Google, we know it’s highly relevant, but damned if we aren’t running out of good spam pictures for these topics.
Well, that’s a lie. There are plenty of riveting spam images, but not any that bridge the gap between canned meat and malicious links, which tends to be our personal preference.
Well, we’ll keep trying.
Google Manual Action: User-generated Spam
In today’s “lecture,” we’re discussing Google Manual Actions for user-generated spam.
First, in case you’re only now tuning into this series, let’s reiterate what a Google Manual Action is. The quote below was from a previous Google Manual Action post of ours and we figure there’s no need to “reinvent the wheel.”
What’s a Google Manual Action?
As you should also know by now, there is a list of rules you’ve got to follow for Google to include your website’s pages on their search results page. If you fail to comply with their guidelines, then boom. Red flag for your page and you need to fix the problem before they allow it back on the results page. Crossing those lines are when Manual Actions happen.
While most of the time the algorithms pick up spammy behavior, there are occasions when a human reviewer is needed to determine if they should demote or remove the page. Thankfully, most of the time, you have the opportunity to fix the mistake, but sometimes they delete the page from search results. Depending on what type of manual action you receive, the ranking of your site could be affected. Yeowch. If that’s the case, you’ll get an email to let you know, though.
Rational, right? Sure. So what exactly is user-generated spam, then?
Understanding User-generated Spam
In the video above with Google’s own Matt Cutts, Matt describes user-generated spam as the following:
Typically, user-generated spam would be, for example, if you’re running a forum. And that forum, maybe you weren’t paying as much attention to it. It can get overrun with spammers leaving a whole bunch of spammy comments. Another common thing we’ll see is spammy user profiles. So somebody will make a user that claims to have the name DiscountCarInsurance or something like that. […] Those are the most typical cases, but it can be, you know, maybe you have a blog, and you left the comments where the comments have really gotten out of control.
What Matt is saying is, essentially, what tools you were/are using on your site are (likely) not by any means an inherent violation of Google’s webmaster agreements, but if you’ve not done your due diligence, or these features just became quickly overrun with spam. These features are acceptable, but as they stand with every variant of spammy usernames and spammy messages to spammy comments, they are no longer following Google’s quality guidelines.
AKA: Your lovely garden is now all weeds. Weed-killing time!
As Matt also discusses, this particular offense is usually only considered a partial match/offense instead of the entire site being roped off or slapped with a full-site Manual Action or even having Google delete your site from their results.
Fixing User-generated Spam
Welp, you’re not going to like this, but we need to weed the garden, as mentioned. That might take some metaphorical elbow grease, some metaphorical bugs in your hair, and even some metaphorical scuffed up knees, but your time spent should prove a solution to your user-generated spam problems.
Some of Matt’s suggestions (with the addition of our sass) are as follows:
- Look into new users that were recently created. Spammy? Hand ‘em their eviction notice.
- Delete spammy threads or forum components. You don’t need ‘em. Get it outta here.
- If it’s not related to something on your topic or site and is questionable? As Matt lists, the typicals: porn, pills, casinos – goodbye. Get out.
You’re going to need to do a lot of deleting and weeding. Take time out of your day to sit down and methodically look through what Google has hit with a Manual Action. Get it all resolved.
Preventing User-generated Spam
Sure, now we understand the whole fixing the issue bit, but what if you want to prevent this from happening or happening again? Matt’s thoughts:
- Add a CAPTCHA system to avoid further breaches or spammy pile-ups. The more complex, the better. Whether a Kitten CAPTCHA (that’s a thing!) or a more standard, steadfast CAPTCHA, get ‘em up and get ‘em going!
- Consider using comment moderation. This can make the forum process a bit more tedious, but it can also prevent you from copious time spent “gardening.”
- Use NOFOLLOW on user-generated links.
Resubmitting for User-generated Spam
As we’ve also mentioned in previous Google Manual Action articles, after you’ve fixed the source of the problem as indicated by Google, you can request reconsideration of your site. Provide the most ample documentation and explanations you can when resubmitting. And remember, it will likely take a bit, so have patience. Eventually, Google will get back to you.
Domination: Don’t Go It Alone
If you continue to have issues with Google Manual Actions or feel like your online presence isn’t where it could be, you should reach out to us. We’re committed professionals with combined decades of experience. Our results are proof of our dedication to our clients. Let’s get you in, and we’ll help you dominate your competition.
More in Our Google Manual Actions Series
Unnatural Links from Your Site
Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing
And more coming soon!