[Podcast] The Google Spam Team


Podcast Episode 23: How the Google Spam Team determines rankings. Listen to the full episode about SEO for Photographers at


Chris 0:08
Hey, this is Meredith husband, I've got some SEO advice for you. But I'm gonna keep it really simple so that you can understand it. So make sense. And most importantly, so you can actually use

Chris 0:24
The number one Google myth. According to me, this is not a not an official release from Google. But the number one thing that I that I think, and you can tell me what you think, if I'm wrong, that people seem to have a misconception about when talking about Google and SEO and rankings and stuff like that. So it seems like people think that you do stuff to your website, and then your your rankings are gonna go up, like you got to do meta tags, you need to do title tags, if you put image tags is going to make your rankings go higher. Yes, yes, that's the you do do stuff. And while you do that technical stuff, your rankings get higher. It's it's technically the reverse of that. Right? It's, it's the the team, the team of people at Google, who determine the rankings. So they build that algorithm and determines what websites are going to be ranked high and what websites are ranked low. That team, the name of that team is the spam team. What, it's the spam team, it's not the it's not the like the great websites team or the high rankings team. It's the spam team. And their job, their job is to kick out crappy websites that are that are breaking the rules that are trying to just literally spam like spam, email, spam, email is junk email that you don't want. Somebody is sending a billion emails to a billion people, and figuring I'm just going to flood the market with my emails and some people. Google faces the same thing, but with website owners trying to spam their system trying to trick their system. And so the people at Google, the spam team literally goes through and they try to find reasons to take webs to remove websites. Not today. Do they actually remove website? Yeah, they do? Yeah, they do. Yeah. So you'll get penalties from Google. You don't get you don't get rewards and get higher rankings, you are penalized and you are moved down. It used to be that yes, you could get an email from Google, if these were called manual actions or manual penalties, you'll get an email from Google saying, we've found that basically, your website is shitty, and we're taking them out of Google. Now those were Google, right, yeah. And getting, if I've had a lot of projects that are just getting websites, they get that they got that penalty, they don't do this much anymore. But at least they don't send the emails about it. But those manual actions were because people would go out and buy links to their website. So I've talked a lot. I've talked a lot about how important links are.

Meredith 3:04
Yeah. Links are more important than keywords.

Chris 3:10
Well, yes, but if you don't have any keywords, and what are you going to rank for? Right? So I'll get back to that in a second. But as an SEO, we would go out and and try to get links to our client websites. Now one way to do that is just buy them. Now Google does, Google does not like it, when you do that. That's something the spam team is looking for. That's cheating. Yeah. And you can buy really high quality links, and you can buy really low quality links. And what the spam team was looking for is when you are buying those low quality links, like I could go out, I could go to Fiverr. Or there's a there's 1000s of companies where I could buy literally hundreds or 1000s of links and point them to my client sites for 10 bucks or 50 bucks or 100 bucks. Now, the Google spam team would when they found that that's when you would get a manual penalty, would send that email saying, hey, guess what? We just booted your website entirely from Google?

Meredith 4:11
And would you have to remove all those links that you've written? Yes.

Chris 4:15
And so now, and so now? More than $10 Exactly, exactly. So now Google says Now it's your responsibility to get rid of all those crappy links you purchased, and also show us the proof. And if you can't get rid of those links, you need to show us that you at least tried. So then. So a manual penalty removal project would be we need to find all the crappy links, and we need to get rid of them. So guess what happens when you go to all these spammy SEO directories? Where somebody purchased links? And now you write to them and say, Hey, can you take these links down? Guess what? No, they cost $10. To put up, they cost 200 to take Dumb. Yeah. Because, you know, the people who built those directories, those directories. Yeah, exactly. The people who, who built those directories, their business model is now over. So they know they, at that point, they realize, okay, we can't sell these links anymore, because everybody is going to, if they don't know already, they're going to know very soon that this does not help SEO. In fact, it hurts SEO. So our income, our income has gone, right, we have this worthless website. However, we can essentially blackmail people because we have this really crappy website that is penalizing sites, and now people want to get out of it. Well, we can charge them for that.

Meredith 5:43
Whoa. So or 200 per link or two, it's

Chris 5:47
totally made up. It's totally made up. But it was typically, it would they would typically charge you they're not going to say oh, yes, I'll do that work for you for free. They're not, they're not going to do that. But so and a lot of times, what would happen is they would just abandon the site, you would get no response. But in that case, what you would need to do is then prove to Google that I did try to get rid of all these links. So you would need to email them three times. And you would need to send screenshots of those three things. And you would need to submit that to Google. And the and talk about man hours, holy crap, that is that was those. Yes. That is way, way more expensive than getting those links in the first play. Okay, got it. Way more expensive. Anyway, that's one type of penalty. There's all there's all types. And that's the one type of penalty that Google would actually notify you about. But there's an there's other types of penalties that we've talked about, you know, title tags, and duplicate title tags and meta tags. And there's all sorts of things that you're going to be that your site can be penalized for, you're never going to know it. But the SEO in general, the technical side of SEO is just not making those mistakes, not getting penalized. We talk about as SEOs, we talk about things getting penalized all the time. We don't talk about, you know, rewards, there's nothing we do. We talk about links, links are the one time if you're if you're acquiring links, or the time or the the exception that you do kind of get rewarded for inbound links, right? Like if you get a link from, you know, I don't know, the New York Times, like, hey, we know that our ranking is gonna go up because of that link. Gotcha. And so how do you find those things that your website can be penalized for? Because there's like, 100 of them. There's at least 100 of them. I have no idea. What am I gonna say? Your favorite tool?

