In January, Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer, posted on his blog (www.mattcutts.com/blog/) that, in 2006, "I expect Google to pay a lot more attention to spam in other languages, whether it be German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, or any other language. For example, I have no patience for keyword-stuffed doorway pages that do Java Script redirects, no matter what the language."
Matt was talking about the attempts on the part of some foreign websites to fool the Google web crawlers. Web crawlers are the automated programs that search content on the Internet in order to index and rank the material. Companies routinely employ search engine optimizers (SEO) to help them raise their website's score in Google's PageRank system. A SEO specialist who employs unfair techniques is called a black-hat guy.
Matt was complaining about the websites that insert a "doorway" page intended to artificially boost its popularity ranking with Google. When the web crawlers arrive, they scan this doorway page which contains "blocks of text with repeated key search words." (C/Net News) However, if a human client visits the site, s/he would be automatically redirected by Java Script from the doorway to another more attractive page with pictures and less text.
Apparently Google was serious about these efforts because, on Saturday, Cutts reported "[t]his week our webspam team continued ramping up our anti-spam efforts by removing BMW.de from our index, and Ricoh.de will be removed soon for similar reasons."
To show you what we're talking about, I copied several lines from the BMW doorway page below. Imagine a page covered in text like this:
"Sie suchen einen BMW Neuwagen? Unsere Suche nach BMW Handlern in lhrer Nahe bietet schnellen Zugriff auf BMW-Autohauser in lhrer Nahe, wo Sie sich die BMW Neuwagen in aller Ruhe und Ausfuhrlichkeit ansehen konnen. BMW Neuwagen - Sie erhalten von uns Adresse, Telefon und Website der BMW-Handler in lhrer Nahe. Suchen Sie uber Postleitzahl, Stadt oder Name des BMW-Partners. BMW Neuwagen - in jeder Abteilung
Notice that the word "neuwagen" (German for "new car") is repeated four times in as many lines. This is a blatant attempt to improve BMW.de's Google ranking for new cars. Matt says, "[t]hat's a violation of our webmaster quality guidelines, specifically the principle of 'Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users."
According to yesterday's C/Net News, "[t]o regain Google listing status . . . BMW.de will have to remove the Java Script that redirects users around the site in this fashion and then send a reinclusion request to Google's Webspam team, which Cutts leads. BMW.de has already removed some of the redirect pages."
Matt's blog also indicated that he was going to want details on WHO created the doorway pages and assurances that such pages won't reappear on the sites.
I thought this story about black-hat techniques was an ideal way to introduce tomorrow's blog -- about Yahoo and AOL's plans to charge businesses for guaranteed delivery of their spam.
Stay tuned . . .