Calling for link spam reports

Google has been working on some new algorithms and tools to tackle linkspam and we’d like to ask for linkspam reports from you. If you’d like to tell us about web sites that appear to be using spammy links (e.g. paid links that pass PageRank, blog spammers, guestbook spammers, etc.), here’s how to send us more info. Go to

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport

and tell us about the site that appears to be employing link spam. Be sure to include the word “linkspam” (all one word, all lower-case) in the textarea (the last field in the form).

If that’s too hard to remember, you can also use the shortcut

http://goo.gl/linkspam

which will pre-populate the text area field to say “linkspam” in it. Note: to use these forms, you must sign in with a Google account. We’re moving away from using the anonymous spam report form.

Thanks in advance for any data you’d like to send our way!

195 Responses to Calling for link spam reports (Leave a comment)

  1. Please note: the comments here are not the right place to report link spam. Please use the spam report form instead.

  2. Just put in my report for dullest.com for paid links!

  3. That’s a great step, i hope this helps for a better google.

  4. For those that don’t get the joke by Robert Enriquez, dullest.com is a domain name that I used for a test last year: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/switching-things-around/ , and of course I’ve never paid for any links to dullest.com, let alone that pass PageRank. :)

  5. While I think the web is filled with a lot of linkspam, I think this request/announcement will be met with much disdain. I don’t think all the negative feedback you’ll get is warranted, but it is to be expected nonetheless.

    The marketing landscape is to diverse & so large that it seems evoking direct user feedback is the most efficient means of cleaning up the linkspam. Can’t say I blame you for trying, but it will be interesting to see who/what is being reported through the system.

    Hopefully the feedback you do receive will prove beneficial to the end users & the search results overall.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Matt – one more thing

    If someone reports any of your site(s), and YOU receive the report…do you recuse yourself and hand it to someone else? :P

  7. alex

    you have to be logged in to report? what if i want to remain anonymous?

  8. Mr Cutts as a Fan and long time customer of your employer I think a company with that much strength wouldn’t have to put out SNITCH ALERTS. Now I say that not because I spam or like spammers but this can be abused by jealous people and also some people value their relationship with Google so much and they see what they have been doing is working and WHITE but some may differ. For example it’s common knowledge I’m the undisputed KING of DO follow links and I don’t fear google. Now some jealous blogger may target me because their PR is still zero OR how about this SULLIVAN and I’m very friendly unlike some you may know anyway I do GIVE OUT links to my friends and to be honest any blogger that is working for example my brand new project COMMENT DROP < google it LOL
    anyway that site could be accused eventually of being a link farm/ link whatever. Anyway I'm clean and operate in the light and would love to catch a chat with you maybe be blessed with a Quick DO follow comment ? interview @ SXSW hmm be cool for me at least.
    So my blog is 2 yrs old this month. It's do follow and I moderate EVERY link and never sold any it's PR 4 and I expect it to be 6-7 next round :) If you click the link I added in this comment I think you will read the most interesting scope of the Google you may not even know about YET :) Peace Mr Cutts sorry for the spammy comment :)
    Anyone got Beef GET IN LINE LOL :) Thanks Matt for letting me speak my peace I do appreciate it
    Mr John Sullivan :) # 11 on Google for John Sullivan LOL

  9. I think it’s Great SEO news!

    Attempting to manipulate a website’s SE ranking using paid links that aren’t related to your website, or it’s content, does not yield the best possible user ‘search experience’. Just apply best practice SEO methods as outlined by Google and Matt Cutts. Practices that involve relevancy and accuracy of content.

    Only negative to all this would be the amount of false reports being submitted by people with less than honorable intentions. But I’m sure Google will address that!

  10. “you have to be logged in to report? what if i want to remain anonymous?”

    alex, these reports aren’t shared with the general public–they go to Google. But if you’re worried about even that, you could make a new Google account and do the report that way. You don’t have to have any domains registered in the webmaster console to use the spam report form; you only need a Google account.

  11. Wow, that sounds like a whole big can of worms waiting to explode.

  12. Frank Collins

    I am wondering what the repercussions of this may be for those of us that have fairly competitive websites. I know a lot of competitors would not give it much thought to throw out a bunch of spammy blog/guestbook comments pointing to your page if they knew it would hurt you.

  13. Frank, we’ve said in the past that we work very hard to prevent competitor A from hurting competitor B.

  14. I always thought that Google would ‘devalue’ the backlinks which would bring down the sites automatically since there isn’t any juice coming from the paid backlinks/guestbook comments.

    Penalizing a site directly….should be done if the site itself is linking out to bad neighborhoods.

    Now that Matt says “we work very hard to prevent competitor A from hurting competitor B.” it sounds like there are instances where Competitor A can hurt Competitor B

  15. Korn S.

    I’ve always wanted to ask you: why should we help a private company like Google gain more profits?
    Cause that’s all what this “linkspam” fight is, isn’t it?

  16. Dan

    Hi Matt
    I was hoping you could help clarify the repercussions of having links on a blogger hosted site. The reason I ask is that I stupidly had links on a good blog (IMHO) w 500 original posts, years of work etc. Fully fessing up to the stupid practice and accepting responsibility, I had assumed the worst that would happen if flagged was loss of page rank, not complete loss of blog (and 3 yrs ot hard work). Recently, it was deleted by Blogger due to Spam. I had assumed it was flagged erroneously by a bot by thinking I spammed someone or one of the scrapers stealing my content ended up getting me flagged. After reading your article with the words link&spam together I’m wondering if simply having links could get your blog completely deleted?

    I don’t mean to burden you with my particular situation but rather, I’m just asking the question to see if that’s what I (and others) are facing or perhaps it was something else that flagged it. The forum host for appeals seems to be overhelmed and no reply there.

    Kind of an incriminating question I guess but I went into this rather naively and now I’m understanding the potential ramifications of my actions.
    Thanks

  17. Why not give sites that have been reported for alleged link spam a chance to plead their case if said sites are registered with a webmaster account in Google? To be fair I think that Google should allow for some form of notification and appeal process. Also, shouldn’t webmasters have a right to face their accusers, especially if actions result in lost revenue due to false accusations?

  18. Robert

    Thanks for the huge SEO Tip!

    If I want to damage my competitors rankings, now its super easy. I will just setup a crap website, make it look like spam, setup a section called “sponsors” , link to all my competitors, and report all of them for buying paid links. Awesome.

    I can still be anonymous by setting up a “dummy” Google account and using that.

    If I really want to, I will use a link broker, find the cheapest garbage links available, and buy up a bunch of them for my competition. I will then report all of those links.

  19. Robert Enriquez, I try to be careful where I think about every potential corner case. For example, sex.com has a fascinating history where someone impersonated the domain owner, stole the domain, and exploited it for quite a while. Weird cases like that are why I try to avoid absolutes when I’m answering questions (“But clearly some other site was able to hurt sex.com when they hijacked it, right?”).

    Korn S, the main benefit of sending spam reports is the same benefit as reporting spam in Gmail–everybody gets better spam classification and lower spam rates as a result. I happily report spam in Gmail all the time. Does that make Google more money? Maybe in some indirect way, but the main benefit in my mind is that I see less spam in the future (and presumably other email users will see less spam too).

  20. Robert

    I totally agree with Lester… There are these mom & pop shops that will be hurt, but if there is some way for them to know that this penalty has been put against them, then they can react to that to solve the problem. Perhaps putting that into place is the only fair way to do this – or at least a step in the direction of fair.

  21. Matt I was disappointed you didn’t approve my comment and left it in moderation and went on approving others to me that mad shady anyway I had my say and there was no reason for it to HANG in my opinion :) Thanks

  22. Mark

    I know you mentioned that you work hard to prevent abuse… but exactly what kind of validation process does Google use to make sure people like me, who just want my OWN or my Client’s site to rank higher, don’t go and buy, say 5, 10, 100 or more links, to my competitors websites… then report them? Maybe, instead of working on making my OWN site better, this is the All-New SEO-2010, which is just the practice of making your competitors sites suffer, so yours will appear better!

    Asking people to “out” their competitors is a bad slippery slope no? I mean… Karma is horrible, and not one webmaster in the world can say they haven’t skirted the edge of ethical links at some point or another.

    ANYONE who has spent one day in face-to-face marketing knows you never badmouth your competition, you simply focus on why you are BETTER!

    Bad Google…

  23. Hank

    Soo, let me get this right, we are going to allow people who have a business incentive in seeing the rankings of their competitors fall to create an era of digital mccarthyism. How does this account for large network sites like Amazon, IAC family of sites who have been essentially involved in in-network linking with no apparent penalty what so ever.

    Sorry, clearly think you guys should get your algorithm to solve this rather than online user submissions.

  24. Dan, the Blogger team does take spam on its service very seriously. I took a look at a cached page from your blog, and my 1 minute guess is that you had several issues. I saw spammy-looking links like “online payday loans”, “quick cash advance”, “cash advance online” etc. — and there were a ton of those sorts of links, with awkward formatting and spacing. It also looked like a lot of the content on your blog wasn’t yours; I took a snippet from one post and found 6000+ other blog posts with the exact same content.

    If you decide to start again, I’d definitely pay attention not only to the quality of your outlinks (if you link to spammy/low-quality sites, that can look spammy to us) as well as putting more work into original content.

  25. John, I went back and approved it now–I had to prune part of your name. FYI, I haven’t been approving comments unless people have been leaving their real name (no extra stuff). See the bold/red text above my text box for more info.

  26. Jason

    Matt,
    Any suggestions on how to handle removing spam links to one’s own site? Like for someone who runs a site that in the past had nefarious SEOs building spam links, is it worthwhile to try and actually get those links removed somehow or just move on to building good links to dilute the bad?

    Thanks

  27. Lucky Lester and Jason, given the amount of work that we put into making sure that competitor A can’t hurt competitor B, it hasn’t been the highest priority on our to-do list. Given the finite amount of engineering resources, we’ve been more focused on features that lots of people have wanted, e.g.
    - Fetch as Googlebot
    - Malware details
    - (Just launched yesterday) ability to delegate to new people in the webmaster console.

    That said, I personally wouldn’t be opposed to a feature to “disavow links” in the webmaster console; it’s just a matter of engineering cycles (the UI might be a little hard if a site has a ton of incoming links) and competing features we’d like to offer.

  28. Bartek Krzemień

    How much does Google pay for such a report? Please don’t say that people should report spam in order to help Google to organize the world’s information ;).

  29. Robert

    I went back and re-posed my post with my real name (My friends call me hamster, which is why I used that in the first place) – but I suppose you didn’t like what I had to say. Fair enough, its your blog.

  30. Brad Prescott

    Matt,

    An option I wish was available as a site owner is to have an interface in Google Webmaster Central that shows the backlinks to each site and allows the site owner to highlight unwanted spammy back-links and send a request to Google to not recognize the spammy link, for good or bad. Essentially, create a backlink “menu” for each site where the site owner can note which links they think are spammy by checking a box. A cynic might say this could be used to somehow correct a site owners own bad behavior or mistakes. However the system would not allow the site owner to eliminate backlinks, just flag them for review by Google.

  31. Bartek, already replied to that point from Korn S, but I’ll repeat: “the main benefit of sending spam reports is the same benefit as reporting spam in Gmail — people get better spam classification and lower spam rates as a result. I happily report spam in Gmail all the time. Does that make Google more money? Maybe in some indirect way, but the main benefit in my mind is that I see less spam in the future (and presumably other email users will see less spam too).”

  32. Robert, I approved your comment once you dropped the “bobthehamster” name. :)

  33. Hi Matt, long time listener, first time caller! I was curious if the accused spam-offending website will be provided any kind of notice or other “corrective” feedback from Google? Thanks!

