Here's another post about Rich Snippet Spam from +Richard Falconer with more egregious examples from Payday loan operators in UK who are likely to lose their stars faster than you can say 1737%

Headline imo is sensationalist. I would have read it had it referred to snippet spam or structured markup or schema abuse. At first glance it just looked like another easy Google bashing article.

...oh and if it is a trap as per above post, it will only succeed if the spam reporting tool is widely used.

// cc +Patrick Hathaway +Justin Butcher +Cyrus Shepard +AJ Kohn +Trey Collier
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8 comments
 
Thanks for reading and fair point about the headline, I guess I missed the balance I was aiming for.

I don't believe Google is setting a trap here, my money is definitely on the first theory.
 
I've ruminated similar, but I think it's a more simple equation. Google gain more with a structured markup ecosystem of sites than trying to police some irksome spammers. The competition can self regulate that in medium term. Abusers will get microformat denied and SERP obliterated and it's easier to detect than even classic backlink spam.
 
In contrast to what I said yesterday, the payday loan niche is one area where I don't mind a bit of outing ;)
 
I'm thinking that this should be some good reading and may be some help to this discussion: http://blog.iacquire.com/2012/04/10/googles-2012-phishing-expedition/

Google may be using Snippets (and probably other techniques as well) to let the unscrupulous webmaster "tell on themselves". Webmaster Tools, their videos, all tell what, why and when to uses these techniques and their intended purpose. Misuse and abuse may get you to the top of the SERPs for a short period, but ultimately it will be your undoing.
 
+Richard Falconer Good article. I like the concept of Google setting a trap, although if this is in their mindset it is probably more akin to their Google+ strategy. If they can make SEOs take schema.org seriously (& G+, of course) then they can get it implemented on a lot of sites, leading to 'the web of things.'

If improved CTR from ratings snippets can get the ball rolling, they can always drop that snippet from showing in the SERPs if they think it's being abused, but only once schema.org has started to be adopted. So I think I agree with +Paul Gailey Alburquerque.

+Justin Butcher are we in agreement that outing individual sites that are playing fast and loose is sufficiently gentlemanly? (but not the offending agency).

I hope I'm never in the situation where I need a payday loan, and if I am I can't imagine a 1200% APR would encourage me to give a 5 star rating...
 
I honestly don't believe that reporting spam does anything more than give the Google Engineers examples of sites using a particular technique inappropriately, which they can probably already figure this out on their own. I believe they put this out there so site owners will quit asking them where can they report bad / spammy sites.
 
well they can't not make the tool available +Trey Collier can they? but they do act on it. Arguably the risk to an abuser is greater than deindexation of a classic paid backlink, because in this case the snippet showing domain is getting stripped of it's ability to display stars and in classic spam, its the supporting page that is getting deindexed.

I just wonder how scaleable they can act on it. Perhaps by amassing sufficient examples of abuse, humanly classified, they can subsequently machine learn patterns of it.
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