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Monday, July 12, 2010

SEO Fail: Google Bans Their Own Website for Cloaking

Posted by @ 9:02 pm
9
  •  

In a remarkable story which I first uncovered via Search Engine Land, Google has banned their own AdWords help pages from search results because of cloaking, a technique well known amongst black hat SEOs.

What is Cloaking?
According to Google’s own guidelines, Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Serving up different results based on user agent may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index.

Here’s a great image which explains cloaking in a little more detail:

cloaking-explained

What has Google Done?
It appears that the Google AdWords help centre has been serving up different pages to search engine spiders and users. Below is an example of the page users see vs. that seen by the Google crawler in its cache.

cloaking-google

As a result of this, Google have banned these pages from appearing in search results. Performing a search for the exact URL currently shows no results in Google’s index. (Edit – It now appears to be re-included)

Search Engine Land asked a Google spokesperson to comment on the issue and they received the following response,

“I can confirm that some Google support pages were inadvertently showing different content to the Google crawler than to users. This error has since been fixed. We will investigate how this happened and make sure that we take appropriate action.”

It just goes to show that even the SEO police can sometimes get it wrong!



Matthew Elshaw Matt is a marketing professional at ineedhits.com, an international search marketing firm. Matt's passion for online marketing began at university and has proved invaluable in steering product development and marketing initiatives at the company. Matt is a regular contributor to the ineedhits search marketing blog.

View Matthew Elshaw's profile






Discussion (9 - comments)

Nice to see that when Google does things wrong they take it out on themselves…….
Someone is going to get a chop in the neck.

By Mark Adkinson - July 13, 2010



Too bad they are not so “gentle” and understanding when it comes to people’s mistakes…
2 faces and 2 measures and the unability to separate a mistake from back hat techniques or any other regulations fault is what (unfortunatly) most characterizes Google these days…

By Joao - July 13, 2010



This made me smile and gives me hope. If I’m so unsure of how so many things work, at least I know I’m in good company :-)

By Jan - July 13, 2010



I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

By Exercise Balls - July 13, 2010



What do they care. Everyone knows about adwords anyway. It won’t matter if they ban it, they’ll get customers anyway. I’m sure they’ll correct it too.

- http://www.macolabels.com

By Vinny - July 14, 2010



LOL Jan, your comment make me laught!

By Joao - July 14, 2010



LOL: A Taste of their own medicine as they say :-) . A least we can take something positive away from Google’s poison as SEO professionals – leave the Black Hat for parties it’s not for the web!

By Devereaux - July 19, 2010



[...] it’s not the first time this has happened. Back in 2010, Google banned their AdWords help pages because of cloaking; a black hat technique that serves up different pages to search engines and [...]

By Google Caught Buying Paid Links – Penalizes Their Own Website | RM2 Project - January 11, 2012



[...] it’s not the first time this has happened. Back in 2010, Google banned their AdWords help pages because of cloaking; a black hat technique that serves up different pages to search engines and [...]

By Google Caught Buying Paid Links – Penalizes Their Own Website « Miami Beach Web Designer - January 11, 2012




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