  34. Honest SEO folks (I swear it is NOT an oxymoron!) can rejoice! This is great news! Keep up the great work Matt (& crew)!

  35. Dan

    Hi Matt
    That was very gracious of you to take a look; I appreciate it. So as to not give the wrong impression of your initial assessment, on the links, I agree-I had foolishly accepted and honored annual ad commitments to financial related companies with no realization that it was considered “spam”. I historically thought of spam as emailing junk email and the like. Either way, I realize Google frowns on that and no debate that fault lies with me there.

    I do want to explain the 6,000 duplicate issue since I think that’s what actually got me flagged erroneously (if for that particluar reason). I can assure 100% that I have never engaged in scraping other original content. 95% of my content there is absolutely original andnthe other 5% is either guest posts or IRS notices I shared with my readers. This was an IRS notice that is allowed to be republished and I stated in the article “straight from the IRS” and linked to an IRS link at the bottom as I recall.

    My content is also syndicated at several major outlets like SeekingAlpha, Yahoo!Finance and others so I can assure you it’s totally my content. I think you just happened to look at the most recent post which triggered the event. Evidently 6000 other bloggers published the same IRS notice.

    Again, I don’t mean to burden you with this individual issue but wanted to: a) thank you for your quick assessment b) accept responsibility for foolishly hosting financial links but c) clear the the air on any impression that my work is not original. Aside from those IRS updates (only posted 3 or 4 in 3 years) and a few guest posts, the remaining > 500 posts were absolutely 100% guaranteed, written by me personally.

    I’m just passionate about this because I’ve literally invested hundreds upon hundreds of hours into the content and I don’t want anyone to hve the impression that I somehow lifted it.

    Best Regards
    Dan

  36. The whole inbound link thing has really annoyed me for years – I have basic SEO knowledge and have many websites I manage – we have over 70 blogs for our clients and have turned off comments on everyone due to link spammers – which is a shame because this stops discussion on topic .. we could turn on comments and moderate them but this creates more work ..

    I have a genuine website specific to one topic and run a forum on that – I have had to change the location of the forum many times and the way sign up works to stop spam bots signing up and dropping links ..

    I have never undestood why the inbound links can create a good pr when it promotes this annoying behavior .. Good current information should be the most important factor ..

    So anything that helps to reduce the link spammers is good news – if it works!

  37. Scott

    If I were to report everyone I’ve seen buying/selling links on their sites, I could probably send you a dozen domain names every day for years. Buying and selling links goes on all too often on webmaster related forums–digitalpoint being at the top of that list.

  38. Bartek Krzemień

    Sorry, didn’t see that reply – comments here pop like crazy :). But back to my question – with respect, I disagree with your argumentation. Why? Two reasons:

    1) Mahalo – painfully obvious that you have double standards in classifying what is spam and what is not.

    2) Artificial bid inflation in AdWords – although not related with organic spam, it makes me really angry to see ads run by Google employees for keywords such as “free SEO” promoting the AdWords platform. It may not be organic, but it is spam. And normal advertisers are forced to compete with these misleading junk.

  39. Hi! Greetings from Marbella. As a GWT user I would love to see this kind of information in our panels. When some clients come to us looking for someone that can take out from the “blackhole” that Google has send their sites we would apreciate some info at the GWT… Are you considering to send us this kind of info? Thanks!

  40. Do you partner with the people who run the Akismet spam plugin for WordPress?

    I see tonnes of linkspam in there – far too much to report manually.

  41. Paul Hisker

    Hey Matt,

    You absolutely realize how big the buying link industry has become, I’m sure.
    There are underlying reasons for that. It’s those reasons you should be tackling IMO.
    I love Google, the ethos, the people, the speed and the results.
    But lets get serious, you are a business.
    I can bid against any brand I like these days and leach from their hard earned fame. I can also advertise to people on gambling terms. These changes are because you are a business with shareholders and they demand increase in revenues. But to be frank they are a change of your original ethos.
    We, the people who build sites for the web and predominately Google have also had changed our ethos.
    You created the SEO industry but its an industry so full of half truths, myth and bluff that its is the 21t Centuries snake oil industry. Thats kinda your fault.
    People buy links because it works. Getting the plebs to report on each other is really not a great way to go about this. Its not like your paid link rules are clear, without ambiguity or held equally. Your recent nexus phone giveaway was an example of the grayness of your rules.
    Food my friend for thought.

  42. John Anderson

    As a webmaster of 6 years now, I get multiple requests daily from a growing number of fly by night SEO companies, the majority from India but not all. And I have in my past used some of these companies, all be it briefly. The cost of their “solutions” are far lower than local companies to myself but the standard of work was poor so work never continued.

    What this means is that there are spammy links to my site – not just my own site but millions of other webmasters sites also. Whether that be from shoddy “SEO” companies or by DIY enthusiasts who bought, read and acted upon “SEO – Get No1 by forum links, the definitive answer to your higher ranking needs “.

    And I can tell you this, many read your blog and many have read others blogs warning them of the dangers of spammy links and Google de-listing your site and the paranoia is rife.

    What can you say that will quell the fears of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of small site owners that have “some” spammy links pointing to their sites and all think “How will I support my family and earn money if my website no longer features in Google”. Because the way that Google works (kinda) is to create the appearance of wealth and mix it up with some thoughts of impending doom and boom, everyone is a paranoid android.

  43. Every link is paid for, somehow. Common sense is a totally underestimated link sponsor, unfortunately.

  44. Yes, I agree the webmaster of the site being reported should be able to see reports. I’m working on a system that generates ab RSS feed of suspected bad pages by host. (details)

    Example of a feed for a domain that has webspam problems: http://aloodo.com/domain-rss/blogspot.com

  45. Fred

    Talking about double standards:
    Yesterday the Google mobile team itself gave away free android phones to developers and earned a ton of backlinks for that: http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/02/google-handing-out-free-nexus-ones-and-droids-to-top-android-devs/. Can I report the Google team now?

  46. Just like the Akismet WP plugin, Gmail spam reporting and I’m sure others, services like these *should* make our lives better.
    As mentioned above, it would be great to see it as a 2 way relationship as well. Ability to review what was submitted against a site in Webmaster Tools.
    Imagine your web hosting company shutting your site down because of an inquiry made to them about your site. Because of such inquiry, your site does not generate revenue, traffic, etc. (it’s happened & they do not get my dollar anymore).
    The good hosting company will work with you because of history, likewise would nice to see here as well.

  47. Manuel Lemos

    There would not be any paid links that pass page rank if buyers would not know what are the sites with the highest page rank. Buyers know what sites have the highest page ranks because Google makes that information public.

    Google seems to be more and more at the edge of committing many injustices and becoming evil for punishing the wrong sites.

    Matt, how about Google avoiding the risk of becoming evil for that, and stop making the page rank of each page a public information?

    Public page ranks are the root of all paid links that pass page rank. Why doesn’t Google restrict page rank information to Web site owners in the Webmasters tool site, instead of making it public?

  48. Thanks for the great info here, Matt, and on the YouTube Webmaster Channel. Whenever I get newbie SEO questions, I always send them to your profiles to get the proper ‘story’ on some particular SEO method.


    “Why won’t my eCommerce pages rank? My neighbors grandson’s best friend’s older brother is the SEO and he said it’s because I don’t have META tags.”

    I deal w/ this crap all the time. I just send them to you now (telling them not to participate in forums or comments until they are more experienced.

    RE: This post. Now they get to see how the email they received regarding ‘GET THOUSANDS OF LINKS FOR ONLY $99′ is really a bunch of BS…just like I told them it would be.

  49. Dan, thanks for circling back around. Perhaps I was searching from one of the IRS posts; that’s just the one that I happened to randomly pick.

    Bartek Krzemień, I really don’t know anything about the AdWords side of things, so I can’t speak to that. If you’re not aware, Mahalo has been making major changes recently (e.g. putting a lot of noindex tags on their short pages). It’s safe to assume that if they didn’t (and don’t) take sufficient action, then my team is always ready to investigate in detail.

    Fred, that’s a program designed to get more Android developers making great applications — it has nothing to do with getting links. If no one ever discussed that effort on the web at all but more developers wrote more Android applications, the program would be a huge success.

    Michael Borowiecki and Don Marti, I just don’t think we’ll ever have the cycles to communicate 1:1 with each webmaster, so we have to think of scalable solutions. The feature request about disavowing links might have some possibilities in this regard. The other possible tension is whether spammers can make strawman bad sites and then probe how well bad link detection works.

    Don, you specifically talk about having a site with user-generated content, some of which may be bad. The good news is that Google is expanding our communications to include that. Read more about it here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/03/is-your-site-hacked-new-message-center.html But the money quote is

    Starting this month, we will notify more webmasters of more potential issues we’ve detected on their websites, including:
    - Spammy or abused user-generated content
    - Abused forum pages or egregious amounts of comment spam
    - Suspected hacking
    These notifications are meant to alert webmasters of potential issues and provide next steps on how to get their sites fixed and back into Google’s search results.

    It will take a while to find the right balance, but we will be communicating more with webmasters.

    Manuel Lemos, there are other parts of Google than just me. :) If only SEOs used the PageRank display, I would tend to agree with you. But unfortunately, a ton of regular users also like seeing the PageRank display in the Google toolbar, so I don’t think that we could just turn that off, I’m sorry to say.

  50. Wow what a sh%^ fest, and as usual, you’re still answering questions in a professional manner.

    I’m almost tempted to submit a spam report just to see if a practice is acceptable. If a report is submitted, and nothing happens, is it safe to assume repeating the practice would be acceptable? or

    Would it be possible that nothing happens because the company’s brand strength put them above Google policies?

  51. I reported some very obvious link spam about two months ago via the link you posted last year. Let me know if my report should be resubmitted. I did it through a Webmaster account but I’ve not gotten any feedback. I was starting to wonder if you guys had dropped this research as a priority…

  52. TC

    The average laymen are not going to use this, but people with nefarious motives will. Mark and Hank are both right, this is a bad idea. “Digital McCarthyism” is the right term… rat out your enemies and get rewarded.

    Did anyone at GOOG watch Scent of a Woman?

  53. What does it actually take for Google to act upon link spam reports? The facility to report spam has been there for years, but despite numerous reports of obvious link spamming I have never seen Google act upon it (at least not in my personal experience).

  54. Fred, that’s a program designed to get more Android developers making great applications — it has nothing to do with getting links.

    But they got links and they paid for it with a gift!

    this shows us you have allways two standarts

    one for us
    and yours are on another page every time the rules would hurt you badly

    for five years my site became no more link credited by Google than the first one

    link:www.light2art.de

    with more than 500 users, over 2 GB traffic and about 300 favicons a day
    it have still a PR2

    and you are still unable to point me out the reason
    and the webmaster console is always not the tool I proposed to you

    I named your upper question (to get reports from us about paid links)
    a Machiavelli-move some years ago
    your company makes rules for us itself
    and ignores them, if this same rules are not so pretty for Google

    I said on this blog something against your phylosophy (using an algorithm to recognize content) and that a range of 10 by PR on billions of different sites,
    is alike measuring the world with micrometers
    and you delets it with the reason: thats only a philosophy!

    I think that this style is a reason Google and the US.gov is so favored in many parts of the world.

  55. Hello Matt,
    Good article and good point from Google to introduce linkspam for spam reports.
    Will be linkspam available to Google Romania?
    I’ve sent some spam reports to Google Romania, including keyword spamming, duplicate pages, and nothing was happened.
    What about jagger1 ? What to put for Romania for fast review by Google RO Team?
    I think that Google RO Team doesn`t care about.
    Thanks!

