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How Google Fights Web Spam For A Better Web?

Greg Lucas September 29, 2017

The common understanding of web spamming is limited; everyone knows it’s a problem, but only a few realize the depth to which the problem of spamming has spread. Google’s webspam report reveals what’s hidden about webspam, explains the kind of efforts it’s taking to keep spam out of users of Google search, and reinforces all that website administrators need to do to stay spam-proof. Let’s take you through the highlights of the report, and explain all that Google does to combat the menace of web spam.

The Webspam Trends to Know From 2016

The report we mentioned released some baffling information about trends in web spam. Here are some:

In 2016, the number of hacked websites grew by 32% as compared to the number in the previous year. This underscores the seriousness with which web spam is treated, and underscores the significance of the concerns that web spam generates among Internet innovators.

Social engineering, undesirable software and advertisement injectors, added on top of the webspam, affected a lot of webmasters. To combat this, Google made its Safe Browsing feature more potent to keep users protected from dangerous websites and deceptive download prompts.

Spam focused on mobile devices increased in 2016, primarily because web users are increasingly searching for content using Google on mobile phones. The major spam activity was around redirecting users to spurious web pages without the webmaster’s knowledge.

How Does Google Keep Users Safe From Web Spam?

The trends described above explain how the menace of web spam is posting a serious threat to the quality of user web browsing experience. To tackle it, Google measures a lot of parameters, crunches the numbers, and devices functionality improvements and new features based on that. Here’s a snapshot of how Google keeps you safe from web spam.

Real-Time Refreshes and Spam Detection Via Updated Penguin Algorithm

Google updated its Penguin algorithm and rolled it out in all languages. Now Penguin has become real time, which means that it identifies changes made in web content much quicker than earlier. Because Penguin is now refreshed in near real time, changes appear very shortly after subsequent re-crawling and re-indexing. Also, Penguin now uses several spam signals to identify spam content on websites, and then devalues the content, instead of penalizing the entire website by relegating its ranking.

Automated Potential Spam Alerts to Webmasters

Sporadic or unstructured spam that couldn’t be tackled algorithmically was handled manually. Google sent out as many as 9 million notifications to webmasters about spam on their website. Similar notifications were also built into Google Analytics. Google Analytics’ Safe Browsing alerts have been warning users to stay away from compromised websites that have been known to spread malware.

From the time of its launch in 2015, Safe Browsing alerts have alerted 24,000 webmasters using Google Analytics that 3rd parties were compromising their websites. In June 2016, Google included several other notifications about websites hacked for spam, violating the Webmaster Guidelines.

Then, Google performs algorithmic as well as manual checks to make sure that websites with structured data markup meet quality guidelines before including them in the purview of search features that depend on structured data.

Verification in Google Search Console – A Must Do For Webmasters

Webmasters get a lot of assistance from Google to help them stay safe and aware about web spam, and spam attempts made on their websites. In this direction, webmasters can verify their websites on Google Search Console and start getting notifications about suspicious activity on their websites. Google revealed that in 2016, for 61% of the hacked websites, webmasters did not receive notifications because they’d not verified their websites!

Webmaster’s Efforts to Report Spam

Google webspam report for 2016 highlighted how the search giant received more than 180,000 user-generated spam reports. This drove Google to analyze the submissions, and it found 52% of the reported instances as actual spam. In this manner, Google creates a symbiotic ecosystem on the web, where responsible webmasters can submit their observations, and seek Google’s intervention in mitigating spam.

Educating the Internet User Community About Combatting Spam

Google has also invested heavily in updating the level of awareness and knowledge that webmasters and web users have about webspam and safety practices. For instance, Google conducts several live events and online office hours to educate and update hundreds of thousands of webmasters, digital marketers, and website owners.

Webmaster Help Forums managed by Google has become a high authority body of knowledge on the subject of combating web spam. There are thousands of questions posted on the forums, and most of them get value adding and pretty accurate responses, which are then rated by fellow Googlers, Top Contributors, and Rising Stars.