Our spam policies help protect users and improve the quality of search results. To be eligible to appear in Google web search results (web pages, images, videos, news content or other material that Google finds from across the web), content shouldn't violate Google Search's overall policies or the spam policies listed on this page. These policies apply to all web search results, including those from Google's own properties.
We detect policy-violating content and behaviors both through automated systems and, as needed, human review that can result in a manual action. Sites that violate our policies may rank lower in results or not appear in results at all.
If you believe that a site is violating Google's spam policies, let us know by filing a search quality user report. We're focused on developing scalable and automated solutions to problems, and we'll use these reports to further improve our spam detection systems.
Our policies cover common forms of spam, but Google may act against any type of spam we detect.
Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content to users and search engines with the intent to manipulate search rankings and mislead users. Examples of cloaking include:
- Showing a page about travel destinations to search engines while showing a page about discount drugs to users
- Inserting text or keywords into a page only when the user agent that is requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor
If a site is hacked, it's not uncommon for the hacker to use cloaking to make the hack harder for the site owner to detect. Read more about fixing hacked sites and avoiding being hacked.
If you operate a paywall or a content-gating mechanism, we don't consider this to be cloaking if Google can see the full content of what's behind the paywall just like any person who has access to the gated material and if you follow our Flexible Sampling general guidance.
Doorways are sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. They lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination. Examples of doorways include:
- Having multiple websites with slight variations to the URL and home page to maximize their reach for any specific query
- Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
- Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
- Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
Hacked content is any content placed on a site without permission, due to vulnerabilities in a site's security. Hacked content gives poor search results to our users and can potentially install malicious content on their machines. Examples of hacking include:
- Page injection: Sometimes, due to security flaws, hackers are able to add new pages to your site that contain spammy or malicious content. These pages are often meant to manipulate search engines or to attempt phishing. Your existing pages might not show signs of hacking, but these newly-created pages could harm your site's visitors or your site's performance in search results.
- Content injection: Hackers might also try to subtly manipulate existing pages on your site. Their goal is to add content to your site that search engines can see but which may be harder for you and your users to spot. This can involve adding hidden links or hidden text to a page by using CSS or HTML, or it can involve more complex changes like cloaking.
- Redirects: Hackers might inject malicious code to your website that redirects some users to harmful or spammy pages. The kind of redirect sometimes depends on the referrer, user agent, or device. For example, clicking a URL in Google Search results could redirect you to a suspicious page, but there is no redirect when you visit the same URL directly from a browser.
Here are our tips on fixing hacked sites and avoiding being hacked.
Hidden text and links
Hidden text or links is the act of placing content on a page in a way solely to manipulate search engines and not to be easily viewable by human visitors. Examples of hidden text or links that violate our policies:
- Using white text on a white background
- Hiding text behind an image
- Using CSS to position text off-screen
- Setting the font size or opacity to 0
- Hiding a link by only linking one small character (for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph)
There are many web design elements today that utilize showing and hiding content in a dynamic way to improve user experience; these elements don't violate our policies:
- Accordion or tabbed content that toggle between hiding and showing additional content
- Slideshow or slider that cycles between several images or text paragraphs
- Tooltip or similar text that displays additional content when users interact with over an element
- Text that's only accessible to screen readers and is intended to improve the experience for those using screen readers
Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of filling a web page with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate rankings in Google Search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, unnaturally, or out of context. Examples of keyword stuffing include:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text that list cities and regions that a web page is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural. For example:
Unlimited app store credit. There are so many sites that claim to offer app store credit for $0 but they're all fake and always mess up with users looking for unlimited app store credits. You can get limitless credits for app store right here on this website. Visit our unlimited app store credit page and get it today!
Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages. Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. The following are examples of link spam:
- Buying or selling links for ranking purposes. This includes:
- Exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links
- Exchanging goods or services for links
- Sending someone a product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
- Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
- Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
- Requiring a link as part of a Terms of Service, contract, or similar arrangement without allowing a third-party content owner the choice of qualifying the outbound link
- Text advertisements or text links that don't block ranking credit
- Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass ranking credit, or links with optimized anchor text in articles, guest posts, or press releases distributed on other sites. For example:
There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.
- Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
- Keyword-rich, hidden, or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites
- Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites
- Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:
Thanks, that's great info!
paul's pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego
Google does understand that buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web for advertising and sponsorship purposes. It's not a violation of our policies to have such links as long as they are qualified with a rel="nofollow" or rel="sponsored" attribute value to the
Machine-generated traffic consumes resources and interferes with our ability to best serve users. Examples of automated traffic include:
- Sending automated queries to Google
- Scraping results for rank-checking purposes or other types of automated access to Google Search conducted without express permission
Such activities violate our spam policies and the Google Terms of Service.
Malware and malicious behaviors
Google checks websites to see whether they host malware or unwanted software that negatively affects the user experience.
Malware is any software or mobile application specifically designed to harm a computer, a mobile device, the software it's running, or its users. Malware exhibits malicious behavior that can include installing software without user consent and installing harmful software such as viruses. Site owners sometimes don't realize that their downloadable files are considered malware, so these binaries might be hosted inadvertently.
