The fight against webspam: 2016 Google report highlights

Highlights from Google’s latest webspam report, including website hacking, sneaky redirects, and 9 million manual actions.

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Google has released its latest webspam report for 2016, which features some interesting and slightly unnerving data.

The report leads with the significant rise in website hacking, which Google says has increased by approximately 32% in 2016 compared to 2015. In a separate Google report that examines website security during the same period, it was noted that 61% of webmasters who were hacked in 2016 never received a notification from Google, because their sites weren’t verified in Search Console. This is a stark reminder to all website owners to verify their sites now – it takes a matter of minutes and can save a lot of disruption later down the line should an issue occur.

Within the report, Google was keen to communicate the actions it is taking to protect web users from security threats, which are becoming increasingly advanced and unpredictable. Mobile is becoming a growing target for hackers, as more and more users take to their phones and tablets to browse the web. Google notes a sharp rise in a particular type of spam that sneakily redirects users, without the webmaster’s knowledge, to other sites or pages – this was covered in detail on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog in 2015.

The fight against webspam

Google’s ongoing fight against webspam took a significant step forward in 2016, with the roll out of Penguin’s real-time algorithm update. For webmasters, this meant that any changes made to a website could be seen much quicker than in the past, when it was a case of waiting for the next update to roll around. The new Penguin update is also more granular, devaluing webspam by adjusting a webpage’s ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting the entire site.

Google also dished out more than 9 million manual actions in 2016, more than twice as many as the previous year. This included handling out manual actions to more than 10,000 sites that did not meet Google’s structured data guidelines. Again, webmasters need to have a verified Search Console account to be notified of manual actions.

Google is taking some major strides towards its quest for a better, safer web, but it wouldn’t be where it is without its users: the company received over 180,000 user-submitted spam reports in 2016, more than half of which were actioned.

You can check out the full report here, and if you need some help getting your Search Console account up and running, you know where to come.

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