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This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >     
Official Google Guidelines Updated - Maybe

 1:50 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Picked this up on the net:

Have confirmed with two Google employees that these new guidelines were put up by mistake and were not meant to go public yet. I just happened to notice them and I naturally wrote about them.

I have removed this post because I was writing about something that was not supposed to go live yet. I guess all I can tell you for sure is that there will be new guidelines at some point.


Can anyone confirm we are getting new guidelines from Google?

[edited by: tedster at 1:57 pm (utc) on Sep 20, 2012]
[edit reason] added a ink [/edit]



 2:27 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)



 2:36 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not a lot new there, is there?


 2:45 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow, seems like there's quite a bit new. Scroll down on the picpaste page and see all the new parts Sexton highlighted. These are interesting because they may point at areas their algorithm are going to target harder:

Avoid scraped content.

Avoid automatically generated content.

Monitor your site for hacking and remove hacked content as soon as it appears.

Prevent and remove user-generated spam on your site.


 2:52 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

it will be a miracle when the google SERPs return results that adhere to the current guidelines let alone some new ones.
maybe google should sort out their crap SERP's before dishing out new guidelines.
when i look up misguided in my dictionary it just says "Google"


 3:00 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Prevent and remove user-generated spam on your site.

Would have been nice if this would have been the first phase of penguin or if they would have addressed this prior to penguin.

Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value

One of these things is not like the others... sorry, having a Sesame Street Moment.
This one seems to be a bit of an outlier, pushing the envelope IMO.


 4:38 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value

It may not have been mentioned in the official guidelines, but it was widely communicated - in videos, in their forums and blog articles. It was Google's original use of the phrase "thin content" which almost every SEO has heard by now unless they've been hiding under a rock.


 4:54 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

"thin content" is one thing, communicating a dislike for something is also, but going after a specific business model in your guidelines is a whole nother animal IMO. The point of my post was that it really stands out, to me, in the guidelines as more overreaching than the other "recommendations."

*I am NOT an affiliate marketer


 5:30 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

If Google actually adhered to their guidelines then eHow would not show up at all in the serps.... 90% of their content is scraped (STOLEN CONTENT) from other sites with nofollow links to the real source.


 6:06 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes but given that G and ehow ( Demand Media ) have "intersection" ( see set theory ) vis a vis some of their VC backers and major shareholders etc..G will make noises about content farms and scrapers" , and ehow will either be given a pass, or algos will be "adjusted", so as not to hurt them..

Or they will be able to "recover" from "algos that are aimed at content farms and scrapers" just by changing a few parts of their page design, whereas other sites ( even those that ehow has scraped by it's human scrapers ) will fall in serps for their own content..outranked for it by ehow..

Google's deal with Demand media for the ehow channel on youtube professional demonstrates how close they are, ehow makes a very great deal of money for Google..as a search for .."links between Google and demand media" ( with or without the quotes ) or similar searches, will show clearly..ehow may be hit superficially by algos, but that is soon rectified..


 8:20 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

ehow makes a very great deal of money for Google

While that may be true. Letís examine the quality of the clicks they get. After all, doesnít that have an effect on how much Google pays out to the adsense publisher and receive on its own? IE; low quality click pays less than high quality. Iím certain if Ehow (letís say they never existed) was not in the position, those same clicks would be going to better quality oriented sites, or those that drive better quality traffic?

Just thinking...but maybe they get a pass?


 9:14 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

...and ehow will either be given a pass, or algos will be "adjusted", so as not to hurt them..

This has been bothering me for some time. Google's algo's are a collection of biases for or against something. It's become my opinion that these biases clearly favor some sites, some of which clearly make Google a lot of money. eHow content is one of the web's dirty secrets that must have been noticed by Google long ago. But eHow and sites just like it emerge unscathed from each and every update.

I can't help but wonder if the bias of the algo was adjusted to benefit some sites over others and whether the sites receiving the boost are better financial partners for Google than those those that got the shaft.


 9:33 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

ehow has been the un-named "elephant in the room" during many Google algo updates and press conferences etc..

Even when the name ehow is brought up directly by reporters etc , or when the presence of the largest by far, and the most obvious human powered scraper in their SERPS is mentioned as "strange" or worthy of attention, or proof that their anti-scraper algos are not working as we are told they have been planned..the Google PR people and the reps either ignore the questions, change the subject, or trot out the totally unconvincing "we cant get into discussion of individual sites"...and yet they can , do, and have discussed many individual sites by name in the past..

So yes..I have always thought it safe to assume ( based upon such things, and their financial relationships ) that some sites ( ehow in particular ) have a "pass" and that if they are affected by algos, they are allowed to climb back out far more rapidly than others, and with only superficial effort, the protestations of " we have made large and extensive , expensive changes" of their CEO(s) notwithstanding...

