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3rd May 2024 - Chris Regan

Rollout of Site Reputation Abuse Policy

As part of Google’s recent spam policy update, Google also stated that the site reputation abuse policy would come into effect from the 5th of May 2024, where they can penalise websites manually or algorithmically for abusing the policy.

Google's New Site Reputation Abuse Policy

What is the site's reputation abuse policy?

Back in March, Google introduced a new spam policy that reminded website owners what they class as spam, refined wording around existing policies, and named specific popular tactics that have risen in popularity in recent years.

As part of this, they specifically named site reputation abuse, which is when a third party publishes content on another website to gain a ranking and benefit from its strength and authority. The content is low quality or non-relevant to the target audience of the first-party website.

What examples violate the policy?

When using 3-party content, it all comes down to one common theme: is the content beneficial and relevant to the user?

Have you ever searched for something in Google only to see websites you may know but didn’t associate with the topic? If so, then it’s highly likely this is what is meant by site reputation abuse.

What third-party content does not violate the policy?

Third-party content can still benefit websites, and for specific scenarios, despite this policy you should still consider it for your website.

Some examples include;

How will websites be penalised?

Google's team will implement the site reputation abuse policy manually and algorithmically. It prominently will target the 1st party websites that abuse the policy.

Google has implemented measures to automatically detect site reputation abuse so it can reduce rankings for pages that abuse this policy. The algorithm changes can also be used to reward other websites, so it’s worth noting that you may not have been hit, but other websites have been rewarded and now outrank you.

Google’s web spam team will also have the power to impose manual penalties on websites violating this policy now it’s been made official within Google’s spam policy. This type of penalty could see pages being ranked lower or wholly omitted from search.

Manual action penalties can be found in Google Search Console, which gives you examples of how you’ve violated the policy and allows you to request a review once fixed.

How can you avoid abusing the policy?

To avoid abusing the policy, maybe take time to review the third-party content your website uses, what value does your target audience gain from this content being on your website? Does it make sense for your website to host this content? How does the relevancy of this content match what you want your website to be known for? If the answer to each of these questions is no, then ask yourself what other benefits you gain from hosting this type of content and is it worth it?

How to avoid being penalised?

You’ve gone through the review. You are aware that your website may be violating the site reputation abuse policy, and you don’t want to be penalised. What do you do?

Simple remove the content from your website.

It isn’t always as simple as that, so if you’ve gone through the third-party content review and decide the benefits you receive or the legal implications of removing the content outway the user experience then you have a few options;

It’s also worth noting that if you do have legal implications from deals you’ve done with third-party publishers, then it may be worth taking legal advice before doing any of this.

Final Thoughts

The site reputation abuse policy is part of Google’s spam policy update released back in March 2024; this specific part of the policy comes into play on May 5th 2024. We will follow this closely to see the full impact of how this affects the search engine results but ultimately it’s another policy we welcome in Google’s effort to tidy up their results.


Google's Official Annoucement

Chris Regan

About the Author

Chris Regan

Chris is the Managing Director and Founder of Arriba. With a degree in web development and over 10-years of experience in the SEO industry, Chris is an expert in all aspects of user-experience and technical SEO.

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