Weekly SEO news: 4 December 2007
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're taking a look at a recent statement of Google's Matt Cutts about detecting websites that use cloaking. Is your website at risk?

In the news: Google experiments with Digg-style voting on search results, Google comments on buying and selling links, Yahoo releases the top trends in search 2007 and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google warns against cloaking: we can detect it

In a recent blog post, Google's anti-spam engineer Matt Cutts wrote about cloaking. The blog post makes several things clear:

  1. Google doesn't like cloaking.
  2. It doesn't matter if a small or a big company uses cloaking.
  3. Websites that use cloaking will be removed from Google's index.
  4. Google will detect all cloaking attempts sooner or later.

What is cloaking?

Cloaking is a search engine optimization technique in which the web page content presented to search engine spiders is different from that presented to the normal web surfers.

This is done by delivering web page content based on the IP address or the User-Agent of the user requesting the page.

When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a script on the server delivers a different version of the web page. The purpose of cloaking is to deceive search engines.

All major search engines consider cloaking to be a violation of their guidelines. For that reason, websites that use cloaking will be banned from the search results.

Google's opinion on "undetectable" cloaking

In his recent blog post, Google's Matt Cutts commented on a Danish company that offered 'undetectable' cloaking to its customers.

Google tried to check if this claim was true and they quickly found a website that used the services of the company. It turned out that their cloaking wasn't undetectable at all:

"If someone is trying to manipulate Google by deceptive cloaking, it means that a webserver is returning different content to Googlebot than to users.

That’s a condition that can be checked for by algorithms or manually, and such cloaking is certainly not 'undetectable.'"

Don't risk your search engine rankings

You might get short term results with shady SEO techniques such as cloaking but it is very likely that your site will be banned from search engines if you use them. You'll put your web business at severe risk if you use black-hat SEO methods.

If you want to get lasting results, better use ethical search engine optimization techniques.

It's not a good idea to trick search engines. They will discover this sooner or later. If you want to know how to get high search engine rankings without offending search engines, take a look at our free SEO book.

2. Search engine news of the week
Google experimenting with Digg style voting on search results

"Google is experimenting with Digg style voting features on search results that allow users to vote up or bury search results they see. [...]

Google Labs notes that 'this is an experimental feature and may be available for only a few weeks'".

Google comments on buying and selling links

"If, however, a webmaster chooses to buy or sell links for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings, we reserve the right to protect the quality of our index. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank violates our webmaster guidelines."

Related: Google bans ads for (most) paid ad market places.

Top trends in search in 2007

"Billions of search queries from millions of users have always provided a fascinating window into the global cultural climate. This year is no different, but to keep things interesting, we decided to take a slightly different approach to looking at search trends in 2007."

Search engine newslets
  • Yahoo launches new PDF ad service for publishers.
  • Google introduces the AdWords Local PlusBox.
  • Google versus the telecoms.
  • Ask UK now offers walking and driving directions.
  • Ask.com December Smart Answers.
  • Rumor: Google's Marissa Mayer to demo Googlephone?
  • PayPerPost users freaking out over Google PageRank nuke.
  • Yahoo tests "neighbors" for local search.
  • Google expunges malware sites from search results.
  • Google helps kids to track Santa Claus.
3. Articles of the week
SEO nonsense - sculpting PageRank builds muscle

"I see that certain voices are once again advocating the idiocy of managing PageRank through the use of rel='nofollow' [...]

Do you recall that internal PageRank is not reported by Google? It’s not a number between 1 and 10, according to the technical literature that is publicly accessible on the Web. Where do you think NoFollowers are getting their PageRank information from?"

Who clicks on ads? And what might this mean?

"Companies increasingly rely on ad revenue to turn a profit and, while clicking on ads may be declining, it certainly hasn't gone away. This raises a critical question: Who are the people that click on ads?"

Spammers giving up? Google thinks so

"Google won't disclose numbers, but the company says that spam attempts, as a percentage of e-mail that's transmitted through its Gmail system, have waned over the last year. That could indicate that some spammers have gotten discouraged and have stopped trying to get through Google’s spam filters."

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4. Recommended resources

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