Facebook and Google Stomping Out SPAM
Facebook recently announced on their News Blog that they were going to take steps to clean up the news feed. Of course Google has waged war on spam for the last couple of years. So what does that mean to you and marketing efforts? Well, let’s take a look.
On April 10th Facebook announced that they would make a series of changes to eliminate what their users considered to be spammy. Here’s what Facebook is planning to do to implement those changes.
- Eliminate Like Baiting-You know those pictures that circulate news feeds that ask people to like the picture if you agree with it, comment if you disagree? Well Facebook’s users have spoken up and have stated they do not like (no pun intended) these types of posts. What’s really sad is that I have personally seen marketers using this tactic, marketers who should have learned their lesson from Google.Facebook’s definition on their news feed is “Like-baiting” is when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share the post in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive. If your marketer (or if you are a marketer) is doing this or has done this in the past you will want to discourage it going forward. Facebook is taking steps to make these types of posts less prominent than stories/posts that are more relevant to the users. Let’s just step back for a minute though. If a marketer has actually used this tactic it just looks cheap. It’s almost like putting extremely large and bright neon flashing lights on a store front just to get passerby’s attention.
- Spammy Links-I am pretty sure the word spammy will get added to the dictionary soon (if it hasn’t already). A spammy link is one that uses misleading content to get Facebook users to click through to a website that contains mostly ads. Often a poster will claim that the link will go to a photo album but in reality it links to a website dominated by ads. You have probably seen the posts that have a very attractive woman wearing barely any clothes and suggests you will see more by clicking on the link? Well sometimes those are malicious in nature but other times they may lead to advertising on an external website. Facebook has already tested this, and a positive result is that they see a 5% increase in users clicking through to legitimate content. That means that marketers who do things the right way can take solace in the fact that their content has a better chance of being interacted with now.
- Frequently Circulated Content-Content that is repeatedly posted or uploaded (Photos and Videos) falls under this category. Facebook users have let it be known that they do not appreciate this type of behavior. Facebook users have said this content is less relevant and as a result Facebook is taking steps to de-emphasize content that is uploaded in this manner. Now I want to be clear with this. That does not mean a photo or video that was uploaded once, but circulated often by other Facebook users will be impacted.
Facebook Bottom Line
Most page owners will not be impacted by the changes that Facebook is implementing, so long as they are not using these spam like methods to get their content to the Facebook public. If you are unsure of whether or not your page will be impacted give me a shout, I will take a look at it and let you know.
Google has taken steps to reduce spam like behavior over the last few years. Several updates to Google’s search algorithm have led some website owners and marketers (so called SEO experts) scrambling to find out why their search results have decreased dramatically. So what did Google change?
- Link Farms-Matt Cutts, Google’s chief spam fighter has declared war on link farms. What is a link farm? It’s someone who offers to submit your website to a bunch of directories and websites for a fee (not to be confused with local directory submission). Most of the sites that your website is submitted to by these link farms are considered spammy by Google. As a result your website will suffer when it comes to Google Search Results. Google has created the disavow tool to help you remove spam links pointing to your website. If you want to ensure that your site is not being affected by this you should absolutely use the disavow tool to check and correct. Be careful to follow directions with this tool. It should be used with caution, if used improperly it could hurt your search results even further.
- Duplicate Content-Google also recognizes duplicate content on your site as spam. You should take every precaution possible to ensure that your site does not have duplicate pages. I have personally tested this to see what would happen. On another site I created 2 pages with almost identical content, only changing a few words. Neither page ever showed up on Google Search Results for keywords that are not very competitive.
- Keyword Stuffing-Keyword stuffing is the act of inflating the usage of keywords on your web pages to impact the search results on Google. Google’s algorithm recognizes this and will penalize your site for this behavior. The content of your site should flow naturally and be readable to humans. If it is not appealing to a person then Google will likely consider the over usage of keywords as spam. One example of this is adding a list of all the towns in your area to your website. I have seen marketers and businesses use this tactic to skew search results for towns they don’t necessarily service. In fact, I have seen sites that make the town list invisible to the human eye as a tactic. Be warned, Google will penalize this.
- Copied (Stolen) Content-If you are copying content from someone else’s site and claiming it as yours, you will be severely penalized by Google. In fact, Google has even instituted a tool to help make you the content owner (authority) of any materials on your site, called Google Authorship. Update-Google Authorship is no longer operational. Setting up Google Authorship tells Google you own the content that is created on your site, and if anyone uses it without crediting you that site may be negatively impacted in the search results. If you are going to use someone else’s content make sure you get permission and make sure you credit them for it.
Don’t Do It
It’s actually really simple if it looks like spam it probably is. If you are doing something on Facebook, Google or anywhere else on the internet that would annoy you then don’t do it. It’s just common sense. Forget about the fact that spamming people can cause your content to drift away into a cyberspace wasteland. You’re really just being an annoying jerk who will just end up turning off even the most loyal of your clients. You’re like the extremely pushy and overly aggressive used car salesmen. Just don’t do it.