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Old 07-27-2005   #1
jewboy
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How Long Does It Take For Search Engines To Remove Spam Sites?

I would like to get a feel from the community on how long it takes for the engines to take action when a report is filed. You catch your competitors cloaking, scraping content, or participating in "bad neighborhoods". You tattle tale (to improve your own rankings), and you wait for action.

How long does the investigation take? Which companies/engines are the most responsive to complaints? What type of answers have you received?

Thank you.

Last edited by jewboy : 07-27-2005 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 07-27-2005   #2
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You tattle tale (to improve your own rankings, of course!), and you wait for action.
Maybe "you" snitch but that doesn't mean others do - so "of course" isn't the right kind of assumption to make.

Snitching is probably the worst possible strategy possible for someone to promote their site. Where is the site you snitched on, at #1 or top ten - or page 3 or 4? And where is your site in relation to that - at #2 or top ten - or page 3 or 4? How far behind is your site from that one?
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Old 07-27-2005   #3
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To date I have never seen a search engine take action on a spam report such as snitching a spammer out. My own opinion is that they like to deal with spam automatically with algorithms instead of an individual basis. I think someone has to go to some pretty drastic measures to get an individual involved. Now I would like to think that they take spam reports and try to improve their algos to filter out spam but I have yet to see them take action on an individual spammer because someone snitches them out.
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Old 07-27-2005   #4
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Marcia:

Two direct quotes from http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html

"Ethical SEO firms report deceptive sites that violate Google's spam guidelines."

"Ask your SEO firm if it reports every spam abuse that it finds to Google using our spam complaint form at http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html."

In Google's eyes, snitching is not only ethical, but a characteristic of a reputable SEO firm. May I ask why you disagree with their code of conduct?

David:

A quote from: http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html

"If your Google search returns a result that you suspect is spam, please let us know using this form. We investigate each report of deceptive practices thoroughly and take appropriate action when abuse is uncovered."

So Google "says" they investigate each report thoroughly.

My question remains - how long does it typically take for Google (and the other engines) to conduct an investigation as promised?
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Old 07-27-2005   #5
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>My question remains - how long does it typically take for Google (and the other engines) to conduct an investigation as promised?

From my extensive records kept over a period of 5 years I can state with some degree of confidence that it is almost exactly 14 months and 11 days after the point when you sit there and say quietly to yourself "if only I had concentrated on making my own site better". HTH
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Old 07-27-2005   #6
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I have tried twice for friends and never done so against a client competitor, mostly because we felt that we could beat them anyway if they were doing it (and maybe also feeling that it could be bad karma). The SE in question was G, and the sites remain firmly entrenched in first place. I would say it has been 8 and 10 months, respectively.
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Old 07-27-2005   #7
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May I ask why you disagree with their code of conduct?
We are in fact many that don't agree with Googles so-called webmaster guides. It has been descused in great details a lot of times before so I won't open that discussion again.

There are several reasons spam reporting on competitors is not a good strategy, in my mind. The main reason is that it simply pays better to concentrate on the optimization and linkbuilding of your own site instead of hunting others. There are just too many sites out there to remove to give space.

But there is another thing: Karma. Believe me, if you start to get known in SEO comunities for aggressive reporting of what you believe are "spammers" and competitors the risk that you'll one day find one of your own sites hurt by the same spammer increase - for example if they decide to "attack" you back using redirect (203) bugs or huge amounts of bad-links to get you delisted or deranked.

It's your choice if you want to report competitors and "spammers" or not, just as it's mine and others choice not to. But you have to accept that you do place yourself in one corner of the game and that others may not want to play ball in that corner
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Old 07-27-2005   #8
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The reason:

Quote:
You tattle tale (to improve your own rankings), and you wait for action.
The response:
Quote:
Snitching is probably the worst possible strategy possible for someone to promote their site.
Google wants problems with quality of results reported so they can improve the algorithm.

If someone is waiting to see how long it will take for a site they reported to get burned, it doesn't seem that their motivation is the improvement of search results, but that the motivation is to remove the competitor so their own optimization efforts won't be hindered and that they will move up in rankings when they get the other guy out of the way.

Google wants better search, they are not interested in whether the "reporter's" ranks improve. Frankly, any attempts to improve the ranking of sites that would not be done if it weren't for search engines is manipulation, and in the eyes of many IR people, all attempts to manipulate search results are considered spam.

Any company or individual that provides link development services to improve rankings of their client sites is manipulating the engines - or adding words to a page for "density" or making sure the titles or H1's have the right keywords - same thing, it's manipulative efforts to influence the search results that would not have been done were it not for improving rankings. If so, why would anyone pay for search engine optimization services? Think about it.

