It’s not often that documents from inside Google are leaked on the internet, and when they do webmasters tend to pay a lot of attention. The Google Quality Raters Guidelines recently surfaced on the web giving an insight into what Google considers SPAM and how they evaluate the quality of search results.
The handbook gives details on how Google rates the accuracy of their own search algorithm and what pages are classified as SPAM. According to the handbook, Google classifies webspam under the following categories:
- PPC Pages – Web pages setup for the purpose of collecting PPC revenue without providing any or much of their own content.
- Parked Domains – Sites that are setup on expired or parked domains to exploit pre existing backlinks.
- Thin Affiliates – A page that exists to deliver a visitor to a page on another domain with a different owner.
- Hidden Text and Hidden Links – Page that include hidden text designed to trick search engine robots.
- Keyword stuffing – Web pages that load with excessive keywords to draw search robots to their pages.
- 100% frame – Pages that use frames to deliver different looking content to search spiders and users.
- Sneaky redirects – Web pages that present different content to the user and robot by redirecting visitors through a series of pages.
This guide gives detailed descriptions on all of the above methods and even includes examples of sites currently spamming search results. Some of the examples given even mention quality guidelines for online merchants eg:
- a “view your shopping cart” link that stays on the same site and updates when you add items to it,
- a return policy with a physical address,
- a shipping charge calculator,
- a “wish list” link, or a link to postpone purchase of an item until later,
- a way to track FedEx orders,
- a user forum,
- the ability to register or login,
- a gift registry, or
- an invitation to become an affiliate of that site
Reading the guide gives an insight into the inner workings of a Google search and I thoroughly recommend all webmasters read it.