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Google Provides Guidance on How to Prevent Your Site From Being Abused by Spam

May 26th, 2021

If your website utilizes areas where customer or viewers can interact such as forums, guestbooks, social media platforms, file uploads, hosting services, or even internal search services you may be at risk. Allowing users to create an account to post content, upload files or even search your site may be taken advantage of.

How can this functionality increase my websites chances of being abused by spam?

Spammers can take advantage of these functionalities to generate hundreds of spam pages which add no value to the web and often promote products in foreign countries which may be illicit. These types of pages can lead to google taking manual actions against your website, outlined in the Google Webmaster Guideline’s, that can affect your rankings for months to come.

Google has outlined the ways that this content can be harmful to your site and users:

  • Low-quality content on some parts of a website can lower the whole site’s ranking.
  • Spam content can lead users to unwanted or even harmful content, such as sites with malware or phishing, which can lower the overall reputation of your site.
  • Unintended traffic from unrelated content on your site can slow down your site and raise hosting costs, decreasing site speed and page rank.
  • Google might remove or demote pages that are overrun with third-party generated spam to protect the quality of their search results.

How can I prevent spam webpages on my website?

Block Automated Account Creation: To prevent spam webpages from infiltrating your website, implement measures to block automated account creation. Use CAPTCHA tests or other user verification methods to ensure that only legitimate users can register for accounts on your platform.

Turn On Moderation Features: Enable content moderation features to review and approve user-generated content before it goes live on your site. This step helps filter out potential spam and ensures that only genuine, high-quality content is published.

Monitor and Clean Up Spammy Content: Regularly monitor your website for spammy content and promptly remove any identified issues. This proactive approach helps maintain the integrity of your site and keeps it free from unwanted spam.

Identify and Terminate Spam Accounts: Actively identify and terminate spam accounts that are responsible for generating spam webpages. By identifying and blocking these accounts, you can curb the spread of spam content.

Prevent Google Search from Displaying Untrusted Content: Configure your website to prevent Google Search from indexing and displaying untrusted or low-quality content. Use robots.txt and meta tags to guide search engine crawlers away from these areas.

If you have untrusted pages on your website, such as user profiles or forum threads you can implement a noindex meta standard to block access:

<html>
  <head>
    <meta name="googlebot" content="noindex">
  </head>
</html>

You can also use the robots.txt standard to temporarily block the untrusted pages:

Disallow: /guestbook/

Consolidate Open Platform Content: Keep your user-generated content in a centralized file path or directory, making it easier to monitor and manage. This organization can help you maintain better control over the quality of the content.

Many automated spam issues stem from large numbers of pages generated in a short amount of time making it difficult to clean up. File paths or directories similar to:

example.com/best-online-pharma-buy-red-viagra-online
example.com/free-watch-online-2021-full-movie

Knowing your site structure and file paths make it much easier to clean up a spam attack if it does occur.

Keep Software Updated and Use Automated Defenses: Regularly update your website software to patch security vulnerabilities and employ automated security systems to defend against spam attacks. Staying up to date with security measures is crucial for spam prevention and overall site security.

If you need help keeping up to date and preventing spam from infiltrating your website we can help. We also help many clients who have come to us after their website has been spammed with hundreds of pages, negatively impacting their search results and rankings. Contact our expert Digital Marketing Services company today for assistance.

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