  56. Lazar

    Hi, Matt,
    Google’s webmasters resources mention “excessive” links exchange. What’s excessive? 10,100,1000? Is a reciprocal linking to a high quality relevant website considered a link spam?

  57. This is Golden.
    Let me get this straight.

    Every time i do a link building activity and somebody ask me money to put a “dofollow” link on their site, i can report them to google.

    Heck, i “MUST” report them to google, particularly if i have an email when they asked me money.

    And Google will probably enjoy this activity and will probably pat on my back, because i’m not anonymous. Bloody hell, i don’t wanna be anonymous, you can have my cellphone and thank me.

    I think this decision will probably cause a lot of strife between the webmasters, but i think i’m gonna enjoy this. What the heck, i’m gonna have a lot of fun.

    Dear Matt, your team is gonna get a LOT of reports from my account, all of them true and verified by emails. Just provide somebody of your team has a google translator ready or italian knowledge.

    Thanks.

  58. Karl, I think you’re missing part of the point Matt is making. Not all paid links are bad – are you going to try to tell me that BOTW and Yahoo! Directory are now spam? Hardly. They’re two of the most trusted directories out there and more often than not are treated as local citations. So clearly not all paid links are bad.

    Matt qualified the statement with “spammy” paid links. Links from Android-related websites to other Android-related websites wouldn’t be considered spammy since it’s a topical link from clearly related, at least marginally authoritative sources (amongst other things). Those are the sorts of creative linkbuilding strategies Google should be encouraging. They seem to be, so good for them.

    Furthermore, freebies for reviews is nothing new, and the FCC even recently regulated it to require disclosure. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

  59. This is sad. How long has Google been “battling” paid links? If every site that has received any form of compensation in return for a link gets banned, than Googles index will be squashed.

    Where does it end? Compensation can be money, content, phones, ;)

    BTW isn’t this funny: http://twitter.com/mattcutts/statuses/1200910626

    Less than 1 year later, and this was back up. If that was any other site they would have been spanked a lot harder.

  60. Matt,

    Have any steps been taken to ensure the authenticity of the links?

    What would stop the owner of a website eliminating the competition alltogether by allocating some of their marketing spend on some guerrilla tactics (buying links pointing to other competitors)?

    Does anyone share my concern?

  61. Matt-

    Looks like there are a lot of haters out there. Thanks for braving their comments and sticking to your guns.

    I personally feel that it is a good thing that Google is opening up for user feedback. Human interaction is the only way to make the results feel more organic.

    I am also assuming that the one linkspam report isn’t going to change anything, but a large number of linkspam reports from multiple users will play a small role in the overall algorithm. While it is possible to “spam” the linkspam tool, it would be incredibly intense and not worthwhile. A person would have to create hundreds of google accounts and report the same links multiple times. It’s just not worth it.

    db

  62. Matt,
    You know I think you are the best asset Google has and your ability to interact with us loonies is excellent, honest and for the most part fun. But I have reported some pretty bad link spam and nothing happens. If I report some poor blogger trying to make a living they are gone ( I never have by the way just saying as I know others who have) but when I report an evil authority site which is breaking your rules nothig happens so the reponse to a report needs to be universal whether is Mommy blogger or huge site with Google ads all over it.

  63. Manuel Lemos

    Matt, I am just trying to give a suggestion to help Google solve the problem of spam in the search index. It does not upset me that Google does not follow my suggestion. Don’t worry about disagreeing with me.

    It just seems that Google will never get enough spam reports to address the issue effectively as the vast majority of paid links will probably never be reported.

    So, not only relying spam reports will not solve the problem, you even open space for people with bad intentions make false reports that will consume Google employees time and risk yourselves for commiting injustices and start being seen as evil as before.

    I am sure that the vast majority of people that care about seeing other sites page rank, are either site owners, competitors or SEO.

    For site owners and their authorized SEO, making page rank information available only through Webmaster tools, that would be enough.

    For the rest of the world, not knowing what the pages of the sites that they do not own rank, is not necessary and Google will not loose anything for omitting that information.

    On the contrary, omitting public PR information will only help making Google search better for the whole world. Think about it, it is in your hands to make your chief product better.

  64. Robert

    Hey Matt,

    Thx for approving, I get that you want real names only (but at least I didn’t use a business name with a link – in fact, didn’t even have a link).

    My question is, what if a user posts a comment and their legal first name is Hamster? Then what ;-)

    Or what if they have some weird parents – say Celebrity Jason Lee’s kid wants to drop a comment – his name is “Pilot Inspektor”. People with screwed up names post too ;-)

  65. Robert

    Oh, BTW, want to sell me a site wide link on your blog? I could use the PR7. ;-)

    I’ll PayPal $5 over to you this afternoon ;-)

  66. Manuel: Im sure you know that PageRank is only one small factor in ranking. If Google decided to hide the green bar from everyone except the webmaster / site owner this will not make a difference. We will always have the ability to manually look at backlinks, and find out why a site is ranking well.

    As far as submitting paid links, there are sites I know have been submitted years ago, and still have great rankings. Looking at a persons link profile you can usually tell after 2 minutes if they are buying links or not.

    Look at a competitive phrase, and analyze the backlinks of the top 5 sites.

    Do we really think Google is going to ban all of these sites?

    Side Note: I don’t report paid links. There are ways to outrank them without being a tattle tail. Google might be your daddy, but you don’t need to run around crying to them about all of your competition.

  67. Mark

    It’s blatantly obvious that there are 2 sets of rules when it comes to Google’s index. If your spam site has the right backing, are “too big to not be in the index”, or bring in enough adsense money you can do whatever you want and watch the traffic roll in. If you are a small business you better play by the rules but if you are a Google blessed business you are allowed to use whatever spammy trick you want and still kill it.

    If Mahalo was a small site without a web celebrity behind it the whole site would have been eradicated years ago. They claimed to be noindexing the stub pages a while ago but yet they still have not done it. Even the “legit” pages are full of stolen content with no attribution surrounded by 800 adsense units. Nothing but MFA spam and you don’t see a problem with that? Like others have said you are increasingly opening an opportunity for the kill your competition with spammy links business model. You claim that you “try” to avoid the ability to hurt competitors but that is just an admission that it is entirely possible to do just that. Since you are obviously disingenuous about Mahalo I have to assume that it’s much easier to harm your competitors than you are letting on.

    I always believed that it was a great thing that you were providing information to webmasters and the like but the more I read the moew I understand that it is nothing but misinformation and propaganda.

  68. aaron wall

    Hi Matt
    If smaller sites get caught spamming they are instantly nuked from Google’s index. Whereas the bigger sites can spam until someone notices it publicly, promise to fix it later, and then be good so long as they get the notice in.

    This is true even if they are slow to implement, lied about making changes in the past, are making the same “mistakes” that were made years ago, etc. That is of course 2-tier, and overt.

    But even with the blocking the 100% automated pages, I have no way to opt out of Mahalo scraping without blocking Googlebot as well. And they even go so far as using *my* meta description as *their* meta description. Is the DMCA appropriate here?

    From a quality standpoint, what about the longer Mahalo pages which use the Google search API to scrape content into them and slap nofollow on the link (unless it is pointing at another Mahalo page)? Are we to assume that scraper sites are now legitimate so long as there are a few sentences of original text on the page? Let me know…just trying to figure out the best strategy to optimize with.

  69. Jim

    I think this is a good step to preventing link spam in the future. We see a lot of weird links on blogs, comment pages, and other ways people try to raise their rank. I hope this fixes that problem.

  70. Great news: Fetch as Googlebot, excellent (beat Google to finding the hacked spam links!) sharing webmaster panel! Excellent. I assume Google is not going to just de-list sites because of a spam complaint from a single individual so I’m good with it. Anything to make the SERPs better.

  71. Hey Matt,

    I’m just curious about this new algorithm because my site suddenly dropped 21 spots with out a single physical change to my site. I wasn’t participating in any link schemes, and up until that point my site was ranking relatively well. Google Webmaster Tools didn’t show anything to suggest it was hacked or have any suggestions at all for that matter. The only thing I can think of is the anchor text on the bottom of my clients sites of which all are on seperate IPS, but on the same server. No where in Google guidelines does it say that you can’t have inbound links from your own sites so I’m confused as to what might have caused the sudden drop. Would the new algorithm drop my site because I have layered images in the CSS? All the font was visible, and nothing was misleading so I can’t for the life of me figure out what caused this issue. I sure wish Google would of at least sent me an email in Google Webmaster tools if there was an issue I should be fixing.

  72. @Robert – this isnt digitalpoint ;)

  73. Martin Smith

    I really hope that Google starts taking linkspam more seriously. It is really damaging the validity of search results for our industry.

  74. Overall, I think this is such a complicated and HUGE issue that there will always be problems. The main thing is that the people who get hurt without doing anything wrong should have a simple and responsive way to have recourse with Google. In addition, it would be nice for the wronged people to know exactly what it is they have supposedly done wrong.

  75. Your Comment:- We’re moving away from using the anonymous spam report form ?

    Do you think that your report rate will drop?
    If this is this to stop malicious reporting will it out way the potential drop off ?
    Can the public be reassured that their details won’t be divulged to the 3rd party to avoid any backlash?

  76. I think some clarification needs to be put here.

    Going by what Matt said in reference to Gmail, I don’t think these spam reports are being investigated directly. Instead these reports are most likely being used to train/test some new Spam AI.

    In which case, I don’t think anybody needs to be too worried about competitors messing with them. Any “suspicious” reports will most likely get filtered out before hitting the system.

  77. Mike Martin

    This is a blackhatter’s dream. Got trouble with your ad campaign because of the competition? Do we have a deal for you! Find your competition and report them to http://goo.gl/linkspam, and *kapoof* all your competition problems are resolved.

    And what’s wrong with link exchanges, anyway? If I’m into Model Railroading, and me and my buddies want to exchange links in a web ring, Google wants to slap us down for that? A bit arrogant, don’t you think?

  78. Annika Hansen

    Hello Matt just a question, maybe a dumb one, but if your biggest competitor buys expired domains with pr still on it and use that for adding links to rank higher is that considered as spam also? Or is it just the comment spam? And what is comment spam? Is that also when you participate in the conversation but leave a link to your website?

  79. Maybe its time to place less value on linking and link popularity? Or at least find a better balance to help ensure that the most relevant content gets presented to the user via a search engine regardless of SEO or linking efforts.

  80. Charles

    Aloha Matt, this is unrelated but does Google still maintain the Index for Google Accessible Search?

    And what aaron said

  81. I will be very curious to see how this plays out. I did some work for an SEO company last year that ran into multiple posts and attacks against their service, false claims of course, posted across multiple sites. Now that people can post, somewhat anonymously, to Google directly, what kind of a chance will those companies have to defend themselves?

  82. We’ve deleted or noindexed almost every single short content page. These pages were about 6% of our traffic. We filled out the content on the top 5% of these pages and they have actually ranked better in a non-scientific survey (score one for “more original content = better SEO”). Our net traffic loss looks like 1-2% or maybe even after getting rid of these short pages.

    As far as the “scraping” claim I think Aaron is confusing caching, which we do, with scraping (which we don’t). If you want to de-index from mahalo simply email contact@mahalo.com and we will make it happen.

    Thanks to Aaron for the feedback. We never wanted to get credit for low content pages and we should have been more on top of this issue. We are no very much on top of it and we’ve set our baseline for pages at 300 original words. Our thousands of active contributors are actually doing that as we speak.

    We’re an original content site like Wikipedia or Yahoo Answers with a little search added. So, Matt is right we are a content site first (i’d say content and community).

    We have thousands of salt of the earth people earning their car payment, kids school clothes or rent building high-quality content pages at Mahalo. Please don’t take out my stupid statements about SEO from six years ago against them.

