For the fourth and final time this year, Google launched another spam update to maintain the quality of its search results. Thanks to this, their automated systems keep more than 99% of visits from search results free from spam. It also aims to recognize and filter out sites with no added value and those that use Black Hat SEO techniques.
For websites that follow Google’s webmaster guidelines, these updates haven’t thrown up significant issues. Their definition of spam is a strict one. It includes phishing scams and websites disguised as other reputable sites, plus sites that trick users into providing personal information or installing malware. Just ‘low-quality sites’ aren’t classed as spam by Google, they must have malicious intent to be classified as such. Last year alone, Google’s system blocked anywhere between 25 million to 40 million spam pages from being indexed in search results every day.
Since Google’s anti-spam AI launched, they claim it has reduced the number of websites with duplicated content in the Google index by over 80%. However, as highlighted by the constant updates, it is an ongoing challenge to detect spam. Reasons spam happens is when a website is not adequately secure and leaves itself vulnerable to being hacked. This can result in the website serving spam or malware to its users. Google punishes hacked spam the same as it would punish intentional spam. This is because it’s the site owner who has the responsibility to keep it secure.
Each year Google publishes a report of fighting spam which shows the regularity of hacking, which rises year on year. One way to identify this on your website is a sudden drop in search rankings following Google updates. If this happens to you, make sure to check your site security and lookout for signs of a malicious attack.
Some simple ways to protect your website against spam are:
- Use Google’s reCAPTCHA tool
- Keep website software up-to-date
- Use automated anti-spam systems
- Check your website for spam in the Google Search Console
- Detect spam accounts by manually checking and removing spammy users
- Look to a proven SEO specialist for guidance
We hope this arms you with more knowledge on how to avoid leaving your website open. Make sure to look out for Google’s annual spam-fighting report next year for even more information.