Guidelines Clamp Down

1. Page compliant with webmaster guidelines.

2. Non-compliant page with hidden link.

3. Source code of non-compliant page.

News hot off the press (Googler Matt Cutts' blog here and here) that Google are going to get 'tough' on sites that flout their webmaster guidelines. They are going to place particular emphasis on detecting hidden page text, links and paid links. Some 'black hat' SEO experts go to extreme lengths to hide their anchor and link in the body of apparently legitimate looking pages. An example is shown above, where the link has been adjusted so that the text stays the same and URL remains hidden during mouse over. This is a definite no no - links must be visible on the page. Cutts also explains the drive towards human and machine-readable disclosure of paid links. Paid links should be displayed in such a way that they don't affect search engine results - using the rel=nofollow attribute is one of his examples about how to achieve this. Any webmaster falling foul of the guidelines faces penalties - the ultimate being ditched from Google's search engine results.

All this is food for thought - it makes the future for pay to post and link sale companies look bleak. The arrogance of Google knows no bounds - what right have they got to dictate to webmasters how they use their page space?

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