Matt Cutts, of Google, posted a blog post at the official Google Blog named Using data to fight webspam. In that post, he describes how the web spam team uses log data, IP addresses, and cookie information to help prevent search spam. The question in the forums is why? Why is Google handing over this information?
Let me quote a snippet from Matt's post:
The IP and cookie information is important for helping us apply this method only to searches that are from legitimate users as opposed to those that were generated by bots and other false searches. For example, if a bot sends the same queries to Google over and over again, those queries should really be discarded before we measure how much spam our users see. All of this--log data, IP addresses, and cookie information--makes your search results cleaner and more relevant.
David Naylor takes issue with that, in that you can also seem to spoof this information. Dave asks why would Google come out with this information?
In addition, a WebmasterWorld thread asks the same thing. WebmasterWorld administrator, tedster asked, "I do wonder why it was published at this particular moment (I'm always looking for that hidden motive these days) but I do appreciate the look behind the scenes that he gives."
We do know that Google promised to be more open about the inner workings of how the search algorithm works, on some level. You have to admit that Google would not give over information that would harm the quality of the search results. I believe, for the most part, all Google is saying here is that they use log data that is available to them to simply see if they are improving in search quality or not. They can analyze various queries, and see if user behavior on those queries have changes for the better or worse over the course of releasing new spam prevention methods. Matt clearly shows how they can use log data to see when a spam injection in Google has started, which helps Google fight back as well.
All in all, I really don't think that Google is telling us something we did not suspect. Google continuously says they are a data driven company. To use log data, IP addresses, and cookie information in an effort to fight spam really doesn't surprise most SEOs. I know there are many questions still, so I leave it open. Why did Google post this information? Why now?