We learned earlier this year that Google does prioritize spam reports from those users with a history of good spam reports, something that Gary Illyes from Google confirmed again today at Big Digital Adelaide. But he also dropped some details for users that file bogus spam reports.
The specific question was about competitors filing a ton of bogus spam reports about every little thing that was wrong with a site, whether it was a true spam issue or not.
“We trust some reports more,” said Illyes. “If someone files a ton of bogus reports, we will start ignoring them. We have lots of experience with this, we know businesses will report each other because they can. It is an open form and anyone can use it.”
He also added that Google has policies in place to deal with this kind of thing. “We did develop policies on how to deal with these kinds of cases.”
Illyes wouldn’t go into more details about those policies, though. He said if they were too transparent with those policies, some would use that information to abuse the spam reporting.
He also said that they are able to identify and recognize when 40 spam reports are all coming from the same user or IP address.
This also explains why some spam reports aren’t acted on, because they aren’t actually spam. In fact, Google has said that 20% of spam reports aren’t spam at all, and I suspect many of those are just people filing spam reports on competitors, even if they can’t see the spam themselves, they hope that the manual actions team will notice something to give a manual action to the site in question.
So bottom line, you don’t need to worry about a competitor repeatedly filing spam reports, Google can recognize this. That said, if you are spamming worthy enough of a manual action, that probably won’t stop a manual action from happening…. but that probably won’t stop you from filing a spam report on a competitor either.
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