Google's head of web spam Matt Cutts tweeted that the company has refreshed its spam report form. He calls it the biggest refresh in 10 years.
Side note: It's worth pointing out that he used Twitter to announce this. I see no updates about it in his posts on Google+. This is the kind of thing that makes Twitter essential to Google's realtime search feature, and why Google+ has a long way to go before it can serve as a useful replacement for it. Even Googlers are still relaying important information via Twitter. It looks like he hasn't posted to Google Buzz since May 28, either, btw. But that's another story.
Here's what the new spam report form looks like:
The page says, "'Webspam' refers to pages that try to trick Google into ranking them highly. Before you file a webspam report, see if the page might have a different problem." Users are then presented with options for:
- Paid Links (the page is selling or buying link)
- Objectionable content (the page is inappropriate)
- Malware (the page is infected)
- Other Google products (This page abuses Google products other than Search, e.g., AdSense, Google Maps, etc.)
- Copyright and other legal issues (This page should be removed under applicable law).
- Personal/private (This page discloses private information)
- Phishing (This page is trying to get sensitive information)
- Something else is wrong (This page has other, non-webspam related issues)
- And finally an option that says "This page is really webspam. Report webspam"
Each option will take you to a different form or information source about how to proceed from there.
Google's approach seems to have ruffled at least one feather. "Marketing Guy" Scott Boyd talks about the new form, saying:
Let's see. Google crushes legitimate business websites in an attempt to remove spam from the index. Google crushes competition by undercutting them left, right and centre (analytics market is pretty much stagnent and frankly Adense just promotes lazy webmasters who'd rather take some easy bucks than work at their business). Oh and is quite happy to take vast amounts of our information without mentioning how valuable it actually is too loudly
And now they want us - that's the webmaster community (because frankly, no one else cares about paid links - in fact most normal people probably find the idea ridiculous) - to hunt down some evil paid linkers!!
I already give you my search data, browsing history and patterns via Google toolbar, metrics on the quality of my websites via Google Adsense (for a minute fee), traffic metrics via Google Analytics, an idea of my financials, budgets and target market via Google Adwords. And now you want ME to improve YOUR product.for FREE?
I think not.
Eric Enge at Stone Temple Consulting recently posted an interview with Tiffany Oberoi, an engineer on Google's Search Quality team. Cutts said, "Every SEO/search person should read" it. She talks about how reconsideration requests work.
Now that Google has refreshed its spam reporting, I'm guessing we're going to see a whole lot more reporting, and of course a whole lot more of such requests. Here are some key quotes from Oberoi from that interview:
"We do have a few different manual actions that we can take, depending on the type of spam violation. We would tend to handle a good site with one bad element differently from egregious webspam. For example, a site with obvious blackhat techniques might be removed completely from our index, while a site with less severe violations of our quality guidelines might just be demoted. Instead of doing a brand name search, I’d suggest a site: query on the domain as a sure way to tell if the site is in our index. But remember that there can be many other reasons for a site not being indexed, so not showing up isn’t an indication of a webspam issue."
"We try to take an algorithmic approach to tackling spam whenever possible because it’s more scalable to let our computers scour the Internet, fighting spam for us! Our rankings can automatically adjust based on what the algorithms find, so we can also react to new spam faster."
"And just to be clear, we don’t really think of spam algorithms as “penalties” — Google’s rankings are the result of many algorithms working together to deliver the most relevant results for a particular query and spam algorithms are just a part of that system. In general, when we talk about “penalties” or, more precisely, “manual spam actions”, we are referring to cases where our manual spam team stepped in and took action on a site."
"If a site is affected by an algorithmic change, submitting a reconsideration request will not have an impact. However, webmasters don’t generally know if it’s an algorithmic or manual action, so the most important thing is to clean up the spam violation and submit a reconsideration request to be sure. As we crawl and reindex the web, our spam classifiers reevaluate sites that have changed. Typically, some time after a spam site has been cleaned up, an algorithm will reprocess the site (even without a reconsideration request) and it would no longer be flagged as spam."
She goes on to point out that reconsideration requests will not help you if you've been impacted by the Google Panda update.