A new post to the Webmaster Central blog made by Google late last week has acted as a shot across the bows for any sites which may be engaging in a recently emerging practice of browser exploitation, the perpetuation of which the search giant is less than pleased about.
Although the blog only states that Google could decide to take punitive action against sites that it finds to be guilty of enacting this unscrupulous technique, it seems more than likely that it will indeed start handing down ranking penalties once it works out which sites are the biggest perpetrators.
The issue arises when a site launches a Google-mimicking page of ads, that is shown when a user clicks the back button in their browser.
This is intended to fool people into thinking that they have gone back to the legitimate SERP, when in fact they are being presented with an admittedly spammy attempt to get them to click site ads.
Google is doubly dubious of the legitimacy of this technique because it means that users get new sites added into their browser histories, without actually clicking links themselves.
In the blog post, it states that it might ultimately be forced to penalise or completely remove sites which participate in this type of scheme, because it is seen as being manipulative and deceptive, which is damaging to the reputation of a site as well as problematic for Google.
Sites that are hit by any manual removal for quality guideline violations can always request to be reinstated once they have remedied any issues, which is something that Google notes in the blog post.
Underhanded tactics like this are not good for SEO in the long term and are also unlikely to be beneficial to a site which wants to generate a loyal user base.
Chris Crum of WebProNews, writes ‘it would be better for webmasters to invest their time into other avenues of search optimisation rather than attempting to exploit spammy practices which will, ultimately, result in penalisation, even if it takes Google a little while to cotton on to such activities.’
This week also saw Google revealing that it will be looking at making it easier for sites that have been penalised to get back on track and return to its good books, this time by providing them with more examples of bad links, which may have counted against them in a quality assessment.
Matt Cutts said that ‘the firm is looking to become a little more transparent in the way that it operates, so that webmasters know when they are going wrong and can more easily rectify whatever issues Google has with a site.’
Bad links and other more overt instances of spam should be avoided wherever possible, particularly when there are plenty of legitimate and very effective SEO tactics available, which can be used to boost a site’s traffic and increase conversions, without incurring the wrath of one of the search engines.