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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. :(
Althought they don't mention a grey bar or penalizing both sites.
They say Google will be beginning to penalize (in terms of PR) any site that uses onmouse over Javascipt.
The amount of the penalty depends on how many links use mouseovers (ex. on one page, 1 mouseover out of 5, would have a slightly less PR penalty than 4 out of the 5 etc...)
I wish Google guy would say if this is absolutely true as I have a crap load of links to fix also! :(
A penalty for mouseovers seems pretty crappy to me, but it seems it might be true (it's a new thing they say)...
"It appears that they object to hiding the target of links in any fashion."
But also that this is a very early stages of research.
If it is somehow true, it would have an impact on a HUGE amount of sites. I do believe if the penalty is true, it is a slight one (does not mean you can't still rank well). But for competitive terms the slightest edge can mean a BIG boost in rankings.
OK, I'll shutup now :)
But penalizing sites for using it on affiliate links? Why would Google bother? It doesn't have any substantive effect on the user experience. This canard about Google wanting to penalize sites with affiliate links has been around for years.
I would imagine that a clever / correct algo like this could isolate quite a large number of deceptive pages / links. Didn't G say they were focusing on JS more lately?
BTW. You're not meant to call GG's name in vain, forums rules and what-not.
[[a href="http://sponsorxyz.com/?myaffiliateID" onMouseOver="status='http://www.sponsorxyz.com/'; return true;" onMouseOut="status='';">CLICK HERE FOR XYZ</a]]
Although this is deceptive, I would only be hiding the "?myaffiliateID" from the surfer. Because surfers feel safer clicking on a link that looks normal in their status bar.
There are a lot of good, information rich sites out there which need to pay their bandwidth charges, and sponsors are the best way of doing this.
You can't blame webmasters for trying to make the sponsor link as attractive on the status bar as it may be as a page banner.
Er,... anyone know where I start queuing for Google deathrow?
I have also received this warning from 2 affiliates now. The message went like this:
This is for whowever has not seen it today.
Google has made steps to remove sites within 48 hours if you use mouse overs
heres an example
<a href="Affiliate Link" onMouseOut="window.status='';return true" onMouseOver="window.status='http://www.affiliatename.com';return true">
Or scrolling text instead of the URL surfers are about to be directed to.
This should be taken as an urgent request to remove if you have it on any of your pages
If not removed your will get your site removed from google and our site
Please can you make the changes before the 7th of april
Many Thanks "
Should I be worried and change all the mouseovers I have that hide the affiliate codes?
I would say your best bet, and safest way, would be to do it like Google does where it returns:
"go to thesite.com"
rather than the deceptive:
Where it makes it look like you are going to thesite.com but upon further investigation its really thesite.com?affiliateID=43456
Its very much easier for a user to see and understand a link points to www.selling-widgets.com then some horrendous www.affiliatemanagaer.com?AID=lskjvncalksnc&SessionID=LKJBHC)*&"£YEWd\sdjbcjhbsd blah blah blah.
Or course some people may abuse the possibilties, but I don't think we should be labelling this as deceptive practice and such, its to help the user not trick them.
But without the regular income from the sponsors, we may have to start looking for new jobs here :(
I agree it is not a trick, we are 100% honest about the URL they are about to arrive at. We just remove the ugly code; the end result is that they get the same domain they saw in their status bar before they clicked.