    We are good people trying to do good work even if we make a mistake once and a while.

    again, thanks… Jason

  83. So, yay for helping to prevent linkspamming but boo because there will no doubt be a lot of deliberate paid link initiatives by company X on behalf of company Y, who will then report them with the intention to undermine their competitor.

    How can that be stopped? Fake credit cards, bogus accounts for transferring money, email accounts, disposable phones all used to make the link buys. I know a lot about this, because I’ve seen it happen in businesses I’ve worked with every day.

    I’d imagine that most people will take action on this. I mean think about it, what cheaper way to get #1 on your most important SERP than to send your competitors to a watery grave via linkspam reporting?

    (reposting, because my nickname probably won’t help my cause in passing moderation)

  84. Hi Matt,

    So I understand this correctly (please excuse my ignorance), would this reporting link be the place to report sites that grab a piece of one of my articles and slap it on their site. Not talking a legitimate roundup but a site where they pass off a piece of my work as a form of legitimacy (hope that makes sense). I’m just tired of scrapers and those that grab snippets. I can’t chase after them all with DMCA notices (I think that is the right notice).

    Thank you!
    -Craig

  85. [blockquote]We’re moving away from using the anonymous spam report form.[/blockquote]That’s a bad move. Makes it look like Google have a hidden agenda.

    Why on Earth do you NOT want anonymous spam reports???

  86. Google Freind

    I think and I can appreciate what Google is trying to do, which is to reduce spam, but end of the day Google is going to suppress the very thing called “the small business” by trying to penalize small businesses who are trying to buy links to compete with the big guys.

    We all know that “Nike” will come on first page if someone types in Nike, not only because of the links, but also the domain, and the brand. Now if some small business owner who sells Nike shoes in his town and wants to get a few hits so he can sell a few Nike shoes, what are his options? Pay over $10 a click on google adwords? thats probably half of his profit margin not counting labor.

    I personally think Google is taking this link buying spamming business too far. Small businesses can’t and dont have the resources to keep coming up with “the content” to bait for links…so what’s wrong with buying some links to tell Google “hey, pay attention to us the small guys”

    Just a though? and NO, nofollow is not a valid html tag its a made up thing.

    With all due respect.

  87. Take a look at the webmaster forum link I provided. It shows you a domain farm consisting of over 1k domains. I reported it a couple times, but nothing has been done. So instead I tried asking advice on the webmaster forum (the link I listed as my website) and people just tell me to file a spam report. So I dont know man, I am really wondering if these links are a-okay. If they are I am going to buy some blog reviews. If they arent, I dont get why no one has taken the report or forum post serious.

    Anyway, sorry man I know you said you dont wanna get spam reports here. But I think if you take a gander at this domain farm you will be very surprised, its one of the largest I have seen. This is one of the companies thats selling the links (http://internet-search-marketing.com/consulting_services/link-building). Anyhow, hope you arent spammed with to many comments to take a look. Thanks dude

    Andy

  88. rene

    Hi Matt,

    I filed a spamreport 11 months ago (!) for a batch of websites with over 2000 paid links spread over 2000+ subdomains, but no action was taken… You ask for spam reports but you don’t do anything with it ?

  89. Michael

    Hey Matt,

    Couple of questions..

    Say a site is really aged and has established a good link profile for years. Are spam reports on these sites handled the same as a new site? (Do you take the site into context or just the spam report?)

    These new alogithms, will they work to automatically remove penalties and is the whole application and removal of the things going to happen faster with caffeine?

    In my industry thousands of hacked servers are used to get sites very decent rankings in weeks but recently you guys seem to be finding and removing them (well done) unfortunately a few established guys have now had there sites linked to by these guys and also ‘appear’ to be suffering the same fate. I understand it’s easy to say you do a lot to stop competitor A from hurting competitor B and the G Mail analogy but there are a couple of differences.. For starters GMail doesn’t control anywhere near the market share or influence natural serps in a way millions of businesses live on. It’s not as easy for competitors to spam and report if a mail server is setup correctly.. It’s also not as public and therefor not as easy for an immoral competitor to reverse engineer.

    I’m becomming increasingly worried about what a good link is.. Maybe you could define a few parameters or creative real world examples.. Links need to be editorally given I understand that but what if you insist on the alt text and the editor agrees? What if you did this with 1 site, 10 sites or a 1000? What if you have unusual business partners that are from a completely different niche but still generate decent partnerships? What if you offer badges (stickers) on your site and people from all parts of the web link to you (it’s still editorially given).. Couldn’t competitors report this? When would a review be spammy? Would a massive company with a million dollar marketing budget that sends out thousands of products and happens to receive a tonne of links be spamming? Are retail sites only supposed to rely upon content when they are not about content and wouldn’t have to in any other medium. Are business supposed to rely upon non-web means of generating links.. Sorry I could go on and on.. As someone with a small budget and what I would describe as fair means of competing I’m getting worried about how hard I can push my marketing strategies without overstepping the mark (I’m suffering from a penalty from albeit stupid mistakes but the above are questions running through my head for what I can and can’t do in the future)

  90. Arizal

    Hi Matt,

    I appreciate Google’s SE and it’s ability to deliver good results. I am less thrilled about the company’s approach to webmasters in the last time. What are you going to do about those “spammy links”? Devalue them or punish the target site as suggested by some papers concerned about combating link spam (or as suggested in your very own comments in the WP-footer links discussion with ShyBoy on the Google forum?!)?

    We all know what will happen in such a case and already happened: destroying the competitions link universe with blog commenting scripts, mass-install of free hosted autoblogs linking to the competition and the like. Making a great WP theme with footer links or buying some lame links for the competition will not even be necessary. It will be the cheapest form of SEO ever.

    And I am not so positive as Aaron Wall is, that it will be a matter just to “small” sites. I worked with clients operating some of the biggest sites of a country (maybe I currenty work in the wrong one?!). We got a Google Account Manager for each AdSense, AdWords and GAM. But when we wanted to clarify why one of these sites (one of the most read in the whole country!) is obviously somehow penalized – or at least in a very strange way under performing – nobody at Google did bother to even pass a mail to the appropriate team. All we asked for was to explain us your rules in a plain, but clear language so we could comply again with them. And at the webmaster console? Zero feedback and I do not notice a difference to the no feedback policy when working with an average joe’s site.

    I am skeptical about this “calling for link spam” campaign and can hardly imagine that it will do any good.

    Kind regards
    Arizal

    (Ps: sorry for not putting my real name to the public, but I do not want to share my experiences to obviously with our competition. Thanks. You got the real name in the Mail).

  91. @Matt Thanks I had that Keyword Luv thing on my Name and didn’t notice as I hit submit.
    Anyway sorry for the trouble hope to spot u @SXSW to say Hello

  92. likes “disavow links” idea…

  93. I think this s great way to keep people honest. Google can not understand the iniquities of every industry. I work in the legal vertical. I’ll see several hundred page rank passing links from a competitor’s directory. To Google this would seem fine; however, the links are for practice areas the firm doesn’t practice in areas they don’t practice. The only reason for the link is page rank. I will see a page reporting every supreme court decision on a particular day with 3 links at the bottom. No lawyer would search for a case that way. To use Google’s terms, that page has no value to the searcher. Once again, another page rank passer. I will also see 5 completely unique website sites, but all home page links go to the firm’s main site. The crawler is seeing something different than the user. This is classic doorway pages. Finding a needle in the haystack would be a major understatement of how hard is it for Google to do this alone.

  94. Anon

    As I used to be one of the largest contributers to the paid links economy, I feel that I am in an authority position to share my thoughts on this:

    I think this current development in Google’s algo to combat paid links is probably not necessary. This is because the algo has been recently more effective in combatting paid links and the Vince update was absolutely devastating to SEOs in competitive arenas, including myself. Also, Google’s stronger attitude in penalising sites recently has also made paid linking seem an even more unattractive option.

    In fact, we’ve turned out back on paid linking now due to the cost/benefit/risk/reward ratio and are now trying to focus on doing more projects which appeal to the linkerati.

    Watching from the outskirts into paid link land, we’re seeing the prices that webmasters were demanding are now dropping, as the demand for paid links cools off. Also, because many webmasters now understand that accepting money for paid links is now outside of Google’s guidelines, they don’t want to risk a penalty, that makes obtaining paid links an even more difficult proposition.

    To put this in perspective, an individual going out and brokering quality links on semi-decent sites which are not spammy will only achieve and complete around 10-20 link deals a month, which has forced many of the linking teams outside of the western world into the cheap labour markets of the East in order to stay competitive and keep SEO costs within reason. Even so, the aggressive SEO market is taking major strain in terms of trying to stay effective and competitive in price.

    Can we talk in private?

  95. As others mentioned before, I just don’t see how Google will be able to prevent competitors from hurting each other with purpose. So let’s say one of my competitors buys 10 domains, adds some silly content and populate it with spam links to my site. Then my competitor reports my site to Google. Even if Google notifies me about those spamlinks, what exactly can I do to take them down in order to please Google? Sue the domains owner(s)?? As a fair SEO player, I would be put in a position where I simply can’t defend myself.

    I totally agree that spamlinks are bad. I don’t use them. But trying to penalize sites that use spamlinks will surely mean opening a Pandora box.

  96. I think it would be a very good idea for Google to come up with alternate advertising solutions other that PPC so smaller guys won’t have to spam away and buy links.

    PPC is getting VERY EXPENSIVE for small business. Our company has to pay $25 a click to be on bottom of page one. We don’t buy links and focusing more on natural link building but I am sure $25 a link would have better ROI for us than $25 a click.

    Perhaps as head of web spam, you can bring this up to Google that how you can prevent spamming is by providing more affordable solutions to small busienss.

  97. mmm.. not good. Looks like a good way to start the removal of poorer sites from the index to make way for those with bigger budgets, as Aaron makes some good points, RE: the larger sites get away with grey hat seo and everyone else gets a slap and ban with no chance of responding or understand why.

    I don’t think I am the only one more than a little concerned about what negative effects our competitors can have on our sites. For example say they do go out to build bad links, report us and the spam team, who have no way of knowing who actually submitted the links, it could quite possibly swing in favour of the spam reporter. In a case of ‘large site builds bad links to small site and then reports small site for spamming’ I think the winner may already be decided. (Yep, the large ‘favoured’ site!)

    Matt, this feature is to deal with spammy links, but how are Google going to deal with the abuse of this feature??? At least give us a clue so I an get some sleep tonight!

  98. @ Dave

    [blockquote]We’re moving away from using the anonymous spam report form.[/blockquote]That’s a bad move. Makes it look like Google have a hidden agenda.
    Why on Earth do you NOT want anonymous spam reports???

    I also believe this this problem is. it looks like google says the webmaster of this spammy homepages who pass a secret. This deters a lot….

    Ps : I know someone who has a Linkfarm with more than 100 Pages…I write it on Google…But nothing happens.

    Regarts
    Erdal

  99. Ann

    Well, Matt, what you are stating here is not at all consistent with what Google is stating they want in the actual form, they are asking for sites that have, Hidden text or links, Misleading or repeated words, Page does not match Google’s description, Cloaked page
    Deceptive redirects, Doorway pages. All valid things to want to address as those sites are useless.

    But, there is nothing there about paid links, or spam links, as you state in your post.

    In reality, you asking people to report paid links is just inviting the greedy competitors to attempt to ruin their competition, and plummet Google with invalid claims, can it really go any other way in the long run and in the big picture?

  100. RJ.

    It’ll be interesting to see if this results in a round of penalties or if the obvious self service and paid links are just ignored as they should be.

