This marks the first time a website could potentially receive a manual penalty for violations of News and Discover policies. Previously, manual actions were limited to violations of Google Search.
That’s not to say Google hasn’t been enforcing its policies around News and Discover. It has – but up to this point enforcement has been automated.
A manual penalty, unlike an automated penalty, is issued by a human reviewer at Google. The penalty is applied after the reviewer determines the site is not in compliance with Google’s guidelines.
Traditionally, a manual penalty results in pages or sites being ranked lower in Google Search. It’s unclear what the repercussions will be when hit with a manual penalty for violating Google News and Google Discover policies.
Google’s help page doesn’t state whether the pages will be demoted/removed only from Discover and News, or if the penalty will extend to Google Search as well.
Regardless, it’s in every site owner’s best interests to avoid these penalties. Manual actions are the most serious of all Google penalties and take serious effort to recover from.
Google News & Google Discover Manual Actions
Some of Google’s new manual penalties are specific to News, some are specific to Discover, and some involve News and Discover.
Google News Penalties
The one manual penalty specific to Google News is for violation of the transparency policy.
A site may be found in violation of this policy if it appears in Google News and does not provide clear dates and bylines, as well as information about authors, the publication, the publisher, company or network behind it, and contact information.
Google Discover Penalties
There are two manual penalties specific to Google Discover. They include:
- Adult-themed content: Google has detected content that contains nudity, sex acts, sexually suggestive activities, or sexually explicit material.
- Misleading content: Google has detected content that appears to mislead users by promising a topic or story which is not reflected in the content.
Google News and Google Discover Penalties
There are nine manual penalties for violations of policies shared between Google News and Google Discover. They include:
- Dangerous content: Google has detected content that could cause serious and immediate harm to people or animals.
- Harassing content: Google has detected content that contains harassment, bullying, or threatening content.
- Hateful content: Google has detected content that incites hatred.
- Manipulated media: Google has detected audio, video or image content that has been manipulated to deceive, defraud, or mislead.
- Medical content: Google has detected content aimed at providing medical advice, diagnosis or treatment for commercial purposes.
- Sexually explicit content: Google has detected content that contains explicit sexual imagery or videos primarily intended to cause sexual arousal.
- Terrorist content: Google has detected content that promotes terrorist or extremist acts, including recruitment, inciting violence, or celebrating terrorist attacks.
- Violence and gore content: Google has detected content that incites or glorifies violence. Google does not allow extremely graphic or violent materials for the sake of disgusting others.
- Vulgar language and profanity: Google has detected content that contains gratuitous obscenities or profanities.
Recovering From a Manual Action Penalty
Recovering from a manual action is possible, but it takes work. When Google issues manual penalties it sends a message to the site owner via Search Console.
The Search Console message will contain detailed information on how to recover from the penalty. Recovery will usually consist of removing the offending content and submitting a reconsideration request.
For more information, consult these best practices for writing reconsideration requests that work.
Source: Search Console Help
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.