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GWT User Generated Spam notice - how to follow up?

     
6:20 pm on Nov 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi All,

I got this email from from Google WMT that 'user generated spam' has been detected on my Website and that a manual penalty has been applied because of this.

Two things I noted was that it said it's not a site-wide penalty and Google has given 5 URLs as affected.

But I did a site: search, there were many spam posts(not comment spam) under the same directory under which Google has reported 5 URLs.

So, I went ahead and removed all the spam blog posts. I am not familiar with manual penalties though.

My questions is,
1. Do I need to make a reconsideration request at all? Because those spam contents have been removed now and I heard that a reconsideration request is not necessary unless I want those affected URLs/ Sections to be reviewed and make into Google index again and rank well.

So in my case I have actually removed the spam contents and I don't want to see those URLs back in Google search. Should I need to make a reconsideration request now? Or Will Google revoke the penalty when it crawls my Website again? Thanks for the help.
6:44 pm on Nov 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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First of all, have you figured out how the spam blog posts got there? Because on the face of it it sounds like you might have been hacked, in which case you might want to make sure that's cleared up first.
3:23 am on Nov 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks @netmeg

It's because of people with fake IDs. We have removed/blocked them all. We have cleaned up the posts as well.

We try to moderate all the posts as possible as we can which we failed before.
3:29 am on Nov 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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<sarcasm>

Well, I'm just glad they're going after UGC info and links most people won't ever see rather than pop-ups and overlays, which are a total annoyance to visitors -- I mean attacking comment spam links people who visit a site aren't likely to see *must* make Google's results *way* better than trying to eliminate sites that have user-annoyances when visitors land on them, right?

</sarcasm>
5:17 pm on Nov 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Should I need to make a reconsideration request now? Or Will Google revoke the penalty when it crawls my Website again?

For future reference, does someone know the objective answer to this question? My impression was that manual penalties can only be revoked manually. But there's not much point to asking for reconsideration if the identical problem is likely to recur next week.
11:02 pm on Nov 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Manual penalties have expiration date:

When are penalties lifted?
Matt Cutts, Feb 2014
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES01L4xjSXE [youtube.com]

This expiration date is different, depending on why the manual penalty has been given.

But there's not much point to asking for reconsideration if the identical problem is likely to recur next week.

Exactly. So I would ask for reconsideration rather than wait it out, but I would make sure you have more stringent moderation in place as well. In this case, file a reconsideration request listing not only URLs you cleared but also how are you addressing possible future issues with comment spam.
6:00 am on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks @lucy24 & aakk9999 :-)

If I can understand from both of you as well as Matt Cutts' explanation,

A manual penalty will be lifted AUTOMATICALLY; when it will get lifted/expired is solely based on the type of penalty. I don't have to make a reconsideration request because blog spam is something that can recur again if the moderation failed.

My questions,
1. Does Google's Webspam team visits the sites that they have applied manual penalty PERIODICALLY to see if the guidelines are followed well, no matter if you file a reconsideration request or not?
2. Can the reconsideration request get the penalty lifted sooner than waiting for it to be lifted all by itself?
3. In both cases, how do I know if the penalty has been lifted? By looking into the 'Manual action' section in Google WMT?


Thanks!
12:48 pm on Nov 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't have to make a reconsideration request because blog spam is something that can recur again if the moderation failed.

You do not have to, but I would. I would also try to convince Google that not only I have cleaned up the blog, but that I have put better process in place to moderate the blog (e.g. aproving comments or similar). Also, nobody knows how long the expiry date is - you could be penalised for much longer than you expect.

1. I do not know. And I do not think the answer is that simple - it could, for example, depend on severity of penalty and on who the player is.
2. Yes
3. Yes, by looking at the Manual action in WMT. Although experience of many is that even though the penalty has been lifted, their ranking continue to suffer. On the other hand, you have not said your ranking is suffering - and if it does, maybe it does for these 5 affected URLs only.
7:02 am on Nov 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks @aakk9999
On the other hand, you have not said your ranking is suffering - and if it does, maybe it does for these 5 affected URLs only.
These are mostly branded searches, so I don't think it will have much impact on the ranking/traffic because of these affected URLs.

The bold one is what keep on bugging me. When there are hundred of such affected URLs on my Website, why does Google has to give only 5 of them as affected URLs and demote their rankings? Should we take that merely as a HINT when we are cleaning up the site? But still, do the other affected URLs not reported by Google in the affected section will get demoted as well?
 

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