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When might Google take action on an entire freehost?

When might Google take action on an entire freehost? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Today’s question comes from the Bay Area. The question is, “Freehosts: you recently mentioned that Google reserves the right to take action on an entire freehost if a very large fraction of the sites on the freehost are spammy or low-quality. Can you go into more detail about this?” Yeah, absolutely. So first off, let’s define freehosts. So a freehost is just some website, some web host that will allow people to sign up for free or for very little and have an account or a site on that particular host. So there’s many, many, many legitimate freehosts on the web. There’s WordPress. For example, you can have something.wordpress.com. There’s Tumbler, something.tumbler.com. There’s Posterous, there’s Blogger. Those are well-known for blogging. But even going back to ancient days, there’s GeoCities, there’s Angelfire, there’s a lot of places around the web. Bulletin boards, places in China can have places where you’ll have a freehost, where you don’t have your own domain name. You really have something that hooks off of this other domain. So there’s nothing wrong with being on a freehost, especially if you’d rather not pay the money to have your domain name. The problem is, sometimes, it’s relatively rare, but sometimes you’ll see a freehost that either looks the other way or, for whatever reason, has gotten infested with so much spam that we’re really not able to even carve out and find the good stuff. Or there’s just so much stuff that it’s almost like Whack a Mole. You’re finding the algorithms or you’re taking action on the manual spam that you see. But by the time you get done, there is just a lot more spam that’s showing up on that particular freehost. So in those kinds of situations, we do reserve the right to take action on the entire freehost. So a good litmus test, if you’re the owner of one of these sites, is to do a site colon search either in Google, or Bing, or whatever. Click down to page 10, or 20, or something like that and just pick a few random sites. And if the few random sites that you happen to look at are spam, then that’s a really bad sign, right? Because you want to have high-quality sites. And if a very large fraction to the point of just doing a random sampling of a few pages on the site look like spam, then that’s not a good thing. Now, we don’t want to be punitive. We don’t want to be vindictive. So absolutely, we have seen freehosts that started out and had a whole big problem. Maybe they were not happy about it, but they had a whole bunch of spam on their sites, who cleaned it up and then who did a reconsideration request or who were otherwise able to come back into the Google search results. But the litmus test that we do is to look at the overall fraction of stuff, the overall fraction of spam that’s coming into our system from these freehosts. And so if we feel like a freehost is just not taking sufficient action, then at some point, you have to say, OK, there’s just a hairball of stuff here, and trying to find the individual good sites is just– it’s so much work. And so, at some point, you are willing to take action on the entire freehost. So in those kinds of situations, it’s a good chance to take a step back and ask yourself very honestly, OK, how much of the content on my free host is high quality? And do you need to raise your standards a little bit? So there are certainly many, many sites that have very high standards and are very high quality. And there are certainly a few on the other end of the spectrum, where either they are not having sufficient enforcement, or there’s just not enough attention paid to spam. And if that’s the case, we need to focus that freehost to pay attention to it, at least if they want to rank well in Google. So that’s just a little bit more detail about how we think about freehosts. There’s a ton of great freehosts on the web, but if we see one that doesn’t have sufficient quality control and doesn’t have it for a fairly long period of time, or we’re just not able to find the good-quality content compared to the overall fraction of the low-quality or the spammy content, then we do reserve the right to take action on the entire freehost.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: