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Best Way to Report Group of Related SPAM Sites to Google?

12:42 am on May 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In my niche a group of sites owned by the same person/company has spammed the search results.

I haven't reported a site before and I hate to do it now but in the past year it has gotten to the point where they are really ranking well. For major keywords they take usually up to 3 spots on the first page and it can be up to 7 on some. I am all for competition as long as it is fair but I feel this is not.

Looking at the sites individually they look okay but when you put all 23 sites together they are all pretty much the same. They use the same 2 wordpress themes and share the same layout (menu's etc..), graphics (colors are changed) and content (the content has been spun for each site but says basically the same thing). All domains are keywords. As I said before if you look at the site individually while it is not the best in the world I wouldn't necessarily call it spam. Taken all together someone obviously has taken a formula and turned out a large number of affiliate sites that say the same thing and look basically the same.

At this level I think they are conflicting with Google's Quality Guidelines and probably their rich snippets guidelines as well.

Looking deeper you will also find many more sites created for the soul purpose of giving back links to these sites. They basically create blogs with articles on related topics that point to legitimate sites like (Wikipedia) but also have keyword rich links placed every now and then to their main sites. Itís all very sneaky and is definitely a link scheme.

Now to my main question, how do I report this to Google because I am not sure if they will ever detect it. When I went to Webmaster tools it allows me to report an individual website and allows me to give additional details but of only up to 300 characters.

How can I explain all this? Listing the 23 domains themselves is more than 300 characters.

If I submit them individually then Google may not see the pattern.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
3:42 am on May 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you have reported one and they are all interlinked, with duplicate spun content, eventually google acts. You really don't need to go through all that trouble unless it makes you feel better, it is only a matter of time.

According to Google:
If you believe that another site is abusing Google's quality guidelines, please let us know by filing a spam report. Google prefers developing scalable and automated solutions to problems, so we attempt to minimize hand-to-hand spam fighting. While we may not take manual action in response to every report, spam reports are prioritized based on user impact, and in some cases may lead to complete removal of a spammy site from Google's search results. Not all manual actions result in removal, however. Even in cases where we take action on a reported site, the effects of these actions may not be obvious.
11:35 am on May 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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How can I explain all this? Listing the 23 domains themselves is more than 300 characters.

Create a spreadsheet on Google Drive with all the findings and share a link to the spreadsheet.

Give them as much info as possible, i.e. WHOIS data or IP addresses that prove the 23 sites are owned by the same person.

If your sites are on the same topic and you're not 100% sure your sites adhere to the guidelines, you might want to avoid using your home/work IP and your regular Google account for sending the report.
12:04 pm on May 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Just because you report spam, does not mean Google will take action. Google indexes billions of web pages. They do not have the time to clean up everything which is why they prefer algorithmic changes to manual actions for handling spam.

There is also a chance that what you think is spam is not viewed as spam by Google. Many "white hat" people have abused the spam reporting to submit any "Sites Poistioned Above Mine"

Even if you think it is spam, and Google thinks it is spam, it might not be the reason why it is ranking. Often Google will devalue the spam aspect but there is still more than enough other quality signals that the site can potentially still rank.

ps Google is great at spotting networks. Trust me I know from first hand experience, you need to be very careful hiding networks. They look for the obvious stuff like shared analytics account or shared adsense account. Then they also compare whois & hosting and I suspect they use other signals.
4:03 pm on May 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Spend your time improving and promoting your own site.

These guys at Google are not beginners. They are probably aware of just about every method they consider to be 'abusive' and if/when they think that a particular trick is getting too much of a nuisance they will stamp on it with their algo. Until then you will be whistling into the wind.
9:29 pm on May 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Create a spreadsheet on Google Drive with all the findings and share a link to the spreadsheet.

Good idea thanks.

Just because you report spam, does not mean Google will take action.

I understand that. From other posts it looks like in s lot of cases nothing is done. I also don't expect anything right away.

They look for the obvious stuff like shared analytics account

From what I can tell they share an analytics account but it is not Google Analytics. I also wonder if the reason the network has not been spotted is because they don't share with others. That way there is no mention of it online for Google to find whispers of.

Spend your time improving and promoting your own site.

That is what I continue to do. I have seen a lot of spam come and go over the years (some rank higher and some lower than me). What makes this different for me is the sheer number of sites run by just one entity. I realize Google deals with spam all the time but these guys hide it fairly well. I also worry that it is "too small time for them" to worry directly about (ie the sites only deal with one niche and is not a "large" link network with 100s of sites that MC usually tweets about when they bust one.)
9:48 pm on May 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you must report, keep it simple. Provide one link, short statement there are x other sites doing the same, and all from WHOIS entry. Then get on with life and do the best for your site.

Yes, reports of overt spam are necessary. But in this case, is it really spam, or just dang clever webmastering? Making no judgments.
6:36 am on May 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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We have the exact same problem in my niche. Exactly. One guy many sites that looks exactly the same but with spun content. This has gotten much worse the last year or so since Penguin 2. I think many old and established sites (good ones too) has lost link power, and it's much easier to game Google now with new sites. The field is open. At least in the short run. Unfortunately, "the short run" is about a year nowadays. And if your niche has 2-3 spammers this has real impact.

