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eHow pages don't show external links in the Google cache

 3:29 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

It looks like eHow is cloaking all external links for googlebot.Earlier, I used to see them adding nofollow to almost all links in the resources section.Now what they do is almost cloaking!

They mention the url against rel tag and use a class="jsnofollow". A normal user will be able to click through these resource links but when we see the text version of the google cache for any ehow page, the resources section seem to just have a mention of references, instead of any links!

This would mean that there will literally be no external links out of eHow! Not even nofollow links!

I was earlier mentioning in a thread about how links from wikipedia and other authority sites like eHow seem to pass value, even if they are nofollowed.But this cloaking by eHow will now mean that search bots will not see any links at all!

1) Does this confirm that even eHow believe in the theory that nofollow links do pass value?

2) How does yahoo site explorer able to recognize eHow backlinks? Does this mean eHow is cloaking it only for Google and probably bing? (Note that Bing doesn't have a cache link and hence this is difficult to find)

3) Do any of you still see links from eHow for any of your pages in GWT?



 5:28 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Any answers for these? Is this fine to do?

I have seen eHow making dofolow linkbacks.They made it nofollow a year or two back and now they do this.Seem to be getting more and more greedier as years pass by!

Note that I am absolutely fine with nofollow links as I do it as well...and it doesn't look different to different users!


 5:34 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does this mean eHow is cloaking it only for Google and probably bing?

Nope... Turn your javascript off and refresh a page that looks like it has outbound links on it.

Oh, the JavaScript of it all... lol


 5:39 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did you check the Google cache page (Text version)?


 5:40 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

How did you test this? Because I don't see any difference between the cached version and the real page?


 5:41 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Click on the "Text only version" of the cache page...


 5:48 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Did you check the Google cache page (Text version)?

No, why would I? I checked the site... The links are turned on dynamically using JavaScript. Simple. Easy. Effective. The cache won't be much if any different than what you'd see if you navigated to the page on the site with JavaScript turned off.


 5:52 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I got it...so they are just javascript links...I never noticed them for long...

But... doesn't things done with JS fall within the definition of cloaking?


 5:55 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would think so, but Google seems to be more interested in changing the title of my site to what they feel like showing than enforcing their terms these days...

Personally, I wish they would just show the stinking title I put on the page, it's there for a reason, and as far as the links go I wouldn't do it, but what do they actually catch these days? In reading the recent threads here I'd have to say not much...


 5:57 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I guess they would have used a lawyer to read and understand this [google.com...]

before they decided to use JS for external resources.. lol


 7:22 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

From those guidelines: "Note that placement of links within JavaScript is alone not deceptive."

It appears that google is much more concerned about javascript redirects that prevent users from seeing indexed content than with links that are powered by javascript.


 5:43 am on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

deadsea, I think you should read it along with the next few lines.

Note that placement of links within JavaScript is alone not deceptive. When examining JavaScript on your site to ensure your site adheres to our guidelines, consider the intent.

Keep in mind that since search engines generally can't access the contents of JavaScript, legitimate links within JavaScript will likely be inaccessible to them (as well as to visitors without Javascript-enabled browsers). You might instead keep links outside of JavaScript or replicate them in a noscript tag.

The intent of eHow is not bad towards end users.But not so good for owners of the reference sites that they cite.

Also, google has clearly mentioned what it prefers in the second paragraph of the above quote.

However, Google worries about its end users and not owners of reference sites.So what eHow is doing might be fine with them. This is exactly why I mentioned that these big online players might have even taken legal help in understanding the Google TOS :)

ps: SEOs with qualification in law will be in hot demand after all these press articles and forum threads :)

But eHow was a site with UGC (is it still?) and people who contribute towards it, make those references in the Resources section with {probably} good intent.It isn't nice on eHow's part to turn those credits into useless ones.

And it is even more of a reason why a person who finds his content copied on eHow should feel more irritated.

I guess Demand Media should title their patent as How to manipulate search engines to rank high for everything and be the dead end for everything?

Robert Charlton

 10:27 pm on Feb 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree with indyank that the intention of the links is to avoid helping the owners of the reference sites. The question is... why do it this particular way? Why not just use rel="nofollow"?

The code for the links in question is:

<a class='jsNoFollow' rel="http://www.example.com/original-article" target="_blank">

On the pages I saw, these links are used only with the external reference articles (which supplied the material that guided the writing of the eHow pieces). These look like navigable links to the user, with javascript on or off... but with javascript off the links aren't clickable, even though they remain styled as links with underlines etc.

Clearly this is to affect Googlebot somehow while still looking good to the casual observer. Is eHow hoping to hoard PR and get around the rel="nofollow" black hole effect? ...or just to fool those reference sources that don't check hard enough?

The sources by definition have got to be trusted by eHow, so... from a trust perspective... rel="nofollow" would be inappropriate.

It's difficult to say how Google would be looking at these. We had a two page discussion about a Matt Cutts' tweet about cloaking and redirects back in December....

