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Google's Pure Spam Manual Action: Matt Cutts on How to Fix it

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Matt Cutts

Author's Note: This is the first in a weekly series detailing specific spam warnings that webmasters might find displayed in Google Webmaster Tools manual action viewer, the types of things that are flagging each warning, and what webmasters should do to fix it to see the warning removed.

Google has released a series of seven videos designed to help webmasters resolve specific types of spam issues that have been identified on their site. With Google Webmaster Tools offering more specific details about why a website might be penalized, these videos are designed to help you know exactly what kind of manual spam action your site has been impacted by, and the specific steps you can take to correct the issues in Google's eyes.

What is Pure Spam?

Google considers pure spam to be anything to spam that anyone with a bit of tech savviness can tell that it spam. Often called "black hat", Cutts said this includes such things as “auto generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping, throwaway sites, or throwaway domains, where someone is more or less doing churn and burn where they are creating as many sites as possible to make as much money as possible before the get caught.”

Cutts said this is that type of spam that Google takes the most action against. He added that it's rare for people to actually file reconsideration requests for sites that are classified as pure spam, because many webmasters approach them as churn and burn.

For example, here's an image of auto-generated spam site Cutts included in a blog post a number of years ago:

Matt Cutts

Image Credit: Matt Cutts Blog

Fixing Pure Spam on a New Website

Sometimes there are legitimate cases where site owners have purchased the domain only to discover that there is a huge amount of spam in the domain's history, making it difficult for a new owner to then create something legitimate on that domain. People can look up a domain's history on archive.org and see what kind of spam issues had been happening, so it will become a priority to ensure that the new owner is starting with a clean slate with none of the spam content anywhere to be seen.

If this sort of thing happened to you, you must take special care to ensure that the new site you're putting on the previously spamming domain is high quality and nothing that could be remotely confused with being spammy. You essentially need to create actions within the site that gives Google signals that the site is now trustworthy and should be included in the index.

Fixing Pure Spam on an Existing Website

If your site has been flagged as being pure spam, this is probably one of the more difficult spam flags to overcome, because it is reserved for the spammiest of websites. That means, when you file your reconsideration request, you need to ensure that there is nothing anywhere on the site that could be remotely considered spam.

When you're trying to clean up, ensure everything that violate the Google webmaster guidelines has been removed, and that the quality guidelines are being followed to the letter. You should look at it from the perspective of building an entirely new site with new quality content.

Cutts said it's important for webmasters who are trying to clean up from a pure spam warning that they document everything they do, whether it is having purchased the domain from a previous owner, discovering and then removing spam you didn't realize existed on your site, or just simply not knowing better when you created what you thought was a fabulous auto-generated site.

When you finally file a reconsideration request, be sure that you include the steps you took to clean it up and when, so that Google can investigate and decide if the site has really turned over a new leaf.


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