Some days ago, Mozilla.org received a notification message from Google:
“Google has detected user-generated spam on your site. Typically, this kind of spam is found on forum pages, guestbook pages, or in user profiles. As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to your site.”
Mozilla.org develops the popular Firefox web browser, the email client Thunderbird and other open source products. They get thousands of natural backlinks and they do not have to involve in shady search engine optimization techniques to get high rankings.
What Google said about the penalty
Mozilla’s Chris More wasn’t able to find the spam on the Mozilla.org website. Google’s John Mueller sent him a reply in which he said the Mozilla had some spam issues that were so bad that they justified a penalty. Unfortunately, John Mueller did not provide any details.
One day later, Google’s Matt Cutts also posted a reply:
“Over time, Google has improved our transparency by sending messages for all the direct manual webspam actions that we take, but there are still ways that we could do better. In particular, we do send example URLs for many incidents involved hacked sites or granular actions on links, but we currently don’t provide example URLs for every direct manual webspam action that we take.
We are looking at providing more example URLs for more message types over time though. In this particular case, it was the url //blog.mozilla.org/respindola/about/ that we took action on, and that was because it was so defaced with spam comments.
I checked the URL this morning and it was over 12 megabytes (!) of spam from 21,169 different comments. When a page like that lands in our search results, it’s the sort of thing that users complain to us about, so we are willing to take action.”
In other words, Google penalized a single page on the Mozilla blog. The blog page received so many spam comments that it was penalized. Although Google’s message indicated that there was a larger penalty, this was all about a single page.
What does this mean for your website?
This is not the first larger website that has received such a penalty warning from Google. Some weeks ago, the BBC received a similar warning about having unnatural links. It turned out that the warning was triggered by a single page on the BBC.co.uk website that had unnatural backlinks.
When you receive a notification message from Google, don’t panic. It’s probably not as bad as it looks. Chances are that only a very small part of your website is affected by the issue.
Avoid penalties by using safe SEO methods
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