Many people see competitors “breaking the rules” on Google guidelines and engaging in ranking manipulation.
You may be surprised to learn, when you report your competitors using the Google webspam form, they don’t automatically slap a manual penalty on your competitors.
There are an estimated 1.74 billion websites in 2020 (at the time of this writing). Lots of website owners believe they deserve to rank higher, and see competitors “cheating”, so they file a webspam report.
It is extremely inefficient to determine whether each report is legitimate, one by one, and levy manual penalties on an individual basis.
What Google does instead is uses that data to help improve it’s automatic webspam detection algorithm.
Google uses your webspam reports as input for it’s machine learning. The idea is to detect “black hat SEO”, rankings manipulation, and techniques that fall outside their guidelines, at scale.
Submitting webspam reports on individual websites takes a lot of time. Training their algorithm to detect forms of rank manipulation that is “outside the rules” is a better solution for working with billions of websites.
The post on the Official Google Webmaster blog states the following:
Thanks to our users, we receive hundreds of spam reports every day. While many of the spam reports lead to manual actions, they represent a small fraction of the manual actions we issue. Most of the manual actions come from the work our internal teams regularly do to detect spam and improve search results. Today we’re updating our Help Center articles to better reflect this approach: we use spam reports only to improve our spam detection algorithms.
Spam reports play a significant role: they help us understand where our automated spam detection systems may be missing coverage. Most of the time, it’s much more impactful for us to fix an underlying issue with our automated detection systems than it is to take manual action on a single URL or site.
In theory, if our automated systems were perfect, we would catch all spam and not need reporting systems at all. The reality is that while our spam detection systems work well, there’s always room for improvement, and spam reporting is a crucial resource to help us with that. Spam reports in aggregate form help us analyze trends and patterns in spammy content to improve our algorithms.
Our spam detection systems work with our regular ranking systems, and spam reports help us continue to improve both so we very much appreciate them.