Have you received a message from Google telling you that your website seems to have spam from user-generated content? If so, you have come to the right place. In this article, we’ll talk about what this means for your site and we’ll help you fix it.
What Is User-Generated Content Spam?
If a website enables users to post content, create personal profiles, leave comments, etc., then that website is a possible target for spam. That’s just how it is. Most of the time, spammers aggressively build links on other websites, so any place where it is free to post content and links is a target. It’s not exactly the Webmaster’s fault that the site is spammed. This is why many are unaware and quite surprised to receive a warning or penalty message from Google. However, even if it is not the Webmaster’s fault, it is still his or her responsibility.
Google gets confused by web spam and will combat it any way it can. So if a website is open to web spam, it helps spammers thrive. It is the site owner’s responsibility to secure their site against this (unless they do this in purpose, which also happens). So, if your site is full of spam and you are not doing anything about it, Google will penalize you.
How Do You Battle User-Generated Spam?
There are many different ways. Each has its own pros and cons. Here are some of what Google suggests.
– Anti-spam tools
This is the most obvious choice. It’s also widely available. The most popular tools are those that employ CAPTCHA so that you can block robots from mass spamming your site.
– Use rel=“nofollow”
Google has long ago introduced the nofollow tag so that webmasters can tag links they do not wish to be crawled through and counted for link juice. A lot of blog sites already have this automatically for comments sections. It does not always deter spammers from leaving links but it does help remove the effect of those links and it makes your site less desirable for spammers.
– Comment Moderation
If you have the time, this can be a great tool. You can really make sure only valid comments will appear on your site if you moderate them yourself. This means that comments will not be posted until you have approved them. But of course, the downside is that instantaneous conversation slows down and it makes the buzz around your content die down a little.
– Disallow hyperlinks
Here is another great option though it may also lessen organic conversations. It can be totally worth it though, since getting a hyperlink on a comment or forum post is the main thing spammers are looking for.
– Block User Generated Content Pages Through robots.txt and/or META tags
Here’s something a little bit more advanced. Google advices site owners that they can use meta tags or their robots.txt file to stop Google crawlers from indexing pages that may be rife with spam since they allow user generated content.
– Include Report Spam Options For Users
If you have a big site with lots of daily content, you won’t be able to filter all the spam out. So why not ask the help from your community? This options works well for big sites.
Once you have realized that your site is spammed, all you can do is clean it all up and make sure to put up security measures to stop future attacks. Community managers are very important for this to work so make sure you hire the right people if you can’t do it all yourself.