    What I’d really like to see and wonder if Google will ever consider allowing webmasters the opportunity to remove questionable links from their profile in webmaster tools. Towards the end of last year Google suggested that webmasters who had employed self service links might want to clean them up by either deleting them or requesting that they be removed.

    How about providing an avenue for webmasters to at least notify Google that they don’t want certain links counted whether they were the result of their own actions or by others?

  101. Here is the problem I have. I had some SEO joker who does SEO for my competitors, call me several months ago and threaten me that unless I used him, he would have his “friends” at Google remove my sites from the index. I ranked number one for my blog for “Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorneys” and my main site was a HIGH PR5 and also ranking number one for all the keywords I needed.

    Tons of articles and social bookmarking to get there after 5 years. I told the guy no way I would pay him the 5 k per month he wanted to “guarantee me” first page ranking I ALREADY HAD!!! Two months later my motorcycle accident blog was a PR0 and no ranking and my main domain was taken down to a PR4 from a strong PR5. I was just getting ready to make the jump to PR6!!!!

    I contacted Google and told them what happened and sure enough, magically, my motorcycle site got its ranking and PR back. But my main domain is NOW still a lowly PR4. This really sucks.

    Competitors and SEO guys just make shit up and make BS reports and apparently Google buys it. This is just like communist China where neighbors out of jealously or greed report their neighbors.

    I aggressively write articles, news and bookmark them constantly. Now it appears that I could be penalized based upon bogus reports from competitors, for doing these white hat SEO techniques or simply because I am number one?

    There has to be a better way Matt. P.S. I would post the links to my sites in question, but your blog blocks url’s. Can you help me and others who are sick of being threatened and removed by an algo that seems to reward evil doers for making false complaints?

  102. LouisXIV

    And what if my competitor uses a crappy tool for spamming like xrumer to make links for my website, (it juste take 10 minutes for him) and reports my website for spam ???

    That’s really seems too easy.

  103. Charles

    Here’s me thinking about shelling out $300 to join the Yahoo directory and $300 on business . com and now I’m wondering if this is not a good move! All my competitors have paid to be listed on these directories and they’re above me on the SERPS so I’m guessing these authorities links are not classed as spammy. But they are paid links!

    Please someone advise me – I really can’t afford to blow $600 on a yearly listing if it’s going to do more harm than good!

  104. Rokas

    Im also very interested, is there any soft limit about number of links which can look like a paid links?
    Lets say Im webmaster, and I want my new projects to showup in serips fast, so I place backlink on my web for 1-2 week. Such servise is also included in web page price, but Is it against the rules?
    And what if I want to vote for one of my project? Its not permited to recommend my own project if I know that its real good? Look, we all know tha on site seo doesnt engought for good site ranking.

    Matt please say your word. I’m web site creator and Id like to know becouse google is important to all my created websites.

  105. Morris Rosenthal

    Matt,

    You might want to consider a “publisher” toolbar with built in link spam reporting, something of the such. I encounter link spam all the time, and frequently receive e-mails from people who want to buy links on my site, but I don’t keep a running record of all this stuff against the day, once every few years, you might ask. If the reporting isn’t done in real time as the link spam is encountered, you’re just going to see a subset of results, and it may only include feedback from people with the time and motivation to manipulate the system.

    Morris

  106. Wow, scary.
    While programs like neighborhood watch tend to do what they are intended, they can also be abused, pitting neighbor against neighbor.

    And do you really need them? It seems that you could put together an algo or two to ferret out problematical linking sites.

    We are losing focus by concentrating on paid or free (organic) links.
    The reason to place links is traffic, and paid links from business portals are valid, if not a priority marketing purchase.

    Matt, what is the Google’s position on using paid listings on sites like KellySearch or ThomasNet?
    Google must value their links as they often come up in a search for a business.
    And they are relevant.
    Or how about topic related portals for tourism? Placing paid ads on these sites is a measure of confirming the validity of the business.

    One more thing about the tip system is that we should be able to face our accusers.
    Not having it anonymous is a step in the right direction, but do you investigate the id of the person submitting the complaint?
    Real name? What about business connections? Are they a competitor of the site they are reporting?

    Keep up the good work Matt.
    Reg

  107. >I happily report spam in Gmail all the time. Does that make Google more money?

    I agree, reporting e-mail SPAM is in the best interest of everyone (what little of it there is to report). Gmail is just amazing with spam, my gmail address is all over the place on the web, my email address in ” ” comes up 572 times in google. My spam folder gets lots of messages, but I only have to report spam a couple times a week. I’ve also had my gmail address since pretty close to the beginning of gmail. Way to go google on fighting email spam. Only one thing I wish would be added if I click “Not Spam” for a message it should be white listed.

    Do you see anything wrong with people that get legitimate links to their site by making real, hand made comments on blogs? (That’s the point of putting the web site field on the comments section, for the author to get a link, isn’t it?) I comment on a lot of blogs, but they are all things I read, and are real comments made about the blog post, not just some random nonsense to get a link. I also almost never put a link in the comment area, I just list my home page in the web site field.

    Jamie Dolan
    Neenah, WI

  108. @Jamie Dolan: It seems terrifying that G has the power to arbitrarily decide these issues, and may someday be the subject of an anti-trust suit. But for now, just listen to Matt. He has made it clear that it is only comment spam if the site owner cannot “vouch” for the link, it is not a link farm, domain farm, or using some other nefarious method to manipulate PR and rankings.

    That is the main problem I have is this often dark area of what is and is not spam. I consider web spam to be porn sites and travel junk. If I see that on a blog, I know it is spam. But if you put a link to your site and are a socializer like me, it makes sense you want people to know who you are and what you sell. Doesn’t it? I mean isn’t mixing how we meet and engage in commerce and friendship? (Have any of you read “Adam Smith – Wealth of Nations?)

    Matt at one time said social media was a great way to get “do follow” links back to your site. Is that still true? Seems that twitter and Digg want everything to be “no follow” for fear of a problem with Google. So I am not sure.

    However, I can easily see your competitor telling some wet behind the ears employee at G that all your comments are “spam” since they are in “blog post comments” and therefore de index you. That person may make an arbitrary and capricious judgment call that could destroy your livelihood and it is no joke.

    I certainly would like more clarification from Matt, as my whole business is internet based, and DO NOT want to do anything to tick them off! Get it? Once in a while Matt will toss out a gem that helps with the never ending and constantly changing puzzle that is the Google algorithm.

  109. @panzermike:
    >Matt at one time said social media was a great way to get “do follow” links
    >back to your site. Is that still true? Seems that twitter and Digg want
    >everything to be “no follow” for fear of a problem with Google. So I am not sure.

    Based on the research I have done, the vast majority of these sites (social networking) are nofollow for links you post. For example; my twitter page is PR6, but as far as I can tell, links from my twitter account do not help my SERP at all.

    Many people have become very dependent on google for their lively hood, either based on SEPR, adwords, or adsence. Even more disturbing than people losing rank because someone believes they are a spammer is all of the adwords and adsence accounts that got canned in the past couple months. This did not affect me personally, so I really have no idea what these people did to get banned. I heard many reports from people where they claimed not to have done anything iffy at all.

    So my questions here is, what are considered the legitimate way to build links now? Just asking other webmasters for links? I did that for one site, and it was pretty effective, but it was weeks of writing letters and making calls.

    I’ve added my sites address to a couple forums that I have been a long time member of, and noticed a boost in results very shortly afterwords, so I know that can help. Again it is a very limited way to get links, the forums that helped my SERP, I have invested hundreds of hours contributing to those sites.

    So it brings me back to the question, what is it that we should be doing to help promote our site and articles? Are we just suppose to hope that Google eventually ranks our content well based on how good the content is?

    Jamie Dolan
    Neenah, WI

  110. I think most of us have missed the first line of Matt’s post. Google has a new algorithm for spam detection and they want the spam reports to see if the algo is working as intended.

    That means
    1. A site is not going to be flagged off just because someone submits a spam report.
    2. Most probably the site will be used to build a list of spammy/ paid links
    3. The list will be compared against the list already generated by the algo to test the effectiveness of the algo and eventually improve it.

    That is just how I would have used these reports. The smart engineers of Google may have some other way.

  111. Ari

    I am aware of link spam and spammers using automated mass comment submission services. i Personaly use blog commenting as part of my SEO procedures to help my site, however i do not spam! Does this mean that people will be able to report me as a spammer or do this only apply to the aytomated spaming programs?

    Thanks

    Ari

  112. trafford

    Good I am just starting a campaign to report my competitors

  113. Andrew

    Hello, I’ve sent a few las year, and I used the word linkspam and/or abusive link strategies, are you going to review old spam reports with this word or not ? By the way I think this special “linkspam” form is a very good idea.

    Two questions : I have two examples I’d like to know if they are considered linkspam :

    1. One site has an affiliate program for their main site, they hide links to an unrelated website inside the widget they distribute adn it works quite well for them. Is this linkspam ?

    2. A few other websites uses a directory to force webmasters to link to unrelated websites ,some even use adwords or overture tu promote these directories and get links . Is this linkspam ?

  114. @Jamie Dolan: Looks almost like the only way to get good links is your letter writing campaign. But seriously, if you can befriend others online in places like Digg they may have relevant sites and want to vote for you just because they like and trust you. Try it out. Join Propellor and start making friends.

  115. Matt,

    I see that there is a huge difference between spanish and english websites regarding Google guidelines. There are ton of sites using spam techniques from 2001 like div=none on some spanish language sites or even worse techniques that gets unpunished. I hope you can catch up with the Spanish side of Google as you do with the English side.

    Good luck with the ton of reports.

    Fred

  116. Regarding a feature to “disavow links” in the webmaster console. In my opinion, this is a very bad idea because it puts the burden on the webmaster or SEO service provider. Not only would this create, potentially, a lot of extra work, it would also be a tacit admission that Google is not able to prevent competitor A from hurting competitor B.

    So if you believe that the “disavow links” feature may be needed, I think you should consider that to be a strong indicator that you seriously need to reconsider the whole area.

  117. Morten

    Hello Matt,

    I know that Google’s policy is to never punish a site for inbound links, which I think is a sound policy, if not it would be to easy to get a competitor in trouble. But do you but sites that is caught red handed several times in a harder monitoring regime? If not, wouldn’t it just be to buy all the links that you can get your hands on, and then hope you guys/competitors don’t catch them all?

  118. I’ve just discovered this blog, and now I’m scared!

    I am a complete SEO newbie trying to get a reasonable ranking in Google for my wedding photography website. I’ve done loads of reading and surfing and came to the conclusion that the best way for me to start getting some inbound links is to make serious (i.e. relevant and thought about and genuine) comments on relevant blogs and forums using my forum signature as a link.

    Is this, or is this likely to be viewed as spam by Google? Am I making a mistake?

    I chose this method for several reasons:

    a) It is a new business and I need to generate clicks and bookings quickly, before I go bust! My website is far and away my most important promotional tool.

    b) Since my site is new, it is PR0, and frankly, no-one is interested in linking to my site. As a wedding photography business site, the scope for fresh, constantly changing and unique content is, it seems to me, pretty limited.

    c) I have spent £100′s on Adwords over the last few months, which has achieved precisely nothing. Lot’s of clicks, no enquiries, no bookings.

    As I said, the posts I make to blogs and forums are relevant, unique and, I hope, helpful. I do put in a fair amount of effort.

    I thought the link was the reward for taking the time to make a considered reply, but could it actually be a curse?

    Any advice would help me sleep :)

  119. Hi Matt,

    In general Google currently does a poor job and makes many mistakes. Also Google ignores people that want to help Google, people that own Google stock and want to see Google do better. So the people that can help Google the most (people like me) have given up on Google and do not trust Google to do the right thing. I even have blog posts with very specific examples of what I am saying and Google does not admit nor fix their mistakes.
    Go to:
    http://gototom2.blogspot.com/

    When will Google fix the mistakes completely mentioned in this article?

