How we fought webspam – Webspam Report 2016


With 2017 well underway, we wanted to take a moment and share some of the insights we gathered in 2016 in our fight against webspam. Over the past year, we continued to find new ways of keeping spam from creating a poor quality search experience, and worked with webmasters around the world to make the web better.

We do a lot behind the scenes to make sure that users can make full use of what today’s web has to offer, bringing relevant results to everyone around the globe, while fighting webspam that could potentially harm or simply annoy users.

Webspam trends in 2016

  • Website security continues to be a major source of concern. Last year we saw more hacked sites than ever – a 32% increase compared to 2015. Because of this, we continued to invest in improving and creating more resources to help webmasters know what to do when their sites get hacked. 
  • We continued to see that sites are compromised not just to host webspam. We saw a lot of webmasters affected by social engineering, unwanted software, and unwanted ad injectors. We took a stronger stance in Safe Browsing to protect users from deceptive download buttons, made a strong effort to protect users from repeatedly dangerous sites, and we launched more detailed help text within the Search Console Security Issues Report.
  • Since more people are searching on Google using a mobile device, we saw a significant increase in spam targeting mobile users. In particular, we saw a rise in spam that redirects users, without the webmaster’s knowledge, to other sites or pages, inserted into webmaster pages using widgets or via ad units from various advertising networks.

How we fought spam in 2016

Working with users and webmasters for a better web

  • In 2016 we received over 180,000 user-submitted spam reports from around the world. After carefully checking their validity, we considered 52% of those reported sites to be spam. Thanks to all who submitted reports and contributed towards a cleaner and safer web ecosystem!
  • We conducted more than 170 online office hours and live events around the world to audiences totaling over 150,000 website owners, webmasters and digital marketers.
  • We continued to provide support to website owners around the world through our Webmaster Help Forums in 15 languages. Through these forums we saw over 67,000 questions, with a majority of them being identified as having a Best Response by our community of Top contributors, Rising Stars and Googlers. 
  • We had 119 volunteer Webmaster Top Contributors and Rising Stars, whom we invited to join us at our local Top Contributor Meetups in 11 different locations across 4 continents (Asia, Europe, North America, South America). 

We think everybody deserves high quality, spam-free search results. We hope that this report provides a glimpse of what we do to make that happen.

Posted by Michal Wicinski, Search Quality Strategist and Kiyotaka Tanaka, User Education & Outreach Specialist 



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Similar items: Rich products feature on Google Image Search


Image Search recently launched “Similar items” on mobile web and the Android Search app. The “Similar items” feature is designed to help users find products they love in photos that inspire them on Google Image Search. Using machine vision technology, the Similar items feature identifies products in lifestyle images and displays matching products to the user. Similar items supports handbags, sunglasses, and shoes and will cover other apparel and home & garden categories in the next few months.

The Similar items feature enables users to browse and shop inspirational fashion photography and find product info about items they’re interested in. Try it out by opening results from queries like [designer handbags].

Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature requests from our users. The Similar items carousel gets millions of impressions and clicks daily from all over the world.

To make your products eligible for Similar items, make sure to add and maintain schema.org product metadata on your pages. The schema.org/Product markup helps Google find product offerings on the web and give users an at-a-glance summary of product info.

To ensure that your products are eligible to appear in Similar items:

  • Ensure that the product offerings on your pages have schema.org product markup, including an image reference. Products with name, image, price & currency, and availability meta-data on their host page are eligible for Similar items
  • Test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that the product markup is formatted correctly
  • See your images on image search by issuing the query “site:yourdomain.com.” For results with valid product markup, you may see product information appear once you tap on the images from your site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl your website.

Right now, Similar items is available on mobile browsers and the Android Google Search App globally, and we plan to expand to more platforms in 2017.

If you have questions, find us in the dedicated Structured data section of our forum, on Twitter, or on Google+. To prevent your images from showing in Similar items, webmasters can opt-out of Google Image Search.

We’re excited to help users find your products on the web by showcasing buyable items. Thanks for partnering with us to make the web more shoppable!





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