Thursday, November 12, 2020

Google Webmaster Guidelines Change on November 12, 2020 at 12:26 AM

Today there was a slight change (within the guidelines) regarding how Google handles web spam.

How does Google handle web spam?

If you've worked in SEO (or even just used the web) for a while, you'll know there's a lot of spam out there! Managing that must be an impossible task. No wonder Google "prefers developing scalable and automated solutions" for handling spam.

The change today involved removing this clarification to their web spam process:

so we attempt to minimize hand-to-hand spam fighting. While we may not take manual action in response to every report, spam reports are prioritized based on user impact, and in some cases may lead to complete removal of a spammy site from Google's search results. Not all manual actions result in removal, however. Even in cases where we take action on a reported site, the effects of these actions may not be obvious.

This suggests that Google is downplaying the manual processes for handling web spam. While removing this section does not imply they are no longer manually removing web spam, it's clear they don't want to highlight this.

I can imagine the nightmare this must cause to the search quality team: thousands of emails a day complaining about individual spam incidents. Each believe's it's the most important case- and, in many ways, it is very important to businesses who make their living on the web. Unfortunately, it's against Google's policies to handle things like this on a case by case basis. That wouldn't be fair.

This change might also imply that Google is very confident in its own ability to detect web spam algorithmically. It's clear that they've been moving in this direction for a while- incorporating Panda into their core algorithm, for instance. They've also recently added an algorithm that basically renders most link spam/link schemes useless via another algorithm. I bet the web spam team appreciates that- even if it didn't decrease the number of complaints making it into their inbox. Hence the update, today.

What can you do about web spam? 

If you believe you've really been affected by web spam you can still report spam to Google whether it's from:
  • Web pages
  • Paid links
  • Rich snippets
  • Malware
  • Phishing

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