Prioritization of Spam at Gmail

By Melinda Plemel
Senior Receiver Relationship Manager

UPDATE: The original version of this post had a link to the main Google YouTube channel, which had featured the spam video. After we published this, they swapped in a new video, causing confusion for some readers. We’ve now updated the link to go directly to the video about Gmail spam priorization. Sorry for any confusion we caused.

Google’s Gmail can be somewhat of a mystery. They do things a bit differently than other large ISPs and they do it well. From our perspective in deliverability, Gmail is always a tougher ISP to understand and troubleshoot.

Most of the experts know that Gmail relies heavily on their user feedback and “this is spam” vs. “this is not spam” voting, but many questions remained around how they really prioritize complaints. Recently, they posted a video to YouTube that helps us understand just a little more and pull back a bit more of the mystery.

Google’s Matt Cutts says Google does order complaints, and that typically, they try to think about what the impact is on the user. So, if they get a spam complaint on a site that a lot of users are going to see, it will get more attention from Google than a spam complaint on a site that rarely gets seen.
Google takes spam reports into account for future versions of its algorithms. Cutts says they look at these to determine how they should tackle certain things.

When Google is looking at spam complaints that they’re trying to take manual action on, Cutts says they think about how they can best use their resources, and one of the ways to do that is to look at the complaints about the sites that would most affect users.

We will continue gathering information about how Gmail handles mail. You can view this video clip and more through the Google Webmaster channel on YouTube which proves to be a valuable resource.

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