While carrying out competitor analysis for clients I am increasingly coming across blatant black hat SEO practices that were once banned from the index.
Normally the process on discovery is clear. You report it to the web spam team and it disappears. However, lately the web spam submission form appears to be a black hole.
So is web spam, hidden text and cloaking now okay? Where has the web spam team gone?
When you consider this interesting post about paid links, you have to ask a few questions:
- Is Google concentrating too much on world domination and lost its concentration on the customer?
- Are the advertising dollars from customers helping them ‘overlook’ certain practices?
Whether sinister or not one thing is for sure; black hat is back. Let’s look at three excellent examples of black hat.
Web spam and cloaking respectively are at the top of the results for any search on rugby spread betting on google.co.uk. The two websites in question clearly provide different data to Google than to users. For hidden text we need look no further than a legitimate player, who seemingly can get away with hidden <H1> titles and not get penalised. Even after these sites were reported they keep on trucking.
Web spam: www.britishinformation.com/
The entire page is different in Google than the actual code of the page being presented. As a highlight have a look at the different meta-descriptions.
<meta name="description" content=" Sport spread betting is Profitable spread trading for you to Gamble and profit. We offer Online Spread Betting Golf Gambling, NFL Betting Spread, and Betting Cricket Spread for you to gamble and win. ”>
<meta name="description" content="SportsSpread.com is an online tax free sport betting company for sports spread betting. Before betting online see our competitive spread betting prices and promotions." />
Hidden text: http://www.vistaprint.co.uk
This perfectly nice page has some great hidden headings that only appear to Google. Look for the two headings in the cache that show “Photo Calendars, Personalised desk Calendars”. A clear example of manipulation as these have no clear or obvious accessibility advantages for impaired users.
But despite these problems being reported to Google and a loud complaint on the webmasters portal Google appear blind. I the same vain as the recent post on paid links, I am really beginning to question whether Google cares anymore. They have failed to respond to every request. Does this mean silence is the new black?