Search Engine Penalty: Manual or Algorithmic?

Written by Nick Stamoulis

If you’ve noticed a significant dip in traffic to your website that spans a substantial amount of time (more than just a few days or weeks) and you haven’t scaled back any of your marketing efforts and can’t attribute it to external factors like the seasonality of your product or service your website may have incurred a penalty. The first thing to do is to check your Google Webmaster Tools account to see if there have been any notifications. Google may have sent a warning explaining what happened. Then again, maybe they didn’t, so just because there aren’t any notifications it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a penalty.

There are two different types of search engine penalties. The first is an algorithmic penalty, which means that the penalty is a result of a search engine wide algorithm update. The search spiders now view your website differently, and when a penalty occurs, it means that it didn’t work out in your favor. Something about your website or your SEO activities is no longer in line with what the search engines approve of. For example, the Google Panda and Penguin updates targeted websites that had low quality content and spammy inbound links.

The second type of search engine penalty is a manual penalty. Contrary to popular belief, actual humans do review websites and look for infractions that go against the outlined Webmaster Guidelines. It’s not just the search spiders doing the work. Sometimes a human can catch an issue that might go unnoticed by the search spiders, like when JCPenney got in trouble for buying links. When this happens, a manual penalty is incurred.

One way to determine whether the penalty was algorithmic or manual is to pay close attention to search engine news. Google has become much more transparent about its practices in recent years in hopes that webmasters will follow the guidelines set forth. Google now announces whenever there is going to be an algorithm change and this applies to both major and minor changes. Take a look at the search engine blogs to see if the dip in traffic correlates with when a search engine algorithm change was made. It could happen on a delay, not necessarily the day that the algorithm change was announced. If it doesn’t seem like the penalty was due to any algorithm change, it could be manual.

The way to go about fixing the issue depends on the type of penalty it was. For an algorithmic penalty, recovering is often trickier and takes some time because you need to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Penguin went after sites that had bad links and overused keyword anchor text linking. Which were you guilty of? One or the other? Both? Not sure? It’s recommended to take action quickly, but by making one change at a time. If you go making all sorts of changes things could get disorganized quickly and you’ll never really know what it was that you were doing wrong. It could even make it worse. Sites that suffer from a manual penalty can address the issue and then submit a reconsideration form.

Penalties are extremely frustrating. In order to avoid them, be sure to follow the search engine Webmaster Guidelines at all times. The “right way” to do things may take longer (sometimes a lot longer) but at least you know that you are safe.

Categorized in:

Like what you've read? Please share this article

Read What Full Service SEO Clients Say About SEO Firm Brick Marketing

"Brick Marketing is rock solid and essential in building a strong marketing foundation."

“Brick Marketing is extremely valuable for feedback and advice in many aspects of marketing, not just SEO and I look forward to continuing to work with them over the long term to continually improve our business and increase sales. That’s what it’s all about. Just like their name implies, Brick Marketing is rock solid and essential in building a strong marketing foundation.”

– Jeff Nicholson, President Freely Creative, Inc. /

"highly recommend Brick Marketing to all of my clients"

“After working with many other SEO firms and not being satisfied I finally was introduced to the Brick Marketing President and Founder, Nick Stamoulis. Nick Stamoulis has educated me about SEO and has provided me with a well rounded SEO package, not only does he offer top quality services he also educates his clients and spends the time to explain everything and their SEO pricing is competitive. I will highly recommend Brick Marketing to all of my clients. Brick Marketing is an A+ for SEO services.”

– Mike Cardella, Integrated Computer Services

"superior knowledge of marketing on the internet"

“I have had the good fortune to work with SEO expert Nick Stamoulis and his team at Brick Marketing and it was clear form the get go that Nick had superior knowledge of marketing on the internet. The SEO campaign and technical writing that Brick Marketing provides has been impressive, where in the past we struggled to find the high levels of competence in these two skill sets. Were only just beginning with Brick Marketing and look forward to growing with their expert guidance. Thank you Nick Stamoulis and the Brick Marketing team!”

