Oh man.  I got an email last week from a former client for whom we had lifted a manual unnatural links penalty recently asking why they had another penalty.  The original penalty was reduced from a sitewide to a partial on April 19, 2014 and the penalty was completely removed on May 6, 2014.

The message from Webmaster Tools, given on May 6 clearly states that there are "no manual actions on your site".  It took about 2 days for the manual spam actions viewer to reflect that there were no webspam actions.  This is normal.  It can take up to a week for the manual spam actions viewer visible under Search Traffic --> Manual Actions to reflect that a penalty has been lifted.

Then, last week the client noticed in Webmaster Tools that they once again had a partial action on their site:

They had not received any email notification nor had they received a message in Webmaster Tools of a penalty being reapplied. The client had done absolutely no linkbuilding since their penalty was removed.

The fix

We immediately applied for reconsideration again saying the following:

Dear Google Webspam Team,

We received notification of having our manual spam action revoked on May 6, 2014.  Shortly after this the manual action disappeared from our manual actions viewer.  However, we now see that we have a partial action again. We are not sure whether a mistake has been made or whether Google needs us to do more link clean up work.  We are applying for reconsideration again so that this matter can be rectified.

Thank you,


Nine days later we received another message saying that our manual spam action had been revoked.  At this point the manual spam actions viewer is still showing that there is a partial action but I am assuming that this will take a couple of days to resolve as happened before.

What happened?

It looks like Google made a mistake.  John Mueller has mentioned before that it can happen that a webspam team member can forget to hit the button to actually remove a penalty.  But this is the first time that I've seen it happen where a penalty got lifted and accidentally came back.  I also wrote about a similar case here where Google made a mistake and forgot to lift a penalty.

If you have had manual actions on your sites before, it is a good idea to check them periodically to make sure that they haven't been reapplied!

Have you had a similar experience?  I'd love for you to leave a comment below.