Over the weekend, Google issued Manual Action Penalties through the Search Console message center for websites with too many low quality outbound links. Watch this video to learn more.

Hopefully you didn’t receive a notification of this nature from Google over the weekend. If you did, then you need to put on your SEO hat and start the recovery process or contact your SEO manager for assistance, because this is a big deal for your website.

This Google SEO penalty roll-out was first confirmed by SEO expert Barry Schwartz and reported on Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land early yesterday morning. As is typical with Google, no official confirmation on this penalty have been released yet.

The penalties are for unnatural outbound links and were issued via the Google Search Console beginning on Saturday, April 9, 2016. If you see a message that states Google had detected a pattern of artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links (otherwise known as spammy links) then you will need to take action to start removing these links from your website as soon as possible.

While Google is primarily targeting websites that are selling paid backlinks with this manual action penalty, some advertisers, popular blogs, and forums are receiving notifications.

Here is a screenshot of the email notification to webmasters:


How To Verify A Penalty

Log in to your Google Search Console and check your All Messages inbox of your verified domain to see if you received a notification regarding this penalty. This inbox will also notify you if you have any other messages or penalties regarding your website URL and will provide you with instructions on the action you need to take to correct them.

Here is Google’s recommended action to correct unnatural links to your site.

Since this is a manual penalty, it may take some time for Google to detect issues on your site. We strongly recommend that you check your Google Search Console on a regular basis over the next couple of weeks for notifications.

Even if you do not receive a manual penalty, this should be a warning to all webmasters and website owners to check your outbound link quality and remove any low ranking or spammy links that you may have acquired over time.

You can also prevent this penalty by adding rel=”nofollow” to your low-quality outbound links. If you are hosting a forum, this is a must. A rel=”nofollow” tag prevents backlink attribution (or what we like to call link juice) from being passed to that domain. This should also serve as a strong reminder never to purchase or sell links for/with your website.

Google has recently confirmed that inbound links are still the number one ranking factor for Organic Search. But to stay on the safe side of the link-building process, you need to be sure that you acquire these inbound links organically by creating amazing content and not by link-swapping or purchasing links.

Google initiates more than 400,000 manual action penalties each month and are all set to expire; the length of the penalty correlates to the severity of the problem.

Google has warned that repeat offenders of manual action penalties will see stiffer punishments, making it even more critical to address any issues you see as quickly as possible.

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