Meredith 7:40
You're gonna say stardust? Nope. Is it called

Chris 7:44
SEMrush? SEMrush. SEMrush? will check for all of us. So, I mean, there's a lot of there's lots of tools that will do this. SEMrush is by far my favorite. Yeah. But SEMrush will help me with that. Yes, it'll it'll do an audit. And what that will do when you run an audit on your website, it's gonna find everything that might be causing a penalty, to your website rankings, it's gonna say, Hey, you're gonna need to see how to do that. You need sem rush, you need to go through the SEM rush?

Meredith 8:13
No, no, I was saying walk us through on SEM rush. Oh, well,

Chris 8:16
I've had that I have that in several other episodes. That's how I do things on on SEM rush. But yeah, you want to go to sem rush. And you can use their free you can sign up for they have a free trial, you can use that. And then before that, you can run an audit on your website during that free trial. And then if you don't want to continue to pay for sem rush, you can then convert it to a free Permanent Account, you can still run one audit per month. Oh, that's it's still use. It's still a super useful tool.

Meredith 8:48
So things like that. When you run the audits? Could things pop up that you are just never aware of? Could bad people link to your side? Absolutely.

Chris 8:59
Absolutely. Now, running an audit

Meredith 9:03
checking the oil in your

Chris 9:04
car? Yeah, kind of it's like a full checkup, not just the oil. It's checking the brake fluid and hydraulic fluid. And I don't know anything about cars. So don't know what I'm talking about catalytic converter? Yes, absolutely. Make sure you have high light, pressure,

Meredith 9:19
higher precious all of that. Everything is coffee.

Chris 9:23
Yeah. Because you're never going to know otherwise. I mean, every you know, this is this the one of the very first steps when we whenever we talk to a new client about anything, we run a audit and we look to see what their score is. And when I have talked in the past about a high score on SEMrush is 9092 or better. This is what is what that is grading. It's if you have below 92 It means you're you're you're doing things that are causing you penalties, and you need to get rid of those. Yes. If you don't do that, no matter how no matter how good your website is. It's it's like try To fill a bucket of water with it has a hole in the bottom right. So you need to first plug the holes you need to, to prevent your website from doing things that are going to cause penalties.

Meredith 10:10
Right? It's like, if you're gonna go to the dentist, you better be flossing and brushing.

Chris 10:19
Yeah, I guess I guess so.

Meredith 10:23
Wasn't food related?

Chris 10:25
That's true.

Chris 10:31
And so once you have done this, once you've you know, removed anything that might be causing your your website to be penalized, there's more, there's more you can do. That's when blogging and content and link building comes into play. But first, make sure that there are no holes,

Meredith 10:46
right? Make sure you have a solid foundation exactly on which to grow your tree. Right, you've got to prep the soil, make sure the soil is right, so that your beautiful flowers can grow.

Chris 11:01
There are I've tried using all sorts of analogies for this over the years when one is like a foundation for a house. Oh, say I didn't say planting but like you tried to build a house on a on a cracked foundation. You're going to have problems forever. So make sure yes. And it's it's funny. I often I very often even from big companies with very knowledgeable people, they they start projects and they want to do something that would be equivalent to they want to start by building the attic. They want to install the tile in the second floor bathroom first. I'm like you don't have there's no first floor. How are we going to build second floor? Stairs? So yes, foundation is first. Does that. Does that kind of

Meredith 11:48
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it being almost spring. Now. It's kind of like when it's important to do a monthly spring cleaning. Making sure the foundation is strong. Yes. And not penalized?

Chris 12:07
Yeah, yeah, this is step number one, you got to make sure you like I said, no holes in the bottom of your website so that you can then start putting water in otherwise you're going to otherwise it's going to be very frustrating.

Meredith 12:18
Very frustrating. No, nice, frustrating. Thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for spending the time share it with your friends, if this was helpful. And you know, all the stuff that people say at the end of podcasts.

Chris 12:30
Yeah, I actually have an ending to this podcast that goes on after this where I say stuff like

Meredith 12:34
Oh, thanks.

Chris 12:37
I know that you have never ever listened to this podcast. Yes. I hope that helps. And yes, if you find it helpful, share it with a friend or with a colleague, share it with somebody who you think it will help also.

Meredith 12:51
Thank you. Thank you, everybody.

Chris 13:01
I hope that helped. I hope that helped your website. I hope that helped your business. I hope that helped give you a little bit of confidence that SEO is not this convoluted, cryptic, crazy thing that nobody can understand. If you did like it and you found it helpful. Please share it with a couple of your colleagues. Tell them what you like or more importantly, tell me what you liked. Let me know interview. leave a review on Apple. Tell me what parts you like. And I'll try to do more of those parts. And again, thanks for listening


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