How to prevent your site from being abused by spam

May 26, 2021

As a website owner, you might provide a few channels where your users can interact, such as forums, guestbooks, social media platforms, file uploaders, hosting services, or internal search services. These services allow users to create an account to post content, upload a file, or search on your site. Unfortunately, spammers often take advantage of these types of services to generate hundreds of spam pages that add little or no value to the web. Under the principles set out in Google's Webmaster Guidelines, this may result in Google taking manual actions against the affected pages. Here are some examples:

Abused forum/guestbook Abused file uploader with spammy PDF file Abused hosting services ![Abused internal search results ](data:imagegif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAP//wAAACH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== " Abused internalsearch results")

Spammy content can be harmful to your site in several ways, including lowering the site's ranking, leading users to harmful content, and causing unintended traffic that can slow down your site. Google provides some tips to prevent spammers from abusing your site, including using CAPTCHAs or similar verification tools to only allow human submissions and prevent automated scripts from generating accounts and content.

Spam bots can create a lot of problems for website owners, but there are some things you can do to prevent them. One is to require new users to validate a real email address when they sign up. This will stop many spam bots from automatically creating accounts.

You can also set up filters to block email addresses that are suspicious or from email services that you don't trust. Another good step is to enable comment and profile moderation features that require users to have a certain reputation before links can be posted. If possible, change your settings so that you don't allow anonymous posting, and make posts from new users require approval before they are publicly visible.

Finally, it's a good idea to monitor your site for spammy content and clean up any issues. You can register and verify your website ownership in Search Console. Then check the Security Issues report and Manual actions report in Search Console to see if there are any issues detected by Google. You can also check the Messages panel in Search Console to learn more information.

Google has released a new blog post detailing how to combat third-party spam on your website. The post starts by saying that it's a good idea to use the site: operator in Google Search occasionally, together with commercial or adult keywords, to check for unexpected or spammy content. They give the example of searching for [site:your-domain-name viagra] to detect spammy content.

They then go on to say that you should monitor your web server log files for sudden traffic spikes, especially for newly created pages. You can use the Pages report in Google Analytics to identify potential high traffic problematic URLs.

The full blog post can be read here:

In order to block inappropriate content from being published to your platform, you can create a list of spammy terms (for example: streaming or download, adult, gambling, pharma related terms) that will be automatically deleted or marked as spam. This can be done by using built-in features or plugins.

Another great tool for this is Google Alerts. You can set up an alert for [site:your-domain-name spammy-keywords] using commercial or adult keywords that you wouldn't expect to see on your site. Google Alerts is also a great tool for detecting hacked pages.

In addition to blocking inappropriate content, you should also monitor your web server log for user sign-ups and identify typical spam patterns. For example:

  • Large number of sign-up form completions within a short time.
  • Number of requests sent from the same IP address range.
  • Unexpected user agents used during sign-up.
  • Nonsense user names or other nonsense submitted values during sign-up (for example, commercial usernames that don't sound like real human names and link to unrelated sites).

If you have a website that allows users to create pages, such as profile pages, forum threads, or websites, you can help prevent spam abuse by preventing Google Search from showing or following new or untrusted content.

You can do this by using the noindex meta standard, which will block access to untrusted pages. For example:

Or you can use the robots.txt standard to temporarily block the pages. For example:

Disallow: /guestbook/

You can also mark user-generated content (UGC) links, such as comments and forum posts, as UGC by using [rel="ugc"]({rel="nofollow"} or `[rel="nofollow"](

Spammers can generate a large number of spam pages on your site in a short time, which can be hosted in fragmented file paths or directories. It's recommended to consolidate your user-generated content into a concentrated file path or directory for easier maintenance and spam detection. Additionally, take the time to keep your software up-to-date and pay special attention to important security updates. Spammers may exploit security issues in older versions of blogs, bulletin boards, and other content management systems.

The text provides an overview of some ways to prevent spam on a website. These include using a comprehensive anti-spam system like Akismet, as well as installing security plugins and following best practices. More detailed information is available in the links provided.

The Search Quality team at Google has released new information on how they fight webspam. In a post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the team explains that they use a combination of algorithms and manual actions to keep spam out of search results.

The algorithms used by Google are constantly evolving to better identify and penalize spammy sites. In addition, the team manually reviews websites that are flagged by users or algorithms. If a site is found to be in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines, it may be penalized, which can result in a drop in rankings or even removal from the search index.

The Search Quality team's ultimate goal is to provide users with the best possible experience when using Google Search. This means showing them the most relevant and high-quality results for their query. To that end, they will continue to fight webspam and make sure that only quality websites are being shown in search results.

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