Unwanted software is an executable file or mobile application that engages in behavior that is deceptive, unexpected, or that negatively affects the user's browsing or computing experience. Examples include software that switches your homepage or other browser settings to ones you don't want, or apps that leak private and personal information without proper disclosure.
Site owners should make sure they don't violate the Unwanted Software Policy and follow our guidelines.
Site owners should create websites with high quality content and useful functionality that benefits users. However, some site owners intend to manipulate search ranking by intentionally creating sites with misleading functionality and services that trick users into thinking they would be able to access some content or services but in reality can not. Examples of misleading functionality include:
- A site with a fake generator that claims to provide app store credit but doesn't actually provide the credit
- A site that claims to provide certain functionality (for example, PDF merge, countdown timer, online dictionary service), but intentionally leads users to deceptive ads rather than providing the claimed services
Some site owners base their sites around content taken ("scraped") from other, often more reputable sites. Scraped content, even from high quality sources, without additional useful services or content provided by your site may not provide added value to users. It may also constitute copyright infringement. A site may also be demoted if a significant number of valid legal removal requests have been received. Examples of abusive scraping include:
- Sites that copy and republish content from other sites without adding any original content or value, or even citing the original source
- Sites that copy content from other sites, modify it only slightly (for example, by substituting synonyms or using automated techniques), and republish it
- Sites that reproduce content feeds from other sites without providing some type of unique benefit to the user
- Sites dedicated to embedding or compiling content, such as videos, images, or other media from other sites, without substantial added value to the user
Redirecting is the act of sending a visitor to a different URL than the one they initially requested. Sneaky redirecting is doing this maliciously in order to either show users and search engines different content or show users unexpected content that does not fulfill their original needs. Examples of sneaky redirects include:
- Showing search engines one type of content while redirecting users to something significantly different
- Showing desktop users a normal page while redirecting mobile users to a completely different spam domain
While sneaky redirection is a type of spam, there are many legitimate, non-spam reasons to redirect one URL to another. Examples of legitimate redirects include:
- Moving your site to a new address
- Consolidating several pages into one
- Redirecting users to an internal page once they are logged in
When examining if a redirect is sneaky, consider whether or not the redirect is intended to deceive either the users or search engines. Learn more about how to appropriately employ redirects on your site.
Spammy automatically-generated content
Automatically generated (or "auto-generated") content is content that's been generated programmatically without producing anything original or adding sufficient value; instead, it's been generated for the primary purpose of manipulating search rankings and not helping users. Examples of spammy auto-generated content include:
- Text that makes no sense to the reader but contains search keywords
- Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing
- Text generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience
- Text generated using automated synonymizing, paraphrasing, or obfuscation techniques
- Text generated from scraping feeds or search results
- Stitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value
If you're hosting such content on your site, you can use these methods to exclude them from Search.
Thin affiliate pages
Thin affiliate pages are pages with product affiliate links on which the product descriptions and reviews are copied directly from the original merchant without any original content or added value.
Affiliate pages can be considered thin if they are a part of a program that distributes its content across a network of affiliates without providing additional value. These sites often appear to be cookie-cutter sites or templates with the same or similar content replicated within the same site or across multiple domains or languages. If a Search results page returned several of these sites, all with the same content, thin affiliate pages would create a frustrating user experience.
Not every site that participates in an affiliate program is a thin affiliate. Good affiliate sites add value by offering meaningful content or features. Examples of good affiliate pages include offering additional information about price, original product reviews, rigorous testing and ratings, navigation of products or categories, and product comparisons.
User-generated spam is spammy content added to a site by users through a channel intended for user content. Often site owners are unaware of the spammy content. Examples of spammy user-generated content include:
- Spammy accounts on hosting services that anyone can register for
- Spammy posts on forum threads
- Comment spam on blogs
- Spammy files uploaded to file hosting platforms
Here are several tips on how to prevent abuse of your site's public areas. Here are our tips on fixing hacked sites and avoiding being hacked.
Other behaviors that can lead to demotion or removal
When we receive a high volume of valid copyright removal requests involving a given site, we are able to use that as a quality signal and demote other content from the site in our results. This way, if there is other infringing content, users are less likely to encounter it versus the original content. We apply similar demotion signals to other classes of complaints, including complaints about counterfeit goods and court-ordered removals.
Online harassment removals
Google has policies that allow the removal of certain types of content if it violates our policies involving personal information, such as non-consensual explicit images, doxxing content, or content hosted by sites with exploitative removal practices.
If we process a high volume of these removals involving a particular site, we use that as a quality signal and demote other content from the site in our results. We also look to see if the same pattern of behavior is happening with other sites in relation to people's names and, if so, apply demotions to content on those sites.
Once someone has requested a removal from one site with predatory practices, we will automatically apply ranking protections to help prevent content from other similar low quality sites from appearing in Google Search results for people's names.
