While Google remains one of the most sophisticated ‘automated’ search engines around it still has a crack commando team of human experts checking content is suitable and meets its guidelines and dealing with those sites that don’t.

This YouTube video presented by Matt Cutts, a Search engineer at Google explains more about its search rank penalties.

The first in the process is the web spam team acting manually on flagged issue such as an adverse spam report or the discovery of off-topic porn within a site. Such issues are dealt with a “time-out” punishment, excluding that site from search results. These seem to be fairly arbitrary with Cutts suggesting those found guilty of using hidden text perhaps likely to get handed a time-out that expires after 30 days. Yet even the more serious offenders also get given a second chance. Found guilty of using cloaking and / or perhaps something more malicious and the time-out punishment will be longer but even that will expire at some point in time.

Yet every flag and manual intervention also improves the automated side of Google’s search. Learning all the time, the Google techies then try and use that information to update and improve their algorithims, to hopefully minimise the need for manual intervention in the future.

For those hit with a time-out the ‘suspension’ can also be brought to an end quicker. Clean the offending bits up, submit a re-consideration request and Google could lift the ban earlier.

The three minute video is an interesting insight into how Google is using human intervention to improve its already leading automated technology.

Have you been the subject of a Google time-out? Were you able to lift it easily?

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