    If you want people to help you more you need to follow up and fix blatant publicly documented mistakes. Also you can not penalize innocent sites and than just keep asking for more help for you to ignore. This hurts Google’s credibility, which is how most of the top experts feel about Google currently.

    I wish I could make more positive comments about Google as I do own Google stock.
    On a positive note, it is not too late. Have your staff focus on the most obvious and blatant abuses and fix all publicly documented Google mistakes, then you will start to win Google supporters and shareholders back and more good experts will want to help you.

  120. Narendra Pingle

    Matt,
    Can we consider the websites which are into reciprocal linking as spam websites? especially when they are blocking those pages from the search engines with robots.txt.

  121. RE: I heard many reports from people where they claimed not to have done anything iffy at all

    Prisons are fully of “innocent” people too :O)

    RE: So my questions here is, what are considered the legitimate way to build links now? Just asking other webmasters for links? I did that for one site, and it was pretty effective, but it was weeks of writing letters and making calls.

    Content is King. E.g. earn votes based on good content. Being online isn’t a 100m sprint, it’s a marathon.

  122. A great move by Google, really help the ethical seo agencies.

  123. Hi,

    Will report what I can and hopefully for a better interworld.
    But, I’m not number one now, my competitor is.
    Because he’s a spammer. So I cry, report him and think of my own spam.
    Spam works, me number 1, me happy, competitor sad and reports me.
    Google will focus on new trick and kick me down again.
    Competitor number one again. Loving Google again and me hating him (or is it her?) again.
    This will never end, no matter what. Unless, Google finds a way to make everyone number one someday. 15 minutes of Google-fame maybe? How to please everyone… is it possible?

    For every friend you make you also make an enemy. I don’t envy you Matt (although the pay should lighten that load i guess:).

  124. Matt!

    Please, Please help! In the past couple of weeks my local business center listing was penalized. I knew this because I use to be able to type in denvers insurance in google search, and my listing would come up on LBC. One day, it stop showing up in searches, and the visibility was absolutely horrible. I did some research and found out that my local listing had been duplicated several times. At first I thought it was the web sites i had a listing in (such as denver.com) were duplicating it, in order to put in their website in, so when it was clicked, it would re-direct back to their website.(hijacked listing) Once I thought about it, the listing would be an owner verified listing. These are not. I click of course to that I am the business owner so I can delete the listing. I have came to the conclusion that google is duplicating my listing. I also came to the conclusion, that google penalized my local listing, due to spamming in the maps part of google. What do i do to stop these duplications? I found 2 again today, and they seem to be popping up every day. Can you please help? How do I stop these duplications? Since then I actually scrapped my old listing and started over. This has absolutely killed my calls for quotes.

    Thanks,

    Mark

  125. @mark schneider: You suffering from multiple issues that are completely within your control. For example, I can barely load your web page. I would strongly suggest that you get off the $7.95 a month hosting and use a host with a SLA, there are many dozens of top notch web hosts. Your page is going to completely vanish from search results if it is continually inaccessible to the crawlers. Load time is now a consideration also. Once your hosting problem is resolved; I suggest you continue work on your site by asking for assistance in the webmaster help forum; http://google.com/webmasters

    @Matt Cutts: Are you able to confirm / reiterate that the information collected via these reports will be used to generate “new algorithms” that are collectively applied to Google and individual sites are not targeted? It’s my understanding that Google rarely if ever manually modifies the search results and only makes changes by modifying the algorithms.
    Many people feel they are singled out or penalized by Google in some way. I see these “problems” people encounter simply as the results of what was applied (by a computer) to their site based upon the algorithms in place.
    I don’t believe that Google is penalizing individual sites / domains directly, only using data gathered to modify the algorithm, Matt, please do correct me if I am wrong.

  126. Jamie- According to google it takes 1.9 seconds average to load my pages. This is 71 percent better then everyone else on average. This is from my web master tools. Also my page speed has absolutely nothing to do with my question. Its about the LBC.

  127. It seems that the new Google algorithm adds up Google spam reports. My question is, how could you confirm if the given information is reliable or not?

  128. Hi there, I host my own WordPress blog and receive many spam comments (thankfully all blocked by Akismet) which contain several spam links each. I’d be more than happy to use a plug-in (if one existed) to automatically submit the spam URL’s to Google (and others) to combat spam.

  129. As a website owner you need hope that finally you website get listed on a fair position in Google. This would be possible if Google is able to filter all the link spam. I wish luck to all webmasters that this happens before the their website’s time is over…

    I agree with the report tool, but also hope that only the bad guys getting a penalty, there are so many websites with very small violations. Google please spare them they try to pay their bills as well.

  130. Thanks Matt. I am currently facing a problem with comment spam on my blog and the comments are on the same post every couple of days but its either in a diff language or its just a code that does not translate into any language. Please tell me if this can be reported too as ther are no links involved in it

  131. [blockquote]My question is, how could you confirm if the given information is reliable or not?[/blockquote]They manually check the site/page and if reliable they try and modify their algos to suit, and/or penalize the site/page.

  132. Paul

    Matt

    I’ve reported a guy who is:
    - running loads of doorway pages with different keyword-based domain names to increase his traffic. Each of these pages ranks high in Google for its domain keywords despite just being a page linking into his main domain.
    - added a score of fake addresses in Google Local listings, each pointing to the relevant doorway domain for that location. He’s used fake addresses to get in lots of locations, and used his cell phone number.

    However – he’s getting tons of traffic from doing this even a year after it was first reported, and pushing other ‘honest’ sites with proper content out of the listings. I don’t want to compete by doing this sort of thing; if Google take no action what can I do?

    (Incidentally, he’s also promoting his site by setting up pages on Facebook and other social networks, getting fans by ‘passing off’ as the official page of a state-run institution – hopefully Facebook will take action on this or maybe the institution as its an offence to ‘pass-off’)

  133. Hi Matt
    Just interested which tools do you have to be sure that competitor A can’t hurt competitor B?

    Thanks

  134. I think, that the best solution for filtering spam on links is to ignore all incoming links for ranking pruposes.

    Just try to rank sites based on the quality of their content, accessibility, ease of browsing behavior within the site, and of course- relevancy! (Percentage of bounce rate,number page views, time on site,bookmarking, returning visitors e.t.c ).

    In such a case, no one in the world, would invest in an effort to spread the links on the Web .Pepole will invest in the quality of the sites themselves(and adwords too :) ). In this case, the Internet will be better. It’s very hard to rank without links,
    but I think , that Google’s technology can do this…even now- its happening….
    Just change the PR formula to something like this:

    PR= (NP +t+b+r-BR)-(Err*Ls) :)

    *PR= Page Rank
    *BR= bounce rate
    *NP= number of pages
    *t= time on site
    *b= bookmarking
    *r= returning visitors
    *Err = html and css errors
    *Ls= loading speed
    *- = minus
    *+ = plus
    *= = Equal
    *:) = Funny

  135. I can see a whole array of problems occurring with this. I just hope that the team on the other end makes really conscience business decisions after receiving information regarding a websites abuse of the search engines.

  136. Tom

    A few points:
    1) The risk of spam ‘spam’ reports is very real (disturbingly so);
    2) If the ball starts rolling with this there will be open warfare and Google won’t be able to cope with the number of reports;
    3) If that happens Google will have to drop over 30% of its index as many sites have dubious incoming links;
    4) What happens if site is actually very good for information consumers but has a few dubious incoming links? Do you think they care as long as they are getting the information they want?
    5) Returning sites with the most relevant CONTENT and stop spending so much time worrying about links. It is Google that started this problem by over-focusing on links (yes, I am suggesting that the algorithm is flawed). Google needs to turn down authority and turn up relevance. In this way ‘spammy’ (which is not a word by the way, it’s something used to say ‘I don’t know if this is spam but it looks like it COULD be’) links would be of far less importance as CONTENT (not necessarily content that thousands of people want to link to) would rise to the top.
    6) To play devils advocate, how you ever considered that shady link building has been good for Google search results? If someone is going through the effort of building or paying for links they obviously care about what they have to offer and target what they have to offer very specifically = better information for consumers (even if it is something that Google frowns upon, like payday loans).

  137. Frances

    Seems a bit like Google keep pulling the rug from honest website owners!

    Back when I started my site (2004/2005) I was told in no uncertain terms from white hat SEO companies that it was worth paying for certain links. Yahoo Directory springs to mind but there are loads of “good” websites that do still demand some payment to add you. I don’t really blame them frankly or their directories would be, in my opinion, even spammier.

    Now Google are going to penalise us even more than they have already? Need I mention the nofollow debacle?

    Plus what’s to stop competitors from reporting each other? It’s all very well to say that Google aim to prevent this but seriously, do they honestly believe they can’t be hoodwinked? After all why would anyone bother to report a site for using this practice unless they were a competitor – perhaps fairly since you do have to wonder why some sites are ranked much higher than better, more informative ones.

    In the worst case (and I bet this happens) black hat technique, a competitor could go out out get their competitor’s site listed on these “bad” directories and then turn around to Google and complain.

    I know we all need Google. I love Google. But any other company would be sued if it kept changing its own goalposts and hurting businesses as a direct result. Give us a break Google!!

    Google should do two things. Firstly it should start looking at all links to a website (including no follow and paid links). Then it should look at the age of those links – the older they are the more informative I would have thought. Finally they should warn a website owner of potential harm to their PageRank of particular inbound links – give them a chance to rectify it.

  138. Jim

    @aaron wall. Excellent point about the size/popularity of the site. I guess if G de-indexed every site that had ever spammed there wouldn’t be much left to index!

  139. Paul

    So, who decides if these links are spam? If it’s only the site owner that’s fine. How does an individual not associated with a website get to decide if someone is spamming blog links, etc? How does Google decide someone is spamming a site? If, for example, a blog allows you anchored links in your comments and approves them is that spam or is that a personal preference. How does Google evaluate this? Or are looking at an employee at G hitting the big ‘deindex’ button based purely on a third party report? Bottom line: all the CMS/blogging platforms have a couple of big, fat buttons to deal with this kind of thing. One is called ‘delete’ and his big brother is called ‘spam’. Simple

  140. Google just keeps getting better

  141. Sandeep Dahiya

    Well, exectaly you want to say that Google is taking help of people to find the spam. And what if I report wrong or if I report my competitor. Will there be any penalty or something like that .

  142. This sounds good, but I certainly do hope these links are checked manually. Otherwise we could be looking at competitor abuse (competitors making false reports).

    Even worse, what if a competitor starts link spamming your site/blog just so that Google checks it and drops the hammer.

    Please, never allow any form of automation within the algorithm that a competitor could use against you. Even if it’s checked manually, how do you know it’s not the competition trying to harm you?

  143. I am very excited to hear that this will be addressed by Google! There is nothing more frustrating than looking to research a topic and all you can find is spam. This should help Google sort through the many spammy websites out there and better list good content sites.

    This is great news for webmasters with high-quality sites!

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to participate in the process.

  144. I applaud google for doing what it takes to keep girls
    like me from losing out to losers who linkspam.

    Keep it up!
    Chrissy C

  145. Troy

    Matt,

    Thanks for your efforts to eliminate this problem.

    I submitted a very good example, yes it is a competitor, but literally 98% of their 600 links are from their own wordpress blog farm. There are 100′s of sites in the farm with different hosts, different IPs, domains registered to the same 4-5 companies, but all with the same structure (to maximize the extent of the spam) and the exact same strange robots.txt. Pretty obvious even to an novice like me and I would think detectable by an algo.

