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Google Team Members Share Advice for Dealing with Hackers and Spam Podcast Episode Sheds Light on Spam Challenges

author image Written by: Wade Morris           Categories - In The News, SEO

A discussion on spam during a recent episode of Google’s Search Off The Record podcast made two things clear: first, site owners and SEOs should be aware of hack spam, and second, they should avoid trying to fight spammy competitors with equally poor tactics.

Spam has been at the top of mind for Google’s team and SEOs alike – just two weeks, ago Google finished launching its two-part spam update, which aimed to remove spammy content from SERPs.

READ MORE: Google Confirms Second Part of Spam Update Has Arrived

Duy Nguyen, a member of Google’s Search Quality team, appeared on the podcast with Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller.

Adding onto their explanation of how Google handles spam, their conversation turned to an airing of spam-related grievances, and when asked what bothers him on the web, Nguyen spoke about spam caused by hackers.

“A lot of the ‘hack spam’ that takes place today any hacking,” Nguyen explained. “A lot of the tools and scripts that people discovered five six years ago are still being used today to exploit websites – especially older websites.”

Nguyen explained that site owners using old content management systems (CMS) are the most vulnerable. These systems, he explained, have been around long enough for hackers to figure out entirely.

Mueller suggested that site owners who don’t plan to update their content should use a static HTML site rather than a CMS like WordPress. The team also explained that keeping a website fully updated can stop hackers from successfully breaking in.

They also added that using Google Search Console can protect sites against hackers.

With Search Console, site owners “would have more data and they would realize that, ‘oh, yeah, running this very old version of CMS really hinders the site’s potential.’”

Dealing with Spammy Competitors

On the same episode, Mueller and Nguyen talked about what happens to site owners who use spam-fueled tactics to improve their rankings on SERPs. Mueller said he is often asked by site owners what to do if they obey Google’s webmaster guidelines, but find that competitors who disobey them perform better.

Answering the question, the team explained that Google avoids rewarding sites for using spammy language or tactics. However, if a spammy site performs well, there are plenty of factors aside from spam that could explain their successful performance.

Otherwise, Mueller and Nguyen recommend sending Google a spam report.

You can learn more about the Search Off The Record podcast here.

Wade Morris

Wade brings an energetic approach to writing – he is always on the hunt for stories and angles that matter. With years of experience in journalism and marketing environments, Wade has written about everything from politics to education. Now, he writes about SEO and digital marketing trends.

Google Search Console Item Classifications Updated

06/15/2022

Google made some reporting changes within Search Console. No changes have been made to crawling, indexing or rankings!

The search engine changed how it displays errors within some of the Search Console reports. Now it only shows valid or invalid information, rather than errors, valid with warnings and valid.

Google said the URLs or items in the Search Console report will no longer be grouped in status categories such as Valid, Warning, or Error. They will now be classified into two broader statuses that will reflect if the URLS or items are valid or not.

Read More: Google Sending Warnings On Intrusive Interstitials

Invalid Vs. Valid

According to Google, invalid means there’s a critical issue in the page or items. Not invalid means that the item might still have warnings, but no critical issues. Google explained that the implications for valid and invalid states differ by report type.

Grouping the top-level item (a rich result for the rich result reports, a page or URL for the other reports) into two groups: pages or items with critical issues are labelled something like invalid; pages or items without critical issues are labelled something like valid. We think this new grouping will make it easier to see quickly which issues affect your site’s appearance on Google, in order to help you prioritize your fixes.” – Google said in the announcement.

Here’s a first look:

Photo Source: developers.google.com

 

Google also said that these changes will also be reflected in the URL inspection tool and the API. The URL inspection tool will show these changes immediately, while the API changes are yet to arrive.

In their help document, Google said that the impacted reports impacted by these changes are:

  • Core Web Vitals
  • Mobile Usability
  • AMP report
  • Rich results report
  • URL inspection tool

These changes are made to help you understand reports better and prioritize issues easier.

Read More: ‘Discovered – Not Indexed’ Status Could Last Forever
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Google Removes Two Widgets from Page Experience Report

08/06/2021

Google has made some significant updates to an important feature that helps SEOs understand how their sites rank.

Page experience’ is an important concept for SEOs and site owners. The term refers to a set of signals that, as Google describes, “measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value.”

Page experience contains a few important factors site owners should consider – notably, Core Web Vitals are included. These are a set of three metrics (loading speed, responsiveness, and visual stability) that play a major role in a site’s performance on SERPs.

READ MORE: LAUNCHED: Google’s Page Experience Update Begins Rollout

For SEOs, the Search Console’s Page Experience Report is a lifesaver. It summarizes key information that pertains to what users experience on a site owner’s page, as well as how that information can lead to successful page rankings.

This week, Google made a few changes to the Page Experience Report in an effort to make the tool’s information clearer. Read about these changes below.

The Safe Browsing Widget is Leaving

Previously, the Page Experience Report contained a ‘safe browsing’ widget. This tool would inform the reader if their page had any issues pertaining to user safety.

Google has removed this feature from the Page Experience Report, saying the following:

“Safe Browsing systems at Google are designed to keep users safe on the internet. Sometimes sites fall victim to third-party hijacking, which can cause Safe Browsing warnings to be surfaced.

We recognize that these issues aren’t always within the control of site owners, which is why we’re clarifying that Safe Browsing isn’t used as a ranking signal and won’t feature in the Page Experience report.”

Search Console will still inform site owners about safe browsing ‘flags’ but this will no longer exist in the Page Experience Report to avoid confusion.

The Ad Experience Widget is Leaving

Google is removing a second widget from the Page Experience Report: the ‘ad experience’ widget.

This widget would inform the user whether or not advertisements and similar materials violated the ‘Better Ads Standards,’ a set of guidelines followed to create user-friendly ads.

Since ad experience is not directly relevant to page experience, its widget has been removed from the Page Experience Report.

Beyond removing two widgets, Google has also made a few minor tweaks to the page experience report. Read more about these changes here.

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