Google: No, We Don’t Use Akismet To Catch Link Spam

There’s speculation going around that Google is using data from the comment spam filter Akismet to penalize web sites. Those rumors are untrue, Google says.

“We don’t use Akismet to flag spam,” a Google spokesperson told us, after talking with Google’s spam team.

One oddity in the speculation was this:

She stated that Google had left a client of hers the dreaded unnatural linking notice in GWT, with example urls of pages it found unnatural links on. This part is nothing new really, but until now we had no idea how Google was deciding this…

Google’s warning notices, such as those that have increased recently, don’t list actual URLs. We’ve reconfirmed this with Google. Instead, they’re a general message like this:

We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines….

So it’s unclear how this person received a warning from Google about particular URLs, much less URLs that were never published on the web because they were trapped within a spam filter.

Postscript By Danny Sullivan: The story above was updated to clarify that to our knowledge, Google doesn’t report specific URLs within its unnatural linking notices messages, which as explained makes the speculation even more speculative. But if anyone wants to pass along the actual warning received with those URLs, we’re happy to take another look.

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Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Ryan Jones

    Thanks for getting clarification on this! When I first read the forum post I thought to myself “that doesn’t seem very google like – using 3rd party data about “invisible” sources rather than their own crawl and own data.”  

  • Will Spencer

    Barry, it appears that you made an egregious error in your reading of WilliamC’s post.

    Please read his follow-up here:

  • Cory Howell

    It’s almost too bad that they’re not using Akismet as a signal (if the correlation argument is true)… It would help identify some shadier sites more easily.

  • SEM Media

    I think Akismet is best tool ever to stop comment spam, I have using this since last four year for m y website. I don’t know why they didn’t considered akismet.

  • Sean Doyle

    Even though it doesn’t matter I find it hard to believe anything Google reports publicly.

  • Ricky Shah

    I wouldn’t be surprise. Why in the hell Google will depend on third party data? If that was true, then many SEOs will start penalizing their competitors using comment spam method.

  • Jon Marc

     The comment “we don’t use Akismet to flag spam” is actually more troubling than people realize. The specific words he chose, should lead us to believe they do use Akismet in SOME way. If they didn’t he would have just said “We dont use Akismet data for anything.”

  • Dries Buytaert

    I agree that Google should collaborate more with companies like Akisment, Mollom, etc. They have a ton of information that could be leveraged to fight spam globally.

  • Joe Youngblood

    William C has a good point, Google IS using the Akismet API for something, that is apparent in that the spam blog comments were never approved, i.e. never made public. That leaves the only way to see them on that page being via the Akismet API.

    Google’s reply, as others have stated, is also troubling. “we dont use Akismet to flag spam” could be read as:”we use Akismet to reinforce data on spam” 

    Think about it. Google has a hunch a website is over optimizing (Matt Cutt’s words) and wants to verify that hunch. So they dive into the Akismet API and see how often the URL is blocked via Akismet as a check on their own blocking / spam data. and BAM! you have a great way of finding websites that are trying to optimize for keywords.

  • Will Spencer

    It is too easy to fool Akismet into blacklisting a competitor.

  • SEM Media

    So, How can i catch spam comment? Is there any other tool.

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