Up until now if your website lost rankings or suffered from a sudden drop from organic traffic it was almost impossible to know whether Google had manually or automatically penalized your website. Google tries to limit its manual procedures purely because the web is way to big for any resourceful firm to manually “control” the quality of available content. Furthermore, Google avoids modifying its search results manually because it wants to portray a nature of fairness. Everyone is equal in the eyes of Google spider – you know the old “don’t be evil” mantra (which of course doesn’t apply to its Adsense program).

Today a webmaster has published the email he received from Google after he submitted his website for reconsideration.  The email reads:

Dear site owner or webmaster of *website*,

We received a request from a site owner to reconsider <site> for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site’s ranking in Google. There’s no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team.

Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site’s ranking. Google’s computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.

If you’ve experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site’s content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you’ve changed the URLs for a large portion of your site’s pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search.

If you’re still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Sincerely,

Google Search Quality Team

Website owners never used to get a response like this before. They were basically left in the dark wondering how their website got hit – was it an algorithm penalty or a manual one? It makes a huge different to know that bit of information. If a website is hit by the algorithm then you need to fix your website or you need to follow the stupid tricks that you learn from “gurus” and “ninjas”. On the other hand, if your website was manually penalized then it is highly unlikely to be fixed by some tweaks here and there.

To cut to the chase, I personally think this is a rather good move by Google. It goes on to show that Google is trying to engage with site owners to make the web a better place for all. Given that Bing is catching up really quickly and gaining good market share from Google particularly in United States it is about time Google makes some changes in the way it behaves.