Scam and fraud
Scam and fraud come in many forms, including but not limited to impersonating an official business or service through imposter sites, intentionally displaying false information about a business or service, or otherwise attracting users to a site on false pretenses. Using automated systems, Google seeks to identify pages with scammy or fraudulent content and prevent them from showing up in Google Search results. Examples of online scams and fraud include:
- Impersonating a well-known business or service provider to trick users into paying money to the wrong party
- Creating deceptive sites pretending to provide official customer support on behalf of a legitimate business or provide fake contact information of such business
- Keep a simple URL structure.
- Qualify your outbound links to Google.
- Make your links crawlable.
To help higher quality content rank better, Google search penalizes sites that it detects are keyword stuffing, and may remove your page from its results altogether.What is highly frowned upon by Google? ›
Google Hates A Site Full of Ads
However, if it's difficult to separate the ads from the content and if the ads are intrusive enough to provide what Google considers a “bad experience” for the user, your search rankings will falter.
Search engine spam refers to measures that try to influence the position a website has in search engines. One example is an abnormally high number of keywords within a website's content and meta tags. When search engines discover search engine spam on a website, that site is penalized.Which SEO technique should be avoided? ›
Don't over-prioritize keywords
Keyword research has long been considered a cornerstone of SEO. Creating content that features the keywords and terms your target audience are searching for seems like the most logical approach. However, using these keywords to excess will seriously harm your SEO strategy.
On-page SEO checklist. On-page SEO is the process of optimizing the actual content on your page. It includes optimizations made to visible content and content in the source code. Let's look at how to do it.How will you avoid the Google penalty? ›
- Don't Buy Links.
- Keyword Stuffing.
- Having Shallow Content Depth.
- Non-Unique Content or Copyright Infringing.
- Including Ads That Make it Difficult for Visitors to Navigate or are Top Heavy.
- Never Hide Content.
- Show You are a Trusted, Legitimate Business.
How many keywords are too many? The ideal keyword density preferred by both readers and search engines is around two to five percent. Even in longer pieces, the best practice is not to exceed 20 uses per webpage.Can Google detect AI generated content? ›
Google can detect whether it is high-quality, low-quality, or outright spam. At some point, it's highly likely that Google's Page 1 results will be filled with content generated by robots. I know plenty of terrible human writers.What is black hat tactics? ›
Black hat SEO is a practice against search engine guidelines, used to get a site ranking higher in search results. These unethical tactics don't solve for the searcher and often end in a penalty from search engines. Black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.
Google rarely bans websites using a manual penalty, but may issue Google ranking penalties (algorithmic penalties) for websites it feels are trying to manipulate Search Engine rankings. Google Ranking penalties are issued to websites that Google feels are manipulating the Search Engine Page Rankings (SERPs).What are examples of black hat SEO? ›
Common examples of black hat SEO strategies include the use of invisible text, doorway pages, keyword stuffing, page swapping, or the addition of unrelated keywords to a page. Each of these techniques are defined below, with insight as to how they can be detrimental to any business website.What types of content can be considered to be spam in Web search? ›
Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. The following are examples of link spam: Buying or selling links for ranking purposes.What is a spam and how does it negatively affect online advertising? ›
The first is related to link spam, where you received a link from a bad site and receive traffic from that site that causes high bounces from users. This can be seen as traffic spam because it will negatively impact your site and is unwanted.
Content spam is the unwanted and unauthorized use of content from one's own website on third-party websites in connection with other content, negatively affecting your brand's and website's reputations. Content spam is one of the techniques referred to as negative SEO.What are the latest SEO techniques? ›
- 12 SEO Techniques You Need to Be Using in 2022. ...
- Find Your Competitors' Best Performing Pages. ...
- Inform Your Content Strategy Using a Keyword Gap Analysis. ...
- Use Digital PR to Earn Authority Backlinks. ...
- Improve Your Organic CTR Using PPC Testing. ...
- Optimize for 'People Also Ask' ...
- Steal Your Competitor's Broken Backlinks.
Bad SEO, on the other hand, is called 'black hat,' and often violates Google's terms of service, which include using hidden text, keyword stuffing, and spamming among other 'dirty' tactics.Is SEO obsolete? ›
SEO is not dead in 2022. SEO is still a very powerful digital marketing strategy. SEO will continue to change as Google updates its algorithm but that is to be expected. If you are considering SEO for your website now is a good time to get started.What are Google guidelines? ›
General guidelines are those best practices that will help your site look its best in the Google SERPs (search engine results pages). Content-specific guidelines are more specific towards those different types of content on your site like images, video, and others.What is a common best practices for handling search? ›
- Make the Search Box User-Friendly. ...
- Analyze Search Data. ...
- Optimize for Mobile Searching (or anywhere your users might be!) ...
- Use Autocomplete, Autocorrect, Filters, and Facets to Assist Search. ...
- Make the Results Page Intuitive, Helpful, and Inspiring.
Which of the following are recommendations from Google's webmaster guidelines to get better rankings in their search engine? ›
Key best practices
Create helpful, reliable, people-first content. Use words that people would use to look for your content, and place those words in prominent locations on the page, such as the title and main heading of a page, and other descriptive locations such as alt text and link text.
Quality Raters are spread out all over the world and are highly trained using our extensive guidelines. Their feedback helps us understand which changes make Search more useful. Raters also help us categorize information to improve our systems.