Google Slaps Sprint For Spammy Community Forum

May 20, 2013 • 8:30 am | comments (37) by | 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

Before you get all excited that 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 [ 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

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