Google Slaps Sprint For Spammy Community Forum

May 20, 2013 • 8:30 am | comments (37) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

sprint logoThe next large brand to be penalized by Google is Sprint, the large U.S. wireless provider.

A Google Webmaster Help thread has Kent Van Deusen, the Sprint website support representative, asking where is this "user-generated spam" on Sprint.com?

Before you get all excited that Sprint.com is penalized and banned from Google, stop. They are not.

This is exactly like Mozilla's penalty and the BBC penalty. All three of these sites had/have very granular penalties, in the Mozilla and BBC case, only one specific page was penalized out of all their millions and billions of pages.

With Sprint's web site, it is likely the community discussion forum that was hit and probably only very specific forum threads.

Google has not responded to Sprint about this penalty and I am not sure if they will.

Clearly this continues to show how scary and misdirected some of these Google Webmaster Tools notifications can be. That being said, Google does say they will improve them this year. So hang tight on that.

What should Sprint do? They should probably nofollow any links that were generated by non-official reps. Or hire an SEO company to dig into the details here.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Update: Google's Matt Cutts did reply in the forum thread saying:

Hi Kent, when you see a message like this, it's a good idea to check around for various forums, bulletin boards, and community areas where users can leave comments. We typically send this message when we see a lot of spam in those areas. Rather than Google removing those pages from our index, it's usually better if you can remove the pages on your side so that they don't show up in other search engines either.

I just took a quick look; try doing a Google search like [site:community.sprint.com/baw/message/ watch] to see some examples where spammers are posting a bunch of messages. I noticed that older pages with this sort of spam are mostly gone or removed--which is great. You might just look into some ways to try to catch the spam a little faster or see if there are some ways to make it a bit harder for the spammers to post a large amount of messages on the community pages.

Hope that helps, Matt

Previous story: #ifihadglass Winners Soon To Get Invites To Pick Up Glass
 

Comments:

Faizaan Khan

05/20/2013 12:48 pm

Wondering "Who's Next?"

Anti-SEO

05/20/2013 01:01 pm

"Or higher an SEO company to dig into the details here" You mean like to hire the hacker for the security audit ? ))

Barry Schwartz

05/20/2013 01:04 pm

doing too many things at once. thanks for the heads up!

Christopher Meinck

05/20/2013 01:20 pm

No-follow links are not the answer. Received the same warning in August of last year, with no-follow links in place. Been involved in an on-going site audit. It's like finding a needle in a haystack.

Anti-SEO

05/20/2013 01:30 pm

Hide links under AJAX. It will take one more click from user, but she/he will be not upset, if she/he needs to see this link. Googlebot will see just the button.

Praveen Sharma

05/20/2013 01:51 pm

Don't think they really need to do anything here. It will get fixed by Google itself as its related to a BIG Brand.

Marie Haynes

05/20/2013 01:58 pm

I sure hope Google clarifies these messages soon. I wonder how many webmasters got messages like this and went through widescale link removal when all they really needed to do was adress one UGC page or section.

Marie Haynes

05/20/2013 02:00 pm

Are you sure the warning is die to the links that are nofollowed? These warnings are usually just in regards to links that pass PageRank. Is there any chance that other links in the profile could be considered unnatural?

Christopher Meinck

05/20/2013 02:09 pm

We deleted all profile links from any user with less than 30 posts. They have always been set to no-follow. Forum spammers regularly abuse these areas of forums, but we've been pretty good about prevention and removal. Dare I say, I think we're among the best at it. If they are going after forums with links in profiles, I suspect we'll see plenty of these notices.

Damian

05/20/2013 02:20 pm

When I read the headline, I thought, how many comments will it be before someone moans about big brands getting unfair treatment. I set the over / under at 3. You just hit the under!

