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September 6, 2007

How Not to Suffer Under Google's New Goals


I can remember when I was younger, my mother would bring home the groceries and it was our job to carry them up to the house. My brother and I got started immediately, but my other brother would spend an hour trying to figure out how to make it easier on himself. I can see some of this in many of the webmasters today. Google has not kept their plans for their index and where these guidelines are going a secret. Yet, many webmasters have failed to heed the warning and are now starting to be hurt by the penalties and filters.

On 7/31/07 Google made the announcement that they were doing away with the supplemental labels, and over the summer would be working towards being able to query the supplemental index for every query. I am seeing supplemental pages popping up in Analytics in sometimes top spaces, and sometimes not. Although the terms are pretty obscure, this looks to be still a work in progress.

On 6/7/07 Google announced specific enhancements to their quality guidelines. Again, they did not keep any secrets, and were only responding to the plea of many webmasters to make the parameters more clear. So they named specifically many examples of things NOT to do:

  1. Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  2. Don't use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  3. Don't send automated queries to Google.
  4. Don't load pages with irrelevant keywords.
  5. Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
  6. Don't create pages that install viruses, trojans, or other badware.
  7. Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
  8. If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

How many webmasters ignored these directives? The better question is, how many worked so hard at getting around these simple requests, that now there are in hot water? These are not unreasonable things for Google to ask of the sites who wish to be listed in it's index.

Duplicate content is a big one, I Blogged the other day about some of the sites I looked at that had "lost" pages in Google's index. Many of them had duplication issues. We may never know for sure the exact cause of these site's being dumped, but duplication can't have helped. Google has not been quiet about duplication or it's move to a unique index at all...this is no surprise either.

Here is the big one, paid and reciprocal links. .....

  • Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A
    site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those
    sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of
    measuring a site's value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating.

    However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying links in order to improve a site’s ranking is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

    Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such.

    This can be done in several ways, such as:

    -Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the "a" tag

    -Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is

    -blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

    Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such link exchanges and purchased links. If you see a site that is buying or selling links, let us know. We’ll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of paid links.

So, everyone should have known this information already. The simple way to handle this rule in my eyes, and what I have been telling people is this....2 things. First of all, everything in moderation, if you pick up a good reciprocal link or even a few for traffic, "nofollow" or not...Its OK. Keep your reciprocals under the percentage of your other outgoing links, substantially under is best...Don't expect to get a juicy backlink score for these, they might just get devalued. If you pick up a paid link for traffic or advertising, this is most likely going to be devalued as well..I really think you should avoid these. However, if a paid link is "just" for advertising or traffic, ask the webmaster to 'nofollow' it, then you will definitely be OK. There are so many other organic means to build links, and this area.....As Google has demonstrated in the past few days that paid links are very volatile.

I think Google has demonstrated it's intention to follow through on these directives fully, and if after the months of information and added tools... You still choose to use avoidance as your course of action..You might just get burned. Don't misunderstand me, I do realize there will always be times when the rules don't fit the project, but you must clearly choose your battles. Google is not public domain, they have no responsibility to list your website. You on the other hand, have a responsibility to meet their guidelines in order to BE listed.

I don't agree with everything Google does, for sure! The reality however is, Google is in the driver's seat, not me. Yes, I believe, we as webmasters, have a voice with Google to get improvements and help....But they have chosen their path, and we are going to have to follow or be left behind.

Peace and SEO

Melanie Prough
"Baby"


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2 Comments:

Tim Nash said...

great post I just wish it was as black and white but take your first two, no hidden links or cloaking yet within days of the update the official google webmaster blog was advocating both techniques in the name of accessibility and having nasty flash web sites.
So Google says cloaking is ok if you promise to be nice! Which is fine but when do we cease being nice?

Now this I don't think is Google fault they have no real choice except to be reactive to what is happening and while people will abuse (or push) the boundaries we will always have these sorts of contradictions.

Melanie Prough "Baby" said...

Hi Tim,
I think you are exactly right...but so many webmasters crying about the things that are clearly not going to change. I say get over it and get on with it. While I disagree alot with Google, I can at least see the method to their madness here. I would not want to have to make decisions and implementations on the scale Google does...no matter what, someone is getting screwed. Just like any other BIG company, you can't please everyone.

I also think the fact that they are democratic enough to have rethought the cloaking thing and made it public scores big points for Google's awareness and execution of the things they learn and are told.
--Melanie