Google Update Underway? Chinese Spam Impacting

Sep 19, 2007 • 6:58 am | comments (10) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

There are several reports across multiple forums about a large update at Google. It appears people are noticing large search results shifts at Google Web Search. Some are obviously happy with the changes, such as one user at Search Engine Watch Forums and an other user at DigitalPoint Forums and some are not.

A WebmasterWorld thread has been tracking this update in more detail. The WebmasterWorld thread picks up speed as of last night, as did the other threads.

It appears many people are complaining about Chinese Spam sites coming into the Google web search results. One member described what he saw:

This isn't even news but I noticed something I didn't see before. A good majority of these domains were listed as follows:

fake title whatever blahblah ... description with some of our keyphrases plus a lot of other scraped stuff all mixed up yet showing for this query... xr.aghdweo. cn/whatever.html

In addition, George posted a question at Matt Cutts's blog, a Google engineer, asking:

Why are the chinese spam sites still in the index? I thought you were wroking on it and was testing, but the only thing I have seen, and other have reported in WMW, is that sites have disappeared from your listings but the chinese spam sites are still there. How is this possible after over a week?

Matt Cutts replied to that explaining that he is aware of the chinese spam site issue, and they are working on addressing it with an infrastructure change. He said:

On your second point, there’s at least one infrastructure change we wanted to make in order to handle these better. Infrastructure changes take more time than just killing specific spam sites.

So there does seem to be some type of update going on and it appears that there is a Chinese spam issue in Google. It doesn't appear to be specifically Chinese sites, some people are reporting. Unfortunately, I have no examples to share with you at this time. If you know of keyword searches that bring up samples of this problem, feel free to share via comments.

Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums, DigitalPoint Forums and WebmasterWorld.

Update: Donna at SEO Scoop sent me an example query that returned these Chinese spam results. Now, I am not sharing the keyword search for this, because Donna warns that if you click on the results, "you'll get infected with a virus." So I decided to show you what they look like via a safe screen capture:

Chinese spam in Google

Notice the space between the domain and the .cn extension? The first example is The period is not really a period, it is a weird character. Compare a normal dot, to this dot cn result:

  • .com

Not sure if you can see the slight difference. Here it a picture of the two blown up:


It seems as if this is a generated unicode hex character of EFBC8E but it doesn't make much sense to me. The link in Google drops the space code off but the display code keeps it there.

Very weird.

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Sam Daams

09/19/2007 06:06 pm

Just further evidence that Google is losing it's grip on search. Baidu grows in China and chinese spam grows in Google in the space of 24 hours. Nice.... My guess is what most people are seeing now is related to sites being referred to the last page for no reason. Even Google employees haven't been able to explain it, so it just goes to show how broken their index really is.


09/19/2007 06:46 pm

These are not actually Chinese sites. There's at least two redirects in there, including a US Domain Parking site. I noticed this this past weekend when I did a search having to do with a specific model motherboard and FreeBSD. There's thousands if not ten thousands of them.

Matt Cutts

09/20/2007 12:20 am

What netmeg said; these are not actually Chinese sites, despite the .cn TLD.

Barry Schwartz

09/20/2007 01:32 am

Yes, I know. They appear to be chinese sites. But as I explained, they are not .cn domains.

Matt Cutts

09/20/2007 06:17 am

I was responding to Sam's comment about "chinese spam"--sorry that was unclear.

Sam Daams

09/20/2007 08:12 pm

No worries Matt, I was just quoting the article :) "complaining about Chinese Spam sites" and the other 3 or 4 times it's mentioned. It would be nice if someone from Google actually came out making some statement on the weird state of the index these days. Entire sites or pages being penalized for no apparent reason (including searchengineland and seomoz articles I just saw). The only email communication from a Google employee I've seen on cases like this show that even when looked into specifically for a particular site they aren't able to find anything amiss and seem to be as much in the dark as the rest of us. Surely that can't be a good state of affairs?

Matt Cutts

09/20/2007 08:56 pm

Sam Daams, the part that I didn't get in your comment was "My guess is what most people are seeing now is related to sites being referred to the last page for no reason. Even Google employees haven't been able to explain it, so it just goes to show how broken their index really is." I think you're talking about a completely different issue there than the post.

mike skramstad

09/26/2007 01:07 am

Contrary to popular belief, google uses humans to rank sites on monetized keywords. It has always been possible to automatically generate zillions of spam docs, from many domain names, IP addresses, and name servers, for any search engine that accepts documents with a full URI, without payment. It's just that no programmers would waste their time doing it for no gain, until now. Perhaps it's time to expose the deficiencies in google's algorithm, as well as the illegitimate profits it makes from the click fraud perpetrated against the horde of gullible small time web site owners that advertise on google?

Sam Daams

09/26/2007 03:20 pm

Hi Matt, it was just a theory of mine that the two issues are connected. Something seems quite amiss with certain high quality AND relevant sites randomly being dropped to the last page of the index for no reason sometimes to pop back for a day or two then disappear again and then pop back again etc. There's been theories about it being proxy related and I was theorizing it could be related to this 'chinese spam'. There's a hundred theories on this so why not add another. Although the two might not be directly related, they could be related in the fact that googlebot is buggy. Like I said in the original post, I've seen an email from Google where a high quality site was specifically looked into and even the Googlers couldn't figure it out.... a worrying sign. In any case, the 'chinese spam' issue has now been picked up by PC Magazine:

selma jordana

10/30/2007 10:50 pm

i am getting the spam results with extension .it, and .org as well. but the other "symptoms" are exactly as described above. maybe individuals are using this program from more places than china, but that the program itself is of chinese origin. anything is possible but i belive it is not limited to the .cn extension as i have personal experience with this problem for over a year or two.

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