Nearly All Manual Actions Now Reported by Google
If you are one of the many website owners or SEO marketers that are displeased with your search engine result rankings for the various pages across your website and you have a "sneaky" suspicion that manual actions implemented by Google must be to blame, you can officially stop wondering.
According to web spam head Matt Cutts, who was featured recently as a PubCon speaker - Google has now begun sending messages to website owners virtually every time an action is manually initiated that could potentially affect the rankings of their website.
Matt Cutts went on to say that the goal of Google is to increase the level of reporting all the way up to 100%, "and as far as I know, we're actually there [already]." Back in June, Cutts cited a reporting rate of 99% for such cases at an SMX Advanced conference.
Manual vs. Algorithmic Actions
When Google takes a manual action, one of their employees reviews a site and determines that it deserves a ranking other than the one that would be given to it algorithmically for a certain keyword phrase. In the vast majority of cases, manual actions result in a decrease in ranking.
If you've been hit with a manual action, often referred to as a manual penalty, you'll need to file a reconsideration request to Google and make an effort to fix whatever problem led to the manual action. These problems could include having paid links on your site, having your site reported to Google for spam, or simply something a Google employee finds while she's making the rounds.
However, you may never even know that you've been hit with a manual action unless you've already verified your site using Google Webmaster Central.
Algorithmic actions, on the other hand, result when Google's algorithms automatically find something wrong with a site without human intervention. This is really just basic SEO: if your site is deemed authoritative, relevant to the given keyword search, filled with fresh, unique content, and representative of many other qualities Google looks for when ranking sites, it will rank highly.
The difficulty with algorithmic actions is that they occur constantly; some are good, some are bad, and you'll never receive a handy little report telling you what you did wrong. As such, the only solution is to stay abreast of Google's latest algorithm updates and ensure that your site doesn't include any criteria for downranking. Content Customs reports algorithm updates as they come, allowing you to make changes to your site before they're penalized.