    The only thing redeeming of this farm is all the content is unique albeit worthless fluff on my niche.

    I have 3 yes/no questions and some feedback for you.

    1. Is this considered link spam by Google?
    2. Will these “linkspam” reports be used to ban or penalize sites from the index in especially egregious cases like this even when coming from a competitor like me?
    3. If the site is not banned or penalized, should I submit another report and maybe request a explanation from Google?

    Feedback:
    1. I had 300 URLs to report (3 per site) but they would not fit in the character limited text field so I submitted 2 separate reports.
    2. It would be good to get some positive feedback (other than “we got your report” auto-responder) to know that:
    A. something came of our report
    B. whether or not the practice reported is “OK” or not.

    I would really appreciate a response considering it took me 3 days to gather and submit all the data! Thanks!

  146. I must say I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Google guidelines in awhile. I’m fairly new to blogging and it took all I had just to figure out the hosting, blogging platform, and HTML/PHP aspects to getting my site in place. Now that I have some experience under my belt, I think I need to re-read these sections. This certainly serves as a reminder that we have other community responsibilities when running a website besides just looking after our visitor traffic.

    I do appreciate Google taking steps to keep their product a quality tool. The more I’ve learned about being online and how Google works, the more I’ve worried about the quality of the information I find online. Knowing that Google is working to maintain its standards as a source of information is comforting.

  147. Mark

    Matt –

    I just wanted to follow up and ask a question about the spam reports.

    If someone was to submit MY SITE as spam, is there any methodology in place to notify ME of that report?

    Assuming I take advantage of Webmaster Tools, is there any process in place to tell a webmaster that someone reported their site, and what actions the Google spam team took in their review process?

    I imagine that would be GREAT information to have from a webmaster perspective, no?

    Mark

  148. Paul Mather

    Matt, I’m confused how Google has been completely non-responsive to reports about BigResource.com. Is Google actually serious about getting rid of spam in their searches? As a programmer, BigResource.com is the VERY FIRST SITE that needs to go. Any timeframe on when/if this will happen? Maybe the fix is in for BigResource.com. Some sort of kick-back system?

  149. My site has been drastically demoted the past couple weeks on Google SERPs (but not others..such as Bing). Its killing me :( and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never used link-farms or any such thing to promote my site, and I worry that perhaps I got ‘reported’ by a competitor. Is there a way to find out if you’ve been reported, Matt?

  150. Hi Matt,

    I’d a few questions about the link spam report.

    1) What google is going to do with sites that was being report, do the webmaster get a notice of someone lodge a report about their site?

    2) I current selling ads space on my blog – those 125 x 125 at the side bar, when click it will take you to the targeted site. Does google see this as link spam too?

    3) Say a site example.com is found guilty of link spam and gets deindex from google is there any actions also on the sites that buy links from them?

  151. I just submitted mine, on a very large SEO/web design company with a university affiliation which consistently employs blackhat content and linkbuilding techniques and continues to get away with it. Hopefully something might actually be done about it, finally?

  152. Eric

    Where do you report Google Map Spam that a webmaster using blackhat techniques has uploaded fictitious addresses to claim his business in many cites and states? The spammer cashgoldjewelry dot com even has tons of Doorway pages from a location generator script. The biggest issue is the Maps gaining the Top Visual spot in the Serps on Page one with their Black Hat methods.

  153. I don’t like being a snitch, but I have reported a select few over the past 6 months. On one case I even had the emails from the company offering to give me 18.00 via PayPal for a juicy textlink to their website, and I copied and pasted it during my report to Google.

    Anyway, I have no confidence in your system. I understand the effort, but whatever team runs that department is as useless as a snooze button on a smoke alarm. It has been months, yet I still see them all over the SERPS in Google.

  154. Matt S

    Matt, you probably won’t approve this comment, but all I have to say is ‘What a joke!’

    Google isn’t going to go through the thousands of spam reports and actually do something. My biggest competitor has been buying links and spamming the hell out of blogs and yet he ranks above me in almost every major keyword. So whats the point? Listen to you, follow the rules, and get nowhere?

    I tested this whole spam report back in November/December and yet my competitor still ranks at the same spot, nothing has changed and he still buys links and spams the hell out of blogs..

    So Matt Cutts.. What a joke this whole post is

  155. Tom

    I don’t like the idea of this. I can see how it may help when large sites are buying links all over the place, but these sites should be on Google’s radar anyway, surely?
    My concern is that smaller sites with heavy competition will end up unfairly penalised. My site got hit with a google penalty about 5 months ago – and is still penalised! There could have been (as far as I can tell), two reasons for this:

    1. In July last year I ran a competition that relied on people blogging about the competition to enter. This obviously meant I would get a link for every entry. I ended the competition after only getting 2 entries in as many months (!), and asked the entrants to remove their links to my site. I can now see that this violated the Google guidelines (I didn’t realise it did at the time).

    2. I annoyed a competitior of mine (a simple arguement), and that person told me they would get my site banned from google by spamming my link using automatic tools.

    My guess is that my competitor did exactly that, and then reported my site to Google using a number of anonymous webmaster accounts. (I may be wrong, and the penalty could be 100% my own fault – I can’t get the info from webmaster tools to find out).

    But, Matt – if this is what happened, it seems to me that this new linkspam reporting will only make it easier for this to happen in the future.

  156. But still I see most of the SEO companies do paid link building. Is there a measure to stop it. Is there a algorithm which will track such links who sell links?

  157. Is reporting linkspam part of the new algorithms?
    :)

  158. I think it is a really good idea – as paid links only dilute the process.

  159. Rakesh Kumar

    Will you penalize Google.com as well, if intentionally or unintentionally, there is a link of Google.com from the sites selling links? Also, I don’t think, many websites are having Google.com’s links on their sites, so how come Google being the Pagerank10 without unique content on homepage? Please share this formula so that we all can try to adhere on this policy and take our 1 page website on 25 million keyword competition? Right?

  160. Another ethical problem :)

  161. It seems that many competitive industries will have backlashes because of such a policy. It would be easy for a rival business to claim you had link spam just to drive you into the hot seat or block your ability to conduct full out business while under scrutiny of being watch by Google extra carefully for “suspected activities” whether real or not. It just feels like it would be too simple for such sabotage to happen. What safeguards are in place under the idea of such a policy to ensure that good businesses regardless of size or industry would not be affected in a negative way due to libel? I hope there is a fair process and thorough review if such a claim comes up against a company.

  162. Thanks Matt for sharing this news with us. I hope people would use it possitively and won’t report good sites as spam.

  163. Hi Matt. You recommended someone to create an additional google account to report spammig sites in order to protect his/her anonymity, but what if people use this accounts only to damage a website?

  164. carlos rios

    I agree with spam reporting. Google algo is the best but is not perfect. I’ll give an exemple of a spam site that uses very simple tecniques and is able to fool G.

    I have a site written in english even though my first language is portuguese. Yesterday, a guy spam commented my english site wih links to his portuguese site. I checked to see if he was having success doing so and was surprised to know that he is able to dominate the serps doing basically spam comments and building related keyword linkwheels. He outranks bigger and better sites doing this. This is his main site:

    criarsites.com

    And these are his support sites with rewritten content from the main one. Notice that for this tecnique to work, you have to buy domains that are on google keyword tool and are related to your main site. You can host it all on the same server as this guy does that and there is no link devaluation because of it.

    montarsite.com
    montarsites.com
    criarsites.net
    criarsites.info
    comocriarumsite.info
    hospedagemdesites.me
    hospedagemgratis.me

    The list goes on with blogger blogs, wp etc. This is just a sample for you guys see that Google algo alone cannot handle even unsophisticated spammers like this one much less the advanced Spammers that don’t leave that many footprints.

    This type of manipulation is bad for users because they always have to read the same rewritten content and bad for google that only serves results from the same author. If G team is asking for the legitimate webmasters to help them, we should do so. Google team is smart enough to know when a competitor is trying to harm a legitimate site. Only you can harm your site, not your competitors.

  165. Constantin

    Does link manipulation count for this? Eg. Some box of links with keywords anchor text placed into website pages by a SEO company, so all websites optimized by this SEO company will be linked together!

  166. The Spam Report does generate a confirmation message in Google Webmaster Tools, but in french, there is no confirmation, and there is even no confirmation message at all.
    I strongly believe there is a bug and the pipe is empty.
    This could explain why the spamreports I submit months ago are still without reaction.

  167. I am glad we have this link spam report option. Many people might get it wrong, but the only purpose is to enhance the searchers experience. I won’t have any problems reporting link spammer sites. Keep up the good job.

  168. http://www.forumpostersunion.com/showthread.php?t=12379

    Matt it might be better off if you check out some of the scams like the Black Hat SEO spam bot operators who are pulling linking schemes like the one illustrated in the above linked thread.

    I expose morons like this daily, it gets real old because these guys actually believe they will rank in Google by dumping links in homepage slots within forum user profiles and dumping anchor text in signatures and in forum threads.

    It might be faster for Google if you just read threads in the above forum versus me having to take the time to send you links to 20 threads a day.

  169. Although Google has been great and getting the best sites to the front most of the time, some of the best sites for people are still not ranked as well as they should probably because of the various ‘blackhat’ tactics their comps. use. In time, it should they should eventually get to where they belong, but til then. Thanks for this! I needed it, especially dealing with competitive keywords, brings more spammers..

  170. Rob

    So if they are no longer anonymous, is the report sent to the site owner and tied back to the individual?

    I see the comment above that they are “not shared with the general public”. Are they shared with the site owners? That could obviously turn out badly. I’m having a flashback of “you ninja’d my cloud stone” right about now…

  171. Dagnold

    Are you going to punish the sites that are victims of link spamming? That’s a question that should be answered in the request for submissions, but it isn’t.

  172. Matt, here is another link dumper who is employing the same idiotic “Black Hat SEO Moron” tactics I pointed out in my last post.

    http://www.forumpostersunion.com/showthread.php?p=58850#post58850

    These guys dump links in forum user profile homepage slots by the thousands with an automated forum spamming script, then ping that page with their link on it to “fool Google into indexing that page faster !!!

    LOL

  173. I have been tracking several sites closely since early this year and through mayday and Caffeine and I have had to revise my long held positions on Page Rank….and linking

    From what I see, and the hints Googlers have given us, Page Rank is no longer computed on a strictly mathematical formula but is now based more on relevance between listing and listed site content.

    I also see PR as being separated from search position performance.
    Page rank has no influence on the positions of your search phrases.

    I have deduced this from tracking a new site.
    Most of my keyword phrases are right up there in the #1 spot, except for one which is in #2.

    My site just went from a PR0 to a PR4 and my SERPS did not change.
    I only have 132 links to it (Yahoo tells me 79) and the vast majority of those links were on discussion posts on linkedin and other forums/blogs with a PR of 0.

    However all the discussions were about the same thing my site is about with a 99% relevance factor.

    So Matt, do paid links even matter anymore?
    I am betting that for SEO, links do not matter at all, (other than the first one).
    I am betting that Search results and PR are going to be decided on relevance but kept separate to cross check results.

    best
    Reg

  174. Wade Crook

    I am still not seeing the evidence of spam reporting helping to clean up link spam. I have sent 3 separate spam reports on one site in particular via the advised channel with the correct parameters listed and I am still not seeing any action.

    Within the report I listed almost all the offending URLs (approximately 150 targeting one keyword alone) that were being linked from, which were blog posts on non-content relevant sites. There has been examples of websites being penalised for in the past for this type of practice and yet still nothing is being.

    I appreciate that Google has alot of link spam requests but this post feels as if it’s just getting hopes up a bit too much.

