I do routinely report spam sites that are above my clients in the SERPS, but I make certain that they fall into what Google considers to be spam (or is likely too), not what I
consider to be spam.
An example - a crappy site with no useful content that is ranked high is MY definition of spam - but it's not (necessarily) Googles. What I judge to be "useful" and "crappy" may be different from what someone else would - after all, SOMEONE posted that site - presumably they looked at it and judged it post-worthy before doing so.
I don't report these. As a professional SEO, I simply beat them by providing great content and design, and then because of that I am able to get more links, which knocks them off (or down on) the SERPS organically, without any assistance from G other than their current algos.
On the other hand, if a site comes up that shouldn't, and I check the cache
that G has and it's obvious they are feeding G a cloaked page - I report them and, no surprise, they get taken off within a day or so, everytime.
As a purely practical matter, in my experience Google defines spam as someone "messing with their algos". By "messing", meaning providing a result that was not intended or anticipated by Google during coding.
If they decided to write an algo that said "all text in purple is now ranked higher than everything else", then an SEO would not be a spammer by putting all their keywords in purple by Googles standards.
They might be by my
standards, however, and the internet community as well, which is why Google has 80 PhDs on staff making sure the algos are realistic and effective.
In the above scenario, if you wrote a program that showed visitors a nicely laid out page with pleasing colors, and then used CSS or redirected Google to a page all typed in purple, that would be spam to Google. It might not be to visitors, since they are getting a nice looking site instead of the ugly one.
Google defines it's niche by using algorithyms to index and rank the net, NOT by providing a hand edited directory of results. When Google started out, Yahoo was doing that. We can see where that led. Yahoo now uses Googles results in preference to it's own!
Basically, Googles doing it's business it's way, just like everyone else does. If you choose a career that relies on the business practices of a company you do not control, then you must get accustomed to not being in control.
By all means, provide feedback and input. No one here will argue that Google is perfect. They ARE currently the best, which is why results and policies are measured against them. But "the best" does not mean perfect. It doesn't even mean "the best at everything" - just overall. That may change at anytime.
Finally, don't always assume that yours or anyone's complaint is the be all and end all of Googles day. They may not get around to it. They may decide to hand it over to a guy who types it into a database for analysis. They may decide to ignore it because it was written incorrectly or didn't meet some internal guideline. There are many things they may do, or not do. It's up to them.
Basically, I'm saying that if you find a spammer, report them. But don't expect a parade in your honor, a simple thank you, or even any action taken at all. But it's better than not reporting them.
Edited by mcanerin, 29 September 2003 - 01:52 PM.