Jennifer Laycock

Jennifer Laycock


Google has always stated that they take attempts to manipulate their rankings by purposely providing deceptive information to their spiders very seriously and that they are always on the lookout for new techniques employed by Web site owners to artificially inflate rankings. According to threads taking place in several popular search engine marketing forums, it seems that Google has adjusted their algorithms to catch a batch of sites using a JavaScript technique known as "onmouseover."

The idea behind this technique is to create a keyword stuffed Web page that will rank well, but that doesn't really contain readable content. A JavaScript command is placed within the body tag of the Web page and works to redirect the user to another Web site the second their mouse rolls over any portion of the page. The redirect happened so quickly that few Internet users would notice the change. Site visitors that are savvy enough to suspect the technique was being used could take the time to navigate through the browser with their keyboard and view the page's source code, where the JavaScript command could quickly be recognized.

These types of pages, commonly referred to as "doorway" or "gateway" pages are created solely to rank well in the search engines with no regard to the actual visitors that might find them. Google states on their Web site that site owners should "Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content." Webmasters that fail to follow Google's list of quality guidelines may find that their sites have been removed from Google's index and no longer appear in the search results.

Google's "Information for Webmasters" page encourages Google users to report sites that violate their quality guidelines and uses these reports to implement automated filters that catch these types of techniques. While search engine marketers have been aware of these practices for several months, Google's algorithm seems to have only recently been adjusted to catch sites utilizing them.

According to webmasters who have been keeping track of the sites using these techniques, the most recent Google updates have dropped the sites from the search engine results pages and the Google toolbar is now showing no PR associated with them.

So what is a webmaster to do if their site was caught in Google's latest net? Well, there are a few options.

1.) Take the time to fully read Google's Guidelines for Webmasters and make certain that your site is in compliance with them.

2.) Identify and remove any techniques in place on your site that are in violation of Google's guidelines. If a search engine marketing company placed them there, give serious consideration to breaking ties with that firm and selecting a new one that plays within Google's rules.

3.) Send an email to Google's webmaster department with the subject line "reinclusion request" and fully explain what was done to your site, who did it, when it was removed, etc...

4.) Say a prayer and hope that Google is forgiving.
June 30, 2004

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Google Cracks Down