Google’s War on Blackhat SEO

Blackhat SEO is nothing new. Hackers and others have been devising ways to make search engines work for their nefarious purposes as long as there have been search engines. There has certainly been an uptick in malicious attacks in recent years, and especially popular targets are trending stories or topics Whether the earthquake in Haiti, the Gaza flotilla raid, or what Justin Bieber up to at this moment is, about 7.3 percent of the top 70 search results on a given day are malicious. The more prominent (or juicy) the story, the more this percentage will creep up. Google is starting 2011 with a tougher stance on blackhat SEO techniques.

Recently, many site owners found a message from Google in their inboxes. The search giant sent warnings to certain owners, informing them their sites have been blacklisted. At issue, specifically, is “unscrupulous” link building, or cloaking. In order to get back on Google’s good side, sites need to remove any and all blackhat links and coding. The warning from Google is worded as follows:

We’ve detected that some or all of your pages are using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which are available here

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. For more information about our linking guidelines, visit this page

Google is still far from winning the battle of malicious sites and spam. For every rule, there is a clever new blackhat way to get around it. The warning does indicate, however, that Google is willing to take action when rules are broken. The trouble will be distinguishing blackhat from legitimate links and sites, which takes human interaction in many cases.

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