[edited by: Leosghost at 9:44 pm (utc) on Sep 20, 2012]


 9:37 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)


It goes back to the times I've heard some say "just make a list" of the big offenders. At least we wouldnít keep hearing the name Ehow. It really would be a better world. But maybe the internet needs those short, thin content sites. Look at the attention span of many people these days. The information age/multi tasking has changed a lot of things.

Heck I donít do texting nor do I use a smart phone to read email. Maybe Iím rambling, but what Iím getting at is some people donít bother to read long emails judging from the responses I get from time to time. Will they be reading long pages of web text in ten and 20 years?

ďI canít read your email in this little boxĒ

Incidentally this would be considered a long email.


 10:47 pm on Sep 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

...maybe the internet needs those short, thin content sites.

Perhaps, but recently I was with someone looking up information on the web and the first page they visited was an eHow article. Once they had finished with the article, I asked them what they thought of it. "Kind of crappy," they responded. After I took a moment to explain what sort of site eHow is, how they get their content, and they're raison d'etre, my friend said that explains a lot and that they would never visit eHow again.

I told them to tell their friends. That may never be enough to dent eHow's traffic, but if Google is going to keep waving eHow through, it's up to the rest of us to spread the word. In the meantime, the "User Guidelines" will remind me of Animal Farm where "all animals are equal but some are more equal than others."


 12:14 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

uhh, doesn't Google have an affiliate network?


 12:30 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

It nice to see that people are starting to see that Google use their Guidelines like a weapon

I continues to pain me to see very articulate members of this board climb on to the latest Google "name calling" band wagon at the first opportunity

This is important, If an atmosphere is allowed to develop whereby Google determined values dominate , it begins to affect the physical world in a very real way

consider the issue of Bloggers and internet commentators and a patent case that was a thread here

So far this all sounds innocuous, yet does anyone still consider a cj affiliate link to be a sneaky redirect?


 1:39 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

The Panda history for eHow was quite involved. They escaped Panda 1.0, but were hit strong by the next Panda update. Then they made some very interesting adjustments by migrating their best content to subdomains dedicated to their best authors. As these URLs were indexed and Panda computed opver the next few months, eHow began to climb back up. One year later, eHow was getting past the Panda algorithm pretty much all around.

I do give minimal credit to Demand Media for figuring out how to get around Panda - and then being willing to do the work. What a shame that their work did not include more accuracy, real depth and editorial oeversight, rather doing "just enough" to get past Panda no matter how much their content pollutes the web.

At least the "How to Pour Milk" style articles are pretty much gone. But the scraped-content-spun-with-inaccuracy pages are still happening. That's a joke. but it's also not so easy to catch with a pure machine learning algorithm and no manual spam actions. How can an algorithm today identify inaccurate information? Maybe as the Knowledge Graph matures, there's a chance of that happening, but we're not there right now.


When it comes to describing affiliate sites as a business model that is under attack, I'd say that's not exactly true. It's reproducing feeds with no (or minimal) change that's under attack. I know too many affiliate sites that are doing well to say the entire business model is under attack.

The barriers to affiliate entry are certainly higher today, but it's still easier than opening a new offline business.

And as an end user I am happy with that. I remember well seeing page #1 with ten different affiliates all selling the same item with the same language. That was a really bad SERP experience for the user, no matter how much the sites enjoyed their income. I'd rather see a mix of one e-commerce site plus 9 informational sites than that kind of duplication.

In fact, other kinds of thin e-commerce sites are also struggling on Google these days. There's trouble in business models like lead generation, or fulfillment programs such as drop ship, hold your own inventory, even build your own products. If the brand is not actively growing happy and repeat customers and generating decent buzz, then it simply has trouble holding onto its previous level of organic traffic.

I do think there's something here that is overly severe - with too high a bar being set. This has often been the case in the past, too, when a new algo factor is rolled out. Remember the "minus 950" penalties? Over time those mellowed and faded into the background.

I still expect to see the Panda and Penguin ranking adjustments mellow over time, too. But since the algorithms are more complex, it may well take a longer time to mellow. It's like that cheese on TV ads that isn't mature yet.


 1:42 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

to see very articulate members of this board climb on to the latest Google "name calling" band wagon at the first opportunity

This is important, If an atmosphere is allowed to develop whereby Google determined values dominate , it begins to affect the physical world in a very real way

But that's what can make for thoughtful and healthy discussion. Nothing but total agreement, post after post and thread after thread, would put me to sleep ;)

[edited by: tedster at 2:35 am (utc) on Sep 21, 2012]


 1:55 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Four legs good, two legs bad.


 3:04 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is their official definition of a thin affiliate from the 2012 Guidelines:

"A thin affiliate is a website that earns money from affiliate commissions. It exists primarily to make money. The spammer shows content from other ďrealĒ merchant sites, such as Amazon or eBay, or a good hotel or travel website. When users click on links to buy products or make reservations, they are redirected to the ďrealĒ merchant page.