Matt Cutts Offers a "Heads-Up" for 2011

Google will [look] more at cloaking in Q1 2011. Not just page content matters; avoid different headers/redirects to Googlebot instead of users. [twitter.com...]

I speculated that this might be about possible "divergences between user and Googlebot experience", "'weird javascript' links", and "distribution of link juice". This eHow reference link scam isn't the kind of situation I imagined, though, as the "redirect" (if you want to call it that) is a redirect to nowhere. That is a divergence, though, and the intention is definitely deceptive.


 7:55 pm on Feb 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

eHow has linked to my guides MANY times and linked to my pages as source EVERY time but alas not long after Google indexes their pages they remove the link.


 1:18 am on Feb 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

What i'm really wondering is why did they name the class jsNoFollow... it's like they are begging to get caught. Or maybe this is exactly what they're after.... brand awareness.... people talking about them. I've been in this online bussines for quite some time now. The first time i heard about ehow was after G's last algo update,when people started mentioning that it was targeted at sites like ehow...
Personally, i belive there's bigger fish to fry than these ones,but it's nice to see at least some of them being put to the wall


 1:29 am on Feb 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is eHow hoping to hoard PR and get around the rel="nofollow" black hole effect?

Yes, they are hoping to hoard PR and to get around the black hole effect. So boring and unimaginative. Whoever put this together maybe thought they were clever but it's not. This is among the most hackneyed of low level tricks. The numbest of skulls have been doing these kinds of unimaginative "tricks" for ages.

This is an easily detected attempt to manipulate Google's algorithm. These kinds of "tricks" have been been employed by the numb skulls for so long, that it's probably already on the list of things to flag a site for. It's probably why Google notes unlinked URLs and can read and follow JS links.

This kind of effort is not necessary and might even be hurting them and if isn't it should and it could. What does a site that is a dead end on the Internet say about them? It looks unnatural. It's easy to spot and flag for scrutiny and it should be scrutinized because it's an attempt to manipulate how Google ranks them. And we all know how Google feels about attempts to game their algo.


 2:34 am on Feb 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

@zerillos, eHow was acquired by Demand Media in 2006. As I see it, Demand Media IS one of the big targets - and safer to go after them than AOL. AOL's content strategies are also under criticism, but AOL clearly has a tight bond with Google, making it not as easy to call them out in a big way.

At the same time, AOL properties aren't dominating in the SERPs in such an obnoxious fashion, either.

There's a battle going on between two models. Vapid content created to generate ad impressions versus content that attracts visitors BECAUSE of its quality.

Online economics seems tilted toward the first model, and that should be a major concern. Something at the very base of things needs to change, or the world population will dumb down instead of being raised up.


 12:23 am on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

@tedster BTW, a few hours ago I saw Demand Media in my AdSense third party ad networks list... talking about bonds...
Does anyone else have them?


 12:50 am on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

They pump out completely useless information and ranks for everything...



 1:37 am on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not clear. There seems to be two different things going on here. The JS may or may not be exectuable or followable by Google's bot. BUT. That anchor tag? Crawling's one thing, indexing and analyzing is another. That anchor tag seems like it would be read just fine when it comes time to count links - Google's not going to look at the class of the tag, only the href.. Unless I'm missing something.


 1:47 am on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think what you're missing it's not an href in the <a> that contains the links, it's a rel ... Turn your JS off and try to find the links ... They aren't there without JS, so they're not there for GBot, especially if they disallow their JS file from being crawled.


 1:58 am on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

And there's no href attribute in sight, only a rel attribute, right?

<a class='jsNoFollow' rel="http://www.example.com/original-article" target="_blank">


 1:58 am on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I see now. Oh well, don't depend on sites like that for backlinks then :).

Personally I gave up on that whole squidoo type of site a couple of years ago. In the end, their interests are going to conflict with anyone doing SEO who provides content. Just like wikipedia, except wikipedia's big enough to just nofollow everything without screwing around pretending.


 3:35 am on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, they don't have href attribute.Many would miss the fact that the url is specified against rel attribute and not the href attribute.

The whole stinking stuff has been designed to hoodwink everyone.

What wikipedia does is acceptable as it is UGC and google suggests to add nofollow to external links in UGC.

Two years ago, eHow had dofollow links to their references.It looks like rel=nofollow had been added after DemandMedia's acquisition and then they went on to do what we see now.


 11:13 pm on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Guys, i think you missed my previous post. Google has just included Demand Media, the owners of eHow in their AdSense 3rd party advertiser network. This means they are some kind of partners now. Right?
This discussion is pointless at this moment.
Or maybe isn't... if they accepted demand media (ehow), does this mean they approve ehow's tactics?


 11:21 pm on Feb 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

For the moment - and for Adsense. I would love to eavesdrop on discussions between Google and Demand Media right now, though.

I'm sure this wouldn't prevent Google from lowering their organic traffic if the user data showed Google it was wise, or if they introduce a "content quality" filter or document calssifier into the organic mix.

Demand Media seems to know that, too - they've been making noises about their plans to upgrade their content quality.

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