How spam reports are used at Google: Manual actions vs. algorithm updates

djbaxter

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How spam reports are used at Google
by Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Central Blog
Friday, July 03, 2020

Thanks to our users, we receive hundreds of spam reports every day. While many of the spam reports lead to manual actions, they represent a small fraction of the manual actions we issue. Most of the manual actions come from the work our internal teams regularly do to detect spam and improve search results. Today we're updating our Help Center articles to better reflect this approach: we use spam reports only to improve our spam detection algorithms.

Spam reports play a significant role: they help us understand where our automated spam detection systems may be missing coverage. Most of the time, it's much more impactful for us to fix an underlying issue with our automated detection systems than it is to take manual action on a single URL or site.

In theory, if our automated systems were perfect, we would catch all spam and not need reporting systems at all. The reality is that while our spam detection systems work well, there’s always room for improvement, and spam reporting is a crucial resource to help us with that. Spam reports in aggregate form help us analyze trends and patterns in spammy content to improve our algorithms.

Overall, one of the best approaches to keeping spam out of Search is to rely on high quality content created by the web community and our ability to surface it through ranking. You can learn more about our approach to improving Search and generating great results at our How Search Works site. Content owners and creators can also learn how to create high-quality content to be successful in Search through our Google Webmasters resources. Our spam detection systems work with our regular ranking systems, and spam reports help us continue to improve both so we very much appreciate them. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know on Twitter.
 

zach.todd

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Feb 23, 2020
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I might be misreading this, but the first paragraph seems a little contradictory. They mention using some reports to drive manual actions, but then make it sound as if that's never the case. The message seems to boil down to, please help us train our algorithms, but it's most likely not going to benefit you. I'm sure part of what prompted this is a desire to discourage coordinated and/or bulk reporting.
 

djbaxter

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Google has always been pretty clear about manual actions. They will do it in the most blatant or egregious cases but they prefer to use the information to update the filters in their algorithms.

This isn't new. It's really more a reminder, especially in the spam area given the recent complaints and negative publicity Google has received.
 

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