Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 3.81.29.226

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

Message Too Old, No Replies

Spam reporting a competitor to Google - help needed

     
11:21 am on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Dec 19, 2014
posts:3
votes: 0


Hi everyone,
As a newbie, my respect to you all. I have been reading the forum for sometime here but this is my first post.

We are a small online retailer in a niche market and we have been doing well on Google for years, before a competitor spammed its way to the position above us. We have never reported a competitor in the past, and understand that many people see it as the whining type of a coward, but I have made up my mind. One only needs to see the scale of the spam in its backlinks and how it duplicated its own content for each location in the world to see how I feel. They certainly know and do SEO, just with no respect to Google's guidelines and ethical business (unethical practice that I don't want to get into too much detail). We thought the latest Penguin update would surely catch them, but it only made them higher.

The question is, how should I go about it? In detail, what should I include in my report? The list of spammy back links is over 200MB in size, which I am sure I can't send to Google.

If I stalk some renowned people from Google on Twitter or something, would they care? Anyone had the experience?

I would welcome guidance from anyone who have had experience in this aspect.

I also heard that spam report submitted by someone more credible and well known (of which I am absolutely not to Google) will be more effective, is that true? If so, are there any good Samaritans who would be willing to look into this for us?

Thank you very much in advance.
2:46 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

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

joined:Oct 14, 2013
posts:3367
votes: 559


Welcome to WebmasterWorld smrtl

We are a small online retailer in a niche market


and how it duplicated its own content for each location in the world


These don't quite go together. Are you a small retailer selling to one country market only and your "competitor" is selling worldwide in many different markets?

Are you seen as being "local" whereas they are seen as being "international"?

The list of spammy back links is over 200MB


I haven't a clue what this means! Is this a text file of their backlinks?

Are you completely sure that it is the backlinks that are helping your competitor and not something else plus how do you fare compared to your other competition?

BTW, I wouldn't go stalking anyone if I were you!
3:39 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 28, 2003
posts:1979
votes: 0


Google has a form where you can report spam.

Many have complained over the years that they've complained and complained and Google doesn't do anything about it.

I wouldn't worry about your competitors--just worry about your own site and its content, and getting better, more quality links and get mentioned in the media.

Eventually it will catch up with them, and their site will implode. But for now, I would put your efforts into your own site's SEO and overall visibility and don't worry about competitors--if you do, it will drive you insane.
4:19 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

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

joined:Oct 14, 2013
posts:3367
votes: 559


and don't worry about competitors--if you do, it will drive you insane.


Very true, be aware of them and what they may be doing but don't make it into an obsession since you will never be able to focus properly on what you should be achieving.
4:28 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 6, 2006
posts:1191
votes: 41


Concentrate on improving your own site. It's never a good idea to twist a sleeping tiger's tail.

You sure your own site is whiter than white? You may find it isn't - the hard way.
4:50 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 16, 2009
posts:1087
votes: 83


I no longer report spam. I think it's the wrong mindset to be in.

You've been beaten in the results: that's the bottom line. Exactly how it happened is small print.

I'd put your energy into
- making your site as good as it can be, and
- putting it in front of as many people as you can.

Read the Link Building forum library and put aside one hour a day, day in day out, to do nothing but improve and market your site.
4:53 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 16, 2010
posts: 3828
votes: 31


You can go ahead and report them.

But please note that google (as far as I know) doesn't take direct action on individual sites reported as spammy.

Instead, what they try to do is to learn from those spam sites and adjust their algorithm so that it will catch that type of spam in the future.
5:29 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 26, 2013
posts:454
votes: 69


Submitting a complaint to Google about a spammer is like sending a letter to Santa Claus at the North Pole. I don't think either will be read. The best you can hope for is an algo refresh that catches the spammers and gives them the boot. But if they are like any of the ones I am burdened with, they'll be back ranking again with a different domain name.
6:01 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 16, 2009
posts:1087
votes: 83


I wouldn't hold your breath on Google wiping out link spam any time soon.

Penguin 3 has been running for some time now and it has failed to eradicate link spam. The (admittedly few, but lucrative) result sets I monitor are either unchanged or have new link spam in place of the old link spam.
6:41 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:May 24, 2012
posts:648
votes: 2


If you choose to report it to Google, you may be starting a war that you aren't prepared for.
6:55 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from FR 

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

joined:Feb 15, 2004
posts:7139
votes: 413


Reporting spam to G is as effective as pushing string..they won't care unless the spammer is making them look stupid like BMW were..and in those sort of cases.they let them back to the top after a slap on the wrist..
7:01 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 16, 2010
posts: 3828
votes: 31


how would reporting to Google be starting a war?

would someone KNOW who reported them?

and aren't they already IN a war? After all, they formerly were #1, and now they have been overtaken.

what makes you think that if the original poster works to improve his/ her own site (as suggested by several here) the spammer won't interpret that as "starting a war"?

most likely if the spammer loses the number one spot back to the original poster, the spammer WON'T CARE HOW the original poster regained the original rankings. the spammers will do everything they can to regain #1.

it's not like they are going to give him a free pass because he focused on improving his own site.

the war has already started.
7:50 pm on Dec 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:May 24, 2012
posts:648
votes: 2


how would reporting to Google be starting a war?


