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5 Types Of User Generated Content Spam

07 January 2020 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in nichemarket Advice

User generated comment spam

Creating content for any site can be a monumental task, mainly when you have limited internal resources to churn out high-quality pieces regularly. Creating content that ranks require strategy, research and preparation, which is highly time-consuming. One key metric in evaluating if the content is of a high standard is if it can solicit a response from readers, through comments.

User-generated content has shown to increase rankings over time with Googles algorithms not yet clued up on the context of comments but looked more at length, amount and variation of user comments as well as keywords.

While these metrics have been helpful to an extent, it still left room for abuse and Google has started to identify harmful user-generated content and looks to devalue the impact of UGC if certain flags are present on the page.

Google releases data on harmful user-generated content

Google has recently published research that studied the effects of user-generated content (UGC) spam on user experience. The investigation uncovered interesting insights on user experience and points the way to further research.

One of the authors of the research, Dr Sowmya Karunakaran, is the Research Lead at Google Trust and Safety team. The Trust and Safety team tackles negative user behaviour on Google’s various products including Youtube, Search, Maps, Gmail, and Google Ads, with a focus on malware, spam and account hijacking.

So what did the study uncover?

Having reviewed thousands of cases of user-generated content, Google has highlighted the type of comment spam that can negatively impact user behaviour and in turn, trust for the user and finally Google rankings.

Google has highlighted the following user comments that could see content being flagged.

1. Gibberish

Gibberish example: e.g. asdsad jksjfs sdhd

2. Irrelevant comments

Irrelevant example: e.g. Review of a movie for a gaming app

3. Solicitation

Solicitation example: e.g.Follow me on twitter @xxxx

4. Abusive language

Abusive language example: e.g.idiotic dirty morons

5. Promotions

Promotions example: e.g.Instant cash discount, register now.”

Minimising the impact of spam user-generated content

Websites should aim to reduce or remove the amount of UGC spam should and keep it to a minimum. But in this scenario, Google's research team discovered that the user experience would be better improved by focusing more resources on UGC spam featuring abusive language.

This leads to the second insight, which is that there is value in identifying which kinds of UGC is having the most negative effect on user experience.

Once identified, the business can apply resources most efficiently, resulting in happier users.

A curious point was the observation of how, for the context of Google's research, spam didn't affect user trust. It's a surprising data point to consider, which may or may not be right for your situation.

In the video that accompanies the research, Dr Sowmya states that away she discovered to build trust in Google Play is to show the top positive review and the high negative review. Doing so, she says, gives the user a sense of the pros and cons of a product.

Google's banking on improved user-generated content

A little negativity can be a good thing

The study also shared that users will tend to be suspicious if all the reviews are five stars. The Googlers insisted that it's a sign of a healthy review ecosystem to show a spectrum of user reviews. The goal of the HaBuT method is to identify what needs to be fixed.

The insight is that the amount of negative UGC is not necessarily the criteria to use when deciding which going after. The idea from the study is that it's useful to research which type of harmful activity impacts user experience the most. The problem of UGC spam then becomes an issue of improving user experience rather than going after negativity for the sake of it.

Additionally, the video recommends user surveys to measure happiness levels after the solution has been applied. This kind of data can demonstrate to the stakeholders that the initiative was or was not successful.

How to combat user-generated comment spam

If you're using a site like WordPress, you already have built-in comment filtering and moderation if set up correctly, but this can be upgraded through a host of plugins.

Start to make it a habit to review the comments you receive, keep the ones that you feel add value to your posts and remove the ones that spammy or trying to attract traffic away from your site as the only purpose of the comment.

While most spam comments are easy to find and remove some may walk the line pretty well, and for those, you'll have to use your discretion. Some sites may welcome fluffy comments of applause and thanks while other websites may prefer a stricter approach and only allow for high-value remarks and questions that drive conversations in the comments.

Are you looking to promote your business?

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If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles. 

Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts about user-generated content.

Tags: SEO , Organic Search

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