Billions of Sites Subject to Manual Penalty by Google


Google recently released an “interactive infographic” titled “how search works”. I ignored it until Barry Schwartz convinced me to take a second look. The infographic starts with the number of “30 trillion individual pages” Google has in its index.

Later on in the infographic another number is mentioned: 0.22% of all domains in the Google index have been subject to a manual penalty.

Remember that Google also employs algorithmic aka automated penalties which are much more common. Anyway, I was intrigued by this “small” number. You know there are a lot of proverbs that say you can prove anything by making up or tweaking a statistic.

At first I was a bit overwhelmed. I tried to count how much 0.22% of 30 trillion is. I asked other people and even they were unable to really help me.

Finally today I asked Google search itself and the answer was 66,000,000,000 or 66 billion.

There is a problem with that number though. We know how many “individual pages” Google indexes but not how many “domains” they penalize manually. Assuming that a domain can have dozens, thousands or even millions of pages (think we can’t be sure how to divide that number.

As far as I know Google does not disclose how many domains they index. Let’s assume for simplicity’s sake that they index “only” one trillion domains (the assumption would be that a domain has a median number of 30 pages).

Now let’s assume that one trillion is 1000 billion and one billion is 1000 million. Then let’s just take 0.22% out of that. It’s still 22 billion sites that have been manually “marked a spam” by real people, so called Google quality raters.

I have to admit that I am so shocked and awed by these numbers that this post is still probably wildly inaccurate. So I hope Google will come forth and clarify how many billions of sites or domains have been penalized. Yeah, I know that a domain can house more than one site. That’s why these “individual pages” vs “domains” numbers are pretty useless and difficult to compare. How many sites have been actually affected by manual penalties or “manual action” in the Google jargon?

Are there billions of sites manually penalized by Google? How many more have been subject to algorithmic penalties and updates?

Are you one of the billions of people affected? Tell your story in the comments. I have been myself the victim of several penalties either on my own site or on client sites despite being known as one of the most ethical SEO specialists around.