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Link Sellers, Duplicate Content & AdSense Guidelines – Google Pronouncements

Posted in: Google,Search Engines,SEM by Richard Hearne on December 20, 2006
Internet Marketing Ireland

In what looks like a charm offensive Google seems to be reaching out to webmasters.

Selling links can hurt your website’s health

Last Friday a Googler by the name of Stephanie, who is based in Dublin no less, made a posting on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog concerning the official Google stance on paid links, and in particular link sales. (Strangely, the author’s name has been subsequently changed to – I recall there being a full name on the post initially and it was French I believe?)

Perhaps of particular note:

We have more people working on Google’s link-weighting for quality control and to correct issues we find. So nowadays, undermining the PageRank algorithm is likely to result in the loss of the ability of link-selling sites to pass on reputation via links to other sites.

There have been rumours that Google has a team of covert link buyers who identify link-selling sites (I’m not sure this isn’t fairly obvious though?).

So if you do sell links you might be at risk of being blacklisted within the pagerank algorithm.

[As an aside, can't wait for WP2.1 and the auto save feature - I wrote a post about this on Friday only to see it disappear in front of my eyes when FF made an uncharacteristic history-1 manoeuvre :(]

Adam Lasnik on Duplicate Content

An issue that seems to pop up again and again is duplicate content. Canonical URL has been referenced a number of times by the likes of Matt Cutts, and now Adam Lasnik has written an official post on the Webmaster Blog:

We recognize that there are many nuances and a bit of confusion on the topic, so we’d like to help set the record straight.

Adam discusses what exactly duplicate content is and isn’t, and then offers some advice on how to avoid the issues that are usually associated with the problem.

The usual remedies are advised along with one or two nerve-soothers:

  1. use robots.txt to block access to dupe content;
  2. use proper 301 redirects;
  3. ensure internal linking is consistent;
  4. ccTLD for country specific content;
  5. advice for syndicated content;
  6. preferred domain from Webmaster Console;
  7. keep boilerplate content to a minimum;
  8. avoid thin-content pages;
  9. CMS issues;
  10. Scrapper sites.

It’s a good read to get the official Google line on duplicate content.

Using images in the vicinity of your AdSense blocks

This actually seems to be a policy shift by Google. The use of images close to ad blocks had been found to increase the CTR on publishing sites. Although publishers previously had to clearly separate ad and image blocks, it appears that Google no longer wants to see images near to ad blocks:

We ask that publishers not line up images and ads in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads.

The posting also gives some visual examples of what’s now outside the guidelines, and one of the images included a clear border between the images and the adblock.

The actual guideline seems somewhat fuzzy to me, and it is not clear just what is and what isn’t viable within TOS. The examples given and the wording of the post require some implicit assumptions – it appears that having 4 images aligned with a four ad block is unacceptable, but how about having three images?

More debate to come methinks…

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1 Comment »

  1. In regards to the link exchange..
    I wonder are google going to “punish” users who have a links page without the nofollow tag?

    I don’t know how they’re going to enforce anything about links, paid or unpaid. It’s the bread and butter of webmaster (well one of them).

    Comment by Cormac — December 21, 2006 @ 8:54 am

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