How Google Detects “Spammers”

dicePeter Da Vanzo posting on SEOBook pointed to an interesting post on another blog, SEO by the Sea. It analyzes a recent Google Patent for a system designed to both confuse and detect “spammers.” I should mention that if you are trying to improve the ranking of your webpage using on-page SEO techniques, it is likely that Google considers you a “spammer.”

In a nutshell, the system explicitly adds a randomization factor to ranking changes so people trying to improve (manipulate) their Google rankings will not be able to see the actual cause and effect of their activities. Furthermore, once the webpage is in a ranking transition period, the page is monitored for changes, and penalties are applied if suspicious activity occurs.

For instance, say you change your Page Title. Google will detect the change, and put the page in a ranking transition. Your rank may temporarily increase, or decrease, independent of what the final rank will be. If you make additional changes in response to that temporary change, you will be flagged as a spammer and incur a penalty. So if the temporary rank change is a decrease, and you think, “that change didn’t work” and change the Page Title back, through this system Google now knows that you are actively trying to manipulate your rank and will penalize  you.

The “rank modifying spam techniques that Google defines in the patent are:

  • Keyword stuffing,
  • Invisible text,
  • Tiny text,
  • Page redirects,
  • Meta tags stuffing, and
  • Link-based manipulation.

If the system suspects these activities, but does not have enough information to make a definitive identification, it will start to fluctuate the rank in increasing severity in an attempt to trigger some action in response. If action along the lines of the above listed techniques is taken, a positive id will be made and the page, site or server could be penalized.

If you’ve been actively involved in SEO, you’ve known for some time that short term cause and effect is impossible to determine on Google. Google will no longer be gamed, so the typical white hat SEO advice applies:

1) Create quality content

2) Promote that content to real people

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