There is a big difference between genuine efforts to improve search quality and those among us who report other people's spam so that their own spam can rank better than the competitor they reported.

Last edited by Marcia : 07-27-2005 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 07-27-2005   #9
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cannibalism

I've always hated this cannibalistic practice. Spam reporting is a zero sum gain.

In the eyes of Google, SEOs are nothing more than parasites, they expect the worse of anyone who tries to game the search results. Every time that form is submitted it reaffirms their beliefs.
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Old 07-28-2005   #10
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and if you want an entirely non-judgemental reason not to bother - since Google say that what they do with spam reports is try and build them into the algo there's absolutely no point reporting white on white, noframes stuffing etc etc - we know Google already knows about those, if they want to build them in they will, with or without your report.

Which means spending the time to fill out the report really is time wasted.

If you find a new and exciting type of spam then reporting it to Google may, just possibly, be of help to them. If not then you're wasting their time getting them to read reports about things they already know about
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Old 07-28-2005   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFFC
>exactly 14 months and 11 days after the point when you sit there and say quietly to yourself "if only I had concentrated on making my own site better". HTH
IMHO i think that sums it up

Cheers NFFC, for the facts once again

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Old 07-28-2005   #12
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I've reported spam on the odd occasion I've seen it come up for something I've looked for and felt seriously mislead. I can't say I've gone back to see if it worked much, however. I've usually move on to a new search.

As David said, there can be this tendency to say spam is left around for a bit so an algorithm solution can be found. That's especially been the Google party line. But then you can get a big public thing come along, like the WordPress spam, and public opinion is enough that you get a fast response.
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Old 07-28-2005   #13
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Originally Posted by NFFC
From my extensive records kept over a period of 5 years I can state with some degree of confidence that it is almost exactly 14 months and 11 days after the point when you sit there and say quietly to yourself "if only I had concentrated on making my own site better". HTH
Interesting case history, but I suspect a much shorter time scale is likely.

As several have suggested, Google usually takes note of spam reports, and what it learns helps them to plan the next few algo 'tweaks' - hopefully towards a better search engine for their clients. (The users.)

I've seen several cases where a particular spammer has featured in forum discussions, and has disappeared fairly rapidly. I could name at least two directories.

And, of course, every "bourbon" brings it's rash of screaming spammers, blaming Google for their misfortune (never themselves) - and there's usually a couple of familiar sites in the casualty list.

To summarize, any spammer hoping for a 14 month bail period is being optimistic. More to the point, no spam report is wasted. Even if the results are not immediate, or visible (some spam is easier for them to tweak for), all reports help Google engineers to recognise those who seek to lose Google it's loyal clients. (The users).
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Old 07-28-2005   #14
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Originally Posted by Marcia
Snitching is probably the worst possible strategy possible for someone to promote their site. Where is the site you snitched on, at #1 or top ten - or page 3 or 4? And where is your site in relation to that - at #2 or top ten - or page 3 or 4? How far behind is your site from that one?
An honest webmaster has to make a decision; do I help Google to produce better results by weeding out the spammers, or do I sit quietly and watch Google's search (and my site) being destroyed? Not exactly rocket science, is it?

What makes it fun, of course, is that most honest webmasters do not believe they can change anything; so they just get on with their site development. Meanwhile, the spammers are reporting eachother with such enthusiasm - and with such straight faces - that maybe honest folk can afford to sit this one out
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Old 07-28-2005   #15
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What makes it fun, of course, is that most honest webmasters do not believe they can change anything; so they just get on with their site development.
Which is what a number of people have said without getting into the issue of whether you're "honest" because you do a spam report or not.

IE, they've said it's better to focus on your own site than worry about others.

Ultimately, I don't think someone is judged as honest or not depending on whether they serve as the spam police for Google. You want to report spam? I do so because you as a user feel it's bad and want the results to improve for your personal searching.
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Old 07-28-2005   #16
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Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Ultimately, I don't think someone is judged as honest or not depending on whether they serve as the spam police for Google. You want to report spam? I do so because you as a user feel it's bad and want the results to improve for your personal searching.
Apologies if that's how it came across; I didn't mean that at all.

I was intending to differentiate between spammers and non-spammers, not reporters and non-reporters.

In my experience, people tend to report spam when it (beyond all doubt) is damaging their own website. And, of course, it does. Spammers are quick to claim they 'improve the relevancy of results', while any four year old can see that most spam is pure rubbish, and improves nothing at all. Spammers also ignore the damage suffered by sites pushed off the visible serps by such tripe.

But Google respects honest webmasters, and while not all spam reports get instant results (see above), most happen sooner or later - and there are some notable examples of sites being penalized with no apparent algo tweaks in sight.

