Don’t let Google penalize your website over user-generated SPAM

Don’t get me wrong when you read this but Spam is AMAZING and you know why? Because with it you can make super tasty sandwitches! But that’s how far it goes, it belongs in the kitchen and it shall stay there for good.

You shouldn’t let SPAM get on your website because sooner or later it is going to destroy your organic rankings. Google HATES SPAM because it can “pollute” the organic search results. If Google finds SPAM on your website, it will penalize it. Below you will find two different cases that can trigger manual actions on your website.

User-generated content spam

Google knows that not every single violations of their Webmaster Guidelines that are related to content made on purpose. In fact, Google mentions here the following:

Sometimes, spam can be generated on a good site by malicious visitors or users. This spam is usually generated on sites that allow users to create new pages or otherwise add content to the site.

 

Site-Wide or Partial Matches Manual Actions on user-generated content spam

Manual actions message in Google Search Console for user-generated spam on a website - Partial matches

Manual Actions message for User-Generated Spam

If you see the above message in your Google Search Console, it means that Google found user-generated spam on your website and you shall act immediately. The good news is that most of the times manual actions are partially applied. That means that not all of your website will be affected by the “penalty”, instead only the pages where Spam was detected will be affected and lose rankings.

If your website has way to much user-generated spam, then Google will take action against your whole website and apply a site-wide manual action on it. In that case you will see the rankings of your entire website going downhill and your website’s organic traffic will shrink even more.

 

Does your website have user-generated SEO Spam?

Examples of user-generated content spam

 

Spammy accounts of free web hosts

Having a free web hosting services is great because you enable new site owners to create websites with very low cost or even at no-cost at all.  Unfortunatelly there are some webmasters- spammers that abuse services like that by creating quickly and without any cost dozens or even hundreds spammy websites which add little or no value at all and violate Google’s quality guidelines.

How to prevent wspammers from abusing your free web hosting service

Spam Policy: If you don’t already have an abuse policy it’s about time to get one. Make sure that it’s clear and you communicate it to all of your existing users but also to new users during the sign-up process.

Block automated account creation: Add reCAPTCHA in your sign-up form or other similar verification tools, to prevent automated scripts from creating a bunch of new accounts and websites on your service.

Pro-active monitoring: Always keep an eye on your service. Look for abuse signals such as spammy keywords, redirects, large code blocks with encoded Javascript codes. You can also check out at your webserver logs files for unnatural traffic spikes , usually on newly created accounts / websites. Identify spammy accounts by looking on common patterns like:

  • Requests on the sign-up from from the same IP or IP range.
  • User-agents and usernames that are used during sign-ups.
  • Completion time for new sign-ups.

 

Spammy posts on forum threads

If you own a forum or you are a member in one, you probably have seen some spam threads or posts here and there like in the examples below. That’s very common even to the most heavily moderated forums. When it comes to semi-moderated or totally unmoderated forums then what you will find there is nothing better than a spamfest. The majority of those posts / threads will include some random gimberlish text with links towards pharmaceutical, ecommerce, adult or casino websites.

Google manual actions for user-generated post spam on forums

Example of user-generated spam posts on forum

 

Google manual actions for user-generated content spam on forums

Example of user-generated content spam threads on forum

 

How to prevent  spammers from abusing your forum

Nofollow: make sure that all the outbound links on your forums are set to rel=”nofollow”. That will tell Google’s and other search engines’ bots not to follow the links and not to pass any linkjuice. That will discourage spammers from spending time spamming your forum as they won’t benefit from any of the links that they will create on it since you won’t pass any linkjuice to them.

Noindex: you can deter spam abuse by implementing a content=”noindex” on threads or user profiles of newly registerd members on your forum. That will prevent Google from indexing those new pages. You can always remove that code from your forum if you believe that the user is not a spammer.

Captcha: same as we mentioned earlier above in “how to prevent wspammers from abusing your free web hosting service”, you can implement a CAPTCHA in the sign up form of your forum but even at posting.

Email Confirmation: before you allow a new members from posting on your forums ask them to verify the email that they used to sign up with.

Editing Comments: don’t allow members to edit comments after a few minutes have passed. A very simple trick that some spammers might do is to post a legit comment and then come back and edit the comments in order to add spammy links.

Involve your community: ask from your members to report spam as soon as they spot it on your forum

Anti-SPAM plugins: you can easily find a plugin for the forum script that you are using, below you will find a short list for the most popular forum scripts:

BAN: last but not least, make sure that once you spot a spammer on your forum you ban the email and IP.

Spammy comments on blogs

Having the comment section enabled on your blog can help you increase the engagement with your readers and build a strong, loyal community. Unfortunatelly though, when you give this opportunity to your readers you also give it to spammers. Most of the spammers are using scripts or software to automaticaly generate and post spam. Most likely you’ve seen on your blogposts comments that look like an adveirtisment or random comments along with a link to a total unrelated website. Those are typical comment spam examples that you might have enountered.

Having that kind of spam on your blog can be very dangerous for the following reasons:

  • Low quality content on some parts of the blog can have a negative impact on the rankings for the entire website.
  • Spam can be annoying and distracting for your readers creating a bad image for your blog.
  • Google might remove or demote pages that are filled up with user-generated spam.
  • Links that were left by spammers can lead to infected or malicious websites which can negatively affect your readers.

How to prevent  spammers from abusing the comment section on your blog

Disable / Enable comments: think it twice before you enable the comments on your blog. If you do make sure you moderate all the comments that your readers post and delete the spammy once directly.

Only users can comment: your readers will have to register on your blog and verify their email address before they get to post a reply in the comments section of your blog.

Enable comment moderation: don’t let any comments go live before you review and manually approve them. The majority of the blog scripts such as WordPress have that option.

Anti-spam modules: there are several anti-spam modules that will reduce dramatically the comment spam on your blog. One of those plugins is Akismet which is developed for wordpress.

Use “nofollow”: same as we mentioned earlier above in “How to prevent  spammers from abusing your forum” implement a rel=”nofollow” to outbound urls so that your blog don’t pass any linkjuice to the spammer’s links.

 

What are Google’s thoughts on blog commenting?

Matt Cutts who is the former head of Google’s webspam team covered this topic with the following video

 

Revoke Manual Actions over User-generated spam

Has Google applied manual actions on your website?

Have you seen your rankings and visibility sinking?

Act now, see how we can help you revoke Google’s manual actions.

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