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Beware the Google Police!

It’s funny; often times the police get a bad rap. If they show up to your door then more than likely you did something wrong. At the same time, most people want the police out patrolling and keeping the evil-doers of the world off the streets.

Now just to be clear, there is not a branch of police services that Google has been assigned to. Obviously they are so well connected within the world these days it probably wouldn’t surprise people if they did have badges of some sort. But in the case of the internet, they are the law.

This isn’t a bad thing. Google has earned the right to lay down guidelines and rules that people need to follow if they want to utilize their services. People should not feel entitled to do whatever they want on the internet and expect that there will be no repercussions. To that extent, the Google Police have been getting very active in banning websites that are not following their Webmaster Guidelines.

While most of the rules are clear-cut, a few can be considered murky. Just to be safe, let’s review things you shouldn’t do unless you are trying to get your site banned and you want Google to come knocking at your door.

The Repeat Offenders

    • Bulking Up Illegally – You can’t fill your website with other people’s information that is copyrighted and protected. Some sites have been known to fill up excess pages and sections, which might not even be related to their primary purpose, with fluff to increase volume and credibility.
    • Link Schemes – Ah the fun of boosting your search engine prowess by adding bogus links to and from your site. Ideally you should not be buying links to help increase page ranks, linking to unrelated sites, mass linking to spammers, and a whole slew of dirty link schemes. As Google clearly states, “The quantity, quality, and relevance of links influences your ranking. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity.”
  • Selling Out – Your links that is. That means giving away products, discounts, or other stuff to people in exchange for links to you from their blogs, sites, or other virtual homes. There is a colorful word people often use when people sell certain services…don’t do it.
  • Bait and Switch – This is where you show Google or other search engine crawlers content and links that is different than what our human eyes see. This concept is called cloaking and Google is not a fan. Of course you might not cloak on purpose. Hackers use cloaking to hide the fact that they have hacked a site and changed things.
  • Bad Doorways – While optimizing a single page to a keyword might seem like a good way to direct traffic to different areas of your site, it is only acceptable if the pages are still of a certain quality. Google does not want people tricking search engines to direct them to low-quality sites. Having a bunch of doors to try and attract attention is frowned upon.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of people out there either knowingly or unknowingly doing things they shouldn’t on the web. For people doing it the right way, knowing that Google is out there cracking down on unscrupulous practices is a relief. If you aren’t sure what your website is or isn’t doing then now is probably a good time to hire a professional to make sure everything is on the up and up.

Google is not afraid to blackball even the biggest companies such as J.C. Penny or BMW for using improper tactics that go against their documented Webmaster Guidelines by reducing a page rank to zero or even removing them from search results altogether unless specified by brand name only. Unfortunately, unlike with the real police, if Google tosses you in the clink there is no appeals option.

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