Reporting Spam To Google

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One of the most frustrating things about marketing a website is watching other sites that you consider to be using spam techniques to consistently rank above your domain in the search results. The unjustness of using white hat SEO and seeing black-hat-rich sites enjoying prime real estate above you in the SERPs can be demoralizing at best and actually cost you money at the worst.

One of the ways to tackle this is to report a spam site to Google. But, for this approach to be effective, it’s important that the correct information and sufficient detail is given. It’s a waste of time to submit sites that aren’t using spam techniques but are the domains of competitors you want to see usurped by your page. But for sites that are genuinely using unethical techniques, correctly filling in a Google spam form can lead to their demise.

Submitting a spam alert to Google provides the search engine with data to assist with its future algorithm changes. While you may not notice an immediate result, Google will prioritize reports according to how visible the site being accused of spam is. So, if you’re duking it out with a spammy website for a page five spot, your report won’t lead to as much action if you were fighting for the top spot on page one.

What is an appropriate use of the spam form?

If you find a site that uses doorway pages, has text hidden in the background, is full of spam content – all of these are appropriate uses of the spam form. Other issues such as site purchasing links in an attempt to build a better link profile and sway their search positions or sites reproducing content without authorization all have their own specific forms.

Google recommends that before you fill in a spam report you cross reference the website you have an issue with, with Google’s webmaster guidelines. This will obviously require a chunk of your time, but if after this deliberation you decide that the site is spammy and you continue on to fill in the form, you will have more data to present, making your report stronger and suitable consequences for the site in question more likely.

What needs to be included on the spam report?

As with any kind of marketing report, clarity is essential. An organized, logical presentation is more likely to be useful to the search engine and have the desired result.

Google requests that the actual page addresses with spam be included in the report rather than simply the home page. This enables the search engine to quickly and easily locate the problematic pages.

Be specific about where the problem is located – not all spammy pages use spam all the way through the page. It may be that keywords are hidden in the same color as the background only at the top of the page, for example. Let Google know where to find the error you’re reporting so that they can deal with it efficiently.

Also consider each of the descriptions provided before ticking the one that best describes your issue. Google advise that if you tick all of the boxes, they are less likely to read the report, which undermines your spam fighting efforts. If there isn’t a box that accurately describes your suspicions, pick the nearest one to the problem and then expand in the comments section.

Finally, be patient. You may not receive a reply from Google, they may deal with the problem at a later date or it may already be factored in to a planned algorithm change. When the report is submitted, move on. Use your time to improve your own website, safe in the knowledge that spammy sites will come unstuck sooner or later and when that day arrives, you need to have your own website in great shape to fill the gap.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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