iforgot

05/20/2013 02:21 pm

Let's compare two juridical system: 1. Regular Police, Judges, etc. The law gives you a code, tells you how to behave and if you do something wrong, you'll be either immediately punished for your behavior with a ticket or you get a trial. It's transparent, fair and everybody has his right to defend himself because he knows what he did ergo can also stop his behavior in the future. 2. Google Whether Google accepts it or not, it has become an international juridical system for businesses. It decides over success or failure. So let's take a look how the law works here. It also gives you a code, the Google Guidelines. It's hard to call it code as any other codes for businesses like the tax code, international arbitration code or any kind of contractual codes have often hundreds of pages with thousands of codes ergo the principal knows exactly the rules and knows exactly the consequences. In Google's case - nada. It doesn't tell you about consequences and it just gives you directives and not rules. So what happens if you get caught? Once you get caught, you get no trial, they won't tell you what you did wrong, they won't tell you how to fix it. It's worse than a dictatorship. So why is Google behaving that way? They simply haven't figured out yet how to give transparency without that spammers find loopholes. Once Google closes its loopholes, they will give transparency. Upon this day our days will be remembered as an internet dictated by a dictator without a fair juridical system.

Marie Haynes

05/20/2013 02:21 pm

I would be shocked if your penalty was due to these links. Is your warning for outbound or inbound links?

Friv 2

05/20/2013 02:51 pm

Forum spammers regularly abuse these areas of forums, but we've been pretty good about prevention and removal.

Graham Ginsberg

05/20/2013 03:34 pm

Right, but wrong on this "They simply haven't figured out yet how to give transparency". Transparency is not the issue. Education is the answer. You teach by example. Warn a site for an abuse, accurately and fairly. Punish accordingly. Check if repaired and allow for a FULL recovery. This is the only, yes only path, any major disciplinarian can follow. The reason Google has not educated and warned and allowed for recovery, is because it takes MANPOWER and that Google doesn't have. They keep their profits, abuse the public that depend on them and act with impunity. Google should improve their customer support but if not, the future is clear for the greedy giant.

Graham Ginsberg

05/20/2013 03:47 pm

There is no denying Google has focused favoritism on big companies and not small companies. Example in the real estate world: Google shows Zillow and Trulia above real estate AGENTS. Zillow and Trulia are ADVERTISING companies and know absolutely nothing about a local market. What is quicker? Go to and advertiser, find what appears to be a local agent's picture (with no idea what their website looks like) and call them? Or, go directly to a local agent (know the quality of the site immediately) and call them? PS> Small point. Most agents do not want those spammy looking google payperclick ads on their sites, but Zillow does have them and they get a lot of traffic. If you were google, would you promote in serps a site that is the best for the buyer|seller or the one that generates you most money? Google decided that already

Josh

05/20/2013 03:59 pm

I hate to jump out of my lane, but are you /sure/ the only chance at a link being sent out was the forums? New SEO hacks are popping up like crazy. The site is left untouched, minus one or two links hidden here and there.

Josh

05/20/2013 04:04 pm

Breaking news: Sprint switches to Office 360 over Google Apps, see's major loss in rankings!

Christopher Meinck

05/20/2013 04:22 pm

I'm not 100% sure. I went through every no-follow comment and removed all of my Wordpress users (except for site authors). If Google provided just one sample link, it would be incredibly helpful. Unlike other manual actions, these are not do to any wrong doing of the site owner. Really, it's not different from malware. Site has somehow been exploited and hey, here's how you can fix it. That's not asking much.

Anti-SEO

05/20/2013 05:04 pm

Yeah, Sprint cares about rankings in Google ... Same as Shell, GM and NASA ... Sprint provides the most reliable content about Sprint. Google needs Sprint to spider its content and to be able to provide path to it, when Google's user search something about Sprint. Sprint doesn't need Google.

Guest

05/20/2013 05:12 pm

No, it's more of the point that Matt will reply to this thread, only because it's a major corporation - and ignore all others requesting help or who have legit problems that are not blamed to spam or SEO. It's just too political.

Zach

05/20/2013 09:18 pm

I checked the webmasters links and Matt Cutts Just replied the thread http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/webmasters/K_Ck1vIeDfM/discussion

Anti-SEO

05/20/2013 09:44 pm

re update ... It seems to me, that this is just the matter of time when someone from Big Boys will say to Google : "Thank you for the notice, but this is our property and we're satisfied with the way we run it".

sestuff

05/20/2013 10:48 pm

Same as what I was thinking...

