Rather than being the turn of a filter at Google, I think this phenomenon is related to a relatively new kind of website hack. The newer crop of hacks embeds scripts that alter pages selectively - according to the user agent and/or referer. If I'm right, you won't see the altered home page if you type in the home page address, only if you click on a Google search result.
tedster, I was actually hoping this thread would get your attention. It's not any kind of cloaking as best as I can tell. Did a direct type-in from a couple of IPs(including different UA's and ip's that I had not previously been refered by a search engine) and looked at google's cache.
Then it's not the most sophisticated "state of the art" spam-hack going. But it clearly depends on a server hack, since the home page for these domains is turned into a landing page.
Most likely the rankings come about through some kind of botnet leverage. However, the specific methods that they are using to force a quick ranking are not all that important - except to Google who needs to counteract them en masse rather than piecemeal. If you want to give Google feedback about what you see:
- Use the reporting feature in your Webmaster Tools account. Because your account authenticates you, Google tends to give this communication higher priority and credibility.
- Use this form for giving more anonymous input: Google: Search Quality and Your Feedback [google.com].
- At the bottom of every search results page, use the link that says "Disatisfied? Help us improve."
- Google offers an online discussion group for webmaster help [groups.google.com]. Your questions - with specific identifying details about your site - are welcome there.
Be precise but brief in your message to Google. Report both the actual search keywords and explain the problem you see.
Google Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com]
I reported the use of one of my secure Control Panel URLs to google several weeks ago. Dumb customer had compromised it through a public computer. The URL, without periods and slashes, was listed in several hacked forums - hundreds of domains/urls in all including this one.
I told google exactly what the phrase was - it was exact in every instance I saw - and told them it would never be used and that, in fact, the domain was never used publicly so all references could be blocked.
The hacked forums are still being listed. Never even got a copy of the message, never mind a reply.
There is a lot that google could do to remove hacked sites (and a lot they can't, I suppose). It would be nice if they would try a little harder.
I have been looking into sites doing this in my industries an they have the top results bolted on. Can name many sites doing it and controlling some top 40k a month terms.
would love to discuss this more as its puzzled me for a while. Seems to work on aged domains and rather than a hack ooks like google glitch to me.
[edited by: tedster at 11:28 pm (utc) on Nov. 29, 2008]
I don't think you're seeing the same thing as the opening post describes, unless those top results you mention as "bolted on" are benefitting from links form hacked sites. That seems unlikely because those links only have power for a short period, then Google zaps them.
I know that one. It is an ru backlink network. Works quite well. No google glitch, google's algo works on links and these link nets give backlinks. Pretty simple really, if real sites join then you would get links from real sites.
[edited by: Crush at 2:39 pm (utc) on Nov. 30, 2008]