The Impact of User Feedback, Part 1

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

About a year ago, in response to user feedback, we created a paid links reporting form within Webmaster Tools. User feedback, through reporting paid links, webspam, or suggestions in our Webmaster Help Group, has been invaluable in ensuring that the quality of our index and our tools is as high as possible. Today, I'd like to highlight the impact that reporting paid links and webspam has had on our index. In a future post, I'll showcase how user feedback and concerns in the Webmaster Help Group have helped us improve our Help Center documentation and Webmaster Tools.

As mentioned in the post Information about buying and selling links that pass PageRank, Google reserves the right to take action on sites that buy or sell links that pass PageRank for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings. Even though we work hard to discount these links through algorithmic detection, if you see a site that is buying or selling links that pass PageRank, please let us know. Over the last year, users have submitted thousands and thousands of paid link reports to Google, and each report can contain multiple websites that are suspected of selling links. These reports are actively reviewed, and the feedback is invaluable to improve our search algorithms. We also are willing to take manual action on a significant fraction of paid link reports as we continue to improve our algorithms. More importantly, the hard work of users who have already reported paid links has helped improve the quality of our index for millions. For more information on reporting paid links, check out this Help Center article.

Reporting Webspam

Google has also provided a form to report general webspam since November 2001. We appreciate users who alert us to potential abuses for the sake of the whole Internet community. Spam reports come in two flavors: an authenticated form that requires registration in Webmaster Tools, and an unauthenticated form. We receive hundreds of reports each day. Spam reports to the authenticated form are given more weight and are individually investigated more often. Spam reports to the unauthenticated form are assessed in terms of impact, and a large fraction of those are reviewed as well. As Udi Manber, VP of Engineering and Search Quality mentioned in his recent blog post on our Official Google Blog, in 2007 more than 450 new improvements were made to our search algorithms. A number of those improvements were related to webspam. It's not an understatement to say that users who have taken the time to report spam were essential to many of those algorithmic enhancements.

Going forward

As users' expectations of search increase daily, we know it's important to provide a high quality index with relevant results. We're always happy to hear stories in our Webmaster Help Group from users who have have reported spam with noticeable results in our Webmaster Help Group. Now that you know how Google uses feedback to improve our search quality, you may want to tell us about webspam you've seen in our results. Please use our authenticated form to report paid links or other types of webspam. Thanks again for taking the time to help us improve.