Google has added two brand new spam warnings to their collection of SEM tools. The first warning is a “notice of detected unnatural links” and the second is a warning of detected cloaking. This is great news for search engine marketing specialists, as it means Google is cracking down more on unethical Internet marketing practices and letting webmasters know about negative aspects of their websites and how to fix them. This is especially helpful if it turns out that a third party is responsible for the problem. In either case, it means you need to fix your website if you want it to start getting hits on Google again.
What Constitutes Unnatural Linking and Cloaking?
To understand what Google deems to be “outside [its] quality guidelines” it’s worth going over what cloaking and unnatural linking are. In short:
- Cloaking is a technique in which a website delivers different content depending on the address of the user who’s accessing the website. If the user is a search engine spider, a server-side script will deliver information to it that’s different from the information visible on a web browser. This is considered unethical because it allows websites to show up on keyword searches even if the information they offer is not relevant or helpful to the user.
- Unnatural links are links that are bought or exchanged, instead of acquired naturally, i.e. by third parties acting out of their own motives. Websites that have excess amounts of links bought or exchanged for the purpose of boosting search engine rankings will be flagged and removed from page results.
Increasing the Quality of Search Results
The point of these new spam warnings is to increase the quality of Google’s search results. When Google detects pages that violate its quality guidelines it flags and removes them from search results pages. The following is an excerpt from an example cloaking spam warning that very specifically explains the issue:
As you can see, these new spam warnings are meant to let webmasters know that Google means business. As anyone with some experience in the SEO and SEM fields will tell you, one of the most essential pieces of Internet marketing advice you can get is “Don’t make Google mad.”
Author: Erick D. Smith lives in San Diego and blogs about SEO and Internet marketing advice. He agrees with other search engine marketing specialists that one of the best ways to keep Google happy is to design your site for your readers and not search engines. If you are doing the right things to make your users enjoy your site then Google’s bots will enjoy your site.