– Craig Raubenheimer, President, Roan Solutions, Inc.

"Brick Marketing is "solid" when it comes to support for SEO marketing advice"

“I had been impressed for a long time with the content that Brick Marketing was sharing in their informative blog posts and articles. I chatted with Nick Stamoulis a couple times and decided that he was the expert I wanted to work with. I have worked with Brick Marketing for about six months and they have helped us resolve several SEO related issues pertaining to our website. Our account rep is always just an email away with answers to any questions I have and suggestions for how we can improve what we’re doing. Brick Marketing is “solid” when it comes to support for SEO marketing advice. I definitely recommend them if you want to feel more secure about how your website is performing in searches and have the confidence that everything being done to improve your rank is white hat and legit.”

– Paul Rarick,

"went above and beyond to help us with any SEO issues"

“We hired Brick Marketing to manage our SEO, but they ended up also managing our company blog, social media marketing, helped us launch a pay per click advertising campaign, migrated our website to a new domain and so much more! Our SEO Specialist is always quick to respond whenever we had a question and went above and beyond to help us with any SEO issues.”

– Mory Creighton, CEO, Pinpoint Laser Systems

"traffic has increased over 80% year-over-year"

“When we started working with Brick Marketing, we had just been subjected to a Google algorithm update and our websites both took substantial hits to traffic. Within a few months, Brick has taken both of our websites to pre-algorithm traffic and conversion levels, and for the CallFinder site, the traffic has increased over 80% year-over-year. Their expertise in SEO, responsive design, and content marketing helped us turn the situation around, and we could not be happier with the results we’ve seen in just our first four months of working with them. The team we work with at Brick Marketing is always available for off-the-cuff consultations and are at the ready to provide recommendations and suggestions to improve our site’s appearance and performance. They are truly a hands-on partner, which is immensely valuable to our business.​”

– Jeanne Landau, Director of Marketing |

"Brick Marketing is levels above all integral part of my team"

“I have formed an invaluable marketing partnership with Brick Marketing. Nick Stamoulis and the rest of the Brick Marketing team are professional, timely, thorough and take time to, not only succeed at the tasks, but also educate myself and my team on the strategies in the process. Since my first encounter working with Brick, I’ve changed organizations and have taken them along with me…they are that good! In my experience in working with many outside agencies who over-promise and under-communicate, I can truly state that Brick Marketing is levels above all others and vested in our relationship. They are not just an SEO consultant, but an integral part of my team. I highly recommend Brick Marketing for any company looking to significantly increase search engine competitiveness and internet presence.​”

– Jodi Murphy, Marketing Director EUXmedia

"dependable, professional SEO company"

“Brick Marketing has been a dependable, professional SEO company that has helped us get results. In the last 6 months of using their services, visits to our website have increased by almost 30%. Our dedicated SEO Specialist was pleasant to deal with. Her suggestions for articles and press releases were industry specific. Brick Marketing always answered our phone calls and emails within an hour which made us feel valued as a client. I would recommend Brick Marketing to all businesses to handle their SEO needs.”

– JoAnne Loftus, Archival Designs, Inc.

"Our keyword rankings have improved and traffic has increased"

“The Brick Marketing team, was critical to ensuring that our new Web site is optimized to drive maximum traffic. Our keyword rankings have improved and traffic has increased thanks to her assistance and advice. In addition, they executed a strategic link building program that helped further increase Web traffic.”

– Lauren LaFronz, Director of Marketing, enChoice, Inc.

"Brick Marketing has been a tremendous resource for our business"

“Brick Marketing has been a tremendous resource for our business. Through their expertise with the ever changing world of SEO, our web presence is as strong as ever. Our working relationship with Nick Stamoulis and Danielle Bachini has been outstanding. In collaboration with web designer Chris Roberts, we were also able to develop the perfect responsive website that truly reflects our business. Thank you Brick Marketing!​”

– Ellen Parlee, Parlee Farms

Contact Us about brick marketing Industries We Serve Case Studies

Need Assistance? Please Contact Us Below: