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This 61 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 61 ( 1 [2] 3 > >     
Mouseovers and Google
Does Google penalise mouseovers for affiliates?

 2:02 pm on May 1, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi folks,

Just had a sponsor contact us regarding a problem with Google. They claim that Google will grey out the PR of any sites which are using a mouseover to hide affiliate links.

They claim that Google will penalise both the sponsor and the referrer in these cases.

Eg. [a href="affiliate link" onmouseover="window.status='destination URL you want them to believe they are going to'; return true"]

This may also apply to any scrolling text on the status bar too?

Can Googleguy or anyone please confirm or deny this before we have to change an large amount of code. :(



 9:07 am on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

SEOPTI, come on, it's a very important search engine.

Please, I am taking this seriously, coz right now it's costing me money :(


 11:49 am on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Like I said, use onmouseovers and Google will get you asap ;)


 12:09 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

SEOPTI... how do you say that with such confidence?

Is there something you know that we dont?

Seems to me Brummie has a legitimate concern... and so do I. Seems quite lame to have such a brush off reply on a board that we read so often and have learnt so much from.

Mouseovers are not a new concept... and are in general used to hide affiliate codes...

I am so confused


 1:38 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I really think you guys are worrying over nothing. Fact is at the moment we cannot get a definitive answer (unless GoogleGuy has something to say?) so might as well wait for the update or change everything just in case. It has been said before but Google use the exact same mouseover for their adwords so I just really can't see it being a problem.

Actually, having just taken a look perhaps it would be a good idea to remove the http:// and just use www.url.com, this is what google uses and it means their new algo shouldn't parse it as a link.


 2:07 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

First mouseovers then tables, layers, JS, Flash, background images, CSS etc... Google will drive the web back to the stone age.

Start converting your sites to plain text HTML with black text on white background or Google will PR0 you!


 2:22 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)


you have to design your page like Google.com, plain fine html and you won't risk to get PR0 for your lifetime.


 2:28 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)


But I do feel that it is reasonable for webmasters to hide sponsor codes as long as the mouseover matches the resulting domain the surfer arrives at.

Can Googlebot tell the difference between a mouseover that says "CLICK HERE FOR XYZ" and "http://www.sponsorxyz.com"?

If Google can hide Sponsored Links on their own pages using "go to xyz.com" then maybe this is a big ole rumour!



 3:52 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm willing to bet the status bar is off on most IE/Win user's computers--considering the lengths at which I had to find out how to keep the stupid thing on without it randomly disappearing.


 3:59 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google does not penalize for mouseover javascripts from my experience. I use it to mask long urls to shorter urls or to have it display the sites name or description in the statusbar.

For those having issues with statusbar disappearing its the results of what certain types of sites do with popups and such. Theres details on how to make it stay on google by searching for stuff in regards to 'turn back on internet explorer status bar' or something fun like that for those who have had theirs go byebye.

In short I do not think Google penalizes for mouseover. Google uses it for their adwords and when they occassionally turn on their tracking code (i think)..


 4:03 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ok, everybody add this code to your website:

<a href="http://www.google.com/" onmouseover="window.status='Checkout This Great Search Engine!'; return true">Google</a>


 4:10 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

EliteWeb, in your experience Google probably doesn't, but the rumour is that Google will start doing so.

Google have never answered any email I have sent them (granted that they are busy people, which is fine), so I am asking on a webmaster board.


 5:31 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Brummie, you said a sponsor told you this. Why not track down the rumor, starting with asking the sponsor why they believe this to be true? Then report back here with the details.

Personally, I highly doubt this will happen. My theory is that it's confusion about Google's penalizing the use of "hidden links" to manipulate PR.


 5:31 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think this rumor will prove to be false.

Some of the best SEOs in the business read, post, and moderate here. And I haven't seen any of them give any credence to this rumor.

What I would ask is what is the newsletter writer's source? Did he get this straight from someone at Google? If he didn't, then its the writer's guess, and what is he basing that on?

Google does have a new filter coming out any day to catch "hidden links". This was announced at the PubConference by Matt Cutts. Perhaps this newsletter writer heard this, and extrapolated this to mean that onmouseovers are "hiding" links.

The hidden links that I heard Matt Cutts discuss at PubCon were things like invisible pixel links. I interpreted "hidden" to mean the user can't see any link at all. With a mouseover, a link is presented to the user, its not hidden.

It could be argued that some onmouseovers are deceiving the user about where he is clicking to. But I doubt Google will take action on this. Why? Because it would be using a sledgehammer when a scalpel is needed.

I know of many sites that use onmouseovers to present a text message in the status bar. I use a few of these in one of my sites. On my sales letter page, I have links to the order page. That link is an "adtracker" link, which redirects the user to the order page so it can track the link. I don't want people to see the adtracker link because it has a url that looks nothing like my site.

I think this is a legit use, and I can't see Google getting bogged down in the ethical minutae of how people conduct ecommerce.

In many ways this is like saying Google will penalize you because you use popups.

Chill out and wait until something happens before rebuilding your sites. I think this rumor will prove to be false.


 8:05 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is one of the weirder rumors I've read lately. :) What egomaniac said. Why would we care about a mouseover that changed the status bar?

