The vast majority of traffic that finds its way through the Internet will involve search engines. Chief among these search engines both in the United States and the majority of countries abroad is Google. Because of this, many companies, looking for increased traffic, have sought ways to game the system in order to make their personal ranking as close to the number one spot as possible. As about 75% of people who run a search will never leave the first page, and the majority of clicks are the first link available, it is easy to see why some people would do this.
As a result of this behavior, Google has changed how it ranks websites. A part of this change has been to penalize those companies or websites that Google thinks are trying to play the system for their advantage. In doing so, they can give websites either a manual penalty or an algorithm penalty. How are these penalties different? Lets find out.
A manual penalty is a penalty put on your website from a living person working for Google. It means that your website has been specifically targeted because of something that is going on, and Google is giving you a penalty for the behavior. If you have a Google account for your website, then this can be pretty easy to figure out what your fringe is. Just access the account, and look for the specific note. By clearing the problem that Google has with your website, you can get the manual penalty taken away.
Google cannot hire enough people to monitor the hundreds of million of websites they catalog, organize, and display in search results. While people are left to sort out some of the worst offenders, Google uses a number of algorithms to sort through the websites they have listed to search for websites that may be gaming the system. The trick with algorithm penalty is that the only way you will notice it is if you notice a drop in your ranking which cannot be explained by other means. If you believe that an algorithm penalty is decreasing your Google rating, then take stock of your current website. Review online sources to see what the latest iteration of the Google algorithm penalty is targeting, and make sure your website is not doing it. With any luck, you can find and fix the problem on your own, restoring your previous ranking.