When the competitor correctly guesses who's tattling, and decides to retaliate.

Would someone KNOW who reported them?

Depends on the niche. In some cases, it's very easy to figure out, in other cases, it's not.

the war has already started.

As far as I can tell from the original post, there's competition, but nothing outside of each player trying to get their own sites to rank better.

From my standpoint, the first one to reach outside that space, and try to hurt someone else's business is starting the war.

I'm not talking about negative seo either. I'll throw out an example. I had a competitor who was just starting out. While most of the players in the space sell hundreds of different related products, he was starting out with just one.

This competitor decided to screw with us by leaving a few fake negative reviews. The same tone, language, and story was posted on several review sites, including a mistake or two that made it obvious who was posting the reviews.

His choice to focus on hurting us, versus improving his own site, put him on our radar. Since he apparently only had access to one product, we started selling ours at cost until he folded.

And, for what it's worth, I understand why you see things differently, and I'm not saying you're wrong. My personal experience is such that people tattling, or otherwise trying hurt our sites, raises my ire.
2:02 am on Dec 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

Moderator from GB 

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

joined:June 15, 2001
posts:7848
votes: 96


I have never been one for reporting spam. I always say if you’re going to point fingers, make sure your hands are clean.

I'm not suggesting you are involved in any under-hand tactics, but the site below you in the serps probably is.

We always look up and wonder. Take a note of what they are doing well, and do it better. The spam will eventually come back to haunt them.

Mack.
2:50 pm on Dec 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

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

joined:Oct 14, 2013
posts:3367
votes: 559


Take a note of what they are doing well, and do it better.


Oh how I wish that were true however we'll not go there!
3:02 pm on Dec 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 16, 2010
posts: 3828
votes: 31


The spam will eventually come back to haunt them.


Yes, it will.

It just won't be THIS year.

And probably not next year, either.

Nor the year after that...

In my niche, there was one site - a partial match domain - that kind of came out of nowhere and started to rank #1. It had so many spammy backlinks (SEO directory links and links from its sister sites), that it even out-ranked the other incredibly spammy site that had been sitting at #1 for years. It had about 450 obviously paid links and around 30 non-paid links.*

Anyway, it appeared at #1 around 2011, and it survived Penguin 1 fine. Penguin 2 didn't affect it at all.

But Penguin 3 DID slap it, and combined with google's new philosophy of showing as few actual organic listings as possible, it is not only below the fold, but is actually on page 2 of the results.

