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Combatting Spam: Google Launches New Search Spam Reporting Tool

Combatting Spam: Google Launches New Search Spam Reporting Tool

Google Search Report Tool

Google continues its fight against spam and untrustworthy content on its search engine with a new spam reporting tool. The tool is an evolution of a previous page that the tech giant had relegated to taking spam complaints. Now more sophisticated, this new reporting tool will help to catch malware, misinformation, and other bad actors.

It’s no secret that the internet is full of malicious websites and pages dedicated to spam, scams, and other nefarious acts. Ultimately it’s a shared responsibility between the search engine and its users to help keep track of these digital conmen.

What’s New?

The new spam reporting tool from Google is a vast improvement over the previous system. It’s now more user-friendly, and more effective in discovering bad websites. Additionally, its processes are useful in developing even further improvements to the tool in the future.

One of the first big changes is in the consideration of what spam is. Below this section is a guide to reporting content, but the tool itself also hosts a comprehensive list of what policies your report might violate. This makes for an easier time outlining your actual report to Google, as you can determine for yourself what the site has done wrong.

The new reporting tool now also has the capability to report multiple websites at once. Amid the report form, you can now list up to five different web pages that all violate the same selected policy. This removes one potential roadblock for people to submit valuable reports.

Finally, Google has developed a more thorough process for actually filing a report, one with more details. This is beneficial for the tool and Google’s algorithm to learn and improve. The details can help hone the tool to rake for spam and flag it for review.

What Do I Report?

It can be challenging to determine what constitutes spam under Google’s terms. According to their spam policy, there are a few major details to look out for when deciding if you should report a web page.

Disingenuous Content

One thing Google is particularly strict on is websites that masquerade as something else in search results. One of the most egregious examples of this is through a practice called cloaking. Cloaking describes the process of a website displaying different information to individuals than to the search engine that discovers it. This means it could show up in searches that are completely unrelated to a user’s search.

Contemporary practices also exist to boost the search capabilities of spammy websites that Google considers actionable. Some sites will employ “doorways” to drive traffic. This is a tactic that requires mass control of multiple different domains or search terms all directed to an unrelated launch page. Additionally, some sites will hide links or searchable text directly on the page. This could be hidden by using text the same color as the background or hidden behind photos or videos. This drives search capabilities by unfairly registering in unrelated searches from the hidden text. A similar practice to this is keyword stuffing, essentially the same idea, but it resides in the metadata.

Spam Content

This section is dedicated to the kind of content that Google considers to be malicious regurgitation. This essentially encompasses all content that exists to optimize clicks by false means. This includes practices like automatically generated content. Sites that use auto-generated content will use raking algorithms to determine what content is worth copying and then employ bots to formulate clickable content. This is a prime example of what Google considers spam.

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Custom GPTs

Another example of spam content is scraped content. This term is used to describe sites that will either automatically or manually scan popular sites and rip their information for personal use. This comes in the form of blatant copying with word-for-word plagiarism, or through slight modifications. Essentially the information is all the same with no sourcing, or additional value to the user.

These, among other similar practices, are emblematic of the sort of valueless content that Google considers outright spam.

Malicious Websites

The final form of content that Google considers actionable online is malicious content, either blatant or hidden. This comes in the form of some of the more dangerous and predatory practices online. Websites that have sneaky redirections to more precarious launch pages are in this category, as well as exploitative scams like phishing. Then there are websites designed to trick users into installing malware for further nefarious purposes. These are all in blatant disregard of Google’s policies and are therefore some of the most important sites to flag down.

How to Access the New Report Tool

To use the new spam report tool, you can follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Google Search Console:
  2. Sign in to your Google account.
  3. Click on the “Spam” tab.
  4. Click on the “Report Spam” button.
  5. Enter the URL of the spammy page.
  6. Provide a brief description of the issue.
  7. Select the type of spam that you are reporting.
  8. (Optional) Submit screenshots or other supporting evidence.
  9. Click on the “Submit” button.

Google report tool will review your report and take appropriate action. If the report is found to be valid, Google will take steps to remove the spammy page from its search results.

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