Google Notifies Sprint Of Spam Penalty; Seeks Advice In Google Help Forums
The latest large brand to be hit with a user-generated content spam penalty notification is Sprint, the large US wireless communications company. Similar to Mozilla’s penalty and BBC’s penalty, Sprint was penalized for user-generated content spam on a portion of their site that was open to anyone to post links and content. Also similar to […]
Also similar to the BBC and Mozilla, Sprint went to the Google help forums to seek advice because Google’s warning message itself doesn’t provide detailed information about what’s wrong. The employee wrote:
I received a message on 5/17/2013 that “Google has detected user-generated spam on your site.” I have run queries against the site, but haven’t found the content referred to in the alert.
I have read Google’s documentation regarding how to prevent this in the future, but how do we find the issue we currently have in order to help us address this as quickly as possible?
Can Google send us some links or actual examples of the content Google found?
Google has previously said that publishers should turn to volunteers in the forums there for further advice, as we covered last month:
In this case, the current “Best Answer” suggested it was related to content in a community area:
I am pretty sure that were I put in charge of this for Sprint I would be seeking new employment.
I do not believe Google will provide you any examples, don’t know that for sure.
It is most likely going to be link drops like these
It might be that Google has only applied a “granular” penalty to a specific page or pages of the Sprint Community forum. If you remember, with Mozilla, Google only penalized a single page and with the BBC, Google only penalized a single article.
The issue still remains; it is hard for webmasters of large sites to pinpoint the problem area on their site. Even if webmaster help, without Google giving the webmaster the specific page with issues, they can spend weeks or months trying to figure out all the problems with their site.
Of course, I am sure Google wants webmasters to step back and review their whole site for spam loopholes, but not all webmasters and companies have budgets for such large audits.
That being said, Google has not yet directly responded to Sprint in regard to this webmaster notification. It is unclear if Google will respond or not.
Postscript: Google’s Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web spam team, has now posted in the thread:
Hi Kent, when you see a message like this, it’s a good idea to check around for various forums, bulletin boards, and community areas where users can leave comments. We typically send this message when we see a lot of spam in those areas. Rather than Google removing those pages from our index, it’s usually better if you can remove the pages on your side so that they don’t show up in other search engines either.I just took a quick look; try doing a Google search like [site:community.sprint.com/
baw/message/ watch] to see some examples where spammers are posting a bunch of messages. I noticed that older pages with this sort of spam are mostly gone or removed–which is great. You might just look into some ways to try to catch the spam a little faster or see if there are some ways to make it a bit harder for the spammers to post a large amount of messages on the community pages.
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