In mid-April Google released its annual report which showed how well it had policed the World Wide Web in 2016. The company has done a lot over the past year to reduce and fight back against webspam, and as a consequence has made several improvements on how well their search engine ranks websites.
The changes that Google has implemented reinforces the need for websites to only carry unique, relevant, and original content.
Firstly, just what is webspam?
There are two main definitions of webspam:
(1) At its most basic, webspam can be described as any type of Web page content that has been created to boost search rankings without any value being delivered to the searcher.
(2) And then there are web pages that have many links to other websites. The pages may appear to provide assistance or facts on a subject, but it becomes obvious to the reader that help is usually meaningless, and the information shallow. These pages use repetitive text in the copy or meta tags with the objective of getting better search engine results.
Why The Google Spam Report Matters
To most users, Google is not just another service on the Internet – it IS The Internet. This makes it all the more important that the company ensures that the results it delivers on its search engine results pages (SERPs) are the best quality, with the highest relevancy possible.
The Google spam report shows how unrelenting Google has been in trying to reduce if not completely eradicate webspam on all browsers and on every device. While the report is somewhat self-congratulatory, it also gives users a good idea of what Google believes is a “good quality” Internet experience and what users should expect.
Disturbing Google webspam trends in 2016
The most unsettling trend that was seen by Google last year was a 32% increase of hacked sites when compared to 2015. While a lot of this webspam only served to annoy users, some was potentially harmful.
Another trend the company saw was that sites were being compromised not only to host webspam: several webmasters were negatively affected by unwanted software and ad injectors as well as by social engineering.
Interestingly, webspammers were also shown to be targeting mobile users in a number of ways, including:
- Redirecting users to other websites or pages without the knowledge of the website owner
- Spam being inserted into website pages through ad units
- Spam being inserted into pages pages using widgets
How Google is combating webspam
Google is known for its commitment to refining their search algorithms to combat webspam. Having Google Penguin work in real-time, for example, has had a significant impact on spam reduction.
While Google’s algorithm was knocking down spam, the company was also manually handling web pages. In 2016, over 9 million messages were sent to webmasters to advise them of webspam issues on their sites. Users of Google Analytics also received an increased number of security notifications regarding spam.
Both algorithmic and manual quality checks were performed regularly to make sure that websites which had structured data markup met the search engine’s strict quality standards. Manual action was taken on over 10,000 sites which did not meet those quality guidelines.
Working together as a community with Google
Google is known for supporting website owners who play by the rules. The company’s Webmaster Help Forums are in 15 languages, and the company conducted over 170 online office hours and live events to audiences from around the globe.
Google users have also been particularly active, with there being over 180,000 spam reports submitted by users last year (52% of those reports turned out to be spam). There were also 119 Rising Stars and volunteer Webmaster Top Contributors last year.
Google and its users have made significant strides towards creating a better and safer Internet for everyone. It will be interesting to see how its shutting down of Map Maker and other updates this year will impact webspam.
To view the full Google report, you can click here.
Without a doubt, those websites that contain useful and worthwhile original content have a head start in ticking all the Google approval boxes.
If you’re having trouble creating written content for your website, or your client’s websites, why not complete my Quick Quote Brief to discover just how inexpensive it can be for me to do it for you.