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I realize that many of the list items would logically just be a perceived "signal of quality" reversed but if we all dig down into our experience then this exercise just might bring up a few unique and useful insights. Here's a start:
25 Signals of Crap
I'm not claiming any of these are definitely a signal of crap, but they make my list of possibilities based on my own conversations and observation.
Please add/subtract/modify and let's see if we can find a new perspective and learn something.
Images that aren't compresses and take forever to load.
This brings up an interesting question: Just what do we mean by "crap"? Are we talking about badly-designed pages, or about search-engine spam?
A photographer's page of up-close-and-personal Emperor Penguin photos might be badly designed, with uncompressed 300Kb JPEG photos, but to the person who's really interested in Emperor Penguins, waiting for a dozen photos to download might be a small price to pay for seeing first-rate, detailed photos of Emperor Penguins in their natural habitat. Certainly the page wouldn't be "crap" in the eyes of an Emperor Penguin fancier, though it might be annoying to penguin fanciers who have dial-up connections.
Similarly, a page that looks ugly might be "crap" to a graphic designer, and a page with source code that doesn't validate might be "crap" to an HTML purist. But unless there's statistical evidence that uncompressed JPEG images and non-validating code are associated with a lack of intrinsic information value (see Google's mission statement), they're unlikely to be "signals of crap" from Google's point of view.
2) Highjacking the Browser back button?
3) Trying to install spyware / Malware?
4) Extremly long Multi-level marketing webpages with user tesimonies trying to tell you how u can make $#*$!#*$! per month working from home?
(Site otherwise ok technically)
A high bounce rate (surfers clicking back on their browser and selecting another search result).
Could be article too scientific for avg user, shop in the face of information seeker or information in the face of shopper, of which none is crap. Instead, a quick return to same search is a signal of honesty as opposed to long time spent on site to only realize after some time that everything is fluff and the site's purpose is to keep you as long as possible and maybe click an ad in desperation.
By this I mean of you start at the bottom of a page and draw a box and label it the name of your site,
and then above it you list in a box each the sites that link to your site,
and then above that you list the sites that link to the sites that link to your site,
Does if form a big diamond, or some other predictable geometric shape? If it does, there is probably some pattern or system that you are using to get the links to your site.
Ideally (me thinks) from a Google perspective it would look like a crazy Etch-a-Sketch drawing, with no discernible pattern.
So in this case pretty, and symmetrical link geometry (A term I just coined unless I am actually ripping it off from someone :)) means crap, and crappy erratic link geometry means quality!
Again, somebody please flame me as to how professor Higglemeister of Bethlehem Institute of Technology already wrote about this in his 1976 synaptic presentation on emerging phone spam, so I won't think too highly of myself for having figured this out.
Adsense - Yes good sites have it, but more bad sites have it and as a surfer, hit the back key when I see a page full of it.
Signal of bad Quality from a bot point of view...
Keywords - A page that says absolutely nothing, but you(or the bot) definitely knows what keywords are being targeted.
Why is a tell-a-friend option a signal of crap? Seems like a useful feature to me.
Yep, I created a script for myself which allows them to add/send it up to 3 email addresses and a message. It sends me a copy of whatever they sent and lists who they sent it to, their email, their IP, etcetera. Not being nosey, just want to know if someone is using it to spam others with..hehe
On my own site it gets between 34-116 uses per day (my low/high). I implemented on a couple clients sites and the one site it gets used at a steady rate 15-18% of all traffic (meaning out of 100 visitors 15-18 people use it). Think of the traffic increase...
After reading all of the posts, I am most interested in your post below:
More than 25% links from blogs
No links to the site from any domain in the top 100 for a query where the page ranks in the top 20 for that query
Steve, could you expand your thoughts on item #2 especially. But, also you were one of the first to mention Adsense...so a few thoughts on that. And if you respond to this, you might as well offer a few comments on the last item.
I hope that you are able to respond. Thanks
I have had a 'Reciprocal Links Policy' page for a few years now.
It simply says...
"We don't do them - sorry
It is not too hard to get into our directory but it is absolutely impossible to get in by offering an exchange link."
I have wondered from time to time if the SEs pick up on it and if so, whether they are able to distinguish between text that invites exchange links and text that actively rejects them.
Probably not, but it certainly cuts down on the endless requests!
Some people may not like FrontPage, Times New Roman, or AdSense, but it's unlikely that those are statistically meaningful "signals of crap" (whether they're taken alone or in combination with other factors).