Can Chrome-Based Spammers Impact Critical Parts of the Web?
Google’s John Mueller responded if Chrome-based spam traffic could negatively impact key Web Vitals scores. John Mueller isn’t on the Chrome team or the Web Platform, so he must have paused for a moment to think about it for a second before answering.
One of the implications, an underlying question, is whether it is possible to launch a negative SEO attack focused on poisoning Core Web Vitals and thus affect a known ranking factor.
Chrome User Experience Report
Core Web Vitals scores that become ranking factors are derived from actual users on Chrome browsers.
Browsing information contains data for downloading actual web pages from actual devices visiting actual web pages.
This data is what Google calls “field data” and it is what is used to calculate the Core Web Vitals score which is then used as ranking factors.
Google uses browsing data from Chrome browser users to create the Chrome User Experience report.
Google’s developer pages describe the process like this:
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“The Chrome User Experience report is powered by an actual metric of users’ key public web user experience metrics, aggregated from users who have chosen to sync their browsing history, have not configured passphrase and have enabled usage statistics reporting. . “
Real Chrome users can impact Core Web Vitals scores.
So the person asking the question had a legitimate concern.
The person who asked the question described it as “spam traffic” that “uses Chrome as a browser”.
The person is not sure if they were real people using Chrome browsers with slow connections or if they were bots.
John Mueller unfortunately did not ask for clarification.
Chrome spoofing bots
There are many types of bots that are not Chrome, they just mimic Chrome (this is called Chrome user agent spoofing).
For example, a Python-based web scraper can spoof Chrome to trick a website into believing that it is just a normal visitor to the site.
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These types of bots will not affect a website’s Web Vitals scores because they are not Chrome, they are just scripts.
Headless Chrome Robots
There are other types of bots based on the real Chrome browser called Headless Chrome.
Headless Chrome is Chrome browser but without Chrome UI which is why it is called Headless.
Headless Chrome browser is unlikely to be able to return Core Web Vitals information either, as Headless Chrome is designed for testing purposes.
Spam traffic with real people using Chrome
The nightmarish scenario is one where spammers send real people with slow internet connection to visit a site while using Chrome browsers which are enabled for page experience reporting.
How would Google filter real people using Chrome with bad intentions to negatively impact Core Web Vitals?
Can Chrome Based Spam Traffic Influence The Essentials Of The Web?
The person who asked the question called it “spam traffic” and did not say whether it was human spammers or bots.
This is the question asked:
“Over the past week, we have seen a dramatic increase in direct spam traffic to some of our websites, coming from all over the world using Chrome as our browser.
This spam traffic is very slow. We’re a little concerned with the Chrome metrics used to gauge page speed and rank.
Does Google know about it? Is there something we can do? “
Google Answers If Chrome Spam Traffic Affects Essential Web Elements
John Mueller replied:
“Um… So… I don’t know… we see a lot of weird spam on the web over time and we have a pretty good understanding of it.”
And the way, as I understand it, in terms of the essentials of the web, what we use… that’s also out there too.
From that point of view, I wouldn’t expect this to cause any problems.
If this really worries you and you have any data you can send me, I’m happy to pass it on to the Chrome team so they can take a look.
But I wouldn’t assume that would cause any problems.
We see all kinds of weird spam all the time and our systems are pretty much tuned to prevent that sort of thing.
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Can Google catch Chrome-based spammers?
It seems pretty clear that a Headless Chrome bot wouldn’t affect basic web stats scores. I couldn’t find any documentation that says so explicitly, but it looks like what it should be. It would be nice to have clarification from Google.
John Mueller is confident that the Chrome User Experience Report filters out “typical spam traffic”.
But he also offered to bring information back to the Chrome team for review.
How to do you feel about it?
Is Chrome Based Spam Traffic Impacting Essential Web Elements?
Watch John Mueller answer the question after 30 minutes: