We’ve seen sites (and have messed around with some of our own sites for benign reasons which you’ll see soon) that have gotten the troublesome pure spam penalty from Google.  It is outlined as “The site appears to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping content from other websites, and/or other repeated or egregious violations of Google’s quality guidelines.” Indeed, we would not want this very page to get flagged for pure spam for the “scraping content” portion by copying that long sentence, but we believe pure spam penalties are often observed by an actual person, giving the “manual action” its connotation.

The penalty is fairly brutal – think complete possible deindexing of your site, or your potential non-existence on Google.  If you are asking yourself “why has my website been deindexed?” or “why has my website disappeared from Google search results?”, I’d be pretty quick to check Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console) for Manual Actions, which is under Search Traffic.  It takes about 3 weeks for a submission for rechecking the website to happen, perhaps longer.  That’s a lot of time to have a site wiped from Google especially if your website thrives from online marketing.

So let’s get into it – what are some ways this could happen to your site?

  • Spun Content – Some of the more unscrupulous SEOs will use a content spinner to attempt to spin pieces of content to a degree of uniqueness they can pass as “original”.  This is a horrible tactic for any website you care about.  Reading spun content becomes pretty obvious after you get a feel for the nouns and adjectives used, along with staggered and malformed sentence structure.  Any manual review would notice this extremely quickly.
  • Unrelated Content – Almost in the same vein as spun content (and this could go hand-in-hand) if your website talks about tons of different subject matter, especially on the blog, and the hodgepodge of content is so bad it’s confusing, it could be considered scraped.  Think a legal website having blogs about movie reviews, local farms, automotive repair, and skydiving.
  • Latin Placeholders – Now for the one we actually have dealt with – content in Latin is often times used as a placeholder for future content because it is good for illustrating elements on a website.  If you have Latin on a site for too long, expect it to constitute “generated gibberish” and receive a penalty.  It is better to No Index, No Follow a website in the meantime.
  • Cloaking – Just like Google mentioned, cloaking is the act of hiding content on your website, mostly for SEO purposes, and mostly in the form of keyword stuffing.  Different forms of cloaking are the popular practice of making your text the same color as your background, but I’ve seen it hidden behind images, and sometimes even hidden behind the element of your entire website, making it essentially completely “behind the scenes”.
  • Plagiarized Content – This is actually one I can’t actually confirm leads to a pure spam penalty, mostly because the content is often real and created by a person with purpose.  But there’s no guarantee that copied content isn’t harmful – between the fact it is probably useless since you were not the original author, and also that the person you pilfered it from could receive an alert, you’re better off just getting your own.

Having issues similar to this, or need a complete content revamp?  We can certainly help – give us a call to set up a time to go over your website’s content during a free consultation.