I haven't seen the newsletter where someone said this, so I don't know exactly what they claimed. But I'll be happy to say that Google doesn't really care what someone does with their status bar. :)


 8:46 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Then answer me this Google Guy, will you go on record to say that there are NO penalities (current, planned or in test) whatsoever in regards to affilate links, on any page, in javascript or elsewhere, in any combination (with or without non-affilate type links)?

Non-Spam URL's don't go gray bar on their own, not on multiple sites, multiple companies, multiple affilate networks.


 8:59 pm on May 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

There you have it, straight from the horses mouth! Like I said nothing to worry about, all pie in the sky! And why should Google care, after all, how does a mouseover effect the quality of the serps? The answer isn't that all affiliate sites (good or bad) use mouseovers because 1. They don't... and 2. That would mean assassinating every other site with a js mouseover regardless. Even Google isn't about to go on a crusade like that!


 2:01 am on May 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply GoogleGuy :)


 9:06 am on May 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thank you Googleguy :))

and thanks to everyone who commented! :)


 12:56 am on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

At the risk of stirring up more crap about something that has sounded a bit silly from the start. has anyone heard any more about this?

The authors of the email that appears to have started this rumour don't seem as convinced by GoogleGuy as the rest of us are.

Not sure why no one has posted the text of the message that appears to have started this. It is worth a read to give some context to why anyone cared to start with. It's from an adult affiliate program, a commercial site designed to make money not friends. Depite so many free opinions that they are wrong... They still haven't reversed the demand to remove links with mouseovers and They are actually backing up the opinion with $$$.. They appear to be the ones that will lose most out of the move don't they?

Email Recieved 1st May

[edited by: NFFC at 11:18 am (utc) on May 5, 2003]
[edit reason] No emails as per TOS [/edit]


 1:38 am on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is a viral email. GoogleGuy said in this thread that the advice is WRONG. So why try and perpetuate it?

The answer might be that Indycash=new user - 1 post

For anyone who is wavering, do a search on Google for 'email hoax'


 1:56 am on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Glad someone posted the original email so I could see what they're talking about. Just to be clear: Google does not penalize for setting the mouseover to change the status bar. This is just not something that people need to worry about.


 11:16 am on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'll ask again... Do you penalize for affilate links in any fashion, regardless of the use of onmouseover or not?


 11:30 am on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

And if Google did penalize, what are you gonna do? Remove all your affiliate links or simply use a server side redirect to hide the affiliate link in your code. The answer is simple Beyond, if you are that worried about it just do something now and be done with it.


 11:48 am on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Beyond, I'm sure Google does not 'penalize' affiliate links. If ever, it's a question of content weight. Why should a page plastered with (text)ads rank better than a page with useful text of the same amount and an affiliate link here and there? I don't say it makes any difference currently, but it would make sense. If you think your site got penalized for affiliate links, I'd suggest to review your content and your inbound links. Also, check out whether sponsor sites are penalized, in some parts of the net sponsors tend to spam and you shouldn't link to bad neighborhoods. I'm sick of weekly rumors hindering my fellow webmasters productivity.
Just my 2 cents.


 12:53 pm on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

SebastianX - This isn't an issue of content weight or quality, bad neighborhoods or spam. It's about penalties for linking to affilate networks (large and small) and how it is done. There are some fairly complex issues involved here, don't be so quick to discount what is going on.

I don't like rumors either, unfortunately this isn't one.


 1:04 pm on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

It is a rumor.

Just like this other crap people spend so much time on.


 1:27 pm on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

The authors of the email that appears to have started this rumour don't seem as convinced by GoogleGuy as the rest of us are.
Depite so many free opinions that they are wrong... They still haven't reversed the demand to remove links with mouseovers and They are actually backing up the opinion with $$$.. They appear to be the ones that will lose most out of the move don't they?

Backing up their opinion is exactly right -- an opinion they formed by reading a speculative statement in a newsletter. But having money on the line doesn't mean they're right, and no, they have no more to lose than anyone here who uses affiliate links.

Anyway, I read over a dozen SEO- and marketing-related newsletters every week. There are only a couple in which I've never found rumors stated as fact, misstatements, or declarations that are simply false.

And I rarely see anyone back off later or write a retraction.


 1:35 pm on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

JayC - I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately - when someone puts seo after their name - people think they are an expert - and KNOW what they are talking about - nothing could be further from the truth.


 1:57 pm on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would like to be another one to show gratitude for your help, GoogleGuy.

I think most other people here understand that you have no obligation whatsoever to talk about any matter or answer any question at this or any other board; even if you feel that itīs fine for you to say something helpful, it doesnīt mean you have any obligation to further clarify your (usually clear enough) words.

Thanks again, and, please, keep your (always appreciated) posts coming.


 2:45 pm on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Please don't post emails - especially from commercial newsletters.

For reference, Beyond is the author of the original story on this. I trust his seo ability as much as any one I've ever met.


 7:08 pm on May 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

OK then, I am not 100% sure about affiliate links, but glad the mouseover issue is sorted.

MAYBE, the sponsor thinks the mouseover is making their code unreadable to Googlebot in some way, and that removing the mouseover will improve their backward links in some way?

Good reason for starting a rumour?

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