To paraphrase a 1970s TV commercial, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Google.”
In fact it can be downright disastrous if your livelihood depends on being easily found on the Web.
“Gaming” Google, the term used for attempts to artificially improve the rank of a site in search results, has gotten some high-profile publicity lately.
An article in The New York Times last month accused retailer J.C. Penney of using “black hat” tactics through the holidays to make its website the No. 1 result in searches for clothing and household items.
The Times accused Penney of paying to have thousands of links placed on hundreds of sites. Paying for links is a huge no-no and Google took action to downgrade Penney’s results. At 7 p.m. on a day in February, the department store retailer was No. 1 in the search for living room furniture. At 9 p.m. after “corrective action,” it was No. 68.
Penney denied any knowledge of the scheme and fired its search engine consulting firm. It also worked to have the links taken down.
Rank in Google is immensely important to retailers. It’s the difference between having a store in Times Square in New York City or one in a back alley in Massapequa, N.Y.
To comprehend how people try to game Google, you have to know a tiny about how the search engine works.
Google “spiderbot” programs are constantly fetching Web pages and indexing them — making an ordered list of the content. Then the spider follows a link to another page.
When you search for a term, any page containing that term will be returned. But the order of the results is the trick.
Among the things Google looks for in determining how “high” a search result is placed is the number of times the term appears, where on the page it appears, how close it is to other terms in the search and whether it contains the exact phrase in the search. Google also thinks about how long the page has been around.
But one of the most important factors in determining “page rank” is how many other sites have linked to the page. Google thinks about those links a vote for the quality of the page. And if a heavily linked-to page links to your page, all the better.
The site that scores ideal on these and many other tests becomes the first site returned in the results.
Certain sites, called “content farms,” look at the most popular search words and put content on a site containing those words. The content can be gibberish or low value or copied from other sites.
Other sites will hide desirable search terms on the page so that it is not seen by the user but is seen by Google’s bots.
Fraudulently achieved page rank has been a growing problem for Google, with users complaining that the quality of search results was declining.
At the end of January, the search company announced it was changing its method to further screen results pages and make sure more relevant ones ranked higher. Google did not reveal exactly what the change was, but it was a huge one, affecting about 12 percent of searches.
A second way to game Google is using bogus links. This is where J.C. Penney got into trouble.
The ideal links are from sites that are of related content, but enough links from random sites can boost search result position. “Link farms” are sites that have no content except links, an effort to boost Google ranking for the pages they link to.
Another way to game Google is to establish what is called “doorway pages” — pages set up just to attract search engines that then redirect traffic to the real site.
In 2006, Google announced it had caught the luxury-car maker BMW using this method to bolster its German website.
BMW admitted the practice but stated it did not realize it was forbidden.
Google temporarily removed the site, BMW.de, from search results, making it invisible to Google searches.
The lesson here is that if you want your website to appear higher in Google results, provide quality content so other quality sites will link to you. If you get caught gaming Google, you could end up among the disappeared.
First published on March 6, 2011 at 12:00 amDetails :
Submited at Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 12:00 am on Uncategorized by Gillan
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