Google: Spam Reports Do Not Result in Manual Actions
Google clarifies that spam reports are used only to improve its spam detection algorithms, and not to issue manual actions. Most spam reports submitted via Google search results do not lead to manual actions. Google uses the reports to improve it’s spam detection capabilities.
In a blog post penned by Google’s Gary Illyes, it was revealed that only a small fraction of manual actions issued are the result of spam reports.
“Thanks to our users, we receive hundreds of spam reports every day. While many of the spam reports lead to manual actions, they represent a small fraction of the manual actions we issue. Most of the manual actions come from the work our internal teams regularly do to detect spam and improve search results.”
While spam reports do not lead directly to sites getting penalized, they’re essential to helping Google prevent spam from being surfaced in search results in the first place.
As Illyes explains, using spam reports to fix an issue with Google’s spam detection systems is more impactful than issuing manual actions.
“Spam reports play a significant role: they help us understand where our automated spam detection systems may be missing coverage. Most of the time, it’s much more impactful for us to fix an underlying issue with our automated detection systems than it is to take manual action on a single URL or site.”
Google’s spam detection systems work well but they’re not perfect. If they were, then Google’s search results would be 100% spam-free and that’s certainly not the case.
Although Google is inching ever closer to achieving that goal, as the company recently reported its search results are 99% spam-free.
Google filters out an average of 25 billion spammy pages every day, which is a testament to how effective spam reports can be.
Just as Google is always improving its search algorithm, the same applies its spam detection systems.
“The reality is that while our spam detection systems work well, there’s always room for improvement, and spam reporting is a crucial resource to help us with that. Spam reports in aggregate form help us analyze trends and patterns in spammy content to improve our algorithms.”
Google concedes that, overall, algorithmic solutions win over spam detection. It’s better to surface high quality content higher through ranking than it is to weed out spam.
“Overall, one of the best approaches to keeping spam out of Search is to rely on high quality content created by the web community and our ability to surface it through ranking.”
Google Updates its Webmaster Guidelines
Google is making this distinction between spam reports and manual actions extra clear with an update to its Webmaster Guidelines.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines now have a paragraph that explicitly states what spam reports are used for.
“If you believe that another site is abusing Google’s quality guidelines, please let us know by filing a spam report. Google prefers developing scalable and automated solutions to problems, and will use the report for further improving our spam detection systems.”
That should clear up any misconceptions about how spam reports are used.
If you submit a spam report against a site hoping Google will issue a manual action, chances are that won’t end up happening. But your report may help sites like that from being surfaced in the future.