If you are using free web hosting services or provide one, Google has some important tips to avoid penalties and being removed from Google’s index.
Recent Google Panda updates have seen Google on the look out for spamming web site’s which do not add “sufficient value” to its users. Tje introduction of a spam algorithm in the Panda update in January 2011, this one was aimed precisely at fighting spam and affected about 2% of search results. This even saw Google ban free hosting services (and all their sites using their service) from the Google index, you might remember when all the co.cc domains were removed from the index, causing thousands of sites to disappear from Google.
So in order to help these free hosting companies stay clear of a penalty or ban, they wrote this blog post with tips, including:
Publishing a clear abuse policy and communicating it to your users to provide transparency about what is considered “spammy” activity.
Using CAPTCHAs or other verification tools to only allow human submission and prevent the majority of automated scripts from creating sites on your hosting service.
Monitoring for spam signals including redirects, a large number of ad blocks, and spammy keywords. Google recently announced its page layout algorithm, which penalizes sites with too many ads above-the-fold.
Keeping track of signups and identifying spam patterns including form completion time, number of requests from the same IP address range, user-agents used during signup, and user names.
Watching your server log files for sudden traffic spikes for a newly-created website.
Monitoring for phishing and malware-infected pages.
Detecting languages of newly created sites (e.g., thousands of Japanese sites appearing overnight on a Polish web hosting service)
Google’s Matt Cutts did a follow up video on this topic which is well worth a look, so I have posted it below.
The tips mentioned above could easily apply to any sites with user-generated content (e.g., forums, blogs etc) and webmasters who are considering setting up a free website. Take this as your official warning!