Changes to the way Google chooses rankings are designed to improve content from real people, not content farms that optimize content for search engines, and that work in conjunction with other efforts such as improving search engine results, Sullivan said.
Not that there is anything wrong with SEO, the practice of optimizing websites to rank higher in search engines. “It helps us find and understand what’s important,” says Sullivan, “SEO is not a special way to show high results. What’s important is that our advice to everyone has been around for a long time: Create things that help people, not search engines.”
How Big of a Problem Is Spam?
That’s 40 billion problems a day. That’s how many spam pages and malicious content Google Search finds every day. Sullivan says Google’s efforts filter about 99 percent, but the amount of malware and spam is increasing.
Google uses an AI-based spam prevention system called SpamBrain, which Sullivan says led to identifying six times more sites in 2021 than last year.
Should I Worry About Malware in Google Ads and Results?
This year, there have been several high-profile cases of malware infiltrating search engine advertising, including the latest involving Gimp.org ads. Google’s failure to limit certain types of misleading ads, including some from anti-abortion sites and ads for government-run fraudulent services, has drawn criticism.
As with spam and Search, Google Ads is in a constant battle to remove malware and bad actors from its content. Google Ads contact Ginny Marvin says Google Ads does this by “verifying that advertisers’ content is consistent between accounts that use our network’s signals.” He said that their efforts include automated and human monitoring systems to monitor abuse in more than 180 countries. It’s a huge undertaking. “To demonstrate the scale of our efforts in 2021, we removed more than 3.4 billion ads, disabled more than 5.7 billion ads, and suspended more than 5.6 billion accounts,” he says.
But he is not perfect. Marvin says it helps to understand where and when ads appear in search results. Users who think they are clicking on something suspicious can first click on the three dots next to the ad and select “About This Ad,” which includes information about the advertiser and why it was shown. Ads pages show other ads that the advertiser has posted in the last 30 days. If it is harmful, users can report the product in question. And Google’s recently released My Ads Center gives users control over what types of ads they see. You can block annoying ads and customize the types of ads that will be displayed.
Some supporters say it’s not enough. Katie Paul, executive director of the non-profit Tech Transparency Project, says Google has been warned about these problems for years and hasn’t taken much action to stop malware and fakes. “We’ve said time and time again that there are harmful or wrong things appearing in Google’s ads, and everyone seems to be responding the same way over and over again without Google addressing the issue,” says Paul.
Are Google Shopping Retailers Legal?
If you’re already working on your holiday shopping list, you may have ads in your Google Shopping results that seem too good to be true. For example, shopping for second-hand video cards can turn up a lot of results that match the price, and one or two from a site you’ve never heard of with a deep discount seems suspicious.
This is a challenge for Google, said Matt Madrigal, vice president of commercial acquisitions. “We’re always making changes to keep bad merchants out of our platforms, and that’s an area we’re focusing on as we grow the number of merchants and products listed on Google,” he says. “There is no finish line in the fight against fraud.”
Madrigal says that traders are subject to, among other regulations, which specifically prohibit counterfeiting and counterfeit goods. As with Search and Ads, personalization and personal evaluations are involved in displaying these vendors. But Madrigal says Google Shopping is also relying on feedback from users to identify suspected fraudulent sellers. Google doesn’t have a direct way to report sellers on its carousel pages, but it does have a Shopping report page that has an assistant where users can report bad players.
As with Google Ads, Paul says the process of asking users to follow the system is difficult when the company has the resources to recruit many managers and experts. “We’re seeing the same response from Google,” says Paul. “Like Facebook, we see companies saying, ‘Report it when you see it,’ but at the same time this multi-billion dollar company is giving back to users the ability to clean up their search space, their way of making money.”