Spammers also defend their actions by citing Google's 'loyalty to shareholders' - but that's another fine reason for Google to attend to legitimate complaints; if they stand by while their work is undermined, M$N will steal their clients (The users). Ultimately, the shareholders lose if spammers win. That's not rocket science, either.

Last edited by Quadrille : 07-28-2005 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 07-28-2005   #17
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I think that there are a lot of great points brought up in this discussion. The key theme is that it's better to focus on your own site and be the best you can be. "Don't knock the competition" appears to be the general consensus. I certainly agree with these points.

But if my "so called" competitor is a spammer or scraper, cheating his/her way to the top - I still think that 5 minutes to fill out a web form is justified and worthwhile. This is in addition to improving my own sites - not a substitute.

It seems that many are of the opinion that Google has no interest in getting involved on a case-by-case basis, and a spam report is purely for improving the algorithm as a whole. This implies that there is a conflict between what Google is telling us in the SEO guidelines, and what is actually so. Even if the engine does nothing about it, it is openly stated that a thorough investigation will be conducted.

Has anyone been involved in these "supossed" investigations? Or is everyone kept in the dark?
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Old 07-28-2005   #18
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In my experience, people tend to report spam when it (beyond all doubt) is damaging their own website. And, of course, it does. Spammers are quick to claim they 'improve the relevancy of results', while any four year old can see that most spam is pure rubbish, and improves nothing at all. Spammers also ignore the damage suffered by sites pushed off the visible serps by such tripe.
I think the implied assumption in that statement is that only spammers websites are hurt in the SERPS? Or only spammers who are hurt in the SERPS report spam? I'm honestly not sure what you are saying. You seem to be making a direct connection between being hurt in the SERPS and being a spammer - either you are not being clear, or you are and I disagree with you totally.

I don't think you can draw a connection between the reporting of spam and being a spammer. Certainly, many spammers will use it as a tool, but they also use HTML. They usually also breath air and eat. The point is that I don't see the connection.

I'm also rather annoyed at the apparent accusation that I report spam (and I do, on occasion) because I'm a spammer or only because it's profitable for me to do so. Does that mean that if someone doesn't report spam that they are squeaky clean? Now there is a thought!

Bottom line, I don't think that you can judge whether or not someone is a spammer by whether or not they report it. There is no direct connection, and the topic of this thread is the reporting of spam, not spammer psychology.

Just because I don't fill out a restaurant comment card, it doesn't mean that the service was good (or bad) it means that I didn't feel like filling out the card. Likewise, when I do, it could be because the service was good, I was bored, or I'm really ticked off. The fact that I filled out a card does not indicate, by itself, what my mood or motivation is. It certainly doesn't automatically mean I'm a competing restaurant owner or a food critic.

Some spammers will report to get ahead (remove competition), some will because they see a difference between their type of spam and the stuff they are reporting.

Some clean site owners will report because they don't like to see spammers beating clean sites, some will report because they feel it's helping Google make their results better. Some will report because although they practice white hat techniques, they still feel it's OK to bump off competition via spam reports.

Some spammers won't report because it's bad karma to report someone for doing something you are doing yourself. Some won't because they are confident they can beat the sites and therefore don't have to waste their time on something that probably won't work. Some won't because of a personal code of honor.

Some clean site owners won't report because they don't know how or don't think it will work, and some won't because it seems tacky and childish. Some won't because they enjoy the challenge.

And some people won't because they really don't care.

At the end of the day, there are so many reasons to report or to not report that I don't believe that you can draw a conclusion regarding the reporter of ANY sort based on the fact that someone reports or not.

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Last edited by mcanerin : 07-28-2005 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 07-28-2005   #19
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That was an excellent post Ian It's foolish to think that only spammers report other spammers, I couldn't agree with you more.

The issue at hand is such. Google is informing those who seek SEO services - @ www.google.com/webmasters/seo.htm
that "Ethical SEO firms report deceptive sites that violate Google's spam guidelines." Verbatim.

So while some insinuate that "tattle taling" is an inappropriate way for an SEO to conduct business, the folks at Google are telling netizens that spam reporting is an important characteristic of an SEO. Go figure.
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Old 07-28-2005   #20
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Google are telling netizens that spam reporting is an important characteristic of an SEO. Go figure.
Well, Google say a lot of things. Some of it is OK but a lot of it is very stupid. They are free to say what they want and I am free to follow it or not.

From the same page you quoted Google also say:

Quote:
...you should insist on a full and unconditional money-back guarantee.
So, if thats ethically correct to do why dosn't Google follow this rule? Their OWN rule! And, how many of you SEOs out there follow it?

If Google told you to kill your cat would you also do that? Sorry., but some people put way to much emphazis on what Google say or don't, in my mind .
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