If you’ve been to the Google Webmaster Tools support page recently, you’ll see their list of manual actions updated with a new item. This new manual action penalty is named Image Mismatch, and it’s proof of Google’s growing ability to read different types of content online.

Google Rolls Out New "Image Mismatch" Manual Action Penalty
The Image Mismatch section, a new addition to the list of manual action penalties on Google Webmaster Tools

Websites with images on search results that do not match the images on their pages will be given this manual action penalty. This usually happens with websites that use anti-hotlinking tools, but Google also views this as a kind of cloaking. As with other manual penalties, Google will display the message under site-wide matches and partial matches depending on where they find the violation.

Below is a sample of the message you will receive if you violate this new manual action category:

A sample manual action penalty message from an anonymous sender. Image from SERoundtable.com.
A sample manual action penalty message from an anonymous sender. Image from SERoundtable.com.

Addressing the Image Mismatch Penalty

Google also presented their recommended action to address the image mismatch manual action penalty. If you receive such a message on your Google Webmaster Tools, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Check that your site displays the same image on your website and on Google image search results. The problem may be in your code if you are using “anti-hotlinking” tools, so check your code thoroughly.
  • After fixing your code and ensuring that the image search results are consistent with the images on your website, send Google a reconsideration request. Your manual action penalty will be revoked as soon as they determine that your site no longer violates their guidelines.

We’d be happy to help you address this manual action penalty if you receive one. Talk to your account manager today and let us know what pages are affected by this. If you’re not yet our partner, sign up today for free and get your free website audit to learn how you can improve your website and gain access to our complete SEO solutions.

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