So yeah, that site will probably end up imploding itself. It just might not be until Penguin 6 rolls around. All you have to do is sit back and wait.

~~~~~
*It should be noted that even though the term was NOT considered a money keyword and would not otherwise be competitive, nearly all of the sites ranking in the top 10 for that term had overwhelmingly spammy links in a ratio of about 9 spam links for every 1 legitimate link. A few of them still rank well, and whatever places they lost in the SERPs were probably more related to google's love of the big brands as opposed to any penalties being applied.
3:33 am on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 16, 2009
posts:1087
votes: 83


So that site had three years at number 1 for - at most - a few thousand pounds investment. With those numbers, I'd be sorely tempted to:
- get a friend to register a domain for me,
- allow me to use their address (or my accountant's) for a mailing address,
- rent a forwarding telephone number, and
- put up my own affiliate website.

No connection with my 'bricks and mortar' business site - different hosting, different Google account. To be super clean I'd probably take out a contract with a second ISP and use a new device to monitor and update the site too. NEVER login to, or visit, or even mention your spam site whilst using anything connected with or to your clean site.

As long as spam works, you out spam the spammer and go along for the ride. If and when spam no longer pays in your niche, your clean site is there as it was all along.

nearly all of the sites ranking in the top 10 for that term had overwhelmingly spammy links in a ratio of about 9 spam links for every 1 legitimate link

I've seen this too, and it got me thinking that there's an element to the SERPS where the competing sites set the benchmark, rather than Google apply some absolute set of values across the board. More 'clean' link profiles means that crud might be less likely to work. But if everyone's using crud then that's probably all you need to do to rank - until such a time as the SERP gets cleaned up, whenever that may be.
9:00 am on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Dec 19, 2014
posts:3
votes: 0


Thank you for everyone's input and I wouldn't say that I wasn't expecting to hear these. Deep down I knew what I should be doing, but somehow I still hoped that there is a way. The competitor is also local based, but they duplicated their services to every corner of the world without an office or any form of presence. They sold one thing that they couldn't deliver, but their small prints force customers to take an much less wanted equivalent. Anyway, not into too much detail.

They spam every way they can, reviews, content, links, google places (they probably bought up hundreds of serviced office phone numbers and got 100+) places listing.

What amazed me is their bold approach without a second of hesitation. Their rankings goes up and down but in general follows an upward trend. Now they are at the top.

250MB is the size of the .csv file with roughly 90% directory spam links. In particular, they had like 100,000 links from hundreds of .ar domain (we are not in Argentina) with exactly the same content (directory links) and same style.

I wouldn't say that we are whiter than the white, but we had done things other SEO's have done many years ago. Our backlinks contain several article directories, several directories but I wouldn't be worried if Google decided to look at them. For about 2 years we have been devoting our effort in good content and outreaching the community for content marketing, and I think that has paid off well but not as well as the spams did them.

True, even knowing that spams still work, I wouldn't risk it. It just feels depressing because by the time Google catches them, lots of good companies may have been out of business.

Despite all these, anyone has had success with Google spam reporting?

Thank you all for your help, it is comforting at the very least. I think if one day spams died away, it's not what Google did, it's what you guys have strongly believed in.
1:32 pm on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Mar 30, 2005
posts:13012
votes: 222


They may not know they're doing it - they may have hired a shady SEO firm who just promised results, and doesn't show how the sausage is made. Not like that doesn't happen.

You're probably not going to get anywhere reporting on them for spamming. Google will likely eventually catch up with it themselves, and they're not going to remove them on your sayso. They do want quality results, but they're not interested in things that don't scale, and removing spammers one site at a time doesn't scale. The best you can hope for is someone will look at the site and make some tweaks to the algorithm to eliminate it down the road. That could happen tomorrow or it could take three years. And you have a business to run.

But to be honest, I would advise you wholeheartedly to just let it go. Concentrate on the stuff you *can* control, not what you can't. The only time I report a site to Google is if it's blatantly stealing content from me, or if it's loaded with malware and try to download something onto my computer on pageload. And the latter are the only ones that seem to get removed right away.

Is it fair? No. But it's often not fair offline either. I for one don't expect fair.
2:29 pm on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 5, 2004
posts: 618
votes: 105


I reported a spammer about 6 months ago with no results. The spammer runs about 30 sites dedicated to one niche and a bogus blog network. He keeps most sites on separate hosts. For a majority of the keywords in our niche this spammer has at least 2 pages from his sites ranking on the first page but can go as high as 8. All of his sites are very similar in wording and even use the same wordpress theme (different images and some colours changed).

It's pretty obvious to a human when you click on these sites that they all belong to one company but obviously Google's SPAM algorithm can't find them.

A major problem with Google's spam reporting tool is that you only get 300 characters to report the spam. That may be fine for one page but to report larger spam problems it is not.

I am not sure if it is worth reporting them as it seems like most reports seem to unnoticed.
3:00 pm on Dec 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Apr 14, 2008
posts:2910
votes: 62


It's pretty obvious to a human when you click on these sites that they all belong to one company but obviously Google's SPAM algorithm can't find them.

Don't worry about it. The algo will likely never detect it, because Google really [obviously to at least one of us] can't/won't detect half of what it says it can/does, hence the need for "manual actions" against "spam networks" that "manipulate" it's results.

Just look at what the competition is doing and do it better so you rank higher -- Oh, and have a site or ten "waiting in backup", like the "spammers" do in case Google ever gets to be even half as good as it says and the one you use currently tanks...

Bottom Line: Spam reporting to a company that believes showing "the result it deems as best", rather than it sticking with the originator/first-discovered content provider is a waste of time, IMO -- Interestingly, Bing refuses to index the same or essentially the same content twice and for some reason doesn't seem to have the same issue with spam Google does. Go figure.
4:52 am on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Full Member

10+ Year Member

joined:May 30, 2009
posts:234
votes: 7


Bottom Line: Spam reporting to a company that believes showing "the result it deems as best", rather than it sticking with the originator/first-discovered content provider is a waste of time, IMO -- Interestingly, Bing refuses to index the same or essentially the same content twice and for some reason doesn't seem to have the same issue with spam Google does. Go figure.


Well said...makes you wonder who exactly owns those "best" sites and who benefits the most from ranking them higher.
9:04 am on Dec 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Apr 14, 2008
posts:2910
votes: 62


Well said...

Thanks!

...makes you wonder who exactly owns those "best" sites and who benefits the most from ranking them higher.

Don't get me started! LOL