Major and pure spam problems: Search Engine Land’s ultimate guide to Google penalties and messages

When site owners receive the manual action notification highlighting major spam problems, Google has identified the page content as entirely spammy, with no value to users.

This message tends to indicate that, at the time the recipient reads it, the most severe consequence has already come into effect and, in a majority of cases, the website is completely gone from organic Google Search. In some cases, however, the removal may affect only a subset of site pages.

Major Spam Problems message

Major spam problems Google notification, with its most crucial point highlighted.

A rare variation of the major spam problems action highlights the gravity of the violation in more stark wording, referring to the website as pure spam. That message seems to be on the verge of being deprecated as in recent months it has been sporadically registered (in comparison to the major spam penalty, which is very common).

When issued, the pure spam problems penalty seems to be most frequently related to user-agent (or similar) cloaking. Displaying vastly different content to search engine bots and users based on the user-agent has become rare; at the same time, Google has stepped up their detection methods. This is a likely explanation for why this specific penalty has become less frequent.

Pure Spam Problems message

Pure spam problems Google notification, with its most crucial points highlighted.

Both major spam and pure spam problem notifications indicate that the site affected has, at a fundamental level, failed to live up to Google users’ expectations. The major spam penalty is most frequently applied to scraped content and/or gibberish sites.