Big news hit the Webmaster Central blog yesterday afternoon… you can now see if your website is affected by a manual webspam action. For us geeks, that’s really good news. If this doesn’t excite you, please read on. I’ll explain 1) what is manual webspam 2) who it typically affects and 3) what action to take (if any).
What is Manual Webspam?
I’ve seen spelling variations of this term as webspam and web spam. Also referenced as search spam, the phrase describes webpages designed to foil Search Engine algorithms. I searched for a concise definition, one that didn’t use “spam” is its explanation. Here’s PC Magazine’s definition:
Web pages with advertisements and links to other Web sites. The pages may pretend to provide assistance or facts about a particular subject, but the help if often meaningless and the information shallow. Web spam pages uses repetitive text in the copy or meta tags in order to achieve a higher rank in search engine results.
Google strives to keep organic search clear of spam — sites that are trying to game the system to cheat their way up a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). According the Mountain View icon, “every day, millions of useless spam pages are created. We fight spam through a combination of computer algorithms and manual review.”
You can detect spammy websites because they use these Grey Hat SEO techniques:
- Keyword stuffing (repeating keywords over and over on a page)
- Buy links that pass PageRank (or use link farms)
- Put invisible text on the screen
- Sneaky redirects
- Parked domains
- Unnatural links to and from a site
- User-generated spam from forum pages, guestbook pages or user profiles
If you use any of the above techniques, you may receive official notification that your site has been manually reviewed and marked. My word of advice is simple. Mend your ways and clean up your website.
Legit Website Unfairly Marked
Now that you understand more about manual webspam we can get to the juicy part.
What if you have a legitimate website? Your Webmaster or SEO agency wears a White Hat. You create valuable content that’s good for the human searcher looking for services you offer. Even so, you notice your SEO rankings plummet. Keep in mind that a very small part of sites fall into this category. If Google manually reviewed and marked a webpage as spam, you are officially notified (typically). Now you can double-check to see if your site has been tagged. In Webmaster Tools, go to “Search Traffic” and then “Manual Actions.”
If you think you’ve been unfairly marked, I suggest reviewing Google’s quality guidelines again just to be sure. Then you can “request a review” right in Webmaster Tools.
Personally, I’m pleased to see Google open their kimono a bit. What are your thoughts about manual webspam and our newest feature?
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