  175. As a follow up to my prior posts, here is a moron advertising his automated link spamming service to “so called webmasters” who are trying to link spam their way into Google SERP’s.

    wickedfire.com/links-seo/88970-best-xrumer-service-wf-5k-20k-link-packages.html

    This goes to show what all legitimate web publishers are up against, it seems we will all have to take down forum user profile forms that allow link placement within and replace them with new forms.

    Google would be wise to penalize forums that allow idiots like this to post promotional threads advertising automated link spamming, in other words, Black Hat SEO forums should be dumped from Google search results across the board.

  176. Here is another thread where morons and con men are discussing automated link spamming services:

    wickedfire.com/links-seo/95761-drip-feed-blasts-powerful-scheduled-xrumer-service-5.html

    These guys don’t believe the crap they post, they just post it looking for suckers to buy their automated link spamming services.

  177. santiago

    So, all WE need to do to kick a competitors site out of the index is:

    a) Spam HIS backlink campaign with automated tools,
    b) Come here, drop a link to HIS sites and tell the world is a spammer?

    Are you for real? Is this normal?

  178. David

    I’ve come to the conclusion there are two things going on with paid links. On the one hand, Google doesn’t like links that pass PR and apparently has mechanisms in place to stop that. However, on the other hand, I’m seeing evidence that paid blog links with keyword rich anchor text is very effective for improving your rankings.

    For example, goo.gl/xcoC1 has very poor SEO, bad page structure, etc., and until recently had very poor rankings. They have been buying blog links for over a year and now have over 500 paid links out of just over 1,000 total links. Then, suddenly, over the last couple of weeks, they rocket to the top of the rankings for the all the phrases they’ve been paying for including #1 for ‘rackmount computer’.

    The blogs with the paid links are either not ranked or have PR=0. About 15 of the blogs do have some PR. goo.gl/xcoC1 PR has not changed so it appears they aren’t gaining any PR juice from these links.

    But in looking at all the factors that might explain their rocket-like rise to #1 ranking, the ONLY thing that explains it are the paid blog links with highly targeted and repetitive keyword rich anchor text. Wander down the list I provided at http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=49018f5317178182&hl=en and you can see exactly what keywords goo.gl/xcoC1 bought.

    So perhaps Google is concentrating on not allowing sites to pass PR but doesn’t have a problem using paid keyword rich anchor text to establish a site’s keyword focus. All other things being equal between sites, the one with 500 inbound keyword rich links wins, even though those are paid links.

    There are a lot of people complaining that they report sites that are obviously gaming the index and winning and that submitting Paid Link Reports is a waste of time. What is going to happen is that people will see that buying links has no penalty and will start to follow the herd just to stay even. That will kill the PR magic Google bases their entire business model on.

    See the bottom of for more on this subject. goo.gl/xcoC1 has figured out how to beat the index and are now outranking other more appropriate sites who play by the rules.

    The Paid Link Report and the Spam Report are both pretty lame for reporting sites with hundreds of paid links. The Spam Report works a bit better but the text box is limited to about 60 or so site addresses. Would be nice to extend that box size or provide for attaching a file. You might get some more appropriate reporting if you really want it.

    Thanks,
    David

  179. David

    Sorry, left out a link in the next to bottom paragraph. Should say:

    See the bottom of http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=2903c4863fa12e7c&hl=en for more on this subject.

  180. Gail

    We’ve got a competitor who has jumped to #1 in organic rankings with massive link spam. We’ve reported it several times, but nothing happens. He continues to get more inbound spam links every week and stays at #1. Also now has a 2nd site on its way up the rankings due to link spam.

    How long should it take for Google to crack down on this sort of thing after we report it?

    The longer it appears that he’s not being punished, the more pressure I’m getting put on me to do something similar so we can rocket up the rankings too. :(

  181. I’ve been trying to examine the paid link industry lately, in an attempt to figure out whether it’s worth the risk to dabble in paid linking at all, other than for legit advertising reasons. My gut tells me to listen to Matt and just not do it, but as with many things in this SEO biz, it does seem as though your competitiors are getting away with murder while you wear your white hat at position #50 and make the slow, ethical climb up the SERPs using legit tactics. As David points out above, there seem to be many folks seeing results, and it’s endlessly frustrating.

    Matt, if you ever go back to this post I’d be interested to hear any updates you have on this subject, what Google has changed looking to 2011 with regard to punishing link sellers. I heard you are building some new tool to deal with this, can you tell us more?
    thanks

  182. After reading an article from Neil Patel on how to get ranked on page 1 of Google without buying 1 paid link and since he referenced this article, I clicked thru to get this new info.

    The thing is, I’ve been using Market Samurai to ID the top sites to obtain a quality backlink and try to use an “anchor text” coded link for obvious reasons. Not sure Neil’s approach, sending an email to webmasters for solicit a reciprocal link is the most effective way to do this, but will give it a try.

  183. I keep citing the worthlessness of link-spam and paid links as “web inflation”, since the more link-spam is relied upon to build PR, the more everyone is forced to accrue more of the “link currency” Google has done a good job of dealing with counterfeit currency, but inflation is another issue altogether, and more difficult to deal with. Just how many article websites with instructions on “how to find the best hotel discounts” are really necessary?

  184. Dave

    Hi all,

    If there’s any sort type of link spam that I think Google should be focused on devaluing/preventing it’s forum profile link spam. I have noticed literally hundreds of sites ranking incredibly well with these types of links, and the amount of them seems to be increasing very quickly. Some of the (horrible, spammy looking) sites I’ve seen even outrank brand domains. In fact for one brand in particular, 70% of the first page results are taken by one of these types of sites.

    What worries me is that if Google doesn’t do something about this soon, more and more people will use these techniques out of necessity. Seeing this sort of thing happening is really disheartening for people (like me) who work hard creating top quality content and invest in ethical SEO techniques to get that content seen.

    Please guys, stop letting these spammers get away with it.

  185. I think Google are really stupid, sorry Matt. You now dictate SEM strategy, you tell sites that inbound links and the quality of these links are hugely important, you (inadvertently or otherwise) create a huge industry in selling and buying links (every SEM agency and every middle size/big/huge publisher I have ever come across does this) and then you say call for people to tattle tale each other for doing it. I’ve worked for companies that spend £50K per month on paid links.

    You then change your rules on penalising sites & publishers for taking revenue from these companies and agencies buying links, but don’t penalise the advertisers – as they are probably spending loads with you on PPC.

    Come on Google, this is bull. You are turning into some weird nazi SS style company that thinks it can dictate laws for the web to your own advantage, make changes on policy and penalties without justification or warning, penalise sites / businesses / livelihoods without even a warning, and encourage people to tell on their competitors – even though everyone knows exactly what is going on.

    Raise your game Google, this isnt working, its unfair and and its misguided. Back to your drawing board.

  186. David H.

    Hey there Matt:

    This is a great page on reporting spam. I have a question, there is a website that has paid links on a bunch (some 20 now – it grows every week) of sites such as: affi2009-brest.com

    I reported it on the “paid links” form for Google a couple of times now over the last few months. I am not interested in removing the spammer’s website (type: link:aloe-vera-studies.org) as I relish competition. But I it would certainly benefit Google and Google’s users to remove all of the spam paid links websites such as the one above, that point to his (and a few dozen more) website, falsely boosting it in PR and ranking on the Google search engine.

    Thanks, David H. (Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

  187. Hey Matt:

    In the end, reporting spam sites is useless. And now another aloe vera site out of China, who didn’t even appear before, has rocketed above mine in two days (LOTS of chinese languages spam links). What’s the point? The rating should be simple – forget back links and focus on how long the website has been online (per domain registration) and content value.

    Best wishes, David

  188. Joe Blow

    Sites I reported last year still have their top rankings unaffected. It seems that this spam reporting isn’t used for anything but algorithmic tweaking. It appears that reporting spam to the New York Times is much more effective.

  189. Glen S

    Hi Matt,

    I have been competing against a company who is dominating the search results for Steam Showers.

    The company is BPS – they have managed to get 5 websites ranked in the top 10 under the same keywords which I thought was against Google?

    Although they have called the websites under different names some clearly have the same address and products such as shower-cubicle.co.uk & burnleyplumbingsupplies.co.uk.

    On top of this they have a lot of spammy link pages such as burnleyplumbingsupplies.co.uk/partners/Partners.htm

    Is this not regarded as Spam?

  190. Why google not notice spam report now a days? I report a spam website again ans again and again but google spam team not action or even notice.if you enter keyword current events in health in google serch box you will see the top first result site micro evolution . Com if you visit this site you will see a lot of keyword stuffing in the footer of this site like heathnewsheathnewsheathnews ts a black hat seo tactics and voilation of google term but google spam team not a bit action against this site since oneonth,spam team sleeping or ggoogle alowing keyword stuffing f?or for anyone webmaster

  191. Link spamming gets abused beyond belief. I use wordpress for all mu sites now and the plugin akismet deals with it for me. It got to the point where I switched off making comments on my site which is annoying as it does help for rankings etc.

  192. Every time I make a post to my blog links I did NOT add are showing up (in Foxfire they show up in green with double underlines).
    Here’s the latest example:
    richardsalzman.blogspot.com/2011/10/1930s-sure-sound-familiar.html
    They do not show up when I open the same post in Safari.
    Here’s some of the site they link to:
    industrial-depot.net/results2.aspx?keywords=homes
    totsy.com/a/adk?subid=1012027
    sixfigureprogramscam.net/?t202id=8225&t202kw=business
    If anyone can tell me how to avoid this linkspam, I’d be grateful.

  193. I have a competitor that is basically creating multiple google places accounts, multiple merchant circle profiles, multiple profiles with backlinks and wikis that have keyword stuffed reviews and comments. Now what I mean by keyword stuffing reviews I really mean it.

    Just look at this website here http://tinyurl.com/3kx34sl

    He has 5 profiles. On this page alone his reviews are just long lists of keywords. http://tinyurl.com/42g8alz

    This guy is so bold as to sell Google’s free websites for $150 and charges $29 a month to host the site. He is selling the sites as “Google Optimized Algorithmic Cloud Based Websites” when he is not an authorized reseller of any google products. In fact his own web page which I won’t link to here is just outright spam. His Google Places LISTINGS (2) FOR SAME ADDRESS, are just abandoned buildings. While we have reported him nothing has happened. Google took down his google site for violating the TOS but he is back and has multiple doorway pages linking back to his site.

    Wishes that Black Hat SEO companies like this one would just go away.

  194. Philip Curtis

    Matt, I really question Google’s efforts to deal with link spam. I’ve been operating some online business since about 2007. When we started I didn’t even know what SEO was but I did some reading, taught myself as much as I could and have done much of the search marketing for our company sense then. When I started I was taught by my partner that content was really all that matter–if we created great content we would get links and would rank well. This turned out to be true and we ranked very well for a while. However, we were slowly beat down in the SERPS by competitors whose link profiles made me feel dirty to just look at. We altered our strategy a bit and did some things that I think helped us in the short term but we took a hit for in the long term. We’ve changed that and gone back to the basics now and are just trying to create great content. Unfortunately, every day I watch competitors creep up and (in some cases) take us over by doing nothing more than posting a bunch of spam comments on shitty blogs and buying links on questionable sites. I don’t get it. Why is it so hard for Google to filter out sites that are doing this? If I can take a 5 second look at a site’s link profile and see that it’s nothing but a bunch of spam links why can’t Google’s algo pick this up? Frustrated.

  195. Nobody really knows for sure what that means because google keeps the specifics of their algorithms as a closely guarded secret, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that if all of your links are coming from places that Google knows you can manipulate such as link farms, private blog networks, Web 2.0 sites, blog comments and profile links then your site could be in the crosshairs.

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