I don't like to report sites either. It seems as a dirty trick somehow. But right now I'm rethinking this. <snip>

[edited by: goodroi at 10:25 am (utc) on May 7, 2014]
[edit reason] Please no calls to action as per TOS [/edit]

5:26 pm on May 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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When you say "spun"...are you saying that's it's auto-generated, and has all the typical issues that come about with that approach? (grammatical errors, inconsistent spacing, verbs as nouns, nouns as verbs, etc?).

If that's the case, I get your frustration...though personally I only report sites that target my sites in a very direct way, like scraping my content.

On the other hand, if they are just similar sites, with copy that's clearly hand written, or hand edited...it just sounds like sour grapes.
10:16 pm on May 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have only reported scrapers before as well.

The copy is hand written but spun from site to site. I found 2 more sites now for a total of 25. On each page the content is the same but spun just enough so it is not identical

All the sites have the same layout. The color scheme may change and the graphics may be slightly different.

All the domains are keyword rich and for each site they switch up the keywords for the directories and page names.

From a user perspective they would only have to visit one site to get the information they need. The owners are spamming the system by creating a pile of sites using different keywords in menus, links, domains, directories and file names.

They are also manufacturing throwaway sites for the sole purpose of giving backlinks... this is clearly a violation of Google's guidelines.

You may call it sour grapes and I am a little upset but when one owner is taking up 3 to 7 spots on page 1 or 2 of some major keywords in our niche you would get a little annoyed as well
12:21 am on June 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Not only have we been seeing the same problem, it has apparently gotten alot worse since the latest panda. In one of our particular niches, the user of heavy backlink spam was quoted boldly declaring he was going to own said niche using all techniques he could. Needless to say his sites, which fit the exact same description as your niche (near emd, same theme, same layouts, 'spun content') are all pretty much sitting in the top fold for all related major keywords on google (but not bing/yahoo strangely). For me as a search user it seems confusing (and we have customer emails/calls indicating the same thing).

This pissed us off, so we grabbed the backlinks and found the same old techniques are back working again but this time the links dont seem as spammy, at first glance. I think from perusal of the usual suspects list of forums one can derive that spinners are getting alot better at their ai (if thats what u want to call it). But its not just spinners or its cousin the "hand spun" content on 'public' pbn's that is ruling the roost it's also:
wordpress comment spam
homegrown pbn dofollows (with a laughably super spammy bl profile to boost PA/DA)
heavy, almost exclusive, use of kw anchor text^^
"quality" sites that still allow dofollow links in profiles (one of which was very suprising, i was impressed to find, global top 1000 easily)

The 'editorial' links that were found were probably made due to the fact their site has been sitting #1 for nearly a year.

I apologize for the bump in this somewhat aged post but I got here on about page 3 of a highly detailed advanced time limited search which tells me the spam reporting tool isnt as widely used as what one would think. Most posts like this have the same type of responses, "man why dont you improve your site" or "dont be a hater". These type of responses add little value to the discussion at hand and seem to be a knee jerk reaction; perhaps from some of the vendors of said services. We all know where to find these services and the vendors obviously have a stake...

To answer you, I say go for it. Use the webspam reporting tool. I'm not sure I would simply link to a spreadsheet. We hand wrote each report. It took us about 3 solid days. When chacking links hide your ass. Dont leave an ip footprint. In the end we ended up reporting over 500 obvious paid links. Reporting spam certainly can't hurt your site, directly. If youre using similar techniques be careful, report it from your sisters account. Business is business, if one chooses to use a technique that is easily uncovered as spam, one deserves a giant slap in the face. There are much better non lazy techniques that arent as easily uncovered. They are much more expensive which in the end is what google wants, to make seo more expensive than buying adwords.

I expect no response from the monopoly. Im so jaded by G that I dont even expect a change in serps. The comp site is obviously relevant to the anchor text powered serps, but the shear number of the templated sites is destroying the credibility of these particular serps. In the end, I do feel better and we gained valuable insights into the comp (mainly an estimate on how much they are spending on said services) and where they are being purchased (what to avoid going forward).

Am I the only one that has noticed a significant increase in penguin 3.0 related discussions this quickly post panda rev?

Remember as they say, all is fair. Let the hate begin.
4:12 am on June 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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To begin the flood of hate, I'd like to state I don't believe in reporting sites to Google, that's their job, not mine. /flood

I'm interested in the "heavy, almost exclusive, use of kw anchor text"
That's something I wouldn't think would still be viable. If I may ask, where in the chain of links did the exclusive use of kw anchor text occur?
5:44 am on June 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Clay, nearly all the links were kw heavy anchor text, some more long tail than others. Not sure what you mean by where in the chain, can you elaborate?
6:18 am on June 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's not uncommon to see tier1, tier2 and lower tier links from a site that is potentially gaming. Everything you saw was direct linked to the target site with heavy anchor text?

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