Google warned websites against inadvertently attempting to manipulate search rankings by accepting syndicated content with spammy authors.

Web syndication is when a website takes content from another website, crediting the other website as the ‘author’ of that content. An interesting example of such syndication (not spammy) is this article by GaneshaSpeaks, which gives a horoscope forecast of Netflix’s performance in India using star and planetary positions. Other examples of syndication include feeds by wire agencies like PTI and ANI in news websites. Yahoo, for instance, syndicates content from several sources, including Reuters, India.com, MarketWatch, and several more.

Google said in a blog for website administrators that accepting content that is full of ‘keyword-dense’ links will be recognized as an attempt to manipulate the website’s ranking by Google. Websites found to be hosting such content may have their ranking downgraded in search results, Google warned.

To prevent syndicated content — which is often on a large scale with significant automation in posting — from affecting host websites’ ranking, Google recommended that they check syndicated feeds to make sure that i) they don’t contain link schemes that try to drive traffic to the original site where the content originates, ii) the same articles aren’t syndicated in a large number of other sites or multiple large sites, and iii) the syndicator isn’t just farming content written by authors who are not very knowledgeable on what they are writing on.

‘No-follow’

For syndicators who add a large number of links to their own website, Google recommended that such links have ‘no-follow’ added to them. ‘No-follow’ is a piece of code that tells search engines to not ‘follow’ the links into the websites to which they lead. If ‘no-follow’ isn’t added to articles that have keyword-rich links designed to manipulate search rankings, Google has warned that they will detect such attempts and downgrade the website’s search rankings.

In the post, Google addressed websites that have a combination of original content and syndicated feeds. It asked, “If a link is a form of endorsement, and you’re the one creating most of the endorsements for your own site, is this putting forth the best impression of your site?”

Update: A reference to GaneshaSpeaks has been clarified to emphasize that their pieces are not an example of spammy syndication.