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Danny Goodwin

Google Shares 7 Tips With Free Web Hosting Sites to Avoid Penalties

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spam-spam-spamGoogle is constantly on the lookout for spammy websites that don’t add “sufficient value” to its users. For free web hosting services that don’t want to see all of their sites removed from Google’s index, Google has shared seven preventative tips.

Why Google Will Remove Websites From Its Index

Google has granted itself the right to remove websites from its search index if they don’t meet Google’s quality guidelines. Combating spam is a constant issue for Google, especially websites that create dozens or even hundreds of websites containing little or no original content, auto-generated/scraped content, spun content, or duplicate content.

As Google stated:

"We’ve seen some web hosts and bulk subdomain services become major sources of malware and spam. We try hard to be granular in our actions when protecting our users and search quality, but if we see a very large fraction of sites on a specific web host that are spammy or are distributing malware, we may be forced to take action on the web host as a whole."

Case in point: 11 million co.cc subdomains were deindexed last summer due to a large number of sites being "spammy" or "low quality."

Google’s Panda updates were also aimed at sites with “thin” or “low quality” content, as was the introduction of a spam algorithm preceding Panda in January 2011, one that specifically targeted spam and affected about 2 percent of search results.

7 Ways to Avoid a Google Ban

What happens when a free hosting service becomes infested with spammers? Simply, Google could ban all of the sites from appearing in its organic search results.

To prevent this and avoid some added bandwitdth, Google suggests:

  • Publishing a clear abuse policy and communicating it to your users to provide transparency about what is considered “spammy” activity.
  • Using CAPTCHAs or other verification tools to only allow human submission and prevent the majority of automated scripts from creating sites on your hosting service.
  • Monitoring for spam signals including redirects, a large number of ad blocks, and spammy keywords. Google recently announced its page layout algorithm, which penalizes sites with too many ads above-the-fold.
  • Keeping track of signups and identifying spam patterns including form completion time, number of requests from the same IP address range, user-agents used during signup, and user names.
  • Watching your server log files for sudden traffic spikes for a newly-created website.
  • Monitoring for phishing and malware-infected pages.
  • Detecting languages of newly created sites (e.g., thousands of Japanese sites appearing overnight on a Polish web hosting service)

These tips could also apply to any sites with user-generated content (e.g., forums) and webmasters who are considering setting up a free website. If a free hosting service doesn’t do these seven things, then it’s possible an influx of spammers could wipe out your organic traffic should Google one day detect signals that indicate high levels of spam.


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