The thin affiliate offers little additional information and does not offer substantial value to users. This is a moneymaking spam technique."

Being an affiliate myself I have seen many affiliate sites take a hit in traffic. Many of which started out as the traditional datafeed type site or coupon site with no original content. They did really well for a while back in the day and now ever since Panda, things have been on the decline. But then it is interesting to see other affiliates with the same type of business model do well. You take a closer look and lotta time the difference is due to their content (either an original idea or useful way of displaying content), social media and their interaction with the visitors.

tedster, some good points and insight about the affiliate businesses, ecommerce sites, and drop ship businesses. The internet space has gotten pretty overcrowded so one better bring something of value to the table otherwise it's best to close shop. Being a mom and pop shop on the internet is much harder now unless you target local. If not, you will be pushed out by the bigger businesses, bigger budgets and most likely Google itself.


 3:07 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Also some good details here about the new guidelines



 7:05 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)


- avoid sneaky redirects

There is an update within their quality rating guidelines, which were leaked in June I believe, that have an example of a sneaky redirect. That example is of a standard CJ affiliate link which everyone using CJ has. Google's affiliate network has the same type of links.

It appears that if an affiliate link has an additional domain name within the redirects it is to be considered sneaky by the raters.

mysite/GAN/shop = sneaky
mysite/CJ/shop = sneaky
mysite/shop = ok

By that logic a url shortening link is *sneaky* too ?!

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 7:09 am (utc) on Sep 21, 2012]


 7:09 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

The version of that leaked document I see includes the phrase "with spam intent". That clearly does NOT describe a CJ redirect.


 7:10 am on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

That clearly does NOT describe a CJ redirect.

Page 136 under *Sneaky Redirect Example*... it's a CJ link (they even provide a screenshot).


 5:08 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Page 136 under *Sneaky Redirect Example*... it's a CJ link (they even provide a screenshot).

Very interesting.

This means all links sent through a redirect script could be construed as "sneaky". Redirect scripts help with tracking, but a reviewer will not understand the legitimate exceptions. What I find "sneaky" are the serp listings that do an immediate redirect (I thought Google resolved those back in 2005 with the 302 fiasco, but I just hit one about 20 minutes ago).


 6:16 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I must say that the combination of Google doggedness in getting their way, (use guideline to deal a few blows to the competition) and Webmasters trying to match their clothes to the official livery of the new in-crowd is sickening

Having said that, having puked into ma sick bag, perhaps i'll repair down to the nearest in-crowd shop an buy the new livery too,

After the US FTC gives Google the Keys to the web economy, we'll all be attentive students at the next

"Guideline orientation thread"


 9:14 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I must say that the combination of Google doggedness in getting their way, (use guideline to deal a few blows to the competition)

No offense, I just want to point out that while I understand how you could think that, but that if you take a moment to consider the facts, you will see that it is a less than accurate conclusion. Google has had a bone to pick with affiliate marketers since before AdSense existed. The issue is not that affiliate programs are competitors. The issue is that there are individuals who use aggressive means to undermine Google's mission to provide accurate search results. That's it.

It would be irrational to argue that the SERPs are worse off without affiliate feed sites or squeeze pages. Affiliate marketers, the good ones at least, understand that those kinds of pages have a limited shelf life.


 10:45 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Non taken :)

I accept that a lot of pure affiiate feed sites do not meet either my needs, or the needs of many others in a serps result.

However, whereas its algorithmically feasable to identify pure feed generated content, duplicate content as they used to do,

Is defining the primary income generating mechanism of their major competitors as web spam defensible?

Page 136 under *Sneaky Redirect Example*... it's a CJ link (they even provide a screenshot).

A bit like saying Knives are bad because Bad people often hurt others with them

These guys are expert at sandwiching 'landmines' within a raft of largely decent measures, it gives people good stuff to focus on, debate, while the landmines slide gently and quietly till they impact upon their targets

Andy Langton

 11:08 pm on Sep 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

To me you should read Google's guidelines as you would a sign on someone else's property.

"We reserve the right to refuse admission if..."

And let's face it, the guidelines are generic, easily defensible and, frankly, rather bland. The whole point of the affiliate line is that it includes "sufficient value". It's not possible to turn that into a black and white test of whether a practice is OK or not. But let's face it - we all know the sorts of sites this is calling out, and it isn't controversial cases. The sneaky redirect isn't sneaky because of the redirect - it's because of the context!

The guidelines are the sign to hold up to say "this is why you didn't get in".

But as others have pointed out, a change in the guidelines is interesting. Google want to be able to hold up the sign that says why you weren't admitted, and if they change the guidelines, they are expecting to be doing this to some different people.

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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