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When you have a system like Google Search, the most popular search engine out there, it’s going to lead to manipulation. People want to be at the top of the search results because not being there is akin to not existing. That’s why plenty of folks are trying to trick the search engine. Google tries to stop them, but it remains an endless battle.

Last week, Google released its yearly report on the status of that battle against Spam links. When we think of Spam, we typically think about email. Yet, the concept stretches far beyond simply unwanted emails promising to share riches with you if you will only provide your bank account number.

You probably have seen “Spammy” comments in the comment sections of blogs like this one. The writer sends junk messages with links to Spam websites. It’s a whole Spam universe.

Companies like Google, who have a big stake in this, are working to reduce that kind of Spam. Google divides Spam into three broad categories.

Hacked websites

Earlier this year I had a dormant blog taken over by Spammers spreading Spam. Once I discovered what was going on, I shut it down, but there many similar sites out there.

While Google is aware of this, it’s hard for the company to control. “While we reduced how spam on hacked sites affects search, hacked websites remain a major security problem affecting the safety of the web,” Google wrote in its report.

User generated Spam

This involves Spam comments and fake accounts on blogs and other platforms. We’ve all seen it and been annoyed by it. Google reports that they have been able to cut the impact of this kind of Spam by 80 percent. I’m not convinced of that number, given by the volume I’m still seeing. Regardless, Google is trying to cut it substantially and that is good.

Link spam

Link spam involves trying to dump links to a site, for the purpose of making the search engine believe it’s more popular than it is. Google says this is sometimes done because of a misunderstanding of how Google’s algorithms work. Rather than trying to trick the algorithm, Google recommends putting your energy into generating high-quality content that people want to read. The rest will take care of itself without the need to manipulate the algorithm.

Google explains just how big this problem is and how they are trying to reduce it by working with webmasters to help site owners understand how the system works.

“In 2018, we generated over 186 million messages to website owners calling out potential improvements, issues, and problems that could affect their site’s appearance on Search results,” the company reported.

As MSPs, you might be managing your client’s websites. It’s important that while serving as the IT department for your clients, you educate them on how tools like Google work.

Your clients certainly don’t want to be perceived as Spammers. Knowing the rules can help ensure that they are getting good results the old fashioned way: because they earned them.

Photo: Evan Lorne / Shutterstock

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Ron Miller

Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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