Last week Google finally released a more in-depth description within Google Webmaster Tools describing the reason(s) a manual web site penalty had been applied to a specific website. This news will now allow manually penalized site owners the necessary insight to correct the reasons for the penalty and apply to Google for reconsideration.
You can find this report within your Google Webmaster Tools account under “Search Traffic” > “Manual Actions”.
Here is an example Matt Cutts posted of the new penalty descriptor:
Some Background on Manual Penalties
Up until this change if you had been unfortunate enough to cheese off Google and receive a manual penalty they remained frustratingly tight-lipped on the reasons for the penalty. If you were lucky Google might have described what caused the penalty but it was often so vague site owners felt helpless and demoralized. As a result, I am sure many websites were completely abandoned and businesses that had all of their eggs in the Google ranking basket lost their shirts.
In short, it has been difficult for businesses who had not known their tactics were against Google Guidelines and today’s news at least gives them more tools to restore their site to good health.