you get to more than 5-7 pages or more deep. I think it's about time they let the site back in since we did only use LV for one month, repented from our "sins," and they supposedly let us "back in" when they at least acknowledged that the site was clean back in October of last year.

Any suggestions? Hell, if you have any clear cut answers I'd be glad to pay for an hour of your time to finally get something resolved with this mess.

September 6, 2007 - 4:56am

Hi Brian
If you are already nuked I think the easiest thing to do is sign up at Google Webmaster Central and repent again. I also would give my site another review and go lean on advertising other SEO stuff while I was trying to get them to review my site.

September 6, 2007 - 6:42am


3 follow up questions:-)

1) Any idea if there has been hand edits of users of those that use link purchase and publish sites like text link ads dot com or related sites? It would be nice if there was a site where users that have verified this, could maintain a master list... haha
2) Did you also see what Brian saw where his site beyond a certain level would not rank?
3) Is it just for a search of the "domain name" or related keywords and related brands, sister sites? Could you mention brand name related keywords? ok, technically 4 questions


Patrick Altoft
September 6, 2007 - 8:02am

Here is an interesting comment by Matt Cutts about this:

September 6, 2007 - 9:24am

Notice how he said virtually nothing there?

I know why but I am not telling. What value does that add?

September 6, 2007 - 9:47am

Hi Fakehat
1) I know some sites have been nuked for buying links, but there is no central list. Plus there is no point in creating one as sites banned in one engine still do good in others, and no point making that hand editing public for all the search engines to share.
2) Yes
3) It is something you feel out. In some cases the tip I gave isn't always true, but it is true in the majority of cases.

By brand related keywords I meant like seobook and seo book. Also at one point I called one of my blogs the professor of peanut butter. That unique string, which others sometimes used to link at my site, could also be viewed as a brand-like query.

September 6, 2007 - 2:42pm

Brian this may not be the best answer .. but what about starting over with a new domain and just redirect the old one there ?

Brian Gilley
September 6, 2007 - 4:26pm

Hi hallandnash,
Yeah, I've thought of that many times since I've done it for other sites that we've come across or worked with in the past and had great success with it.
I just didn't want to lose the name equity cause I was planning to do things with the site in the near future that will hopefully propel it forward a bit more.

Hey Aaron,
I'm sure there are several pieces I need to ultimately "clean up" before submitting a request to Google to review the site again. But do you really think that altering content on the site to reflect that we are not handling or offering SEO for clients is advisable? I feel like that's tricking them in a way and could/would take some time to do. I know they don't like SEO's, but personally I don't feel that gives them subjective rights to just throw the gauntlet down on the site. I guess they ultimately can hold whatever prejudice they want though, so perhaps it doesn't matter in the end what my copy says.

September 6, 2007 - 7:20pm

Hi Brian
My point was more about having affiliate links for SEO related services right on your home page.

Brian Gilley
September 7, 2007 - 4:24pm

Hi Aaron,
Thanks for the additional note. I understand what you mean now and it makes more sense thinking about it in that way as you describe it.

We may begin to alter these this coming week and submit a request for review .... again. ;-\ Hopefully it will not take months but who knows...

Thanks again

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