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Google warns of manual actions penalty for UGC spam

June 1, 2021 0 comments

Google recently published a blog post and reminded website owners that UGC or user-generated content is their responsibility. 

By extension, preventing UGC spam is also on website owners, and websites that tolerate UGC spam (or encourage that) may receive a manual action penalty. That manual action penalty may result in a loss of traffic and key search engine rankings.

This is in line with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

According to Google:

“Under the principles set out in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, this may result in Google taking manual actions against the affected pages.”

What is user generated content spam?

User generated content or UGC is often used by spammers and black-hat SEOs to build backlinks and increase citations.

They go to forums and comment sections on different websites on the internet and spam content with little value, only to get a citation or backlink. Some spammers even hide their links by making them black.

Examples of UGC areas

Google highlighted the following areas where UGC spam is common:

  • Guestbooks
  • Social media websites
  • File uploaders
  • Internal search services
  • Internet forums
  • Free hosting services


Google also explained further and highlighted the type of spam webmasters need to keep an eye out for:

“Spammy content like this can be harmful to your site and users in several ways:

Low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s ranking.

Spammy content can potentially lead users to unwanted or even harmful content, such as sites with malware or phishing, which may lower the reputation of your site.

Unintended traffic from unrelated content on your site can slow down your site and raise hosting costs.

Google might remove or demote pages that are overrun with third-party generated spam to protect the quality of our search results.”


As a website or forum owner, the prevention of UGC spam is on you.

You can minimize the chances of that happening by:

  • Blocking the creation of automated accounts,
  • Installing captchas and double opt-in and verification methods,
  • Increasing the number of moderators,
  • Having strict rules against spam and enforcing them,
  • Blocking and deleting spam accounts,
  • No-indexing UGC links.