Graham Ginsberg

05/21/2013 12:02 am

Oh Lordy, master Matt takes charge and responds to a BIG company complaining just like the rest of us do. "Matt_Cutts 12:39 PM (7 hours ago) Hi Kent, when you see a message like this, it's a good idea to check around for various forums, bulletin boards, and community areas where users can leave comments. We typically send this message when we see a lot of spam in those areas. Rather than Google removing those pages from our index, it's usually better if you can remove the pages on your side so that they don't show up in other search engines either. I just took a quick look; try doing a Google search like [site:community.sprint.com/baw/message/ watch] to see some examples where spammers are posting a bunch of messages. I noticed that older pages with this sort of spam are mostly gone or removed--which is great. You might just look into some ways to try to catch the spam a little faster or see if there are some ways to make it a bit harder for the spammers to post a large amount of messages on the community pages. Hope that helps, Matt" Un freekin believable! Google has to rely on Mr. Anti-Spam himself to respond? What happened to CUSTOMER SUPPORT Mr. Cutts? What happened to all the millions of small businesses that have been completely destroyed? Its a sad day in the world

Graham Ginsberg

05/21/2013 12:06 am

I guess Yellow Pages and the other directories are also in Google's sites, offering follow paid links. YP agents were really miffed because Google Spam Ads appeared on top of their directory, a place coveted by high paying advertisers. There goes Google rubbing cyber dirty in YP's face - lol

Justin Clark

05/21/2013 04:37 am

Sprint should ban Google with "noindex" nofllow". All big brand should do this to treat same as Google is treating all of them

a1brandz

05/21/2013 07:07 am

Does this imply that Google handles all with one stick? ....LOL

Brian Mease

05/21/2013 07:08 am

lol, but sadly there is no brand that is capable of imagining any action against the devil

Brian Mease

05/21/2013 07:12 am

How come there is no offical announcement about the recent algo update??? such as Panda #24, Penguin #666, etc... It is obvious that they've done something right?

Alan Smith

05/21/2013 10:37 am

Means we can use this site in future :)

or zilberman

05/21/2013 11:34 am

Google is just trying to get all websites on the web to make all user generated links as nofollow. This Is they're way to try and control blackhat techniques. The idea to put manual penalties on big companies can be explained by logic - those websites are mostly high PR, high authority and trust and most of all, they have high media coverage. By targeting them they get black hatters busted as they know those sites are targeted by them and also gain high recognition on the user generated links problem while pushing further the Idea that if it happens to big brands what will happen to your small blog? By this they try and regulate all webmasters to change all user generated content to nofollow as a preventive measure for the future so they won't get penalties themselves. If all will follow it wil bring an end to all the blog comments, wiki, forum profiles, signatures and all possible user generated links at all. This will mean that only content and in text will be able to link pr to you so only guest posts and real mentions will be a viable way to gain links. Just like Google intended.

Josh

05/21/2013 12:20 pm

That's how the rich stay rich - keep it in the family.

Arun Jaiswal

05/21/2013 12:45 pm

agreed :-)

Anti-SEO

05/21/2013 01:49 pm

Offtopic, but I believe this is a huge news : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxv-AvNPoh8 Now imagine how many third level domain holders will be affected. Those who are on wordpress, blogger, hubpages ... just to name a few. The story with the HubPages is particularly noteworthy. They changed their inner structure soon after the first Panda, about two years ago. No doubt, that the only reason was to pleasure the Google's algo. They even got a bit of boost at first. Then traffic returned to the previous levels. And now this. This is what happened, if you're concerned about the algo pleasuring. This move from Google can have a huge impact on the online business in general. P.S. Those who like to post screenshots of poor SERPs everywhere they can - see 4:09

friv250

05/22/2013 10:03 am

A new day of peace.

Kizi

05/22/2013 10:57 am

If anyone want to download a game for their pc or phones then internet is a best option for them to download or search all type of solitaire game in free from there. Spider solitaire is one good game for small kids and others to play on pc.

CandleForex

06/10/2013 02:40 pm

I see... Ok what has downloads go to do with the sprint spam post? Nothing? Thats I thought too. What has a PC or phone or internet got to do with Barry's post? Nothing? Thats I thought too. What has download or search for solitaire game got to do with the above post? Nothing? Thats I thought too. Oh the irony of talking about spam, and the very first reply to the post is a spammer aka troll..

blog comments powered by Disqus